Tuesday, July 18, 2006


My trainer and I showed up at Dr. G's place bright and early this morning. After doing the usual physical exam, Dr. G looked at his x-rays again and then went outside and jogged Kaswyn. What he found is that Kaswyn is "servicably lame", meaning that he's only a little lame. Most people would find this level of lameness an acceptable solution to navicular. However, he did acknowledge that under saddle the horse might be more lame than he is just trotting free.

He presented me with three options. The first two involved injecting steriods into the foot in different locations in an effort to alleviate the pain. The last option is nerving him - aka the dreaded neurectomy. He agreed with me that the first two options would just be temporary, while the neurectomy would most likely be permanent. Five to ten percent of horses experience complications associated with the surgery, but my alternative options suck. He recommended just doing the left foot, and if the right became a problem down the road it could be done at that time.

I said I had decided on the surgery. So he told his team to prep for surgery. I said ,"You're going to do it today?" and he said "Sure, why not?" I said that I figured that he wouldn't have time, since he squeezed the horse in as it was and he had a full schedule, and he said with a wink "Eh, I'll fall behind for a few hours, but I'll catch up. I've been doing this for a few years, so I can handle it."

Kaswyn was drugged, the surgery was area shaved, and his foot numbed by a nerve block. Then the surgery area was scrubbed for ten minutes with iodine surgical scrub while Dr. G scrubbed up. Small two-inch incisions were made to the left and right side down the back of his pastern bone. Then Dr. G pulled out the nerve bundle through the incision on the right, cut about a one inch piece out of it, injected more nerve block into the ends of the nerve, and proceeded to the left side. The whole operation took less than ten minutes. Dr. G put four stitches in each side, put a muzzle on my horse (so he couldn't eat hay or drink water until he was fully awake) and we put him back in the stall.

His leg will stay wrapped for two weeks while he gets meds for pain and infection. Then he gets to be walked and his leg iced. In a month I can start light work and see if this helped. If all the data is to be believed, this should completely solve the problem. Which means we can go back to training and showing. Now, I realize that it might have helped somewhat, but not enough for us to train and show at the level we once did. So I will see how things go. If he can only handle being a pleasure horse, then so be it. And, worse case scenario, I will retire him if he can't handle being ridden at all. I'm just hoping it won't come to that for a good long time.

On the way back to the barn, my trainer looked at me and said "Well, I think you should call J (the blacksmith) and tell him what happened today. Because you know that he said you should nerve this horse a few weeks ago." I'm sure that will be an interesting conversation, to say the least.

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