Why Owning a Horse is the Equivalent to Lighting all the Money You Have On Fire

It has been quite a while since I have posted with any kind of regularity, or at all.  I have been too busy spending all my money on my horse, and not for the fun kind of reasons. I also was just generally frustrated as we weren’t able to take lessons, fox hunt at all, or make any kind of progress due to everything.

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This is what it looks like to own a horse

When I last posted in October, it was a complete bitch fest about the string of crappy things that happened to both Mabou and me that made us unable to ride.  To summarize for those who don’t want to read all that whining- Mabou bruised his ankle on a trailer ramp, and his mystery SI or other problem continued to intensify, where he began bucking every time he cantered left, which culminated in me getting bucked off and breaking my left hand not once but twice (yes the second time was about a week after the first one healed….. I cannot express how fun that was).

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In addition to the riding issue, since he started this problem he always stood very close behind and resting the right hind.  Again, this didn’t really help to diagnose him but it was something that I noticed.

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Help me I am broken

I had gotten to the point where he was having a massage every week, chiropractor every two weeks, and I had two different vets look at him (along with the chiro who is also a vet).  Neither vet could find anything wrong with him.  He flexed perfectly, all his X-rays looked great, and even though I kept saying I thought it was an SI issue, they kept telling me that it appeared to be fine since he wasn’t sensitive to palpation there.

The chiropractor thought the issue was somewhere near the lumbar sacral or sacroiliac joint but his adjustments were not holding.  The only thing that seemed to give him relief was electro acupuncture.

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This does not look enjoyable to me, but pony loved it and basically fell asleep

It got to a point that it was suggested to me that perhaps it was a behavioral issue and he just didn’t want to work, or canter left or something like that.  I know my horse, and that is not like him at all, he actually enjoys working and is not a mean guy, so I was pretty set that something was wrong.  After a week trial of 1 gram of bute twice a day returned him to my perfect pony, it was basically confirmed there was something wrong with him, just that nobody knew what it was.

I decided to bite the bullet and take him to our local veterinary hospital for a bone scan, hoping that it would at least indicate where the problem was and then ultrasound or other diagnostics could be done from there as needed.  He would have to stay for 2 days, to allow for the radioactive isotopes he would get injected with for the scan to get out of his system.

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Hospital Jail

My trainer and I dropped him off on a Thursday morning and then I went to work, with directions from the hospital that they would call me at 5 with his scan results.  That day seriously dragged and I can’t say I was productive at work.  After an eternity, they called and the result- his left SI was very severely inflamed.  The vet told me that normally in a bone scan, or nuclear scintigraphy, when they take the overhead view of the hind end, the SI is blocked by the pelvis and doesn’t show in the scan.  His was so bad that it actually lit up through the pelvis!

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That black blob is his left SI.  It should be white or light gray like the rest of him.
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Cool images for those of you who are interested.

 

I can’t even tell you how relieved I was.  It was exactly as I suspected all along, and no other issues were found anywhere!  So he had both sacroiliac joints injected via ultrasound guided injections on Friday morning and then we picked him up Friday afternoon to go home.  Three days off with turnout and then he can return to his regular work and should feel like a million dollars.

Poor guy was generally really irritable when we got him home Friday, but I really can’t blame him, he had been through a solid day of testing and being poked and prodded and two whole days of no turnout, in isolation, sedated, and twitched.  (He has bruises on his nose from the twitching which breaks my heart but it was for his own good)

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Hopefully now I will have my fun horse back, and I can actually start posting fun horse things again.  I renewed my USEF and USHJA memberships back in December, in the hope that we would be showing again this year, and it looks like that was good luck or something.  For now we will concentrate on growing back the two bald spots on him that the hospital shaved for the injections (they are to the skin bald!!).

If I could go back in time I would have gone for the bone scan immediately rather than wasting months trying to figure it out with vets chiro etc.  It would have actually been cheaper in the long run.

Here’s to a 2016 filled with fun and ribbons.

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Update post: Isn’t lameness fun 

After anxiously waiting all summer for fall to come and hunt season to begin again, two weekends ago our first outing finally arrived. We were invited to go with a friend and her green horse as “babysitters” to ride slowly in the back of the field with her and give her horse a good experience. 

