Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Vet visit report

The news is not much, I’m afraid. The vet was supposed to come at 3 p.m., but was late because of a colic—ironically it was on our same road, so at least she was in the neighborhood. After that, she was with us until almost dark, and by then I knew I wasn’t going to be able to make the drive over to Brothers for OR100 anyway. I really wanted to be there for Heather, too. It is such a funny thing to have introduced her to the sport when both of us were very green and now watch her ambitions far surpass mine.

(Not that I mind. It isn’t really my business what motivates her or anyone else. I get tired of the endless pot-stirring on Facebook by endurance prescriptivists who want us all to have the same goals.)

So what happened with the vet first was I just had her palpate the squishy spot. There isn’t much to feel, except that it doesn’t match the other leg. There’s no heat and he doesn’t object to having it messed with. Then I trotted him out for her on the pavement, straight lines. Then walking figure 8’s. Then hoof testers. He was apparently sound.

So we took him to the round pen. Trotting to the right he was willing and normal and springy. To the left he was sullen and resistant. Luckily, she could see what I was seeing. She said it was at most a grade 1.5 lameness, but at least I wasn’t imagining things!

I had given her the whole history of that foot not having a heel bulb and being in a cast for a month, etc, so we decided that the first step was going to be a nerve block on the foot to rule out everything from the heel down. The nerve block made no difference in his attitude or movement, so that told us that the hoof was not the source of the problem.

After a lot of talk, we decided to go ahead and ultrasound the leg to be sure it wasn’t something more along the lines of what Sinwaan is dealing with.

It was actually pretty neat to see the ultrasound. First she ran the wand thing down his leg very slowly, looking for dark spots (fluid) or spots where the texture looked different. You can see the actual fibers of the tendon on ultrasound, which was pretty neat. That didn’t show anything, so she did the other front leg for comparison. Then she did still images in both legs at regular intervals. So she’d take a picture of the left leg 10 cm down from the knee, then the same with right leg, then the computer would compare the two and look for differences in the size of the tendons. She did that every 5cm all the way down both legs.

The findings there were pretty limited: The upper part of his left front deep digital flexor tendon is very slightly enlarged. That is all we saw. And by very slightly, we are talking about millimeters. It could be nothing.

She said that because we are past the stage of acute lameness, anything we do now will be all about managing the healing process. So, he was on a very low dose of bute last week, and I hosed the leg for 20 minutes a day. No “forced exercise” until next week, but he can still be turned out alone as he’s not getting stirred up. We could leave him stalled, but I think that might make him worse mentally. He is already wound pretty tight from so little exercise over the summer (since K-tat, really). I know OR100 would have done his brain a world of good, but that deep sand would have shredded his tendon if it already has a weak spot.

I trotted him a little in the round pen over the weekend, and I really need a second opinion. I don’t think I see anything, but at this point I’m also paranoid about making things worse by asking him to do anything strenuous. The problem was very hard to see before. Now it is… gone? Still there? I really don’t know. He came off the bute last Thursday, so I am interested to see if the squishy spot comes back once the anti-inflammatories have worked their way out of his system. One upside of all this is that now I have enough bute on hand to dose an elephant, so we can start back up immediately if the leg does get squishy again.

Next up is a new trimmer and bodywork tomorrow. You probably remember how I was so excited about the last guy being a Real Barefoot Trimmer, but I felt pretty burned after the easyshoe fiasco and lack of any overall improvements to the feet during our nine-month relationship.So I'm trying someone new who has a reputation for band-aid ripping instead of tiptoeing, if you catch my drift.

As I figure it (cynical as I am lately) even if the new trimmer lames my horse by being too aggressive, we aren’t actually going to be any worse off than we already are.

Same with the bodywork. It’s not like things are going to get worse.

I have no idea what comes next. Let's all think positive thoughts.


  1. I'm so sorry for you two, Ruth :(

    re: bute - you fell for the economical giant tub too, didn't you? I bought it (so cheap!) and immediately realized that my one horse is never going to use it all up. You could dope a retirement farm with that tub of orange bute.

    May the trimmer and/or bodyworker either help or break him so obviously that you finally figure out what's going on. Hugs.

  2. Hoping you get to the bottom of it...winter is coming, maybe a season of rest will set everything to rights?

  3. Dog gone it anyway! I like your positive attitude & am in agreement with the FB endurance "know-it-all's" :-) Plenty of those :-)