Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Never Ending Project

I will preface this by saying...I have actually made more progress with Jet, formerly referred to as The Big Bay, in the last few months than I have in the previous 2 years.

That being said...

I am starting to feel like he is the never ending project...money disposal horse. (sigh)

The good news is; I no longer feel like I am taking my life in my hands when I ride him. He is quiet, confident, getting soft in the face, soft in the body and shows absolutely no inclination to blow a gasket anymore.

We have a fantastic walk and a good, steady trot. Transitions from the walk to trot are good. Transitions from a trot to a canter are most decidedly uncertain and a little all over the place and he isn't comfortable holding a lope for more than a stride, maybe two. I'd much rather him want to break down to a trot again vs. taking off at a dead run or blow up anyway...So we just keep working on it. It will come. He stops nicely and backs, although a bit draggy for the first few steps yet, but he's not resistant. He turns on the forehand, turns on the haunches and sidepasses.

The bad news is, his joint injections have worn off and I can tell his right stifle and hock are bothering him again and he is wanting to step to the outside of his left foot also. That means, if I want to keep going forward with him...I'll have to have him re-injected. Stifles and hocks.

Getting this horse injected the first time was really more along the lines of, Let's see if this helps. I sort of knew that pain issues were the underlying reason for some of his previously untrainable behavior. I didn't really expect it was the SOLE issue.

This is where I am uncertain, and nobody can really say, if injections are going to be a lifelong thing to keep this horse sound enough to hold together. My vet sort of indicated that it might be the case, but the truth is...I don't really understand why it would be so. The horse's stifle is uninjured. Conformationally, he's good, a little funky in the hocks, but those have actually straightened out significantly.

I don't really understand WHY he wants to fall apart physically and so drastically. He is definitely one of horsedom's great mysteries. I have never seen a horse want to fall apart like this in my life. I've seen some conformational trainwrecks that never had problems and yet, here is an uninjured, pretty well-put-together horse that just isn't sound without the aid of injections. It baffles me.

I looked at him long and hard today and wondered, Is this really worth it? And then he just rides out so sweet and willing and I groan. It's not fair to quit him now. Not when he's trying so hard to be a good horse. He can't help it that his body wants to betray him for no apparent reason.

I'm going to go with one more round of injections, see if we can't get him conditioned past this tendency to travel all weird and lopsided. Maybe now that we are past all of the head-issues...that was really just a manifestation from pain, maybe the conditioning will take hold and solidify his body and he won't always want to fall apart. There really is nothing else I can do. I either have to stay on the path we are on or I have to put him down, because if his previous problems are any indication, he won't hold up for long without 'help' anyway, even if he is not being ridden.

I swear, I sure have accumulated the oddest bunch of horses I have ever owned in my life. Between Moon's asthma, Frosty's IR and this horse's odd hind-end, not to mention the fact that Beretta was taken out of any potential usefulness before she was even weaned (not that I knew it at the time) and Shooter's leg injury last year...

Oiy Vey!! The fact that I have ridable horses at all is a testament to how wonderful our modern times are. People can bemoan how awful the horse world has gotten, but the truth is, our horse's lives, if we chose to make it happen, have improved dramatically.


Karen Burch said...

You might try a joint supplement to see if that helps. I put Ashke on Smartpak Smartflex II when I discovered he had a surgically repaired left patella (which has left him lopsided in the way he uses his body.) The change and improvement in his ability to transition between gaits, the way in which he carries himself at liberty and the speed with which he can now more are a huge improvement.

The joint supplement is about $40 a month, and I have no idea how that compares to injections. It might be worth a try if the only other alternative is to put him down and you think he might be worth saving.

aurora said...

I'm a new follower of your blog (hi!) after reading about my young horse's sore hock predicament, Fern Valley suggested I hop over here to read what you've done to treat sore hocks with alternative methods vs shots.

Sounds like Jet is a unique case, and Frosty is getting injections. Did you find other methods were no longer effective?

Every situation (and horse) is unique. Running barrels asks a lot more then what Koda would face with me as his owner. Any insight you could share would be appreciated! I'll check back, or below is my latest related post.

Also wondering if you support the hocks/shots with supplements?


Kestrel said...

Maybe it's just me, but he looks like his rear tendons and fetlocks are sore in that picture. Might add some liniment from the hocks down, to the equation. He may have done some slight tendon damage since he was traveling so funny, and it takes a long time for the fibers to remodel.

You probably already do that though...!

Shirley said...

In regard to your last paragraph, I think the fact that you have ridable horses is a testament to your determination to do the best you can for them, no matter what.

smazourek said...

I swear horses are made out of fine china. I'm planning on having a vet out to assess my gelding's hind end because I know something back there is bothering him. I just don't know what yet.

BTW- I checked out that website. She's got a two year old called The Red Monster who looks like he might be something special. As in way the hell out of my budget special.

Cindy D. said...

His name is Bubbles....he told me so! LOL

aurora said...

Thanks for taking the time to hop over to my blog & share valued input, much appreciated. Best wishes for Jet's continued progress!

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

Karen-Joint supplements are already part of my feeding program.

Kestrel-He moved on me is mostly the reason he is standing like that, but you are not incorrect in your assessment. He definitely has some remodeling going on. Cold-hosing, ice, liniment rubs and mud poultices are all part of my leg care regime for all of the horses.

And I use Back On Track sheets on them regularly. Man do those things help their toplines get and stay supple. I've noticed a big improvement in my horses since I started using the BOT products.

smazourek-I notice that one too. Some of them just reach right out and grab a person's attention. (sigh) If I want to buy prospects like that I am going to have to stop raising my own though.

Anonymous said...

You really helped me a while ago with your list of ulcer causes. I finally got my gelding's stopping every 15 minutes to stretch out like he was going to pee under control with UlcerGard. But then the underlying cause needed to be found. He could not work with his head down. He would cow kick in the middle of loping. I was sure it was pain, so I took him to the lameness vet and he only tested 1/5 sore in his stifles/hocks. Didn't make sense. So I kept using him until he was lame enough to get someone to believe me.

I took him to another lameness vet with a surgery center. He didn't believe me either, and blocked pasterns/fetlocks, suspensories, hocks had already been x-rayed, and finally he had to say what I had already told him. Stifle. Got his stifle x-rayed and was really hoping for OCD, but no. There was no apparent issue found. Then he moved to ultrasound and found some swelling in the stifle soft tissue. Well, that can be cartilage problem or meniscus tear. Only surgery would tell.

I had a bad feeling about this since it had been building for so long. Anyway, during surgery it was found that my guy has defective cartilage in his stifle. Instead of being tough and smooth, it's mushy with a dimpled surface. The doctor did what he could to help it, but the prognosis is not good.

Anyway, sorry for rambling, but sometimes it's an expensive search for what is wrong with these guys and they all can't be fixed, unfortunately. I did want to find out what was really wrong with my gelding before I made any decisions, and we could afford it, so that make the whole thing a little easier. He's hanging around 90 days post-surgery now and I don't know if he'll ever be comfortable enough to even go on flat trail rides.

Thanks again for the ulcer advice. I hope you leave it up for other people.

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your gelding's prognosis Anon. It's true, they can't all be fixed, but like you, I have the means and the time to invest and it makes me feel better knowing I can do what I can, even if the final prognosis is not a happy ending.