"And, when you want something, the entire Universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." -The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo

Monday, April 29, 2013

Lego Horse

Last night, I went to the barn after work to give Lily her 15 minute walk on the concrete and ice her left hind fetlock. I picked her feet, applying Farrier Barrier per my vet's recommendation. Of course, when I got to the left hind, she had a big chunk of manure stuck in her frog. I went to gently pick it out, and right at that instant, Lily jerked the hoof, and the pick jabbed her in the puncture wound. 

Blood poured down her frog, dribbling onto the floor. I let go of the hoof, and she just held it in the air, while blood pooled underneath it. 

Cue Major Freakout. 

I literally walked 3 circles around her, staring at the blood as if I'd never seen blood before in my life, drawing a complete blank as to what to do next. I am a freaking LICENSED vet tech, for Chrissake's. I went to school for this!... All I could think about was that she was in pain and I wanted to do something to make the pain stop, but she is already on Previcox, and I don't have anything else I can give her anyway. There is nothing else to give, because horses don't routinely get oral opiods for pain. All we give are NSAIDs (what is UP with that? It is one of my big pet peeves with equine medicine.) 

I didn't know how to make the blood stop. I pulled a rag out of my grooming tote and put it under Lily's hoof to try to control the mess, but I didn't really have a clean rag to use to apply pressure. I ended up taking her off the cross ties and walking her to the wash stall, where I blasted the wound with icy cold water from the hose, to thoroughly clean up the frog. I then applied a piece of Animalintex soaked in hot water, and wrapped the hoof with Vetrap and duct tape. 

She finally put weight on the hoof, albeit gingerly.

We still haven't heard back from the lameness specialist. My vet left a message on his personal cell this morning, but by 4:00 pm still no luck. I asked Dr. R if she could forward the rads to someone else to look at. I understand that specialists don't work on the weekends, but it is still 6 days of stressing and worrying. She promised she will call the hospital tomorrow to find out who else she can talk to, and in the meantime forwarded the rads to a classmate who is working at a different equine referral practice.

Have I mentioned how awesome my vet is? And here I was afraid to be the guinea pig...

Today was a miserable day: chilly, windy, and drizzling. Lily was better, but the left hind pastern and fetlock seemed ever so slightly puffy. Ever so slightly. I ripped off the bandage, and off we went for a walk. I had to drag Lily initially-the hoof was sore. :( As we moved, the puffiness in her pastern and fetlock receded. I then put Lily in her stall with her ice boot while I walked Jezebel between the barn and the outdoors, under the steady misting rain. Jez was a really good girl for her walk. 

I removed Lily's boot, and generously applied Surpass to her fetlock. She was really resting that foot a lot tonight. Alex had come to give Lily her Stud Muffins full of Robaxin, and for the first time ever, she bit down on the pills... Robaxin is very bitter, and after that she didn't want to hear about Stud Muffins. I had the brilliant idea of putting the pills in new Stud Muffins and tossing them in her feeder with her grain. 

Of course, she went to eat her grain after her treatments, and managed to bite down on the Robaxin again...so then she didn't want her grain. I started to wig out again when she wouldn't eat her hay either. I know it's because she had a really nasty taste in her mouth, but I was still fretting about the possibility of it being something else. "What if she's in so much pain that she won't eat?" She was reluctant to turn around in her stall. 

Eventually she started nibbling at her hay. I mixed her grain with alfalfa cubes and soaked it in warm water, and she seemed happier about that. As I moved around her stall, she turned her head, looking for her Stud Muffins. We've been doing Stud Muffin stretches (instead of carrot stretches) at night-I'm trying to keep her limber despite all of this immobility. 

So I got 2 Stud Muffins and she was quite willing to contort herself in all sorts of crazy shapes trying to reach for the cookies. The Robaxin had been forgotten. I breathed a huge sigh of relief, leaning my forehead against her withers. She turned her head and nuzzled my leg, leaving a huge wet smear on my jeans.

I left one happy mare in her stall and headed home, feeling defeated.

On the way, the rain started coming down harder. And then this song played on the radio. 

It's kind of incredible how our happiness can ride on the back of our horses. If our horse isn't happy and whole, we aren't happy and whole. This holds true for our relationships with any pet we own and love, but especially horses. They are not just our companions. They are our partners. This is something the outside world rarely understands, but it is the bane of the horse owner's existence: when our partner breaks or dies, a part of us goes with them. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Vet Visit #2: Radiographs

Ok, so since we still haven't received the call, here comes the next update.

