Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Beautiful Pasture Ornament

The vet came out today to look at Joe and Maisie. Joe's doing well - his swelling in the left hind is down and he's moving much better, for a horse who's 28. She thinks he may have tweaked his pastern joint rather than injuring a tendon as she originally thought.

She also looked at Maisie - I was looking to get an assessment of her condition and prospects for future riding and rehab. At the walk in hand, she's pretty sound, at the trot not so much so - she's still off in the left hind, although she trots willingly. Then we did an ultrasound - she was, as usual, the perfect patient, standing still for the shaving and ultrasounding.

I haven't gotten to ride Maisie much over the past two years - last June she had an episode of laminitis and another episode in April of this year - we now know that she's insulin resistant and prone to this - we have to be careful to keep her weight down and also to keep her off our rich spring grass. And then in June she did this to her left hind:

She's never really been right since - we've taken long time off, then done a bit of walk work, but she's never stayed sound at the trot for more than a day or two before going off again. I suspected suspensory, but the ultrasound showed what we really had - significant scarring the length of the deep digital flexor tendon - some old and some newer - as well as abnormalities and adhesions in the tendon sheath and signs of damage in both lower branches of the suspensory. No separations or holes or big tears, but a lot of cumulative damage, some from the recent injury and some from cumulative damage over time. The scarring and adhesions prevent the tendons from sliding normally, and the scar tissue also predisposes her to injuries above and below scarred areas.

Maisie's never been that sound over the 8 years I've had her - we think she's somewhere between 12 and 16 years old. She clearly had already been used hard when I got her. She's had one even more serious suspensory injury (right hind this time) back early in our time together - she did recover from that but it took almost a year. The problem she's got is that her confirmation - long back, very straight stifles and hocks and long, low pasterns, predisposes her to injuries to her back leg tendons and ligaments - there's too much force put on those structures, and there's no treatments or conditioning that will solve that problem.

The vet asked what I wanted her to be able to do - I said I wanted her to be comfortable in the pasture and be able to walk under saddle on the trail. The vet said that would be a reasonable goal, although it's not likely that she'll ever be able to do much more and be sound. She needs at least another 3 months off with no riding to continue to heal from the latest injury. That'll take us into the winter, so realistically it'll be spring before we can expect any trail-walking under saddle. I can hand walk her now on the trail, and will continue to ice and use some compression wraps overnight. She's in no pain in the pasture, although she mostly moves at the walk, and continues to be happy. Any more aggressive treatments won't really do much in the long run - she's getting older and no matter how quickly the current injury heals the likelihood of reinjury is high if she's put back to work.

She's a sweet girl, and so she gets to be my beautiful pasture ornament. I'll hope that we can walk together again on the trail in the spring, if only a little bit. We have many wonderful memories together - she and I have been to several Mark Rashid clinics, including two week-longs in Colorado, and she was the horse who first taught me to listen to what the horse was saying to me. I thought I'd share some of my favorite pictures of her - here's her sweet face:

And here she is in the fog:

I love her pleasant expression and eye:

And here we are on one of our last trail rides this spring:

And on one of our last rides earlier this summer:

In the meantime, I'll ride Dawn (although I didn't today - it was raining this morning and I just didn't feel like it this afternoon as a result of thinking about Maisie) and enjoy Maisie's sweet company.

28 comments:

  1. I'm sorry to hear this. I know you were hoping to be able to get her into better shape.

    She does make a lovely pasture ornament, though.

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  2. She's beautiful! Hopefully by spring she'll be sound enough for trail rides.

    I'm glad to hear things with Joe went better than expected.

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  3. She is sweet...inside and out. :-) Your relationship with Maisie has highlighted that you don't need to ride to have a connection with your horse. I hope you continue enjoying each other for a long time.

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  4. She's a lovely horse, sound or not so sound.

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  5. Maisie is a lucky little girl to have someone who will continue to love and care for her, even if she's only a beautiful pasture ornament. I'm sorry to hear about her prognosis but also very happy to hear that a sweet girl like her still has a happy home.

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  6. Maisie is a wonderful girl. Even if she's not sound now perhaps in the spring she and you will enjoy many pleasurable trail rides. She looks like a sweetheart and I'm sure the time she spends with you on the ground will be enriching for both of you.

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  7. Kate,
    Sorry about the news of Maisie. She's a lovely horse with a lovely disposition, and she is lucky to have you as her person! Hoping that after her months of rest coming up, she'll be your trail buddy in the spring!

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  8. She certainly is a beauty - she's gorgeous. I'm sorry to hear the challenges you face. If anyone can get her back to light trail riding I'm sure you can. Good luck with it.

