Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Next Step

Apparently Moon and Spooks have very healthy systems because their darned hooves are growing like crazy. Not that that is a bad thing...but since both are shod, it's definitely decreasing the amount of time between resets. Both horses needed to be reset at 4 weeks, but my farrier was out of town, so they had to wait an extra week. Five weeks and it looked like they hadn't been done in a couple of months. Sheez!

The first thing I made sure to discuss with my farrier was Moon's right front foot...wished I had remembered to take pictures (sorry)...

I was a little concerned because he was practically busting out of his shoe in the rear quarters. There was a good quarter inch spread of hoofwall hanging over the edge of the shoe. This was not happening on the left front.

Now, I trust my farrier...or I wouldn't use him. I'm a really fussy bitch about my horse's feet. I don't give a flying crap about 'pretty' or size. I want them trimmed properly and I want the shoe set under the foot properly. End of story.

There is always the off chance that for whatever reason that a shoe may get set a little 'tight'. So I just wanted to bring the noticeable difference to my farrier's attention and talk with him about it a little, especially since he has an apprentice now that is the one that pulls the shoes and probably would not have seen exactly what the foot is doing before the shoe was pulled. I'm certainly not going to insult my farrier's knowledge or skill, but I am not afraid to remind him that I know a bit about hooves myself. Just because I never learned to nail a shoe on, doesn't mean I don't know what I'm looking at.

Open communication is absolutely paramount with your hoofcare professional. I've said it before and I'll say it again...If you cannot discuss your horse's feet with your farrier...FIND A NEW FARRIER!!!

It was very important for my farrier to see what Moon's right front foot was doing because it has a direct correlation with what is going on with his left stifle. I made sure to tell my farrier that the day before, when I ponied Moon in the desert that I had noticed that he was pushing off of his toe on the left hind. That means that Moon is sore in that stifle. I suspected he would be after running in that extremely deep and sticky ground on Saturday. The fact that Moon's right front foot is growing differently than his left indicates that he is struggling to compensate for that stifle again.

Edited to add...To address the immediate problem of Moon pushing off of his toe, the farrier put shoes with a bit of a trailer on his hinds. That will give him more support in the heel area.

Soooo...the conversation moved on to what is the next logical step to mitigate the stifle problem. I don't have any personal experience with having a horse's joints injected and to be honest...I have purposely steered clear of going that route. I think it has become far to commonplace and there is not always enough investigation done by the vets before automatically recommending joint injections. When my vet recommended hock injections for Moon earlier this year...I flat out told him I was not interested.

I'm still not interested in the hock injections...because I don't think Moon's hocks are the problem. That seems to be the only glitch I have when talking to the professionals...they all want to start with injecting his hocks and I am adamant that the problem is the stifle...either the joint itself or one of the tendons. I don't want to hear about no damn hock injections. I think after the farrier did some feeling around and some stretching/flexing...he is inclined to believe me. ;-)

His recommendation was to have Moon ultrasounded as soon as possible. We have to find out what is the problem...joint or tendon. Moon does not seem to be sore in the joint when it is manipulated...however the fact that the Adequan was so beneficial to him indicates that might be the problem. Moon is sensitive to manipulation of the outer tendon, which could indicate strain or a tear in that tendon or the tendon could just be sore from compensating for the joint. Luckily, the vet I usually use, and who has already seen Moon, is the one who has a fancy new ultrasound machine and my farrier said he is the one he would recommend I take Moon to for a diagnosis.

The vet gets back in the office on Wednesday and I am hoping he can ultrasound Moon this week yet. I was planning on taking him to a 2-day race over the weekend, but now I kinda want to know what is going on before taking him. :-/

It seems that in lou of some sort of injury that would require surgery, the standard 'fix' to a stifle is...

If it's the joint...an injection into the joint itself. That is an immediate fix and apparently does not require any time off. It also sounds like it's a one time and done injection. Unlike the annual hock injections.

If it is a tendon problem...there are a few different things to consider...If the tendon is torn...time off...If the tendon is not torn, but simply stretched...A different injection into the tendon which will cause it to shorten. I believe the method is to inject iodine into the tendon.

From what I understand, neither method is overtly painful and the relief is almost immediate.

Still...moving in this direction is a bit scary for me. It was a big step to simply move to using injectable Adequan...now I am considering actual joint/tendon injections? While it would seem that this all revolves around his ability to compete...it's more than that...I have come to the conclusion that Moon is getting uncomfortable in his daily life. I am unable to turn him out to pasture as often as I would like because it seems affect his stifle and keeping him up for too long makes him crabby and unhappy. To remove any unnecessary pain or discomfort he has to deal with on a daily basis would be my ultimate goal and if that means that he can still continue to compete...well, that is just icing.


14 comments:

Funder said...

Really interesting findings! Poor Moon, can't wait to see what the u/s finds...

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

Uhhh...Forgot to say that to address the immediate problem of Moon pushing off of his hind toe...The farrier put shoes with a bit of a trailer on his rears. That will give him more support back there.

WishIHadAHorsey said...

