Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Not Quite Right

Do you know those days when you hop on your horse and things just aren't quite right? Like, they don't seem lame, they might even seem sound, but it just feels like there's something going on? Well for the past two weeks, I've just had that feeling with Casey. The best way I can describe the feeling is that she just seemed slightly more stiff than normal and at the canter it felt like there was a moment of hesitation, or almost a stutter, between strides. What was especially weird though was that I felt it a lot more to the right than to the left (the left is the leg that sustained the suspensory injury).
One thing I noticed was that Casey was kicking up a lot more footing with her back hooves than normal
I had my trainer watch us ride when I first noticed this sensation and she didn't see anything, but I knew I could feel something. Since it seemed like her hind end, I suspected it was her hocks and my trainer didn't disagree so I scheduled hock injections for her. While awaiting the appointment I kept going back and forth in my own mind about if it was the right decision to make. Part of the difficulty was that for the most part she felt so sound! She never seemed in pain and the strange sensation was so slight and infrequent that I wasn't sure if I was just being overly paranoid. Ultimately though, I decided that it couldn't hurt to have her hocks injected (even if it was a bit early) and I knew I wouldn't be able to stop stressing if the vet didn't take a look.
Another thing I noticed was the Casey didn't seem to be stretching underneath herself nearly as much with her back legs
This Monday is when the vet came out and it turns out that I was right to trust my gut! According to my trainer (who dealt with this vet appointment since I couldn't take the day off of work), Casey's right hock was dry when they injected the needle and the left hock was watery. Not only does this show that she needed hock injections badly, but it also shows that my gut intuition was right! I thought she seemed worse on her right side, and it was worse on her right side! I'm patting myself on the back over that one.

For those that don't know a lot about hock injections, here is a brief explanation (although I'm no expert). Basically, joints have liquid in them to keep the bones from grinding together. This liquid goes away gradually due to aging, genetics, and exercise patterns. Casey is fourteen, so is of the age where horses start to need joint injections, plus she is prone to having hocks that dry out faster than normal. This is part of how she got her suspensory injury - her hocks were dry, which causes discomfort/pain and so she was over-stressing her ligaments to try to avoid that discomfort. I first injected Casey's hocks while rehabbing her from her suspensory injury, before that I didn't know this was a problem for her. At the time, the vet said that we'd need to inject her hocks again, but wasn't sure when (every six, nine, or twelve months). Since we just injected her hocks for a second time, and it turned out that it was the correct timing, we now know that Casey should have her hocks injected every six months.
This photo cracks me up, "Ohhhhh!!!! Hock injections!!!!"
I'm super relieved that I trusted myself when it came to my gut feeling. Ever since Casey got injured I've second-guessed myself a lot more when it comes to her care, so making the correct choice for her makes me feel better. Not only that, but now we know what schedule Casey should be on and so it'll be an easy thing to keep track of.
Happy horse who should now feel better
The plan for this week is to give Casey four days completely off with Bute twice a day to help with discomfort. It's uncomfortable at first, because the joint is not used to having so much liquid in it. Additionally, the injection has anti-inflammatory properties in it and so she shouldn't do anything too strenuous, because her body wouldn't be able to react properly. The fifth day (this Friday) she can go back into light work and on Sunday we should be back into normal work. I'm really excited to see what she feels like when we go back into work. For the first round of hock injections I couldn't tell the difference it made because she was still so injured. This time I theoretically should be able to really feel a difference in her.
Casey gets a mini-vacay for four days
Have you ever had the sensation of something feeling "not quite right" with your horse? What did it end up being?
Can't wait to see the difference on Friday!

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