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Friday, May 6, 2011

Tess at 8 weeks

Tess is on the LEFT. (this is an edit, because OBVIOUSLY she is the white one on the left....not the right!!!! I don't know my right from my left. All riding lessons have to be taught using "outside/inside"!)  I'm told she's independent, but loves to be held to.  I think she's absolutely adorable.  She comes home in a week and I'm excited to have a puppy to play with.  It's great timing because.....
Farley was rechecked today.  First the good news.
The suspensory lesion looks good.  Very very good.  It isn't the problem right now. 
The thickening that I felt in the leg?  That I thought was the deep digital flexor?  It's actually a reinjury of the superficial digital flexor (SDF).  We ultrasounded her ~4 days post injury and it didn't show up.  But the progression of the lameness and how it presented makes sense for it to be a flexor.  At this point, we think that the SDF injury was there from the beginning, but didn't ultrasound well (sometimes takes 2 weeks for an injury to become readily apparent), and with the finding of the suspensory, there just wasn't a reason to investigate further and try to find a bunch of alternate diagnosises.  The suspensory was definitely an issue, and it's good that we found it.  When a few weeks later I felt something else was also going on in addition to the MBSL, I decided that the treatment was basically going to be the same whether it was suspensory or DDF (or SDF) and decided to wait until the recheck was due to ultrasound for additional injuries. (A decision I'm still comfortable with, since nothing would have been done differently, even if I had known 8 weeks ago that the SDF was involved) 
I wasn't blogging back when Farley originally injured her SDF, so here's the short version.
Approximately 2 weeks (December 2007) after purchasing Farley, before she was an endurance horse, we were doing a bit of walk/trot on the canal bank next to the stable.  On this particular day, Farley decided that the cow on the there side of the big wooden fence by the canal was  very scary.  And ran forward.  At a high rate of speed.  The cow thought this was very entertaining and decided to follow along.  E-dismount wasn't an option, nor was turning her since canal = very large basin of concrete besides me.  So we did a sort of in control very collected errrr.....gallop to the end of the fence.  Afterwards, she seemed off, but I couldn't see anything or really even feel it.  When I got back to the stable I palapated her leg and found an ouchy spot on her SDF.  And off we went to the vet.  Sure enough, it was an injury to the SDF, probably a back hoof that caught her front leg.  After 3 months of handwalking and then riding, we were cleared to start conditioning again.  Ten months later we were cleared to do our first LD.  Periodically over the years I've had the SDF rechecked.  As a result I have a really good baseline on what this flexor tendon looks like.  I was told by one vet that the degree of healing that Farley was able to do within the lesion was in the very top percentage of horses she had seen.   I've never had a problem with this injury since starting endurance, although you bet I've kept an eagle eye on it! 
Back to the present.
Obviously a reinjury is much more troubling than a new injury.  On the ultrasound the fiber pattern actually doesn't look that bad - no big holes, not really any dark spots....just mostly a fiber pattern that doesn't look as even as it should.  And the measurements of the flexor diameter are bigger.  But, the fact remains that it is a location that was previously injured, and thus we need to take very very seriously. 
The vet looked at me and asked whether it would be possible to take her off for 12 months to give it the best chance to heal.
My response?  Absolutely. 
My gut says that she will pull out of this and be sound enough to do at least 50's.  Whether she can do 100's again will depend on my time availability to put that kind of conditioning on her, and the race against her age (she's 12 now).  A year off can work miracles.  To tell you the truth - I'm not worried about it.  She'll certaintly be sound enough for hacking around and that's what I need right now - a pony I can hack on for the next couple of years.  Whether she can do 50's, 100's, or will be my "guest mount", or the horse I can pony my youngsters off in the future doesn't matter right now because that's at least 4-5 years in the future.  It's kind of nice that she'll be able to sit in pasture for my first year of vet school and I don't have to feel guilty about not riding.  :)  There's not anything that I should be doing right now that I'm not doing. 
Got the vet's clearance for walking under saddle (which I actually started doing the beginning of this week).  As part of her "vacation" this summer she'll do a lot of walking trail rides and some walking dressage and will be turned out in my parents pasture.  As most of you know, movement helps the fiber pattern be more normal as it heals, so it's important she keeps moving during her vacation - but I won't be doing anything that is considered "in work".  I'll probably fall off the face of the earth during my first year at vet school, and in the spring of 2012 will see what kind of horse I have. 
I still don't have any  conclusions on exactly HOW/WHY etc. it happened.  There's no obvious red flags.  She got lots of time off (4 months) since the previous 100, we weren't going faster than normal, and the footing was excellent.  Some of the factors that probably contributed were:
1.  Additional stress on the front end by starting her in jumping the previous fall/winter
2.  Getting very cold in the beginning of and near the end of the ride and perhaps compensating on the front end.
3.  Allowing her to trot down hills
4.  Having a knee issue that made it impossible for me to dismount and do any of the ride on foot.
5.  Not taking extended time off after a realtively (for us) high mileage season.
I want to be clear - I'm NOT beating myself up, and sometimes *stuff* happens.  But after some reflection, I think these are my takeaway lessons for future endurance adventures.
1.  No jumping. 
2.  In general, no trotting down hills (unless I want to dismount and jog down).  Sometimes it might be unavoidable and there will be exceptions, but in general I think I will concentrate on trying to make up time in other ways.  
3.  Take the cold as serious as the heat.
4.  Do not go to rides if the RIDER is physical compensating for something.  No more trying to work through physical problems at rides, especially 100 miles. 
5.  After a hard season, don't be afraid to take off 6 months MINIMUM. Or even longer. Might be a good excuse to have a 2nd horse if it allows me to be better putting one away (but then we all know what happens - you have TWO sound happy horses that never need extended time off because you aren't riding either one enough! LOL.) 
So in conclusion, getting Tess right now is great timing, because Farley will be enjoying a break and Tess will be getting a large share of the attention this summer with no competition!
This post is quite long enough, so I'll save me whining about my arm for tomorrow.  :) 


  1. Adorable puppy photo :)

    Sorry to hear about the injury. I like your attitude though... giving it as much time as it needs to heal. Sounds like we're on the same page.

  2. Tess is the BEST PUPPY (except maybe Dom's pup Herbie)!!!!

    Injury = bummer. The timing is pretty good, all things considered.

    Second horse: do you and your reinacting friends have a source for standies in your area? I've had a couple of inquiries from N. California/S. Oregon about standardbreds, and I don't know anybody "personally" in the area...except you! Specifically seeking a calm (standie!) shorter gelding for a 65-year-old lady who has had standies for many years. Know of any?


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