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Monday, April 5, 2010

Miss Dandelion goes poof

Farley started shedding ~a month ago, but decided to do her annual hair dump starting on Friday.
This means she goes "poof" like a dandelion and goes semi nude for a week, while her summer coat desperately tries to catch up.
Great - just what I wanted to show this fancy lameness vet - a naked dandelion. 
Sixty minutes of pre-vet grooming made her more naked (and here's the magically part) and no less hairier. 
Oh well.  I tried. 
"Get on with it!", you say, "I didn't come here to read about a shedding update!"
So, part of my hesitation is I don't know whether I have good news or bad news.
I'll just tell the story and let you guys tell me, alright?
The good thing about endurance horses?  They do really good trot outs.  While the other exams had screaming, clapping people - our exam had an energetic, forward trotting horse, who trotted in a straight line without running over the handler. 
Good girl.
The muscle-skeletal exam was fairly straight forward. In a straight line she looked serviceably sound.  On the lunge she was clearly (at least to me.  Probably a grade .5-1) landing toe first and short striding on her LH (both when it was on the outside, and on the inside).  For some reason she always gets very very tense while lunging or in the round pen.  She's gotten better at the trot....but the canter is a joke.   You ask for a canter on the lunge and you get a very tense horse with her head in the air that rushes and trips into the canter at top speed, holds it for a couple of strides, and then goes back to power trotting.  She's gotten a bit better when it's just her and me, but the new atmosphere and handler seemed to make her regress back to her old habits.  Which makes it very difficult to conclusively say whether stifles were involved.
Negative flexion test on her right hind.
Slight positive flexion test on her left hind.
Vet said he was comfortable in assuming it is entirely hocks at this time....that her canter issues could be related to the fact she's a really GOOD trotter.  I told him that her canter IS affected when she's lame, but the trot is always lamer.  The canter seems secondary and he agreed that there could be secondary inflammation, being caused by the hocks.   
We decided on radiographs.  Vet said it wouldn't change what he wanted to do (injections), but I felt better having a baseline in case I have problems in the future. 
We did the left hind only.
Here's when we get to the part that I'm not sure is good/bad/doesn't matter.  Her x-rays were clear. 
Like, pre-purchase exam passing clear. 
Vet said he could get really picky about one little area that might be a little dark.  That one of the the joint spaces might be a tad bit narrower....but really they look pretty good. 
This is what I know about Farley.
She is an honest horse.
Some (less kind) people might call her a wimp. :)
I think this is a good thing.  Minx was a very very tough horse.  If she showed a little pain it was time to write the obituary, or at least the retirement notice because something was WRONG.  Farley is the complete opposite.  If something is wrong - even just a little she'll let you know.  She doesn't overreact, but she doesn't ignore it either. 
In this case, she has shown intermittent lameness about once a month.  Not-heading-bobbing-OMG-what-have-I-done, but just "something is a little wrong" lameness.  So it makes sense to me that the xrays don't show a LOT of damage.
However....I do wish they had been a little bit more conclusive.  Something we could point to and say "Aha!  There is it!"  Instead she got injected and we'll have to wait and see. 
Vet seemed unconcerned so I'm going to be optimistic, yet watchful.  Sound like a good plan?
She was injected with Legend and Methylprednisolone acetate (Depo-Medrol).  (Here's a good post with some basic information) A bit of banamine and bute to help out with any discomfort from the injections, and off we went with instructions to exercise lightly for a couple of days (dressage lesson on Wednesday is fine) and back to regular work (including an endurance ride if I want) this weekend. 
He let me know that doing a round of Adequan in early July before Tevis and Virgina City is an option, but I'm taking the wait and see approach.  Get through the next 4-6 weeks and see how she is. 
I do want to say that going to the best of the best in the area was worth every single extra dollar (and really it was minimal - maybe an extra $80 of a $650 bill?).  This vet oozes confidence and professionalism.  He's also a surgeon.  He does joint injections every day of the week and is known in the area for being really good at it. 
I talked to my Mom this morning and once again was reminded that horse people sometimes talk a different language.  She thought it odd that I hadn't done my minute by minute posts, detailing the accident that led to the lameness.  So for all you non-horsey people......The hock issue is an arthritic change of a joint that is fairly static (not high motion), that leads to chronic inflammation.  Repetitive motion and wear and tear is the major cause, which means there's no magical moment I can point to, to say "that's what caused it". 
Another odd bit of information....
During the exam, the vet pointed out that the sides of her withers are sore (the right side more-so)....but it was kind of hard to tell as she was playing jumper-hypersensitive- arab.  *sigh*.  Not a concern right now, but something to keep an eye on.  Depending on whether I get the same soreness response at home I'll decide how much to OCD about it.  I don't feel my new Haf pad is the same quality as my older one, so I might look at going back to a woolback. 


  1. Radiographic findings regularly do not correlate with positive flexions in the hocks.

    Hope the injections help. If I might add, I think it would be incredibly beneficial (and somewhat foolish not to) do a course of Adequan the month before Tevis and then hit her again with another shot or two before VC, specifically when she is showing discomfort related to arthritic changes and/or inflammation of the joints.

    We ask these horses for so much, and they give so willingly, it seems that if there is an obvious problem and a well researched/documented aid to assist with the problem (such as Adequan/Legend) it is unjust not to do so.

    Hock issues (and subsequent back pain) are ridiculously common with all performance horses and with the correct maintenance can be a non-issue.


  2. We did hock injections once last year on Hank, and regular rounds of an adaquan/legend generic as preventitive. He hyper flexed a knee in the middle of the year, so that got injected too. We put a lot of time and money in to keeping our horses healthy and sound to go down the trail. They work hard, and I think this is often just part of what is needed to prevent damage that can't be fixed later. Yes, we did a round before Tevis too.

  3. :( i no what u mean about wanting a more conclusive reading.. When Sassy was kicked we had radiographs and it didnt show much, and at the time i was frustrated but now i see that it was a good thing.. I hope this gets resolved quickly for you, farley and your ride season...

  4. Very interesting post. I hope to live vicariously through you and never have to deal with lameness issues, but that seems statistically unlikely.

  5. I'm working on a post about pads....need to get a couple more photos first.

    Going back to the woolbacks, though I'm using my old ones. They are better than the new ones.

    As with most things these days, the new stuff isn't made as well as it used to be!

    I also recommend a basic Adequan/Legend type program - once a month for maintenance is good, more for startup or special occasions.


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