Like I said, Lily's hooves are fine. But we decided to radiograph the left hind fetlock too, and discovered 2 things that we're not sure yet if they are badness. All we know is that they are things that should not be there.

Here are the rads:
Left hind hoof, no dye. Look at all that sole! She only had 1/8" of sole between her coffin bone and  the outside world back in October!

Left hind. Everything looks good, except for the slight lateral imbalance, which matched in the right hind as well. The coffin bone is slightly tilted to the outside (left, when looking at this image). You can see there is also a flare on that same part of the hoof. My farrier said she can correct this on Lily's next trim. 

Left hind on the "naviculator". The coffin bone is clear, with normal vascularization. This shot was frightening a year ago-you couldn't clearly discern the tip of the coffin bone, which indicated demineralization. There is a small speck on the inside heel-you can see the dot on the left side of the hoof- but no one was too concerned. Dr. R was able to see it on the lateral shot, and it is very close to the surface.

Left hind with contrast dye injected into the puncture wound hole. It's not deep at all! Yay!

As an afterthought, it was decided to radiograph the fetlock, just to rule out  that there  weren't multiple causes for the swelling. And here we started finding stuff. *sigh* There is this bump that Dr. R pointed out and I have circled in red so you guys can see. She thinks it might be a bone bruise or cyst, which could be an indicator of OCD (osteochondritis dissecans), which is probably the one thing I never would have expected to find on my small 15hh mare, and it is less common for it to show up so low on the leg-usually it plagues stifles and hocks. The first link is about the disease in general, as it also affects people and large breed dogs, but here is some general info on it in horses. I don't think Lily's situation is considered bad, since this is so small, and OCD can present as HUGE joint swellings, and it can be an incidental finding where nothing else comes of it-it doesn't lame the horse, and it doesn't worsen over time. However, in many cases it does require surgery. I'm still wondering if the fluid in Lily's suspensory branches and the enlargement of her annular ligament are not soft tissue after all, but a result of what might be an issue in the bone.

This is the other thing we found, also on the same fetlock.  The vet was having a hard time getting a good lateral, so there are like 6 shots of this same view. That fleck shows up in every single view.

The good news: the hoof is fine.

The bad news: it looks like there is yet a 3rd, and possibly a 4th, thing going on with this leg. Dr. R forwarded the rads to THE lameness specialist at our big equine hospital in this area to see what they think. OCD is considered a genetic defect, so if that is what the vets think that bump is, we are in trouble-I don't think insurance will cover that. If they think that's no big deal, there is still that fleck in the lateral view. Maybe a bone chip? That I would assume would be covered by insurance. If any of this is surgical, I will be calling my equine insurance provider to see what is covered and what is not. I don't think any of this would require emergency surgery, and even if it is the worst case scenario of OCD, stall rest is recommended for minor cases of it, so I'd still have time to save up money for the surgery.

In the meantime, I'm back to losing sleep. We're hoping to hear back from the lameness specialist between today and tomorrow.

Lily wearing her ice boot after our first hand walk of the day.

Lily doesn't handle stall rest very well. If she is left in her own stall while the other horses are turned out, she will twirl and pace ALL DAY LONG. In which direction? To the left! So we were temporarily shuffling her to the stalls by the indoor so she could hang out with Murmer and Katie, who are both on stall rest as well. However, of the 3 mares, only Murmer belongs in that part of the barn, which meant the stalls Lily and Katie were occupying had to be cleaned again before their horses came in at night. We tried leaving Lily in her stall and bringing Jez to the stall across from her, but then both mares paced! So we tried leaving Katie in her stall, and putting Lily in the unoccupied stall next to her. Voila! This worked! So Lily is temporarily living in a smaller stall, but at least she's calm, and so is Katie. 
That's Lily on the left, and Katie on the right. 

Jez Update!

I have to write about Lily's vet visit #2 with rads, but I'm waiting on one more phone call from the vet before I do, as it is a deciding factor in what comes next. We're really not in the clear yet as to surgery (ugh!) BUT...The good news is that her hoof is FINE!! 100% A-okay! The puncture wound is not deep at all, there are no pockets, no infection of the bone. Her coffin bone has healed since last year, and has clean and normal sharp edges, and she has SOLE. SO MUCH SOLE! Both hind hooves, actually! Dr. R is supposed to e-mail me the rads sometime today. I'm itching to post them here!

During vet visit #1, Jez was also looked at, and she has been cleared for tack walking. 20 minutes a day, up to 6 days a week. On days we can't ride, she needs to be hand walked.

