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In Loving Memory...
~ Gogo Fatale ~

6/2/01 - 10/11/11
~ Forever the Marest of Them All ~

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Magic Bullet...... Maybe?

This story comes with a prelude. Let me take you back to the days of Gogo's youth (not that she's old, but you know... when she was younger!), back to the first few trial rides I had on her when I was considering purchasing her. When I first found Gogo, she had just been started and was not great with things like steering and stopping. She was not exactly a pleasure to ride at the time. At the end of her second ride, her owner suggested I take her for a hack outside the arena to cool her down. I said sure, why not? What I didn't know was that she hadn't really been out of an arena before... and hadn't ever been by herself... and did I mention she had no idea who I was and couldn't really stop or steer? And that the area outside of the arena was a cornfield full of tall July corn and there was a stiff wind and four-wheelers screaming through paths in the cornfield? Maybe I shoulda thought that one through before I attempted it.... but Gogo was brilliant. Rattling corn, being alone, roaring four-wheelers, stranger on her back.... and she just sighed and walked along on the buckle, marching along in her confident way that I have always admired. That little hack sold her for me. I knew she was a real gem when we trailered her over to the vet's office for her prepurchase, and walked her underneath a giant rolling garage door and into a very vet-smelling lab area, complete with whirring machines and bizarre footing, and she never even batted an eye. She just looked around with a calm curiosity, as if this were a most interesting everyday occurrence. Despite her mare moments, she has ALWAYS had this amazing confidence and intelligence, and it has never ceased to impress or amaze me. She is absolutely one of a kind.

That prelude out of the way, I can now continue on with the real purpose of this entry! You'll see how it interconnects in a minute.

As per some reader suggestions, I switched up my homeopathy and decided to take a slightly different approach. On Monday, I started her on Arnica and Ruta together, and cut out the Rhus tox and the Calc fluor for now. I also had an Arnica topical rub (that has Ruta in it, interestingly enough) that I had picked up, and after her tubba I rubbed both hinds with it. She still has some residual fill on the inside of the left hind, but it has greatly diminished and is still just a superficial bonk as far as we can tell. (Thank sweet baby Jesus in Heaven for that.) On Tuesday, I woke up super early - much to Future Hubs' dismay, I think - and made it to the barn before work so I could load Gogo up and take her over to work. That's right, somebody got to go swimming yesterday!!

The AquaTread is the epitome of Really Sweet Rehab Equipment. I've blogged about our old treadmill before, and I will have to do a full post on the AquaTread as well. Our AquaTread is housed inside a barn built specifically for and around the treadmill, complete with four wall stalls facing the treadmill. Horses that are new to the AT usually come in the barn bug-eyed and snorting - the entire barn is full of LOUD gurgles, whirrings, and hummings from the jets and filters (of which there are many). Getting them into the chute and down the corridor into the water can sometimes be a bit hairy the first few times. We are always slow - if they have a bad experience, they will assuredly NOT get in next time - but we do use a butt rope or a waving whip if we have to. Horses get onto the ramp and snort, tremble, paw, poop, and generally fuss until they get into the water, either by sliding, leaping, or tip-toeing in (the last being the ONLY kind we want to encourage!). Once they figure out that they don't have to swim AND that they have to walk on the moving underwater treadmill at the bottom of the ramp, they figure things out. They are in water that is about chest-deep and they can either do a slow walk, a power walk, a slow jog, a normal trot, or a fast/extended trot depending on their size and gait. After a time or two, they figure it out, and all our horses that regularly swim all walk in, work out, and walk out off of the exit ramp without problem. It ALWAYS takes a bit of time to get a new horse in. ALWAYS. Let me repeat that one more time: ALWAYS.

When Gogo arrived on the farm, I put her up in a pen so she could hang out, and tossed her a bit of the hay I had brought for her. My boss came out shortly after I had fed everyone, and we took a peek at her. I told her about Gogo's extremely extreme lameness on the right hind, and then jogged Gogo out for her to see, first on a straight line and then on circles. When I was done, I brought her back over to my boss to see what she had to say about it.

"Well, I hate to say this," she said, shaking her head, "but... your mare's not really lame."

..................... wait. What?

I of course didn't believe her - no way, she's dead hopping lame, are you sure? She offered to jog her out for me so I could see for myself, and sure the heck enough, she was a WORLD better. I could still see it on the right hind just because I know this mare so well and know what she looks like fully sound, but I've not seen her looking that good in a very long time. She was a different horse.

