The alliteration in the title is really the only funny part of this post, but I couldn’t help myself!
Last winter, Simon and I had an incident while visiting another hunt. I came off and landed on my head and Simon got wrapped in hot wire and (understandably) kind of lost his shit. We both had some time off after the incident and both seemed to get back to normalcy pretty quickly. Not long after this I was having a lesson on Coco with my jumping trainer and, while chatting, the trainer mentioned something about Simon being kind of wonky in his hind end.
All of this information sat in my head marinating for a couple months. Simon didn’t feel off and he wasn’t exhibiting any significant behaviour that would indicate he was in pain. No head bobbing. No bucking. He wasn’t girthy. However, I still couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t quite right. There were more subtle signs like being clumsier than normal. Just a feeling that he wasn’t moving out like he used to. He’s also been grumpier, not the easygoing horse I bought in 2017.
After my trip to Montana in May I scheduled a visit from a body worker for both Coco and Simon. Coco was totally fine and just enjoyed her massage (no one is surprised!). Simon, however, proved to be a bit of a hot mess! He was VERY sensitive to work on his back, more on the left than the right. His butt was sore. HIs poll was sore or at least sensitive. And his neck was sore. We made a plan to have him worked on regularly and also to have his saddle fit evaluated as soon as possible.
Trail riding in Eastern Montana on the Moore Ranch. STUNNING views!
So we did that for a few weeks and got his saddle adjusted (she assured me the saddle fits well and adjusting the flocking was all he needed) and he definitely improved, but he was still quite sore in his back and not showing enough improvement to believe that we were fixing the issue. In July he had a full lameness exam. I REALLY like my veterinarian and appreciate that she doesn’t start by throwing her entire medical bag at a problem. She did a bunch of flexions and it was pretty obvious that his hocks were sore so she recommended injections. There was no talk of doing any kinds of radiographs or scans. It was a very easy “yes” to do injections. It turned out that his hock joints were quite dry, so had likely been sore for a while. As with all joint injections he got a few days off and went back to work and definitely seemed more comfortable.
We gave it a couple weeks before he saw the body worker again. He was definitely better, but still sore in places we thought he wouldn’t be with successful injections. Ugh. We opted to put some more fitness in his plan and keep up with body work. Improvement was good, but there was still room for more.
A few weeks ago I videoed a ride to see what he looks like and noticed that his right hind wasn’t stepping up under himself like his left hind was stepping. I sent the video to my veterinarian and she agreed, so we scheduled another appointment for a second lameness exam. The appointment was a couple weeks out due to both of our travel and work schedules and in that time quite a lot of white hair was coming in on both sides of his withers indicating a possible issue with saddle fit. I sent photos to my saddle fitter (whom I love!) and she was very concerned so made an appointment to come out within a couple of days.
The angry white hairs that tattle on poor saddle fit. Photobomb by Jaguar!
The good news was that the first thing the fitter noticed was that his back had much better and stronger muscling than it had a few weeks prior. The bad news was that muscling was why the saddle was bridging and and not sitting balanced on his back. Thankfully Simon’s saddle is wool flocked so she was able to adjust the flocking for him. The gold standard of when a horse is comfortable is when he/she licks and chews. I’ll never tire of watching my saddle fitter work with my horses and after she adjusts the saddle and sets it on their back they lick and chew, when only minutes previously they were tossing their head and showing tension in their jaw. Simon licked and chewed and we were ready to roll with a well fitting saddle (while also knowing it may need to be adjusted again as his back continues to change).
In mid October Simon had his second 2021 lameness exam. My veterinarian again did flexion tests on both hind legs. I try to stay out of her way and not ask a million questions during her evaluation. She often has a veterinary student intern accompanying her so I just eavesdrop on their conversation and learn quite a lot. His symptoms indicated an issue with the hock and/or stifle joint(s) and (THANKFULLY….I think) a soft tissue injury was not suspected. Unsurprisingly she recommended doing radiographs this time around. She took images of his right hock and stifle only because there were no noticeable issues with his left hind. She found a bone spur in his hock and a less than ideally conformed stifle. Since his hocks had been injected fairly recently we opted to leave them alone for now, but she did inject his right stifle.
