Thursday, May 21, 2009

What a Week It Has Been...

If I never see another veterinarian, I will be a happy woman.

Here's a quick recap of my week...

Shortly after turning the boys out Wednesday morning, one of my (obviously low-functioning) geldings did one of the stupidest things I've ever seen in my life. Unsuccessful at getting any of his paddock-mates to play with him, he decided that it would be wonderful idea to start kicking up his heels and bucking around the paddock like a madman. During one of his bucks, he let out a massive fart. Apparently he thought someone had goosed him. His ingenious reaction? To take off full-tilt, and run into a solid wooden fence post. Face first. I kid you not. I can't make this crap up. He came into the barn with a chunk of his lower lip missing and an eye that was swollen shut. Dr. George was there in an hour. He'll survive, although I'm going to have to wrap him in bubble wrap and put a helmet on him.

Friday evening Dan and I finished feeding and bringing horses into their stalls for the night. The last one to be moved was Cori, the horse who I have mentioned here before. She spooked at something as she was walking back into her stall and decided it would be smart to tuck her butt under her and simply lunge forward. Unfortunately she lost her footing and slipped, scaring herself even more. The fiasco finally ended when she impaled her shoulder on the handle of her stall door. We quickly began the 80-minute drive to the equine hospital at 9:00pm. They had to call in the head surgeon to evaluate her and stitch her back together. She did some serious damage to her muscle - ripped right through part of it - but it could have been worse. (Did you know that a horse's muscle, when bisected via a door handle, looks exactly like fresh ground beef? Me neither.) We pulled back into our driveway at 1:00am with $900 less in our bank account. Ouch...

Cori at the equine hospital, patiently waiting to be put back together.

Between Amy's leg issue, William running head-first into a fence post, and Cori impaling herself on a door, I think I'm about ready to give up! Never in my life have I had so many bizarre accidents in such a short period of time. I asked my vet if they offered any frequent-flyer programs. He told me that if they did, he would already owe me 5 round trip tickets to Cancun - just from May alone. He laughed. I didn't.

Deep breath... Onto Faith. There is good news, and there is bad news.

Dr. Barnes was here around 11am to check on Faith's progress and readjust her.

The good news is that Dr. Barnes was highly impressed with Faith's comfort in her hind end! She has continued to improve since he was here last on April 30th. He ran his hands all over her spine and hips, (in the same areas that she was high-positive for pain last time,) and she had absolutely NO response! This improvement could be caused by her new corrective shoes taking the strain off of her weak areas, or it could be from being adjusted last visit. Whatever it is, we're on the right track!

Next up was his review of Faith's new shoeing job. He looked at Brad Erickon's work and was quite impressed with it - it was exactly what he requested. The shoes were limiting the amount of "twist" in her gait, therefore releasing some pressure from her suspensories. However, we knew that there were three possible outcomes of her corrective shoeing: She gets better, she stays the same, or she gets worse. Unfortunately when you require one aspect of their gait to change, (such as eliminating the twist in Faith's stride,) you are forcing something else to adapt to accommodate it. On a horse that is about 17 years old, who probably has been moving like this for quite some time, it takes them quite a while to adjust to the changes. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. The only way to know if it will work is to try it.

Faith appeared sound for the first three days after her shoeing, and now has become about a 1.5/5 grade lameness on her front legs. Yes, her front legs. She has obviously changed her stride behind and may now be putting more weight on her forehand to accomodate it. If this is from her shoeing job, there are two possibilities: The good news is that it just might take her an additional week or two to readjust and balance herself out. The bad news is that it might not and we may need to pull the shoes and keep her barefoot. Time will tell. In the meantime, she has been and will remain on bute on days she seems uncomfortable.

The front end lameness could also be something entirely different, and not a negative side effect to her shoeing. It could be that she has always been lame on her forehand, but that her hind end was always in greater discomfort, so she didn't show the front-end pain. Think of it this way: you have a small splinter that aches in the bottom of your right foot, and at the same time, a big painful blister on the bottom of your left. If you're walking, you're going to favor your left foot, thus appearing "sound" on your right foot. One the blister heals and the left is comfortable again, you'll favor the right foot because the splinter is still painful. You fix one cause of discomfort, and another shows up. This could be what's happening with Faith. We're eliminating the most painful problems first, and as we do, the less painful ones are becoming more apparent.

So the question is, what's causing the discomfort in her front legs? It could be just general soreness from carrying herself differently. We also are fairly certain that she's arthritic, plus she has an old suspensory injury on her front left leg. (That is the same leg as her clubbed hoof, and suspensory injuries are more common in legs with clubbed hooves, due to the angle of the pastern created by the hoof.) Dr. Barnes thinks she may possibly have ringbone, either high or low. If she does, we can start her on injections and see if she improves. Our plan for now is to wait another week or two and see how she changes. I have hope that she will improve, and this is just a little bump in the road.

Back to Dr. Barnes's visit: He did not have to adjust her back, but he did notice that she was tight through her poll and neck. He gave her a few adjustments, and she willingly let him do his job. Here is Dr. Barnes at work:

I also have to mention that Faith just LOVES Dr. Barnes! She leans into him while he works, relaxes her head and neck, and closes her eyes. She looks like she's in heaven!

Does anyone know of a good equine massage therapist in the Southern NH/Northern Mass area that would come out for Faith? I think she'd not only thoroughly enjoy it, but benefit from it as well. Once I get caught up on all of these vet bills, I plan on scheduling her an appointment.

I'm off to bed now - have a great night!



  1. Julie, I just emailed you contact info for an excellent equine massage therapist in Pembroke, NH.
    As far as all the freak accidents, my grandmother used to say bad luck came in threes. So between Ami, William and Cori - you should be done!

  2. Wow what a week...

    What are the injections if it's ringbone? (My mare has ringbone yet I've never heard of injections so you've got me interested.)

  3. Eeek, sorry to hear about the accidents! Please keep us posted on their progress as well - I think we're all falling in love with your entire stable. You have such great animals! Is Amy healing up okay?

    On a better note, Faith looks amazing! She's gone from a wild eyed pile of bones and fur to something that would look at home in a high end stable with monogrammed tack. Looking at those photos with Dr. Barnes, you'd never know she was abused. (Okay, so those photos don't show everything, but still. I'd imagine you're not getting 'why do you have something that looks like THAT in your stable' comments from surprised passers-by any more.)

  4. HOLY COW BATMAN! I've never had that many serious vet emergencies in a row and I pray I never do......YIKES! I'm glad that everyone is going to be okay. Sounds like Faith is doing soooo much better. I'm sure the front end lameness will also cure itself. I've followed other rescue blogs and have heard it takes a full YEAR (sometimes more) for horses to recover from deglect. Hang in there!

  5. Oh girl I feel your pain. Keep your chin up and as Nancy says bad luck comes in three's so smooth sail'in from here...

    Faith looks like she's enjoying life.

  6. Your other horses wanted attention, so decided to get injuries to bring your attention from Faith to them! Wowsa--just have your vet move in with you. It does seem that everything happens at once, doesn't it?
    Glad to hear that Faith is continuing her progress.