Go read the full story on the Jezebel's exam on Sally's blog, My Ex Racer. :)

So yesterday before her first ride, Jez got aced...twice...

45 minutes after the first dose of ace. Does this mare look sedated to you? Haha...
Once she was nice and dopey, we tacked up and I hopped on. Sally had come to watch, and she was as excited as if it were herself riding her little mare for the first time in so long. :)

We started riding in the arena, but I could feel Jezebel's offness. I realized that the lameness both Sally and I had been feeling since February was never the stone bruise on the right front-it was the slight bobble of the right hind. So this really has been going on for awhile.

I'm glad we both followed our gut instincts and that the Powers that Be conspired in our favor so we could move both girls to a smaller paddock. These soft tissue injuries would be a lot worse if it hadn't been for that.

As the minutes ticked on while walking Jez in the outdoor, I was feeling her offness more and more. Sally had preferred we ride in a contained familiar space like the arena, so Jez wouldn't get any ideas. After 5 minutes, I insisted we ride in a paddock; I didn't like how she was feeling worse.

So I walked Jez over to hers and Lily's turnout, and we walked around in large circles for the next 15 minutes. She felt MUCH better on the harder ground. I might be acing her for the next couple of rides while she gets back into work if we're going to have to ride in the empty turnouts

Jezebel was a very good girl. At one point all 3 geldings in a neighboring paddock came galloping up the hill as Jez and I were walking in that direction, and I just turned her head to the side and held it there for a minute so her brain wouldn't lock in to the notion of running. Her sleepy eyes and ears focused on the very green grass on the ground. It was hysterical. She completely tuned out the galloping hooves, as her whole expression changed to "Ohhh...Nomz!!" and she lazily tried to pull her head down towards the grass.

Right at the 20 minute mark, the herd in the big field next door decided to stampede from upper to lower field. At that point, I swung off! Jez didn't even register the 30+ horses coming, she was too busy trying to sneak a bite of grass. So all in all, it was a successful first ride for Her Highness!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

60 Equestrian Questions

I answered these questions as posted by L. Williams over at Viva Carlos, and took the time to illustrate them to keep myself from chewing my nails off while waiting for the vet to come for round 2 this morning:

1. Dish face or Roman nose? Why?
I'm weird: I have a soft spot for Roman noses after Tamarindo. I do tend to like horses with dished faces because they look more refined than horses with straight noses, but I find Roman noses adorable. In my book, the Roman nose will win over the dished face every time.

2. Mares or geldings? Why?
I used to love geldings. I prefer a well-trained (and unbred! They have a tendency to change after being bred!) stallion above all else, but good luck finding a place to board him at! There is just a certain spice that disappears when you remove the hormones. I currently own a mare, and work with a friend's mare as well, and in all honestly, some of the best sport horses I've ridden were mares. If I were to look for another horse, I would probably start the search with geldings, but wouldn't be against owning another mare. If I had my own barn, I would own a stallion. Not for breeding, but just because I like their personalities so much.

Ahhh yes. Lusitano, stallion, buckskin, and a Roman nose.
Veneno Imperial,  from the Veiga lines and imported from Brasil, standing at stud at Shangrila Farms.
3. Do you think warmbloods are overrated?
Yes. I still prefer an honest TB over a fancy WB any day. 

Can you say "athlete"? DAAAMN!
4. Describe your dream horse.
Cobby build (thick legs, big feet, short strong back, naturally correctly curved neck), nice mover, incredibly athletic, sensitive, brave, independent, great work ethic, people-oriented. This is what I would look for, and in this country, it would probably end up being a Mustang. 

In Fantasyland, my dream horse is a well-bred Lusitano or Andalusian. Emphasis on well-bred, which means, since we're in Fantasyland, I'd probably be importing it from Spain (if Andalusian) or Brasil (if Lusitano.) You can get some of these horses here at reasonable prices, but a closer look will often reveal an animal built by a committee.

This Andalusian 5 yo stallion is actually for sale in my area on HorseClicks for $2,000. Advertised as a general all-arounder, and also as "a great colt that can breed color into your stock." *shudder*

This Andalusian 8 yo stallion is for sale in Spain, available to be imported through  Andalusians de Mythos.
Advertised as a dressage prospect, already at 2nd level, with doma vaquera training under his belt, and a quiet temperament. I have no idea what his price is, but I can tell you this is not a $2,000 Andalusian by any stretch of the imagination.
My fave part about those 2 photos? The horses are the same breed, same color, same sex, and standing in pretty much exactly the same position, but you can blatantly see the vast differences in conformation and just overall quality between the two!