We were only hound walking, which is essentially a trail ride with the pack of hounds, and helps to get the hounds fit for hunting. 

  
The morning comes, I wake up and arrive at the barn nice and early, groom and tack up (the horses are shipped to hunt outings with saddles on so you just put bridle on and go once you arrive at the fixture). 

For the past few years, Mabou has been traveling to everything in my trainer’s big rig, which has 8 foot ceilings. When he went to walk on to friends two horse trailer he hit his head, and I could tell that was going to be it for him. 

  
In one of his running to escape going into what he thought was too small for him episodes he stepped/fell off the side of the loading ramp to the right, but seemed fine otherwise. He wouldn’t go on, and I didn’t want to make an issue and give him a bad experience, so everyone went off that day and we stayed behind. 

Once I got on and went to ride I realized he was pretty damn lame. Never a dull moment. After thoroughly having a pity party for myself at missing out AND having a now lame horse, I thoroughly checked his legs and found no cuts, heat, etc. (he had been wearing open front boots and bell boots when he was being loaded)

  
After he was still lame the next day, we called the vet out to make sure there wasn’t a soft tissue injury. Thankfully, it’s just a heel bruise! We also took x Rays, because my chiro wanted me to so that farrier can confirm his break over point. 

  

So thankfully now we just wait for the heel bruise to heal. Good timing actually (as if there ever was a good time for an injury) because the end of this week husband and I are going to Ireland and then Germany for Oktoberfest. So pony gets to be spoiled by my mom and stuffed with carrots and heal while we are gone, then I can start him back up again. 

   

Chiro report: Getting there

When I last checked in re:Mabou’s bodywork, he was sore all over (poor guy). Since that first visit he had a follow-up a week later after having a week off (where he looked great). We had his one month follow-up yesterday. 

  
The Chiro noticed that his neck and chest have absolutely filled out since she got him unlocked and he has been better able to carry himself properly in our flat work. 

The good- 

His hips and back still looked great, and he allowed her to get pretty deep into his glutes and hips to massage and adjust.

The bad- 

I was disappointed to find out that his armpit, pectoral and inside of his front legs were now really sore.  Because he is so delicate, he wouldn’t let her do any work until she treated the area with acupuncture, with a bunch of needles stuck into his heels.

He has always had low heels, which combined with his propensity to pull shoes despite living in bell boots 24/7, makes him more difficult to shoe.

  
The Chiro suggested that his feet may be imbalanced, and that I should have an X-ray done of his front feet so the farrier can go off of that to determine his proper break over point. She also wants the farrier to roll his toes and pointed out that he has flares.

My knowledge of shoeing is admittedly limited, so I have been trying to educate myself via magical google. 

  
Anyone have experience with shoeing possibly making your horse sore and/or tweaking the balance point?

Hoof Care Routines

Mabou is a thoroughbred, and doesn’t have the best feet, therefore I am always looking for ways to improve his hoof care routine.  He has shoes on all four hooves, with pads in front.  (we tried removing the pads at one point, which he HATED because he has low heels and is Mr. Sensitive)

Just curious what everyone’s hoof care routines are, and what hoof products you have found to be the most effective for your horse’s particular needs.

My hoof routine is as follows (on days that he isn’t getting bathed or hosed after a ride).  I do this every time I ride, so it works out to be usually 4 days a week, sometimes more, sometimes less.

Before I ride I just pick out his feet.

After my ride I pick out his feet, and use the hoof brush to thoroughly clean both the bottom and outside of his hooves.

First, I put Farriers’ Fix Hoof Oil on the soles of his feet and frogs.  It is supposed to help with a variety of hoof conditions, including sore feet, quarter cracks, laminitis, and thrush.  I like that it definitely seems to strengthen the sole of his hooves and helps keep thrush at bay.

Next, I apply Keratex Hoof Gel to the outside of his hooves.  Keratex Hoof Gel protects hooves from damage caused by manure, urine and excess water absorption.  Since Mabou lives outside, I like that the Keratex seals his hooves, since when it rains or is wet out he is standing in the wetness.

This seems to work the best for him out of the other combos I have tried.  If he gets thrush I will add thrush buster into the mix for one or two days just to aggressively treat the thrush.

What does your hoof care routine look like?