Taking it easy before a foxhunt. He’s the most photogenic horse I’ve ever owned. Such a handsome boy.
While we were at it, my veterinarian suggested getting radiographs of Simon’s back. This was a funny conversation. My veterinarian also rides and she told me that she did radiographs of her horse’s back, just because she can, and found a few spinous processes touching. Now she’s always worried his back hurts even though he is completely asymptomatic for kissing spines. She confessed that sometimes she regrets having taken the radiographs when they weren’t warranted. So when she asked me if I wanted to get radios of Simon’s back I told her I didn’t unless she thought it necessary. We laughed and she said she thought we should just to be sure if any of his back soreness was related to that and not his hind end hurting (fun fact; a LOT of horse back pain is a result of hind end lameness).
So, she would take a radiograph of Simon’s back and we’d all run to the computer to see what it showed. The first one, of his withers, was perfectly clear. YAY. The second one, of his mid back, showed only 2 vertebrae close enough to each other with an ever so slight indication of rubbing. Not enough to diagnose kissing spines, though. YAY. The last one, of the last 1/3 of his back towards his hip showed no impingement whatsoever. The veterinary takeaway is that the 2 vertebrae with the narrow joint space may be slightly uncomfortable since they sit directly under where the saddle sits, but most likely that will resolve with alleviating pain in his right hind and getting him super fit.
The overall takeaway from the exams are these:
Simon will always require maintenance in his hocks and stifles
He shouldn’t do a lot of jumping and small circles
Foxhunting is really kind of the perfect job for him with these issues
He should be kept as fit as possible and equibands were recommended
His maintenance probably won’t be linear
Thankfully this is a good job for Simon! He’s such a good boy in the hunt field!
I went into this second lameness exam with my eyes wide open to the fact that he may come out of it requiring extensive time off, full retirement, some kind of surgery, or some other really extensive issue. I’m moderately relieved to find what we found and know that it’s manageable and he can keep his same job. I’m a little bummed that he probably won’t be able to do the Take2 Hunters because he is SUCH a lovely mover and jumper, but we haven’t completely written that off. As chill as he is, he may be able to school over fences very little and be calm enough to show.
I’m back! I feel like I have my blogging ducks in a row now, but that can always change. I would love MORE feedback from my readers! If you like a post, please comment. If you want to know more about something, please tell me. If a blog is boring/offensive/fantastic, let me know. I sometimes feel like I’m writing into an abyss and getting feedback helps me stay motivated and write interesting content.
We have a somewhat unique lifestyle that people seem interested in learning about it, and that is the primary reason I started this blog. I love writing, too, so that is my selfish reason for blogging. I’m hoping to maintain more “themed” days so readers will know which days to tune in if there is content they find more interesting. I presume most non-riders get bored when I write posts about the details or riding and showing, but I enjoy reading the blogs of other riders so I like to add my 2 cents about that every now and again.
This post will be somewhat of a catch-up on goings-on at the farm as well as some just silly pics of the farm animals. Enjoy!
Chivas has been somewhat on lock-down the past 2 months because she has some serious seasonal allergies. We haven’t gotten her officially tested, but every spring she gets mad itchy and is a tiny ball of oozing, itchy sores and keeps us up at night with her scratching and chewing on herself. This year has been the best for keeping that itching at bay, but it reared it’s ugly head in mid-May so we opted to try to keep her in the house and not take her out for rides and feeding. This is how she feels about being left in the house.
Who knew a 13lb dog could TEAR UP a giant dog bed…..
