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In Loving Memory...
~ Gogo Fatale ~


6/2/01 - 10/11/11
~ Forever the Marest of Them All ~
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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I can NOT has mystery death lameness!?

I've been silent for a few days for good reason. I have NO idea what is going on with my horse. It seemed like something horrible, and now it seems like nothing at all. Let me explain...


Thursday we cantered a tiny bit for the first time, right? We did much of the same on Friday, just a little bit of canter left and right (on an unfortunate yet large circle.... I felt as though on a straight line there would be much gallopy bucky death). On Saturday, I took her for a little mini-hack around the property - my plan was to start elaborating on the little hacks we've already done, adding five or ten minutes on every week, gradually starting to increase the level of hillwork we're doing. She was very, very well-behaved, albeit a bit tall when we walked around the far edge of the property and she spotted the neighbor's mini donkey. With Dr. C's blessing, I also left her wraps off that night, the first night she's gone without them in five months. The legs were way less filled than I expected them to be the next morning, and I was very, very excited.

Sunday, however, was a different story. There were two other horses in the arena with me, and the scary doors were rattling in the wind, so I spent a very long time doing simple walk work, mostly stretching and coming back up again. I trotted for a little while one way, trotted again the other way, then tried a little bit of canter going to the left. Much to my happiness, she maintained it on her own, managing to go an entire circle and a half! We walked for a little bit, then went the other way to try some other trotwork. She was being fussy and resistant, like she does sometimes, and at one point tossed her head around enough to draw the attention of my favorite boarder who was also in the ring. (I love all my boarders, but this one in particular manages to crack me up every day without fail. And she knows what she's talking about too.) "How's she doing?" she asked. "She looks great!" "She's being fussy," I said. She then threw her head around again, this time throwing in a couple of completely sideways leaps. "See, she did it again!" I said. "That looked to me like an I-don't-wanna-you-can't-make-me," she replied. I had brought her back to a walk for a moment, listening, then moved back up into the trot. And she was DEAD LAME. Dead hobbling, completely crippled lame on her right hind. I, of course, had a total heartattack and called the attention of the boarder back, hopping off in a total panic. I jogged her both ways for her, she jogged her both ways for me, and yep.... DEAD lame at the trot. Interestingly enough, she was totally sound at the walk. She literally was toe-dragging lame at the trot, although she seemed to very mildly improve the second time I saw her trot. Odd.

Back in the barn, feeling utterly miserable, I called Dr. C right away. We both thought it was odd that she would turn up completely hobbling mid-ride when she had been doing so fantastically, and Dr. C suggested that perhaps she had either stung herself, or that she had a small adhesion that ruptured. I was not sure, but we decided that rest was not going to hurt regardless, so we opted to stop her turnout for a few days, continue to treadmill her, bute her, and monitor her for any signs of heat, swelling, increasing or decreasing lameness, or anything else odd. We would reevaluate on Tuesday - if she was better, then it was likely that she stung herself or perhaps had an adhesion that had broken up. If she was worse or the same, then she'd need to be seen again by the vet. I buted and wrapped her, feeling horrible. If something else was wrong, and we had more months of stall rest, then that was it... our show season was already over before it began. She spent Monday doing little more than getting lots of love from me and walking on the treadmill once. There still was no odd swelling or heat anywhere, and she was walking sound. I still felt pretty sure that something was horribly wrong.


However, yesterday I pulled her out of her box when my favorite boarder came so that we could both get a good look at her, and took her to the arena to replicate the previous jogging situation. She hadn't had bute in her since the morning before, so I wasn't expecting any miracles. But... she was 90% better! Maybe even 95%! I about had a heartattack when I saw it, because I thought for sure that she would still be
dead hobbling lame. Nope, she was not! One thing I DID notice that day in particular was that there seemed to be a small increase in heat at the back of her fetlock, and that the blood vessels on either side of her fetlock (see a visual here) looked large and active, like they were actively pumping blood around that area. Since there was no damage the actual tendon itself, but there WAS inflammation in the actual tendon sheath, I have a theory. I don't think she stung herself because of how she was fussing beforehand - something was bothering her ahead of time. Between the tendon sheath and the actual tendon itself, sometimes bundles of scar tissue, called adhesions, can form. It's important to start low-grade exercise early on in a tendon injury case in order to attempt to keep these from forming, because these bits of tissue can cause the tendon to "stick" to other surrounding tissues, reducing their ability to glide within the tendon sheath. When these stretch and break up, they are extremely painful, but the pain, swelling and heat are short-lived (if addressed promptly) and off the horse goes to continue its career. My thought is that since her trot isn't huge, the motion of it didn't cause any stress to a possible adhesion in the RH, but that bit of canter was just enough for it to become stressed and stretch. (Why that didn't happen when she went leaping around like an idiot all those times, I don't know.) It might have been bothering her on Sunday, which is why she would have been so fussy, and when she went to leap around in protest, it broke up, resulting in that extreme and sudden lameness, and that bit of heat and mild swelling around the fetlock... and why she was SO much better yesterday. Going to the right, oddly enough, I'd call her sound. Going to the left, she's still short on that right hind.

But that's just a guess. Whether or not that's true... I don't know.

My hope is that this continues to improve, and we move on and put it behind us. I wouldn't say we're out of the woods yet, but if it were a more serious acute injury, she would still be hobbling lame. I'll keep you posted.... there's always the option of breeding this year instead of next.