I stared at her in disbelief. What had changed? And then it hit me - I had given her Arnica with her Ruta for the first time the day before. D'OH. Something actually worked. This is NOT to say it CURED something - but it took away quite a lot of her pain. The only other possibility (aside from some sort of majikal miracle) was that I had given her a 500lb dose of Banamine 15 hours before the jog out... but a low dose Banamine can hardly be attributed to a pain reduction of this significance when it was given that many hours before, especially when she was also getting doses of Banamine last week, and they did nothing to relieve her of her pain in the way that the Arnica seems to have. To say that I am shocked in the best kind of way is a gross underestimate. The other interesting thing about the Arnica topical rub? I have an AMAZINGLY HUGE disgusting black/blue/green/red multicolored bruise and a massive hematoma on my upper arm from where I got smooshed into a metal panel by a hungry horse at feed time last week, and the colors were just beginning to intensify. I was waiting until it got to the brightest array of colors before I took a picture of it to show everyone... it was one of those kinds of bruises that you want to remember forever. After applying the rub to Gogo's legs, I half-heatedly wiped the hand that I used to apply the rub with over my bruise. The next day, there was a dramatic reduction of the bruise, both in swelling and in color (and in pain). Aw man... I really wanted a picture of it and now it is almost gone!

When it came time for Gogo's AT experience, we loaded her up in the barn with two other experienced horses so that she could watch them get into the AT and work out. This works wonders for new horses - they see how other horses get in, how they work out, and how they get out, and they are able to see that the horses come out intact and in one piece and were not consumed by Nessie/alligators/piranhas/whatever else might be in a scary gurling body of water. Gogo walked into the pool barn without so much as even bothering to give the AT a glance, which I've never seen a new horse not do before. She watched the first horse go in with a look of semi-confusion and interest on her face, leaning forward on the crossties with a soft eye but an arched neck and pricked ears. The second horse to go in didn't even elicit a passing glance from her. When it was her time to go in, my boss came over to help in case we needed two people to get her in, but I wasn't worried.

Sure enough, Gogo walked up to the bubbling, gurgling water (which was dim enough so she couldn't see the bottom or what she was getting herself into), went "oh well that's interesting," and literally just walked herself right in. She carefully tip-toed down the ramp, playing with the water on the way in, and when she reached the treadmill, she walked on it like she had been doing it all her life. She didn't even take an uncertain step. "Wow," was all my boss could say for a moment. Apparently, in all her years of rehab work and owning a rehab facility where countless hundreds of horses have passed through, she has only seen 4 other horses walk in like that their first time. But I wasn't surprised. She is the same brilliant little mare that she was when she was 5. I knew she'd go in easy.

I will have to get more and better pictures next time, as well as video. Go mare!

We stuck to a regular walk workout for 15 minutes. From above, we could see how out of alignment her spine is - she could really stand for a chiropractic adjustment. I haven't had one done on her since I moved to Texas. When we were in Connecticut, Gogo was getting adjusted every three months, and I was getting adjusted every 3 days! I had stopped her chiro because the amazing Dr. A told me not to bother for the time being - just standing around crookedly would throw her right back out of alignment anyway, so I haven't bothered to pursue it until now. I think we are both suffering a bit from lack of chiropractor disease right now though. Or at least I know I am... my back and right hip are falling apart! I'm actually having another really bad flare-up of whatever was bothering me last year, but this time it is in my left hip (the one with the original kick injury 6 years ago), and it feels like there is some sort of ligament involvement - whenever I walk, there is a painful moment when the limb is being brought forward where it feels like there is a stabilizing ligament in the front of my hip socket that is on fire. I have no idea what it is, bur I've been limping around for three days now... dangit.

The best part? When Gogo got out of the pool, her legs were icy cold and TIGHT. Super tight! I've not seen them look that good since last year! Even her windpuffs were gone. ALL the swelling was completely gone. EVERYTHING. It did come back, of course, she certainly wasn't magically cured - but it was obviously incredibly helpful for the time that she was in there.

Maybe we found the magic bullet. Between weight loss, the homeopathy, and the AquaTread (within reason... I get an employee discount of course but it still gets expensive quick!), I might be able to bring her back to reasonable comfort. I am also considering some supplements. I've had her on SmartTendon before but had taken her off, so I might do that again or either look into an herbal supplement - anyone have suggestions?

Fingers crossed!


Alighieri said...

Any chance Maisie and Impee are at your facility? I know they're at a facility for Aquatred/rehab somewhere around, I just don't know where. If they are, say hi to them for me!

Glad to see the Aquatred seemed to help! Go Gogo!

curlykates said...

I've been reading your blog for a year but haven't commented yet so here's a first!
I'm so glad that Gogo had such a positive reaction to the homeopathy and Aquatred! Reading this made my rainy morning so much better.
Also, I second the power of Arnica. I fractured my foot this summer and religiously used the Arnica gel 2x a day. The swelling went down so much faster than I was told it would and while it was still painful, it was less painful than without the gel. It is amazing stuff and not one MD has ever recommended it or even known what it is.
Keep staying positive and hope you and Gogo both feel better!