I hope you can figure out what is going on. Kudos to spending the time to find out what is going on rather than jumping straight to injections. And even if you wind up with them, at least you will know why and what changes to look for.

Reddunappy said...

When I do have mine shod, I have always asked the farrier to set the heels wide. I want a good 1/8 inch of shoe showing at the heel. On horses that overreach this would be difficult. But I have never had a horse step on a shoe and pull it. I just find the hoof relaxes after being shod, and starts hanging over within a week, the expansion and contraction thing.

Paint Girl said...

Since I used to work for a big show barn, where injections are very commonly used, I like that you would rather not go that route and get to the root of the problem to see what exactly needs to be done. That shows a lot about you and how you care for your horses. At the show barns, it's all about going out and getting that Champion or Reserve Champion ribbon, not about the horse. I've seen many horses break down way too quick for that reason. It's sad.
It will be very interesting to see what the u/s shows. Hopefully it's not a tear in the tendon. We all just want Moon to feel better so you can go back to winning some money!!

fernvalley01 said...

I like that your major concern id Moons comfort , if he is sound to run cool, but the priority sounds look his comfort and well being are paramount

Shirley said...

Just curious, do you ever run him barefoot? Seems the hooves would be easier to maintain without the shoes, and do shoes help him to run better?

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

Reddunappy-I get what you are saying, but it was just one foot (the right front) that was starting to have some overhang...which is why I specifically brought it up with the farrier. If it was all or a set (front or back) that was showing the same problem, it would be different...I would believe that my farrier was just shoeing too tight and that would be the end of him nailing shoes to my horses feet. But when one foot starts to show problems it was either a problem with that specific shoe placement or that foot is changing to compensate for something else.

HOne thing that Sue Smith was really adamant about (and I heartily agree with) was the need to reset more often rather than try to leave any sort of 'grow into room' when shoeing barrel horses. She believes 4 weeks is the max you should go between resets and depending on the horse, she typically resets at 2-3 weeks when she is going down the road. I have been having Moon and Spooks reset every 4 weeks and they were sure ready for it at 4 weeks this time around. That one extra week really showed.

Shirley-Moon ran barefoot for 4 years and I much prefer to keep my horses barefoot so I can keep up with their feet myself. It was the middle of last year when I was watching his videos and realized he was stabbing his hind toes. That was when I decided to have him shod. Unfortunately, the run I put on him 2 days before he was going to be shod is when he got hurt. At the time, I believed he jammed his back...now with everything that is transpiring...I'm wondering if it was his back?...I'm thinking that the reason the chiropractor couldn't find anything after the first visit, even though Moon continued to show excessive soreness was because it was actually his stifle (again!). The back soreness sure could have been due to compensating for stifle pain and that is probably what brought on the ulcer/hindgut problem.

Laura said...

Interesting stuff...hopefully the shoe reset will help things in the stifles for Moon. Is the stifle injection that you are referring to the same as blistering the stifle? If so, I've heard that it works well... Don't forget to update us when you have the u/s report!

kestrel said...

My old horse had upward fixation of the patella, and I had the surgery done on him. They actually take a scalpel and cut the small tendon that slides over and hangs up. It took a long time to diagnose him, because he didn't hang up completely, and he was smart enough to kind of hitch his stifle joint and unlock it himself. When he was tranked for the surgery he locked solid though! He never had a problem after that, and I did everything with him for 28 years, jumped, showed, trails, games,... He died last year at age 30, and was never sore in his stifles. I have had several friends who tried hill work, etc. and their horses eventually wound up with arthritis in the joint. Good info on it in the book 'The Horse Doctor Is In' by Brent Kelley, DMV

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

You know kestrel...that is a really good point. I get the whole 'rehab' for the stifle after an injury or to bring condition level up...but it sure takes a whole lot of 'rehab' work to keep Moon sound. Moon's at a point in his 'career' and at an age where it seems like an awful lot of riding/conditioning just to keep him going. I pony him as much as possible to keep the work as easy as possible, but I kinda feel like I am wearing him out just to keep him strong.

Laura-I believe the injection into the tendon is called blistering. The iodine blisters the tendon and causes it to shorten, which keeps the leg from getting too far behind and further straining/stretching the tendon(s). I am not sure what the solution is that they inject into the stifle joint...probably the same as what they inject into the hocks?

Reddunappy said...

Sure hope you can figure out what is causing his problem.

Carroll Farm said...

Good Farriers are awesome, we are so lucky to have Wade (Mikey too). he is awesome with our girls and lets them help and teaches them quite a bit. He always is willing to chat with us and show Josh why he is doing something. AND, whenever we notice something with a foot or 2 we mention it to him and he will set the shoe different or square a toe or whatever it takes to fix it.

cdncowgirl said...

BEC do you remember me asking you ages ago about stifles & rehab? (for my friend's mare) She ended up getting the blistering done. The mare wasn't 100% after but she was much better. (part of why she wasn't 100% is the farrier was doing a crap job on her feet)

Funny that you would post this today, Sunday/Monday was the Ed clinic and just yesterday in the classroom portion someone asked about injections.