Thursday, 19 December 2013

Uno - the vet's verdict

The lovely Ian Neilson came out again yesterday to look over Uno with his very experienced eye. Uno had been out with his mum in the herd (by 'herd' I mean an old broodie, a tiny shetland and now Jedi who's staying about 200m away at all times), for two days by the time Ian came. He'd been getting diarrhea for a few days, gradually worsening with no fever, loss of appetite or other changes, so I gave serious consideration to the stress he must be feeling not being able to run around.

I took the plunge and put him out for the day with mum, who promptly galloped off for five minutes while my heart leapt into my mouth where it stayed for the whole time watching them run around with gay abandon. But, she's never been big on running around for no good reason (or running at all, if I'm to be brutally honest), so within a short time she was munching on the first grass she'd had in over a month. And Uno was still sound. Fingers crossed with the diarrhea, thought I.

Sure enough, no diarrhea all day and a happy little dude. I brought them back into the yard overnight and, by the time I got out there in the morning, the diarrhea was back and he was looking listless. Still no temperature, though, so I put them back out and there was no running around which was great. And no diarrhea. He's been out ever since.

I was a bit concerned Ian might chastise me for letting Uno out over a week early, and without his OK. But quite the opposite! Ian was quick to point out that recent research shows that over 70% of foals confined develop ulcers in the first week of confinement which is a clear indication of the stress they feel. He was completely fine with my decision and thought Uno looked really good.

The knee has essentially healed, the fracture is no more, though the effect the injury may have had on the future development of soft tissue and the structures in the joint will not be known for a few more months. But basically, Uno is in the clear from the fracture. Bloody awesome. AND his front legs are, in Ian's words, 'straight'. Lots of leaping for joy.

BUT. And there's always a BUT with horses, isn't there? He appears to have injured the extensor tendon in the fetlock of the same leg the fracture happened. More interestingly, Ian thinks there may be an underlying iodine deficiency that is affecting those tendons in all four limbs and that may have even gone some way to explain the original injury.

The extensor tendons are the ones that run down the front of the fetlock and pull the hoof and pastern up and forward in the swing phase so the hoof lands heel-first on the ground. If that tendon is damaged or weak, the horse can't control that hoof and walks on his toes. For a time, anyway. Apparently, the injury simply resolves as the horse learns to flick the hoof forward in another way and the lameness or problem goes away. Very interesting.

In the case of an iodine deficiency, the tendons don't function or develope properly and the foal can start to walk on the fetlocks themselves in severe cases. Uno is definitely not that severe. However, it is noticeable that he walks a little oddly, almost throwing his front legs up and out with pointed toes before placing them on the ground.

Ian suggested feeding Uno and Rose (his mum) seaweed meal which is rich in iodine and see what happens. The problem is just subtle enough for Ian to be less than 100% sure it will work, but we are both very interested to see what happens.

Robyn Larson-Shelton came out the day before Ian to do some bodywork on Uno and Jedi. She was really pleased with Uno's progress and said if he was her horse she'd be over the moon with how he was doing. I was stoked hearing that. I'd followed her plan pretty faithfully (he just would not stand still for all those acupressure redlight points....) and we were rewarded. She did say he was extremely tight through his back and neck from holding his body upright off that leg. It'll be interesting to see if the iodine makes a difference there too.

All in all, a really amazing outcome. Uno is turning into a very big but handsome young lad and such a sweet boy to deal with. I'll post pics in the next post. Such a relief to have this worrying and time-consuming period over.

Jedi is doing really well. Lucy the Dentist came out to see him and said his teeth were quite neglected. They possibly had not been done since he was sacked from racing (or trials, still don't know if he raced). There's 3 or 4 years of neglect there and he has developed 'ramps'. I had never heard of these before. Basically, she said he had been stabled for some time as a young horse and fed up high, not on the ground, and this causes the lower jaw to move forward against the upper jaw, leaving a gap at the back of the mouth where a hook essentially grows up on the last tooth like a ramp (front to back). He'd need sedation and power tools to deal with it, meaning we'd need a vet to come and sedate him. Bugger.