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  9. This made me cry. I'm wondering similar things about my Apache. I feel like I've just gotten to know her in our short 6 months together. We have worked so hard to create a relationship of trust and a bond, only to have such uncertainty hit us now. I'm afraid to do more research, like you have done with Maisie. And I'm not prepared to have my own pasture ornament...of course...who really is, unless there horse is very old. Both Maisie and Apache are both in their young teens, not too old at all.
    But Apache and Maisie were well used before we came to own them.
    And I hope we both are able to get our mares back to soundness while walking under saddle.
    Maisie is very lucky to have you to take care of her.
    And I'm glad you have Dawn to enjoy riding, while you gaze at your lovely pasture ornament. And I'm happy to read that Joe is on the mend, too.

    (((hugs)))
    ~Lisa

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  10. She is a beautiful girl indeed. She is lucky you are her owner. I hope she will be ready for some light trail riding in the Spring.

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  11. What a soft eyed beauty. I hope you get to the point where you can go for a walk on the trail without hurting her. Your attention to detail is a testimony to your knowledge and experience with horses. She is lucky to have you for an owner.

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  12. Sorry to hear this , but hopefully she will come sound enought for what you want for her , lucky pony to have you as her owner, many would write her off

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  13. So many similarities between Maisie and my mare Bridget. Bridget was not the soundest horse either and was retired by twelve. The thing is Bridget was not used hard, I bought her when she was four. It would have been easy to think that but honestly in the end luck was just not on her side. I felt like I did everything "right" and still had a young retiree. Bridget looked beautiful in my pasture during her retired years and Maisie will fabulous in your pasture. At least your vet thinks some trail riding is a reasonable goal in the future - that is great!

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  14. Kate, I'm sorry to hear this, but I also have to say trail walking is one of my favorite kinds of rides. Sounds great to me! :o) Maisie sounds like a wonderful, sweet horse and she is lucky to have an owner who appreciates that about her and is so willing to listen.

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  15. Maisie is a lucky girl to have you. Your loyalty and appreciation of her is clear and she has a home for life....not many horses get that kind of love.

    Most of my trail rides are walks, and it is one of the best ways I can spend time with my Boys. Hopefully your girl will be able to share many good hours with you out on the trails.

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  16. Like the others here I'm so sorry to hear that it looks like you'll have to put such strict limits on riding with your sweet girl. Perhaps there's some other ways you two could have fun together? Would you be interested in teaching her tricks or something?

    ~~ JennyB, Horsefeathers

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  17. I hope she comes right for you Kate, she's in good hands.

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  18. Maisie is your special girl and I know she will bring you joy each day in whatever way she is able. Your time with her now may be different than you imagined, but it may also end up being better!

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  19. It's amazing how animals touch our hearts so deeply. What a blessing they are to us. What's that saying? "The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man." or in our case a woman : )

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  20. I can only imagine how disappointed you are that Maisie likely won't be fully sound for everything, but at least you have the trail-walking goals and can have fun with that! It sounds like both Maisie and Dawn love you dearly and they are certainly lucky to have you as their "Mom."

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  21. I'm sorry you won't be able to ride Maisie anymore but I'm happy she'll be comfortable as a pasture ornament. It could always have been worse. At least you can still enjoy her company and you are right she's definitely one gorgeous girl.

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  22. Sorry to hear this is her fate - but thank God that she will always be with you. She's happy and comfortable and you just can't ask for more than that.

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  23. How very disappointing. She will make a very beautiful pasture ornament, though. And you never know, with the right therapy sometimes horses pull through and end up staying sound in spite of what the vets say. She has a good home and a caring owner, I think the cards just might be stacked in her favor.

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  24. Well you know I'm all about enjoying the horse on the ground or on their backs...so I'm sure Maisie will provide excellent horse time, with what she can offer. Sometimes time seems to tell more than anyone can.
    She is lucky to have you. :)

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  25. Sorry to hear this Kate but she's a lucky mare to have you to care for her and hopefully you'll have a few more trail walks before too long.

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  26. Awww, I'm so sorry to hear this. Poor you - and lucky Maisie! Are you considering sending her to Melissa and Jason?

    There's always the clicker. She could be a fine trick pony :)

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  27. I'm sorry to hear about Maisie :( I guess sometimes it is enough to just have their company even if it is just for a walk! I'm glad that the vet thought your goals were attainable. Hopefully she will recover well enough to be comfortable and not continue to re-injure herself.

    She sure has a super sweet face! I must get up there and visit soon!!

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  28. Stephanie - any time, just let me know. I should visit your beautiful horse sometime as well!

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