5. What kind of bits do you use and why?
I used to be a snaffle person. Specifically a double-jointed snaffle person. I have a bucket full of every double-jointed snaffle under the sun. Lily HATES them! For dressagey work, we have been going with a mullen mouth eggbutt snaffle, but she really works best in leverage bits, like our low port pelham and medium low port Weymouth. I am mainly using these for trail riding at the moment, as we have a lot more brakes with this kind of bit.

6. Stock horses or sport horses?
I do like stock horses, as long as their feet are proportional to their bodies! Hate the halter horse look!

A proportional, foundation-type Quarter Horse.
I am not partial to grulla-colored horses simply because quality tends to be lost over color 90% of the time in these individuals, but  this man, Clayton's  Romeo Drift from Spade Ranch, is one fine specimen.
7. Favorite horse color?
Dappled gray. Anything dappled, actually. Dun/buckskin is second. And following that, anything different and "colorful", like LW said. :)

8. Least favorite horse color?
White and black, simply because they are cliche colors.

9. Dressage or jumping?
This gorgeous beast is Fuego XII, an Andalusian stallion who became 'King of Hearts'  at the 2010 WEG in KY.
10. Favorite stock horse breed?
Mustang! Apparently they are classified as a stock horse breed. :)

This is Padre, a pretty famous BLM mustang. Read his story here. He was the first wild horse to compete at Dressage at Devon, and there is a Breyer horse made in his honor.

11. Favorite hot-blooded breed?

12. Favorite cold-blooded breed?
Friesian. I like the feathered guys in general. Shires and Gypsy Vanners are on my list, too.

13. Dapple grey or fleabitten grey?

14. Most expensive piece of tack you own?
My Ludomar Alta Escuela saddle.

15. When did you start riding?
10 years old, on Paso Finos.

16. Leather or nylon halters?
I like the leather ones, and currently own one, but it NEVER gets used for turnout! Only for special occasions. So though I prefer leather halters, I use nylon with a breakaway leather crown because it's so much cheaper to replace!

17. Apples or carrots?
Lily likes both, but prefers apples. Though when I buy them, I do choose carrots first, precisely for the stretching factor, like LW said. :)

18. Chestnut or bay?
Bay. Especially dark bay.

And if said dark bay has dapples, even better!
19. Palomino or buckskin?

20. Lazy horse or hot horse?
Have to agree with LW on this one too: prefer a hot horse. Pull rides are better than push rides fo sho.

21. Have you ever been trail riding?
Yes! Any horse of mine has to be able to go out on the trail! I get very bored with arena work after a while.

On Lily, riding through one of the park trails in South FL
22. Have you ever had to put down a horse that you love?

23. How many saddle pads do you have?
6. I'd have more if I weren't hyper aware that I'm a saddle pad hoarder...

24. How many bridles do  you have?
Ummm...5? I had not counted them until now. I have one brown H/J one that is used mainly for lunging, one Smith Worthington dressage bridle with a crank noseband and gray trim which now holds Lily's snaffle, one black Plymouth dressage bridle with the noseband removed for everyday riding, one black and light blue biothane halter-bridle for the trail or situations where we may get wet, and another brown and black biothane halter-bridle from a different company that used to belong to my Paso. I've kept that last one as a reminder more than anything. His Colombian Paso bit is still attached to it.

Who the hell has FIVE bridles? Apparently I do...

25. Favorite saddle brand?

26. Beige or white breeches?

Beige is so much less revealing than white...
27. Least favorite discipline?
Saddleseat. It's the discipline in which Tennessee Walking Horses are competed.

28. Do you own a horse?

29. Do you collect Breyer horses?
I used to as a kid; I have several but they are back in PR. I started a Cheval Pony collection when I worked at the tack shop. We used to sell them, and I had first dibs when shipments arrived. I still have my little herd; they were one of the select few things that came with us in the car during the long drive from FL to VA. I think they are adorable!! They are hand-made in South Africa, and each one is completely unique.

Joyful Jake is my FAVE!!! I own him in a buckskin.
30. Favorite color of saddle pad?
Blue, black or gray.

31. Private barn or boarding stable?
I boarded at what could be considered a private barn in S. FL. It was nice; I liked our co-op environment and being able to do everything myself. Currently board at a boarding facility. It's odd-up here in MD almost no one does partial or self care board.

32. Opinion on spoiled riders?
They are spoiled, often don't appreciate what they have, and have a tendency to treat horses like disposable items. I rode with many of them when I was on my barn's jumper team in PR.

