Monday, November 1, 2010

Can I Sit Down Now?

As you all know, my oldest mare Lostine has been limping and tripping off and on.  When I pick out her hooves and apply a thrush flush, she walks better.  But some mornings she came out of her stall stiff and limping again.  This morning was the worst.  She acted like she just couldn't stand anymore.  She had her head hanging low and didn't seem to want to move.  Then she laid down on her side and wouldn't get up.

I shot some Bute into her mouth while she was down.  That perked her up, so she got back up.  I then picked out all her feet and once again looked for signs of an abscess or thrush.  I just wasn't seeing anything, but she was obviously in pain, so I had to take her in to the vet clinic.

Lostine's hooves just keep getting packed with mud and manure every day.  It's hard to keep up with the cleaning.  I realized I hadn't checked Bombay's abscess in a while, nor cleaned out Gabbrielle's hooves at all, so I wanted to take care of that before Lostine's appointment.  Gabbrielle's mud was caked in so hard that it almost had become a part of her hoof.  Bombay's abscess was filling in more and looking good.  However, before I could pick out his hind hooves, I felt a vibration like an earthquake and Bombay went on alert, snorting and dancing.

I looked around to see where the vibration was coming from.  It was just on the other side of our fence.  My next door neighbor was having her septic tank pumped by a very large truck.  I wasted no time voicing my opinions loud enough for her to hear...

Gee, I thought septic tanks are supposed to be pumped every five years, and I could have sworn she just had it pumped last year...

It would have been nice if I could have finished picking out these last two hooves before the truck showed up...

If I were a millionaire, I would pay my neighbors to keep big trucks out of their yards while I'm working with the horses...

You get the idea.  You know, my mother lives in a suburb in Los Angeles and big trucks only come around to do big jobs in her neighborhood maybe once every 20 years.  I think the people in my rural neighborhood are just truck happy.  If one neighbor isn't pouring a new driveway with a convoy of cement trucks, another neighbor is pumping her septic tank.  Next week another neighbor will probably bring in a bunch of dump trucks to dump rocks or soil onto his property.  On and on it goes until it snows.  Then I can finally hear a pin drop, assuming some idiot isn't outside revving his engine in an effort to warm it up.

I gave myself a half hour head start to get Lostine into the trailer stupidly thinking that would be enough time.  Well, it's enough time if my nosy neighbor doesn't come out of her house and start slamming doors.  Right on cue she came out to nose around to see why I was putting a horse in a trailer.  Each time she slammed a door Lostine turned and looked instead of stepping into the trailer. 

I cut to the chase and got my husband to come outside and crack the whip behind Lostine so that she knew we meant business.  No more gawking at the noisy neighbor.  She went right in and we arrived just a couple of minutes late. 

Because I had given Lostine some Bute earlier, her limp was not as pronounced.  The doctor didn't seem too concerned.  She had a sensitive spot in her toe.  He dug around for an abscess, but didn't find one.  He guessed she probably just had a bruise and would get over it in a week.  However, she's already been limping for a week and she's not getting over it, so I decided to take the next step of using a nerve block to determine that the pain is actually within the right front hoof.  It was.  I then opted for x-rays, because I was highly suspicious that she might have arthritis. 

Overall, the doctor was really impressed with the condition of her hoof at her age, as well as Lostine's overall conditioning.  He said she certainly didn't look like a 23-year-old mare.  She showed no signs of founder or other conditions common in horses her age.  What he did find were a couple of spurs, signs of arthritis and calcification on her coffin bone.  He didn't think they were advanced enough to be affecting her, though. 

When he looked at the toe right where she was tender, he found that the bone was jagged and crumbling.  He diagnosed her with pedal osteitis.  It's like osteoporosis or thinning of the bones.  They do give shots for osteoporosis to horses, but a full body shot costs about $1,000.  The game plan for Lostine is stall rest, Bute, picking out her hooves twice daily and a more balanced hoof trim for the next 8 days.  If she's still not better, I'll have to keep her front hooves in Old Macs most of the time.  If that doesn't work, she'll have to wear shoes with pads. 

The doc thinks she should be fine and rideable in about 10 days.  I kind of have my doubts.  It's not like that bone is going to grow back.  It's probably always going to hurt her, so it's imperative that my farrier be able to give her a more balanced trim.  The vet gave me copies of the x-rays along with a diagram and instructions on how my farrier should trim Lostine's hooves.  Her toe is too long and her inside wall is currently higher than the outside.  It has always bothered me that my farrier doesn't trim her toes shorter, because within a couple of weeks she grows a very noticeable toe.  Now that I know that jutting out toe is causing her pain, I can be more adamant about obtaining that shorter trim.  Also, I discovered that the reason why she walked better after I cleaned out her hooves was because the packed in mud was putting extra pressure on her disintegrating bone.  Picking the gunk out relieved the pressure and pain.