14 comments:

Yankecwgrl said...

Ohhhh silly Go-GO! Can't you behave for your momma?

Sending healing thoughts your way!

Melissa said...

Take a deep breath, she'll be okay one way or another. And between you and the vet, she's in very capable hands. Give her an extra hug for me. :-)

Val said...

I am sure that it is just part of the healing process. You could not be taking better care of her. She is a lucky mare.

Question: Can the horse's legs become dependent upon wraps?

I was just wondering about this, because I believe that doctors only recommend wrapping a human sprained ankle for a short time. Prolonged Ace bandaging can prevent the tendons and ligaments around the joint from achieving their original strength and flexibility. Once the Ace is removed, the person's ankle may ache or even swell a bit, but over time the tendons toughen up and return to their original state. This was the case for my ankle when I sprained it years ago. What do you think?

DressageIsToDance said...

I highly doubt this was the case, since there WAS heat...but the gelding I was leasing before I my current pony had some conformational issues that would make him lame, but only if he was out of shape. The only girl who rode him before me was terrified of riding after a bad fall, and let him get away with everything. Long story short, he learned that if he hobbled along and acted lame, he got out of work. He would feign lameness! This was very apparent when he magically became sound when I didn't give him a break...

Your case sounds so strange though...especially the fact that it didn't much bother her in the walk, yet when she trotted it was just shot? Hope she gets back 100% soon.

Heather (hpalmete) said...

Hugs for both of you. Wish I could do more...

Suzie said...

My gelding a few years back had a very similar injury to what your describing. He had bowed his superficial digital flexor tendon. Fortunately, it was not a bad one, but he was still off for a full 9 months.

When I was bringing him back into work, we had started canter work and were about to start jumping small stuff in the next week. After cantering, I was walking him out on a loose rein when he tripped. After that, dead hobbling, lame.

Fortunately, it was just an adhesion (or multiple?) breaking up and he was back to where we were in training in about 3 weeks. So, it WAS a minor set back, but not horrible in the least.

That happened when he was 10 years old. He is now turning 16 this year and can still jump a full 4'3" better than the 8 year olds. Since then, other than a two small blips (bad farrier work and then bad saddle fit), he has been sound through and through.

Andrea said...

Val: I'm not actually sure the answer to that question. Gogo lived in 24/7 wraps until December, then we weaned her off that to just nightly wraps. I think it's different in this case because Gogo only wore her wraps while standing in her stall to keep the legs from filling. While she was exercising, she didn't have support bandages of any sort. I actually am terrified at this point to put boots or wraps on her while she's exercising (although if she stung herself maybe I need to think about that....!) So I dunno!

Suzie: that gives me hope! The vet is off today so I won't hear from her for a few days I expect, but we will see what she says when she calls. What was your protocol after your horse tripped? What did you do?

Akhal-Eventer said...

I know I asked this once before. . .but are you sure it's not her stifle(s)? This sounds EXACTLY like what my filly does who has intermittent upward fixation of the patella. . .behavior-wise and all. While reading your post I felt like you were describing Bijoux to a T. And initially the vet couldn't find a think wrong with her stifles. . .

Have you ever tried giving Go-Go 24-hour turn-out?

Andrea said...
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Andrea said...
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Andrea said...

I'm not sure it's not stifle. That was my first thought when she did it, except not upward fixation.... more like acute injury. The vets at Tufts found stifle pain on the bone scan so that was what they medicated. But my first thought when she went off dead lame? I thought for sure it was a more extensive injury around the stifle that didn't get caught at first. But at this point, after this much rest, I would have thought that whatever it was would have healed by now. And if it was an acute injury, she would still be super ultra dead lame.

I would LOVE to turn her out 24/7 but a) don't think there's a place in CT anywhere that does that b) couldn't do it right now anyway because she would surely reinjure herself and c) she would probably run herself through a fence because she hates extensive turnout, mostly because of bugs/rain/wind/snow/cold/hot/alone/not alone. When I breed her I'm kicking her out for as long as she'll stand it before she starts to run the fence like a maniac though, you can bet!

So I don't think it would be something like an ongoing condition... more like an acute injury. That is, if it's not the adhesions after all, which it is hopefully looking like it is. Better not be some sort of mystery congenital defect that randomly shows up mid-career though because she'd be getting culled from the breeding herd right then and there and that's sad.

purpleshamp2 said...

Dude I hate those things. When Toby was coming back from his check ligament issue he has one that adhered to the blood vessel that crosses in front of it. Well we were already far enough into our rehab that he was doing small cross rails.
I jumped him over it twice and put him away after his ice boot therapy and the leg looked great. That's my Tank for ya.
He was totally fine til the next morning. I walked into his stall and he could barely move. He had tore the adhesion which tore the blood vessel causing a giant hematoma (I'm spelling that wrong) and causing us to have to go State and resulted in another 2 months rest and starting rehab all over again

Stacey said...

So strange. Go Go never fails to make life interesting.

Suzie said...

As far as protocol, we backed off a ton until we confirmed that it was just adhesions breaking up via ultrasound. While waiting, I was just handwalking.

We then got the clear from the vet within a week and regressed back to mostly walking with some brief trotting mixed it (3-4 min here and there with 5 min rest) and then gradually back up to where we were before.

I remember it was tougher the second time around because he was fitter than the first time we did it, haha.