33. Have you ever ridden tackless?
I've ridden bareback with a halter, but never completely tackless.

34. Have you ever stood up on a horse?
No. Not quite brave enough for that.

Yeah, waaaay too many things can go wrong in this picture...
35. Over, tobiano or tovero?

36. Favorite face markings?

37. Why you started riding?
I was obsessed with horses.

38. Does anyone in your family ride?
Not currently. My mother and my grandfather on my mother's side used to ride. My grandfather bred Paso Finos when my mom and her siblings were young, and it was a rite of passage to give the children a horse as they got older. My mom was the only one that stuck with it, but after the death of her heart horse, she never owned horses again. I taught my cousins to ride, but they lost interest.

39. Have you ever owned a horse?
Currently own one. Have owned 4 in my life.

40. Something you want to improve on?
I'd like to actually look and perform like a dressage rider some day.

Yes, like this.
41 . A bad habit you have?
I still tilt forward in the saddle, especially at the canter.

What I still look like at the trot...
42. A bad habit your horse has?
Overall hypersensitivity to the point where it is sometimes near impossible to keep her straight!

43. How high have you jumped?

44. Have you ever had dressage lessons?
Yes, for about a year while living in S. FL.

45. What really makes your horse spook?
Being in heat. Everything makes her spook when she's in heat. Ugh.

46. Trail riding or arena work?
Personally? Trail riding, but w/t/c on the trail, not just plodding along at a walk. With Lily? It depends on her mental state at the time...

47. Indoor or outdoor arena?
Depends on the weather. If the weather is good, I will always choose the outdoor.

48. Colorful or plain saddle pads?
I like unique saddle pads. My fave of the ones I own is my Ambleside pad.

49. Do you like horses with blue eyes?

50. Have you ever gotten into a fight with your trainer?
Yes, though it was more of a silent battle kind of thing. She is my ex-trainer now.

51. Light bay or dark bay horses?

52. What is your equestrian dream?
Olympics, though I've pretty much given up on that one in this lifetime. Maybe in my next life I'll be born a trust fund child so I don't have to work, yet can have a string of uber-talented horses and oodles of money to spend on alllll of those shows you have to do well at first before you can even hope to qualify for the Olympics... ;)

53. Long mane or pulled mane?
I love long manes, but only if the horse has a thick, gorgeous mane. Horses with thin scraggly manes look better pulled. My fave are long forelocks, regardless of mane length.

54. Opinion on fake tails?
I don't care one way or another. If I had a horse with a thin tail and was competing in the hunters, I'd definitely be using a fake tail.

55. Least favorite thing about your barn?
Our main trainer who hogs the arena despite the fact that it's not supposed to be a lesson barn... And the tractor, while useful and a time & back saver for the stable hands (I would totally want a tractor if I were a stable hand), can be a little annoying when you're trying to do anything with your horse in a barn aisle anytime before 1:00 pm.

56. Favorite thing about your barn?
My horse is there. There is an indoor arena connected to the barn, so you can always ride. Direct access to some really awesome trails. A knowledgeable barn manager.

Our indoor
57. Socks or no socks?

58. Have you ever ridden a stallion?
Yes, many. Tamarindo was a stallion. Lucero was a stallion until fairly late in life. I had him gelded when I moved him from our home to a boarding facility and he started going cuckoo about being close to mares. Most of the Paso Finos and Trote-Galope horses I've ridden have been stallions.

A friend's pinto Paso Fino stallion that I was allowed to ride on the  beach in Arroyo, PR
59. Favorite horse names?
I like unusual, meaningful names.

60. If you could ride any horse in the world, which one would it be? Why?
Totilas. I would love to ride Totilas!

Totilas and Edward Gal
Paragon would be my second choice. That horse has CRAZY expression in his gaits.

Paragon and Heather Blitz at the World Dressage Masters last year in Wellington.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Vet Visit #1

I had a call yesterday afternoon from Dr. R to let me know that, of all things, their x-ray machine's hard drive had died. It had been taken in to be fixed immediately, but she doubted that it would be ready in time for our appointment today. She asked if I wanted her to look at Lily anyway in the meantime, or just reschedule everything. I told her Lily was pretty lame, so it was decided that she would be examined today regardless.

