Thank you, thank you to everyone who's emailed, texted and phoned about Yeoman...and those who've offered an alternative mount! You are all angels.
He is definitely quite a bit better, but for safety's sake, at the moment I don't feel inclined to set off with him on Tuesday. Even if he's completely sound by then, he would benefit from some more rest - after all, he's not exactly being asked to go for a gentle hack in the park. The last thing I want to do is to create a long-term problem, and the second-last thing I want to do is to start off and have to have him trailered home limping!
Although there are alternatives, and I haven't yet fully decided, the most likely scenario is that Doogs and I set off as planned, but with the minimum of gear. As we are on (almost) 'home territory' this is feasible as we have overnight stops planned with friends anyway. Luckily Doogs is a sensible guy who is happy going places on his own. Hopefully by the time we get a little further away, Yeoman will be fully ready for action and can join us.
It's disappointing of course (especially after all that preparation and fittening work!) but hopefully a temporary blip - and a scenario which every single horse owner is familiar with, from the little kid whose pony goes lame before the much-anticipated local show, to top event riders who have to withdraw from Badminton after months or years of preparation.
At least it is temporary and he will be back to full fitness sooner or later - could have been much much worse.
I remember teaching a child to ride some years ago. Her Mum commented one day that ponies were such a good method of teaching kids to deal with responsibility, pain, frustration and disappointment...she then added, "and then, when they've grown out of ponies, they're fully prepared for marriage" (!)