Given the time of year, it wouldn't happen til at least after Christmas, but more like New Year, meaning not much riding over the holidays. Pooh. It also explained a lot about his unhappiness in the contact and unwillingness to round up properly. He physically can't...the ramps stop his jaw from accommodating the correct working outline. Lucky I hadn't been asking for more than long and low! That did explain why his mouth was so cut, though. Previous riders may have tried to force him to come round and he couldn't. Poor guy.

So, I tried to find a vet that could come out when Lucy could, after we got back from Christmas hols. Not easy. Eventually, I just rang Brindabella Equine and was thrilled to find out they could fit Jedi in before we went away on Christmas Eve. Woohoo!

Jedi's bodywork was also revealing, but in a good (ish) way. He's in generally good shape and Robyn liked him. A bit weak in the left hindquarter, his feet probably weren't helping as he is still a little sensitive. A bit stiff but some carrot stretches will help. Getting his teeth done will do a lot to help throughout his body. Who knew everything was so connected?

Jedi's feet are getting better and better. I've moved him in with the girls and Uno now Tux has gone and their paddock involves a good 150m laneway of hard packed dirt up to the water trough. In this heat they'd all need to travel up and back two or three times a day which is all good exercise for his hooves. They're hardening up nicely and getting less and less sensitive. He's quite good to ride on grass now and I gave them a quick balancing trim this morning. Really pleased with his progress so far. More pics in a couple of weeks. There isn't too much obvious change at this stage, though I think the hoof wall is growing quite quickly now with all the stimulation and change of feed.

As always, I'll keep you posted.

Have a great Christmas everyone. This has been one hell of a year, good and bad. I hope next year is a bit more....umm....sedate? :) Come back after Christmas for the next instalment!

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Barefoot Jedi - Day 3

Jedi has now been barefoot for 3 WHOLE DAYS, and he's getting a bit more used to it. We had our first ride today and all. He's still quite sore over the gravel or any rocky ground (that will take months I imagine), but he's getting better all the time. I took him for a walk down the end of our property yesterday to catch my son's Shetland, and he coped really well. He's still walking a little short, but seems way more comfortable than the first day.

Jedi spends the entire time in a large-ish paddock with Tux (who hoons around and makes Jedi move, bless him), where there is a wide variety of terrain, from soft grass to rocky clay. It's perfect for Jedi at this stage.

I called up Michael at Easycare Downunder to ask about boots. He advised it would be a complete waste of money getting them until after the first trim cycle (4 weeks!!) as the foot would change shape so much. Also, Jedi's front feet are wider than they are long by more than 2cm which means no boots will fit him at this point. Sheesh.

But I wanna ride, dammit! So, given Jedi's discomfort, I dug out an old pair of Cavallo boots I'd bought Assegai, a warmblood I first got introduced to barefoot with. They fit Jedi's hooves quite well, but were a little loose around the pastern but they stayed on and would be just fine for me to lead Jedi over the road to our friend's arena with.

All went well, though Jedi was still choppy in the trot on the arena and very Pepe Le Pew in the canter. For the 3rd day, though, I was pretty impressed. I think this will be a shorter transition than I imagined. Fingers crossed!

Luckily, it's quite dry and windy out here today and there's no rain in sight for a little while, giving his hooves a chance to harden up and fight that seedy toe. He's quite stoic, as are most TBs, so he's giving it his best shot.

Pics below of his hooves as of today:

The clunky clacky Cavallos

Off hind that had the very nasty crack, it's now been re-sected to remove seedy toe

Near fore re-sected to remove seedy toe. Very boxy shape but good integrity to the hoof wall

Underside of off fore. Looks pretty good really. Heels will let down and frog will grow a bit.

Near hind that had the big chunk out. Still does!

Underside of near hind. The chunk missing has encouraged flare on that side to compensate. Great frog though.

Frankenfoot. The off hind up close.

But underneath it's not so bad.

The good hoof, near fore. Still boxy, but no major cracks or chunks out of it.

That integrity is borne out underneath. Some sole to flake off but a good sized frog and wider heels than the other front.

From here, it's just a case of doing what we've been doing. Exercise over varying terrain, low GI diet, regular trimming every fortnight or so (I do the touch up trim in between Kirsten the Wonder Trimmer.