Dr. R called her a 4/5 lame when she looked at her. Lily had been off bute for 24 hours in preparation for the exam so the vet could see the true colors of her lameness. I told Dr. R that I thought Lily was also off in the right hind. I've been seeing things with both hind legs since February, but it was so on and off that I thought I had been imagining everything, that I was being paranoid. However, it was nagging me enough that it was the #1 driving force behind my having her switched to semi-private turnout in a smaller paddock. I didn't think I was good at seeing hind leg lameness. It turns out I'm actually quite good at it: Dr. R agreed on what I was seeing in the right hind. She also saw a slight offness in the right front, but she suspected it was a compensatory thing.

Dr. R took a look at the puncture wound, scraping it gently with a hoof knife. She only had to flick off a tiny bit of hoof before the wound started to bleed. The vet was not happy with that. She said that if Lily had some sort of sepsis in her hoof, she would be crippled right now, but the fact that she was bleeding so easily meant that there was laminae involvement.

She also looked at the right hind, and discovered that the white line on that hoof is very soft. She thinks that there might be quite a bit of white line disease in that hoof, and that is why Lily is off there. We will know more when we can get it radiographed.

We blocked the left hind hoof. This was quite the ordeal-Lily ended up having to be twitched so Dr. R could get the needles where they had to go, and she still tried to kick out. Thankfully, my vet survived unscathed, and Lily had her hoof successfully blocked. When the twitch was removed, she turned her head to look at me, and whinnied loudly right in my face! Lmao!! Charles, who had come for moral support, laughed and said, "I don't think she could say 'F you!' more clearly!" Agreed!

We walked Lily for 5 minutes to get the blood pumping in her leg and let the lidocaine do its job. Then Dr. R's tech trotted Lily. She was still lame. Slightly improved, but still quite lame.

I was actually a little relieved at this point: the tremendous pain Lily has been in was not just her hoof. There was more than one cause, which meant that any chances that there was something septic inside her hoof automatically went down.

So we blocked the fetlock, which was a little less dramatic than doing the hoof even though it involved 3 needle pokes instead of just 2. Lily still had to be twitched, though, and again, as soon as the twitch was removed, she very vocally let us know how offended she was by the whole ordeal.

She trotted sound. Even the right front offness disappeared.


The vet found some abnormal effusion on palpation of the back of Lily's left hind fetlock. Out came the portable ultrasound, and Lily got sedated with xylazine.

One droopy mare

Dr. R clips Lily's fetlock.

This is where the swelling is on the back of her fetlock, right around her annular ligament.

Getting the ultrasound probe ready.
I have no idea what I'm looking at when it comes to limb ultrasounds on horses. I can find every organ on a cat or dog with an ultrasound, and can even tell you if it looks abnormal or not. But when it comes to seeing tendons and ligaments, I'm one big ?? Dr. R explained everything we were seeing on the ultrasound screen, and I began to understand some of what I was seeing. Tina and Sally were also watching by then, so we all received a lesson in equine soft tissue ultrasounds. There were no marked abnormalities-no holes, no disrupted fibers, just a small amount of fluid at the bottom branches of Lily's suspensory and an enlarged annular ligament. Dr. R confirmed that Lily must have just torqued the fetlock in turnout at some point. Ha! Running through the damned chute from upper to lower field, I'm sure!

In this image you could see the fluid around the branches of Lily's suspensory.

Tina had offered to hold Lily's lead rope, and leaned over to take a look at the screen. That's her in the plaid shirt. :)

Lily says, "Why couldn't you guys do this before stabbing me with 5 gazillion needles?"

Treatment? Thankfully my vet is NOT one of the ones that believes in 6 months of strict stall rest for horses with soft tissue injuries. We will be following what we now call the Jez protocol: 1 month of stall rest with 15 minutes of handwalking once a day (vs twice a day for Jez), and as much hand grazing as I want, and then 1 month of tack walking, going from 20 minutes 6 days a week to 30 minutes 6 days a week over the course of 4 weeks. Trotting can be started after that, and once she is back in full work, she can get turned out again. Since there is some swelling at the fetlock, it's going to get iced for the first 7 days, and Lily will also get Robaxin. Her back has become quite sore from compensating.

This, of course, is the soft tissue injury treatment. We still need an answer regarding the puncture wound. I was instructed to continue the Epsom salt soaks, and wrap the hoof with Animalintex and a duct tape bootie. I did this after the vet visit, and also set up one of Lily's old slow feeders. She's back at her ideal weight, but she doesn't need to be getting fat when she has a ligament injury.

On the way home from the barn, Dr. R's tech called: the x-ray machine has been fixed! They will be coming back out tomorrow to do rads.

Send positive thoughts our way, please!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Friday, April 19, 2013

Wanted to Share...