Andrea said...

Nope, no Maisie or Impee at our place!

Alighieri said...

Oh, ok. Well, I think it's really cool that you are working at a rehab facility. The Aquatreads in particular seem extremely good for rehabilitation, and I hope they make the difference for Gogo! (And the arnica sounds interesting too! Does it primarily seem to help swelling?)

Mrs. Exeter said...

I think about you and Gogo a lot - its so good to know she bravely went into the water. I bet she felt wonderful afterwards. I'm keeping everything crossed that she'll continue to improve. xxx

Val said...

Seriously a proud moment for Gogo's human. I think Gogo is magic!

jenj said...

I'm so glad to hear that you're seeing improvement with the new treatments you're trying! And arnica is GREAT stuff - we keep it around for bruises and such. And now that you mention it, maybe I should use it on Saga's latest lump...

As for trying other supplements, I'd say wait for a month or so. If you throw 100 things at her at once, you won't know which ones are helping and which ones are just a waste of time and $$. If you're seeing a change with arnica and the Aquatread, stick to that for now. You could maybe add SmartTendon or something else later and see if you get further improvement.

Let's hope that Gogo keeps up the good work!

Sydney said...

What did I tell ya about arnica. Magic stuff isn't it. For a bump or kick on a horse or any swelling that isn't an open cut I grab that first (well second after cold hosing). What brand did you use that was mixed with other stuff?

Niamh said...

Arnica is MAGIC! For someone who bruises easily and is completely clumsy, it's a lifesaver! SO glad Gogo likes the Aquatread! She's such a champ!

Diligent Horse said...

That is excellent news! Yay for GoGo's bravery too. What a good mare.

Jessica said...

Hi Andrea, I've been following your blog for a while now. My horse also had a tendon injury and now is dealing with some chronic suspensory problems.

I'm interested in trying arnica with him too, are you using it just topically with Gogo or can you give it to them orally long term?

Jumperoo said...

Yay for Gogo, that's some really good news.

Kristen Eleni Shellenbarger said...

Hooorah Hoorah :) and GO Gogo for being such a strong Wo-Mare

I'm curious too; what brand of Arnica do you use? I always get the cheapie stuff at the pharmacy but maybe I need to switch!

Anonymous said...

So great to hear that the homoeopathy is working! Herbs I would use are meadowsweet or devil's claw, they are both anti-inflammatory and I'm a great fan of a daily dose of 100ml of organic apple cider vinegar in my horses feed (astringent and blood cleansing). They can all be used in conjunction with the homoeopathy.

RiderWriter said...

Hurray for Gogo! What a brave girl. I sure hope the AT work will really help.

This is probably a really dumb question, but where does one obtain arnica gel? I've heard of it before but all these endorsements are making me want to try it. Unfortunately, it would be only on humans... no horse of my own yet. I do have a doggie, and she's already sharing her Vetericyn with us, so I guess I could share arnica with her! ;-)

eventer79 said...

:-D Told you arnica was awesome! GO GOGO!!!

PS for above posters -- arnica is in SoreNoMore, that is how I use it.

Albigears said...

Love it!

Frizzle said...

Awesome! :-D

Yeah, arnica is great stuff. I started adding it to my home-made hoof spray just in case of any bruises or soreness. Love it! (I just use the cheapie stuff from the drugstore, too.)

I know Smart Tendon has silica in it, as silica is supposedly great for soft tissue injuries, skin, etc. But you can get straight silica much cheaper from Uckele (or from any on-line human supplement place).

Ruffles said...

That's awesome! Great news :)

Alighieri said...

Andrea, I know someone who needs braiding today. Her name is Susan and she rides at 3:12 today(Friday). Her number is 214-725-5331. Can you give her a call if you can? Thanks!

Andrea said...

About the arnica.... I have been giving it homeopathically (in tiny pill form) and I've also been applying it as a topical rub as well, one prepared for and sold from the local heath place. It also has Ruta grav in it... dunno how that works topically, but there you go. I like Sore No More but it doesn't help with things like this. Trust me, I've tried! I've been applying Sore No More for years and all it does it make me feel like I'm doing something. It does NOT cause miracle lameness-reductions.

The arnica does not remove ANY of her swelling. But neither does coldhosing, wrapping, giving Banamine, or icing. The only thing that worked was the AquaTread, and it was only for about 3 minutes. After that, the legs swelled right back up again. I have yet to give her arnica without Banamine as a backer so that will be the next step - is the Banamine working 12 hours later or is it the arnica?