I posted before my blog break that we had a surprise set of twin goats. They are adorable baby goats as all baby goats are, but they are also weirdos. This is a photo of them nursing from their aunt Punky. Punky doesn’t currently have any kids and hasn’t had any kids since last summer. Their mom, Penelope, is producing plenty of milk for them, but for some reason they have also started nursing from Punky. We have never had kids do this! Punky and Penelope were part of a set of triplets and Penelope had to be bottle-fed because the Mom only had one teat to nurse from. Since the kids are nursing from her, Punky has gotten milk in her udder. Kind of a fascinating little social/ag experiment going on here.
The twins and their aunt Punky.
It has gotten hot in Texas so Murtagh has more or less moved in the tack room with AC 24/7. He also has mites in his ears that we are treating so I like that he’s happy staying close to home. He is just the sweetest kitty in the whole world!
In early May the horses came running to the barn from turnout to be put up for the night. Coco and Simon walked into the barn aisle where Boot City was opening stall doors to their various stalls. Coco turned and pinned her ears at Simon and he in turn tried to turn away from her a little too quickly on the concrete floor and fell down. It was one of those stomach-in-your-throat moments as he lay there and waited to get up. When he got up he was CLEARLY lame on his left hind. We got the other horses put away and fed them their dinner and I went to taking pics and video to send to my vet. Within an hour Simon could hardly walk.
We approached the injury fairly conservatively (my vet didn’t seem at all worried that he had broken anything) with stall rest, cold hosing, bute and poultice. Thankfully it only took a couple weeks for him to be almost 90% sound. I erred on the side of caution and kept him on stall and then paddock rest for a full 3 weeks before he was clearly stir crazy, not hurting and about to do something stupid when his friends got turned out and he had to stay in the barn. While he was sore he was a perfect gentleman on stall rest and even behaved for Boot City when he had to do the cold hosing and poulticing while I was away at a horse show with Sterling. Simon is a very wise and calm horse for only being 4 years old.
Poultice and stall rest o-rama
It took a good few months for her to settle in, but Ouiser finally seems to be happy and content in our house. She didn’t leave “her” room for about 2 months and now she more or less has the run of the house. She loves to sun bath in window sills and she is very chatty with Boot City and me.
Ouiser getting out and about in her house
Last, but CERTAINLY not least, is our dear Pablo. Pablo appears to have foundered or something similar and he WILL NOT let us catch him to try to see what is up. He lies down a lot. Stands on soft ground as much as possible. Appears sore when he moves out. We fear that his refusal to let us treat him will result in an earlier than necessary demise and believe me when I say we have tried working with him. Donkeys are “stubborn”. Everyone knows this, but you don’t really understand it until you have had a donkey. They don’t forget anything and they are not at all trustful.
Someone has mistreated Pablo and he refuses to get over that. We have, in the past, forced him to let us vet his legs/feet, give him meds, etc, but it just isn’t worth it. He will occasionally go into an enclosure where he knows we can catch him and let us groom him or trim his feet or whatever, but he seems to be doing that less lately. We don’t really know how old he is, but we have had him for 11 years. All 11 of those years we have given him treats, groomed him and basically let him do what he wants, but he still is terrified of the halter and being caught. His feet don’t look bad and he’s eating just fine (as you can see by his belly!), so he’s not suffering. We got 10 semi-loads of sand in April and he’s been loving rolling in it, sleeping in it and standing on the piles.
If you are an actual donkey-whisperer, I’d be happy to hear your advice for dear Pablo.
Pablo on his empire of sand
Please comment if there is anything I don’t write about enough or that you are just interested to know more about. Thank you for being here and reading about our little corner of Texas and the interwebs! Happy weekend and I hope it is cooler where you are than it is here.
This poor horse! I feel SO bad for him! Thankfully he hasn’t seemed to be in much or really any pain, but my gosh this thing is taking FOREVER to heal! This is what his stifle looked like a little over a week ago. Much worse than before we drained it the first time.
The fluid started accumulating inside of the top of his hind leg AND around his stifle. I don’t know that this photo does it justice. It was SO fat!