...this AMAZING video that a friend posted on FB, showing in both high speed and slow motion how precise horses can be with their bodies as they perform in dressage and cross country.

Video is by Ernest Woodward, farrier

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

It's Back

My farrier was scheduled to come out yesterday at 1:00 pm.

Originally she was supposed to come last Monday 4/8, but I had asked if we could reschedule for another time when I could be at the barn. There were some little things I had noticed in Lily that I wanted to ask her about and see what she thought while looking at my mare in the moment.

Charles likes to think I'm a giant humungo worrywart-he says I wouldn't know what to do with myself if I wasn't always worrying about something. This isn't really true, but I do worry a lot about my animals because I was trained to notice a lot more than the average person. This is great in the veterinary field but it is a nightmare when you're a pet owner. I joke around that I have Munchausen by proxy only in the sense of being an owner that worries excessively about her pets. I've seen this condition for real, applied to pets - I don't have it. Back at the FL hospital, we had one internal medicine client spend her entire day at the clinic having bloodwork run repeatedly on her dog to see if her liver enzymes would go down. First, liver enzyme levels don't go down in a matter of hours, especially if the animal is not on some sort of therapy. Second, every time we drew blood for these unnecessary tests, it involved poking the poor animal with a needle. Multiple times. When there's no good reason for it, that's just torture. Third, this dog's liver values were NORMAL. The client just wanted them to be LOW normal. Actually, this dog was PERFECTLY HEALTHY...there was no reason whatsoever why she had to be an internal medicine patient! (The real problem here was the vet that was catering to this nonsense...and that the client was in dire need of some psychological attention herself!)

Personally, I think I was much happier as a pet owner when I knew less. I knew more than the average person because I did full research on what I was getting into before choosing my pets, but I still didn't know half of what I know now.

Once again, my gut feeling was correct.

Lily came in from the paddock fine. P, the farrier, asked how she was doing. I had sent her a ridiculously long e-mail with all of my questions 2 weeks ago when I rescheduled, and she wanted to know if anything had changed. I told her about the desensitizing session and pointed out the wear on Lily's left hind, and mentioned she had been a little sore afterwards. I had noticed, however, that she's been resting her right hind more than the left recently, and that she seems to be stepping a little short on both hinds on the lunge. I did admit that I might just be seeing things. I also brought up the fact that whenever I pick up Lily's right front, she automatically rests her left hind. P said that a lot of horses do that, and it can be a conformation thing where they are compensating for imbalances in their body. I told P I still freak out because the left hind is where Lily had her puncture wound back in FL, and I can't remember if she used to do that before the wound, but I wasn't paying that much attention before then. P assured me that it was probably nothing to worry about.

Lily was fine to have her right hind trimmed, but when it came time to do her left hind, she flinched and wiggled the leg. Her head came up, ears went back, and she tensed all over while P worked on that hoof. P mentioned that she was definitely sensitive on that hoof. Lily had not reacted to having her left hind frog worked on in 7 months. I felt my heart sink.

P pared away some necrotic frog, and I had Charles, who had come with me, hold Lily so I could go around to see.

"The hole is still here." P said. It was. A tiny little hole that looked almost like an incision, right smack in the center of Lily's frog. It was the same size and in the same spot as before, and it was really ouchy. P took a probe to see how deep it was. She was able to insert it about 1/2" into the hole; she said it was deeper than that but she wasn't comfortable inserting it any further.

I almost cried. This means many, many things:

1. I need to get that hoof radiographed again, to make sure Lily's coffin bone isn't infected.

2. If the bone is ok, this certainly means we will need to go in surgically and see how deep the infection goes. This will probably involve a lot of cutting out of her hoof, and most likely a hospital plate on her hoof to keep the hole clean, plus a culture and antibiotics. Hopefully some run-of-the-mill antibiotics, not something uber powerful that can destroy a horse's stomach. Of course, this will mean stall rest for a mare that has just gotten used to 24 hour turnout.

3. If the bone is not ok, it would mean taking her to the big equine specialty hospital to have her coffin bone debrided under general anesthesia = $$$$$$ that we absolutely do NOT have. We have no where to get this money from-I don't really want to go into detail on the state of our finances; I've mentioned our student-loan-poor situation here before. I could get a second job, but it would take months to get thousands of dollars together. The only way we were able to save up for our move here was with me working a second full time job and Charles picking up extra shifts every week at his hospital. I am more than willing to take on the second job if I need to, but Charles has had a really hard time getting overtime at his current job because his hospital is overstaffed-OT just hasn't been available, and it's been 7 months since he started at that hospital-it would take us longer to get the money together for a big equine surgery under general anesthesia. I'm worried about what if this is something she needs ASAP. It is precisely because of our financial limitations that I had Lily insured (I didn't want a lack of funds to cost her her life in a situation where she could be saved), but since insuring her happened after the puncture wound was worked up last year, the left hind hoof is the only thing on her body that is not covered. You know-Murphy's law.

