...Where we stop?
Hopefully with a sound horse again!
Things have just gotten worse and worse with Moon's back issue.
Something is not right and I was at a total loss.
So I made an appointment with the new vet that I have been using to have a thorough exam and consult about all of the 'issues'.
It was mostly prompted by walking out yesterday morning and noticing that Moon's ears were 'dropped'. His head was canted and he kept shaking it.
I wiped Moon's ears and didn't feel anything. So I trimmed the long hair and peered down in there with a pen light. Couldn't see anything. So I took a soft cloth and wiped down in his ear as far as I could reach (gently!) and didn't get anything that looked out of the ordinary. As a last resort, I massaged the base of his ears and on the left side it felt like moisture squishing around down in there. For the life of me, I couldn't figure out how he would have gotten moisture down in there, so I figured having the vet check it out was in order.
I have been wanting to talk to her about the back issues, have him flex tested again and discuss ulcer medications anyway, so I guess it was actually good timing.
Of course, by this morning, Moon's ears were up again and even though he seems a bit sensitive to touch around the base, the squishy feeling is gone and he has stopped shaking his head. The vet decided it wasn't worth sedating him and thought perhaps it was just a wax nodule. Apparently massaging the base of Moon's ears helped it dissipate.
So on to the stuff that has been making me pull my freaking hair out...
The back issue!!!
I gave her a run-down of the symptoms and Moon's personality.
She agreed that if Moon does not have a full-blown ulcer, he at least is probably prone to gastric distress. Thankfully, today was not a day that Moon decided to suffer in silence. He was in a full-blown 'mood'. She had the receptionist call around to see what it would cost to scope him, but at a whopping $400...we both decided it was probably most effective to just start feeding him a better ulcer preventative supplement. I had been looking into the Gastroguard/Ulcergaurd...but at over a $1,000 a month, she thought without the scope to back up confirming an actual ulcer...it may be a futile and excessively expensive measure. She recommended Platinum Balance. Personally, I was looking to switch to U-Guard. I kinda like the fact you can buy that in powder, liquid or pellet form. Any opinions on one vs. the other from anyone?
One thing I did learn...whole oats is not good to feed to horses with ulcers. Rolled oats = fine. Whole (even crimped is not great) is irritating. So it's off to return my newly purchased stock of whole oats in favor of rolled oats.
Since Moon's blood work and urinalysis had come back normal, we talked about kidney stones. Kidney stones are not common in this area, nor any of the areas I have kept Moon. Adding in the fact that I seldom feed alfalfa...she said the chances of that are highly unlikely.
Bladder stones would be more likely. However, we pretty much ruled that out because Moon urinates normally and I have never seen any sort of discoloration or dark (bloody) streaks or streams even at the end of his urination.
We moved on to movement and palpation. Moon is obviously sore over his kidney/loin area...on both sides now. Not just his left side. His tail is raised and he is in obvious discomfort in the hindquarter. The vet flex tested both hind legs/stifles and came up with only one issue. His right hind foot. She applied the hoof testers and found just enough tenderness in the sole around his toe area to cause a reaction. Moon does have a bit of thrush that I had already noticed and have been treating for a few days.
There was no tenderness in his other feet, so it's a possibility he stepped on a rock...or has an abscess brewing. Even though it has only been 4 weeks since he was re-shod, his feet have grown significantly and he is due to be re-set, so I made that appointment with my farrier. I'm actually going to have his shoes pulled...I think! We will say what the farrier says.
I will say...I was not as happy with my shoeing jobs the last time I was over there as I have been in the past. I didn't think they looked as good on any of the horses as they usually do, but there was a lot going on, a lot of people popping in to visit and the farrier has a new kid in training. The kid didn't trim the feet or set the shoes...just pulled the shoes and then clenched the nails. However, I think the farrier was disjointed doing his job, trying to juggle trimming and setting two horses at once and having constant disruptions. From now on, I am only going to take one horse at a time and I won't go in the evening again. It's much quieter around his place when I go over at noon. But I suspect that is the reason I noticed (and the vet pointed out) that Moon was loading to the outside on his left front.
Neither of the minor feet issues would account for the excessive soreness over Moon's loin though. Personally, I think I can feel two vertebra that feel out of position just before the break in the loin, but the vet said she is not good with that, so she didn't give an opinion...guess I'll have the chiro out again. But even with that, the tightness/pain over Moon's loin seems excessive.
So finally we come to the question of saddle fit. Of course, I tell the vet that I finally have a little saddle that really seems to fit Moon...however...I mentioned to her that it does have tiny little skirts and it had crossed my mind, due to my mom and step-dad's teachings that could cause undo pressure on the spine. I pull the saddle out of the trailer and set it on Moon.
Wanna know what?
The vet came to the same conclusion that even though this saddle fits Moon very well...the tree ends at the exact point where Moon's back pain starts...right over his kidneys. We think the tree may actually be too short and applying a consistent pressure to the kidney area....
Which, when I started putting the time-line and everything together...
Fits! (or doesn't depending on how you look at it)
This was not the saddle I was riding the night that Moon jammed his back, but I switched to using it shortly after, to help free up his back and every since then things have just gotten worse and worse, with a lot of unexplained back pain issues.
Suddenly...all kinds of things started clicking in my head. Usually when I ride in the desert, I use the Cactus All-Around because it's so comfortable for long rides. Moon is never sore after a long desert ride. But when I am around the place and practicing, I always use the little barrel saddle so I get the right 'feel' and after a couple of days, that is when I start noticing Moon getting more and more irritated and sore.
God, I feel dumb now!
It's not a given that this is the problem...I'm going to have to go back to riding my Cactus saddle around the place and see...
But hopefully...we have finally figured it out (fingers crossed). All this time....with having so many people looking and checking things out...It never dawned on any of us that it was the back of the saddle causing problems. Holy Crap!!!