Last Monday the vet came over again to drain it, again.
If you zoom in on this photo you can see the fluid flying through the air as it drains out. So. Gross.
As it was the first time, the fluid was an amber color mixed with some blood. The vet cut two large holes and really got into the fluid buildup to break the capsule where it was accumulating. This time some chunks came out in addition to the fluid, which the vet said were the walls of the capsule where the fluid was collecting. Part of the reason for cutting two holes was to tie a piece of rubber tube through the holes so they won’t close up so quickly and allow the accumulating fluid to build up, yet again.
After the second draining with the rubber tube in place.
It has been a week since the second draining and yesterday Sterling was lame on that leg again. I felt like the holes were sore and ready to have the tube removed, so that is just what I did. Took out the rubber tube, cold hosed it for 20 minutes, gave him some banamine and put some DMSO on the swelling. Within a few hours of doing that he was running around in his paddock so I presume the banamine helped! The fluid coming out now is much more opaque and seems like pus, but it isn’t stinky and worrisome.
For now we will cold hose twice a day, DMSO on the swelling and he’s getting an antibiotic just in case there is some infection. This poor horse! Add him to your prayer list that this heals up and he can get back to his normally scheduled life. He is SO sick of being kept up while his buddies go out to graze at night.
At least he has this guy to keep him company. I’ve been making Simon stay in with him because he doesn’t seem to care if he doesn’t get turnout. You know, like most 3yo thoroughbreds who are off the track, he just wants to laze around in his sandy stall run.
They really do like each other, I promise, they were just cranky yesterday. I presume Sterling was grumpy because his leg hurts and he is SO sick of being hurt!
It is kind of a long video with cheesy music, but you get the drift. At first I was terrified that it was something neurological. He wouldn’t walk straight and seemed a bit drunk. It wasn’t until I got him in his stall and ran my hands all over him that I found this:
Super, duper, giant fat stifle.
I texted the video to my vet and my trainer and both agreed (independently) that Sterling had most likely gotten kicked HARD in his stifle. Trainer recommended DMSO on it and vet recommended DMSO plus hydrotherapy twice a day as well as stall rest. Blargh. I was relieved to at least find an injury rather than something disease related.
Thankfully we have a well, otherwise this would be one expensive water bill!
Well, after a couple weeks of DMSO, hydrotherapy and stall rest the swelling just wasn’t going down so the vet came by this week to look at it and devise a plan. After looking it over he offered two options. Option 1 we could either put him back in work (he isn’t visibly lame anymore) and see if it goes down, but the risk there is that the swelling actually gets worse and results in permanent fluid build up on his stifle. Not very desirable. Option 2 was to lance the swelling and drain it. Gross, but probably better to get rid of the fluid. We went with Option 2. Sadly I don’t have any media from the lancing and draining, but suffice it to say it was gross. A mix of pale yellow liquid and blood. I hope you aren’t eating when you read this! Sterling was sedated and the area was numbed for the procedure so it went easily. Of course this is when Vet advised that I’m going to have to continue hydrotherapy AND try to squeeze fluid out of the newly cut hole for as long as the hole remains open. Sweet, and I don’t get the advantage of sedative and numbing.
More hydrotherapy after the stifle was lanced and drained. I bet half a gallon of liquid came out. Ew.
Vet advised that we may need to lance and drain it again after a few days. We are on Day 3 of hydrotherapy followed by squeezing the area to get fluid out. I enlist Boot City to help when he’s around since he has much stronger hands and Sterling can be a handful for stuff like this. I can’t imagine it feels good to have someone trying to squeeze a bunch of fluid out of a hole in your leg that is trying to heal. There seems to be a new spot with a smaller buildup up fluid, but overall the swelling has gone down. Sterling is mostly just angry that he’s on stall rest again and cries for his friends when they get turned out. Hopefully this works and we will be back to riding by early July.