After P was done working on Lily's left hind, Lily put the hoof on the ground and then slowly raised her right hind, flexing the leg all the way up and just holding it in the air for several seconds, fetlock almost to stifle, then slowly bringing it back down to a resting position. This freaked me out x3. I have never seen her do something like that; I've actually never seen any horse do something like that, other than our resident DSLD horse and a video of a mare with stringhalt. Charles saw it too. P missed it because she was getting the hoof testers out of her truck.

The farrier hoof tested both of Lily's hinds. Her left hind was less sensitive than I would have expected, and her right hind was non-reactive, which made me feel a little better.

P said it should be fine to continue riding Lily and turning her out, as she had been fine up until now. I considered doing a short ride in the arena, but talking with Tina, we figured the trail might be better. Plus we already know how abrasive sand is, so Tina and I went on our usual Tuesday Trails (Charles was thrilled to go back home to take a nap, since I had woken him up early to come to the barn), and we had a really good time, but Lily was definitely ouchy on rocky ground. We took the Woodlands trail, which we hadn't tackled in a while, because the footing is softer, often covered by grass or leaves.

I took a million photos with my cell:

This trail follows Rock Creek most of the way. There were some stunning views of the stream. 

Everything is well on its way to greenness

Skunk lettuce in full bloom 

LITERALLY on the buckle

New baby leaves on a tree branch hanging over the trail

Lily did fine on the trail ride and, being familiar with this trail + 24 hrs of turnout, she behaved like an angel. We only walked; nothing strenuous. However, after the ride, Lily was really sore on both hind legs when standing on concrete and I felt beyond horrible. I soaked her left hind with Epsom salts, which always used to make her feel better, and gave her a gram of bute mixed with some of her hay cubes.

My mare looked positively miserable. I had her stand in the cross ties in front of Jez's stall while I soaked her, so she could visit with her buddy and I could hang out with Sally, who had come to spend time with her girl.

During that time, Jez had a weird choking episode. Nothing came out of her nose, but she was coughing and playing with her tongue and teeth in a way that seemed like she had something stuck behind her tongue or in a tooth. It was a completely random occurrence, and it freaked both Sally and me out. Jez seemed quite relaxed during the whole thing, and after coughing several times, BQ got called down to see. Jez then started just playing with her lips and mouth in a way that she'd never done before. It was very bizarre.

Luckily, this resolved during Jez's walk afterwards. She was still making faces, but she was spooked mightily by the tractor. Lots of dancing and snorting, but I was able to reel her in and prevent her from leaping around and taking off. After that, however, she was completely back to normal. I guess whatever was stuck in her mouth got spooked out!

During the time we were watching Jezebel in her stall, however, Lily did that strange thing with her right hind again-flexing it up all the way, then bringing it down to rest, while BQ was checking on Jez. She did it at least 3 times. The 3rd time, I surreptitiously went over to her and pushed her gently so she'd put the leg back down. I didn't want to get asked about that; I wanted to figure it out myself first.

I scheduled the vet exam for Tuesday April 23rd. It was the very soonest the vet could come out. Of course-now I get to lose sleep for a full week wondering what will happen to my mare. And with this new odd behavior with her right hind, I will most likely end up needing BOTH hinds worked up now. (At least the right hind is covered by insurance....) And then I was unable to schedule the exam with the practice senior vet; it is going to be the new associate, Dr. R, working up Lily. I liked her when I met her, and I like her ability to use minimum resources to the max (they don't have the best ultrasound and x-ray machine, but she makes them work!), but I've heard awesome things about Dr. S when it comes to treating this kind of issue, and he is outstanding at doing follow-ups and staying on top of things. I guess we'll find out if Dr. R is just as good...I just hate being the guinea pig.

A hoof surgery entree with a side of hospital plate...
You know what this would mean, though, right? Since it's a hind leg, Lily would need 4 shoes, after all this work and expense to get her going this well barefoot. *sigh*

If you want to catch up on the long process that was getting that left hind diagnosed the first time, go herehere and here, in that order. I even had to argue with my vet back in FL to get that hoof radiographed...