Friday, October 15, 2010

Dawn's Vet Exam

I know way more about the structures of a horse's lower legs and hooves than I wish I did - no, that's not really true, it's good that I've had to learn these things although the circumstances have been less than ideal. I've had one horse (Promise) who suffered a catastrophic fracture of the large (P1) pastern bone, resulting in our losing her at age 10.  Then Maisie's continuing problems with her hind suspensory ligaments and ultimately the left hind deep digital flexor tendon led to my decision to retire her at what is probably age 14 or so.  Now Dawn's having some issues and the vet made a visit today to help us figure out what's up with her.

I almost felt a bit silly - Dawn is really much improved.  She's walking completely normally, with her slap-the-hoof down determined walk - if you look closely you can see that she's landing heel first.  The heat in her right front foot is gone.  When the vet looked at her, her lower legs were clean and tight - pretty good for a TB who is 13 and who raced and who also has done some jumping.  She had no sensitivity to hoof testers. On trot-out, she also looked good.  Then the vet did some flexion tests, and it pretty quickly became clear that the lower leg on the right front is the issue - the flexion of the foot and pastern joint resulted in her looking fairly lame at the trot.

The vet recommended that we do nerve blocks to isolate the problem a bit further. Look at this diagram of the internal structure of the hoof and lower leg, which will help you follow what I'm saying.  With nerve blocks, the vet usually starts at the bottom and works up until the blocks produce a noticeable improvement in the trot-out after flexion.  So she injected above the joint between the large and small pastern bone - so just above the hoof - and voila! 70%+ improvement on trot-out.  So that means the problem, whether with a joint or soft tissue, is very likely below that level - so the coffin joint (between P3 and P2, or coffin and small pastern, bones), joint between small pastern bone and large pastern bone (P2/P1 joint) or the joint surfaces around the navicular bone, or the various soft tissue structures supporting the hoof and lower leg bones inside the hoof capsule.

The vet didn't have her x-ray machine with her and will come back on Tuesday to take some right front x-rays to see what if anything we see.  I'm pleased that Dawn has improved so much, but a little worried that she still flexes lame showing a problem that's still there.  At least I was right about it being the right front - some small consolation, I guess.  I'm cleared to ride her at the walk between now and then, so that's good!

(Oh, on a horse search note - I now understand a possible reason why horse #2 hasn't sold - the trainer who's marketing her seems pretty uninterested in getting her sold - I've talked with him and he promised photos, and I've e-mailed him twice, and nothing.  Perhaps he's getting some nice board checks and training fees to keep the horse around, who knows?)

16 comments:

  1. I've tended to learn all these anatomical terms the hard way, too--experience. I'm glad that they're narrowing in on it.

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  2. That's where Lily's problem is as well. we start injections next month. Here's hoping.

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  3. Hope the news continues oto be good. As for #2 hard to say,maybe you are right or he has some other deal on the go

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  4. Hopefully Dawn's improvement is a good sign, I hope it's nothing serious.

    As for Horse #2, maybe it's a good thing that the reason she's been on the market a while isn't her fault, though I hope he gets back to you soon. I went back and looked at her ad and was really impressed that she happily babysat a beginner for an entire weekend. That's a good little mare!

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  5. I'm glad Dawn is improving, even though she was lame for the flexion tests. With any luck, the lameness is on its way out and what you're seeing is just residual.

    I've learned a lot more about hooves and ligaments/tendons that I ever wanted to also! It's good to have knowledge about these things, but if I went blindly through life without having to learn them the hard way, I'd be perfectly ok with that too!

    Looks like Tuesday is a big day for both of us. Hope the x-rays show no major issues.

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  6. I hope Dawn continues to improve and the x-rays don't bring up anything too major.

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  7. How long does the nerve block last?

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  8. Shirley - it's just a local, so an hour or two - just like going to the dentist. I kept her in a small paddock for that time so she wouldn't hurt herself not being able to feel her foot. It was funny - when I turned her out she started nibbling on her foot a bit - perhaps it was tingly just like our dental work!

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  9. At least you are isolating Dawn's problems. Hope the x-rays will tell the rest of the story.

    Doesn't sound as if that dealer is eager to sell that horse, I agree. Wonder why he wasted the time advertising in the first place?

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  10. Like you I've learned more than I ever wanted to know about nerve blocks, ligaments, tendons, coffin bones etc. I wish I didn't have to know them. Glad that Dawn is cleared to ride at the walk. Good luck on Tuesday.

    I really liked horse #2 but maybe the trainer is keeping her around for a reason. He most likely had to put the ad up for the owner's benefit. She's pretty nice, I hope he does get back to you.

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  11. Glad you are pin pointing the lameness issue a bit more ....lets hope the x ray shows a problem that can be simply fixed

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  12. I've never seen nerve blocking. We never have anything go lame. I wonder why that is when we use our horse so hard (sometimes).

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  13. If you do x-rays, a lot of those "mobile machines" are really vague...ask around your area to see if there is a specialist you can trailer to with top notch machines. The local specialist in my area is cheaper than my own vet and the images are amazing. Just don't want you to spend lots of money on x-rays that suck. I know too many people that do that and get vague diagnosis. Good luck.

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  14. Glad you're zeroing in on whatever the potential issue is with Dawn, I hope you get an answer soon and that it's something easy-to-fix :)

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  15. CCC - your horses probably don't go lame for a variety of reasons, which could include:

    1. You have horses with good confirmation, legs and feet, and probably from good using lineages.

    2. Your horses don't do jumping, and I'll bet when they're not working they don't waste a lot of energy running around and being silly.

    3. They're not TBs - sorry TB fans. TBs have been bred, in a closed registry, for centuries, with a focus on speed and speed only - and we all know what happens when breeding is done for only one characteristic - everything else tends to go to hell. There are sound, well-built TBs out there - Dawn's actually pretty good in that department but not perfect. There's some bad stuff being bred out there in other breeds too - paints bred only for color, halter horses with pinheads for feet, etc.

    Just my take.

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  16. Best of luck to you and Dawn.

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