I've asked Kirsten to keep the wall a little longer than she normally does on other horses to minimise this issue of soreness post-trim. I have a real issue with it and certainly the majority of trimmers today seem to see it as acceptable. I vehemently disagree and have found that asking for a longer wall (most trimmers will take the wall back to even with the sole and trim the sole too) means my horses are never sore post-trim. Which I think is essential to from an ethical and riding point of view.

I'll take some more pics in a week or two to document the changes. Next blog will be about Uno - he's getting an assessment from the vet next week to see if he can get parole. Fingers crossed for us!

Sunday, 8 December 2013

'Shoes off' Day for Jedi

The day finally arrived - Jedi's first taste of barefoot in what seems quite a while. You can see from the pics below that his feet had started to show the effects of shoeing over a period of time, with cracks, large chips, under-run heels and an unnatural shape starting to really compromise the effectiveness of his hooves:

Off fore, very upright and boxy but otherwise ok.

Near fore: a lot more problematic. Big chip and quite a bit of flare at the base.

Near hind. The massive chunk out of it turned out to hide seedy toe

Off hind. The big crack is a worry. The angle is a lot lower than the front feet. Should be the other way around.

The crack in glorious close up.

Front heels. Not too bad for a long-term shod horse but still contracted.

Off fore. Not too bad - heel still quite big, heels not very contracted at all.

Excuse the poo! This is a hind foot - see the contracted heels?

Near fore heels are a bit more contracted

So, Kirsten the Wonder Trimmer pulled Jedi's shoes and found seedy toe in a couple of hooves, the ones with the big crack or big chunk missing. After resecting those hooves and blasting them with some hydrogen peroxide they look a bit sore and mangled. Hopefully, the seedy toe will die in the dry heat of the summer. It's horrible stuff!

Jedi is quite tender and walked very gingerly back to the paddock, as expected. He was quite good on grass, though stepping a lot shorter than usual, but very sore on the gravel road when we had to cross it. Early days, but I'm going to get some boots for his front ones at least for the next couple of months. There's a lot of riding to be done this summer with training, clinics and the first couple of comps of next year happening in February/March. Riding and exercise really does make a big difference in rehabilitation time, I've found, so I'll be booting him to help him out.

Some photos post-shoe pulling, with late afternoon shadow thrown in for a higher degree of difficulty: 

The hooves look pretty much the same as when shod. A few weeks to let the hooves settle will probably result in some noticeable changes. Will keep you posted!

Friday, 6 December 2013

Uno's knee - the halfway point

Well, it's about time I provided an update of the knee that stopped the nation....well, my life, at any rate! We've just passed the 3 week mark, meaning about 3 weeks to go, unless he gets parole before then.

I've kept up a twice daily regimen of redlight and pink goop, the Bowen every other day and attempted the acupressure and Ting points too, but he's less helpful about those! I've also managed to give his front feet a very slight trim about 3 times over the 3 weeks and I think you'll agree there is a marked improvement to the deviation of those front legs:
Day 1

Day 23

 I've been careful to keep the hooves balanced, not deliberately rasping off too much outside edge, just keeping the outside flat so the problem isn't exacerbated. He's straightening up really nicely, though with the way he has to spread his legs out so he can reach the ground and eat means he will probably have a little deviation for a while.

This is Uno in his current condition and growth phase. He looks fantastic:

Little bugger has become quite independent already and has done the bolt on his mother and I twice, now. I've had to use all four of the yards in an effort to keep them out of mud and muck, so in the process of leading Rose around to another yard in the last week he's just nicked off at a rate of knots. Whinnying, bucking and carrying on to boot!

So, there am I screaming at him to come back in that voice only reserved for panicking mothers when their toddler runs to the edge of the road. But he just merrily cavorts around on that busted knee. Little bugger. I finally corralled him and put Jellybean's (the Shetland) halter on him and wrassled him into the yard with his very revved up mother. And spent the next ten minutes calming myself down and watching him like a hawk to see if he'd done any damage. Apparently, not.

Fingers crossed Ian Neilson gives him the thumbs up in a couple of weeks. So far so good, I think.

On another note, Jedi will be having his shoes removed this Sunday and there'll be lots of pics! Stay tuned....