I mentioned the other day that the vet was coming down from Buffalo to check out my herd. I could have gone to a closer vet, but since he has been working with Sassy for a 9 months, I figured it was best to have him look at her. Also, since he was already going to be here, I'd have Killian's check up, and have him determine if Danny was swollen or just hairy on the string halt foot.
Because I was a last minute addition to his trip down, I got the "after 3:30" time slot. It didn't leave us a whole lot of time, so I was there waiting when he got there, and had Killian all ready to go first.
I gave him as much of K's story as I knew, and he started by just rubbing him all over, checking for soreness in his back and legs. Within 60 seconds he asked, "What happened to his shoulder?" I thought he was talking about the old saddle sore scars, but he said no. He showed me where his right shoulder sticks up higher than the left, quite a bit higher. He dug in with his fingers, found the shoulder blade, poked and prodded, but never got any reaction indicating pain. (that's a good thing) He said that he suspects that he had a broken shoulder blade as a very young horse. It is possible that it was just a deformity, but not likely. Regardless of what it is, we do know that it is not painful for him. Then he put the hoof tester on him. Oddly enough he tested positive for some minor heel pain, but not on the right as one would expect, but on the left. There was also a little tenderness in his tendon area. Bruce attributes it to the early stages of navicular- on a guess of course- which being a 17 year old QH did not surprise him. He offered to do nerve blocks to isolate it further, but I opted not to as I knew we did not have much day light to work in. He is not limping so I knew I have time to revisit that issue at a later date.
After the physical exam we took him to the round pen and moved him. As expected he has an obviously more limited range of movement in that right shoulder. With his left he has a nice reach but with the right it is about half of what the other side is. When I asked him to canter he would do it, but as usual I had to really work to get it out of him. Bruce showed me how he has a hard time with a canter due to that shoulder. It is hard to say if there is pain involved or just awkwardness from the limited range of motion. He asked what my plans are for him. I had considered also training him for ranch horse competitions, but I can see now why he struggles with it. He said light riding will be good for him. Consistent easy exercise, perhaps some padded shoes, a little less weight, will keep him in good shape. So now I know what is going on with him. I also am glad that he did not end up staying in Riverton to be a mountain horse. He would not have fared well I do not think. So for me he is perfect for what I use him for....my "go to guy" for kids or inexperienced riders.
I had to laugh when Bruce said, "This is a very interesting case." He has said that every time he has been to my house. I reminded him of that, and he said, "Well you do come up with some of the most interesting cases I have ever seen."
Next was Sassy. It was obvious that she is still limping some. He out the hoof tester on her right foot (the bad one) but got very little reaction out of her. Some reaction but not what he expected. So we took her to the round pen and moved her. His exact words were, "I do not like what I am seeing."
Next step was a nerve block on the medial side.
While we waited for it to take effect, he looked at Danny. No swelling at all. He showed me how white hair on horses tends to be longer and coarser which gives his bad foot with a white sock the appearance of being thicker.
Back to Sassy, we moved her, she showed signs of improvement, but he still said one more time, "I do not like what I am seeing." After some argument from a bad mare, we were able to block the lateral side, again more improvement, but he still was not happy. Then he said, "I am willing to bet money that when we do one more block she will be sound on the right, but I think she is also limping on the left." We did the final block, again with a fight from that really bad mare, and sure enough it was just as he said. She was sound on the right and obviously lame on the left. Now we are both perplexed as to what the problem is. He mentioned founder, but said although she is slightly overweight, not obese, and there are no other indicators of founder. We discussed rotated coffin bones, which he says is possible, but we won't know without further examination. We do know that the pain on the right is isolated below the fetlock so at least we know where to look.
So now what? Well the sun was pretty much gone, so we were done for the day. He asked how far I am willing to go with her. I am not going to give up until I know exactly what the problem is. Then depending on what it is, we will either fix it or sell her as a brood mare. Of course even that depends on if she will be pasture sound when you ad on full term pregnancy weight. Option 3 is to donate her to the CSU vet program, where they can try to fix her. If she goes there, they will do what they can for her. If she can be fixed then she goes into their horse program, if she can't then they will put her down. I don't care for option 3, but as a last resort, it is better than on a truck to a slaughter house. I will put her down myself, before I will let that happen. Still that decision is a long ways away.
Our next step comes in a couple of weeks, when Bruce comes to Casper again. We will start with more xrays, more nerve blocks, and possibly a second set of trained eyes. We will probably do the next exam at the clinic in Glenrock, so we have a better facility to work in.
All in all, it was a pretty depressing night, compounded by the onset of the flu for me. I am better now, but only because I slept for almost 24 hours straight. I know I am going to have some big decisions to make pretty soon, but first I will get better information. I suspect that much of this is going to require a really good farrier, which is hard to find in this state. If need be, I will go out of state. I know there are some good ones in CO. In fact I know that the very best in the country lives in CO. I don't know if I can afford him. But I will sure try.
Through the Gene Ovenick website I have found a fantastic list of farriers, even some in Wyoming that I had never heard of. It seems as though there is a Certified Lameness Expert in Torrington, which is not too far from me. So with that in mind, perhaps there is light at the end of the tunnel. Although trust me, I am prepared to haul my horse to Penrose if that is what it takes to help her.