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?
5 hours ago