So, this makes two down and one to go.  I now know that Bombay's lameness was caused by a hoof abscess while Lostine's lameness is caused by pedal osteitis.  The doctor was encouraging me to call to give an update on her condition and to ask questions.  I said, "Oh, you'll probably see me in a few weeks again with another lame horse."

He looked startled.  I explained how I was originally going to bring Gabbrielle in for a lameness exam, but Bombay was in more pain, so he got all of my attention.  Then as soon as he healed, Lostine went lame and seems to be in pain.  Gabbrielle is just lame at the trot, but doesn't seem uncomfortable.  She's always ripping around the paddock at top speed kicking up her heels.  I chose to bring in the horse who was lying on her side groaning instead.

He said, "When it rains, it pours, but once you get them all fixed, you probably won't have to see us for another ten years."

That was good to hear. I loaded Lostine in the trailer, and then went into the office to pay the bill.  When I returned to the trailer I saw that Lostine "washed" it.  She peed so hard and long that a waterfall was pouring out of the back door.  Ha ha. 

I am in so much pain from bending over to pick out hooves and from being on my feet all day.  Can I sit down now?


Sydney_bitless said...

I am sorry your horses are lame. Was the pedal osteitis septic or non septic? This will determine if shes gonna be sound in 10 days like your vet said. Non septic is mostly irritated by stone bruises. The bruising may not also be apparent until it reaches the outer layers of the sole so it may seem like a grim outlook but really she just has a bruise that is irritating the condition and will likely resolve itself in a week or so. Stay positive :)

Sydney_bitless said...

PS: Easywalker horse shoes are great for pedal osteitis since they absorb a lot of concussion ;)

fernvalley01 said...

Oh dear! what a load of trouble .Is the shot for osteo called Tildren(sp?) my niece ,who is a 3rd yr vet student was working on a protocol where they just profuse the affested limb(knee down ) far less expensive and seems effective

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Sydney - He didn't discuss septic vs. non-septic. He did suspect bruising, though we couldn't see any bruising where he pared down the hoof and I don't have many rocks around my paddock.

fernvalley01 - Yes, Tildren, which he said is essentially Boniva. He did mention that it costs less to flush the knee down and then let it distribute where it will.

Katharine Swan said...

The vet forgot one step -- after you get them all fixed, you'll be in to your doctor to get yourself fixed from all this wrestling horses into the trailer and bending over to pick feet and treat abcesses. Then you'll get ten years off. ;o)

Grey Horse Matters said...

When Dusty injured her sole and rotated her coffin bone, we used Soft Ride boots to help her. When she was feeling better we had her front feet shod with natural balance shoes and put in pads to cushion her soles. That might help if the trimming doesn't. Good luck, hope she feels better soon.

baystatebrumby said...

Your neighbors are such trouble. Maybe you were able to egg their houses on Halloween! Secretly, of course.

Mikey said...

Sit! Goodness, when it rains, it does pour. I'm so sorry for the diagnosis. I'm really glad though, that your vet gave your farrier the Xrays and complete instructions on how to do a better job. That's going to help.
Glad you got her in and found out what the cause of this lameness is. With horses, it's always something.

Once Upon an Equine said...

Yes, do sit down. Put your feet up and enjoying a refreshing beverage. I recommend cookies also. Goodness, you've had a busy time with the lameness issues. But the diagnosis is interesting and it is good to know what is happening inside that hoof. I hope shortening her toe will help.

Fantastyk Voyager said...

I'm so sorry for all your lameness troubles. That's so awful. I wish a speedy and complete recovery to all of you!! And may your neighbors run out of projects. lol.

Crystal said...

wow, everyone is sore at once, yikes! Good to have a diagnosis though, at least its somewhere to start.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Horrible! It's so frustrating....emotionally, physically and monetarily...trying to investigate and treat horse lameness issues.
You're doing all you can and more. So much of it seems to be a waiting game. I hope Lostine improves quickly like the vet thinks, but like you, I'm cautiously optimistic. My vet told me after her chiro and massage and nerve block that she believed Apache would be rideable in two weeks, in time for the ACTHA rides.

Well, we know how that turned out. Apache's still lame and not much difference at all, from before the vet showed up. sigh.

We'll it's taken me almost 2 years to be able to walk without support or knee braces. I wonder if Apache will take as long to walk normally again. sigh.

Hang in there,

achieve1dream said...

That really sucks that your back is giving your problems. I know since I hurt mine picking out hooves is painful and exhausting. And I only have one horse!

I hope the trims help with her pain. Hopefully it is something that frequent trims can maintain. I don't know anything about the condition though so I'm not much help. Just sending you lots of good and healing thoughts.

Go sit down, have a drink and watch something silly on t.v. to cheer yourself up. :) Doctor's orders hehe.