Friday, June 12, 2009

Skipping over

I know you all are expecting show videos and test sheets, but those posts are not even close to being done. I got the videos transferred from the camera to the computer but now they all need to be downloaded onto the blog and that takes a lot of time. And time, even a little extra time, is something I have had very little of since the show.

I do have some time right now at work (amazing!) so I'm going to sum up the past two visits I've had at Dr. G's in the past week.

Monday after the show I went to Dr. G's to let him see the videos of Kaswyn at the show. We watched the first half (the trot work) of Kaswyn's Fourth Level test, and after the first two movements he said "Left hind. No doubt about it. You can see when you change direction that he hikes that left hip up just a little. It's subtle but it's there."

I asked him "So what would you like to do?"

He said "Bring him in. We need to figure out what going on there."

So yesterday I was able to use the truck and trailer and bring Kaswyn to see Dr. G. Susan was stressing about me driving the rig, so she and I took a little drive around the block on Tuesday. I hadn't hauled a trailer for five years since I had gotten rid of my old trailer, but it all came back to me quickly and I had no issues. It is a wide trailer and on some of the smaller back roads by the barn I had to go over the line on the right so I wasn't over the yellow line on the left, but it all worked out.

Anyhow, we got to the clinic and Dr. G started with his usual flexion and trotting lameness evaluation. When he had done both legs he smiled and said "If you don't put a saddle on him he'll be fine." Then he winked at me. He had his vet tech walk Kaswyn in small circles left and right, and you could see a slight lameness to the left. He pointed it out and explained "We might not have picked this up if I hadn't seen the video of him working under saddle. Because of that video I know something is bothering him."

Then we went in and got x-rays of the whole leg, from foot to stifle. Kaswyn is so fantastic about being there and getting poked and prodded, and when the vet techs remarked about it I said "I think he likes to come here to get his fix. He's really a junkie and wants you to hit him up with those tranquilizers! He loves it here!" I know we shouldn't be making fun of my horse when he was all doped up, but we all had a good laugh. He didn't seem to mind.

Then Dr. G took at look at the x-rays. He found the area in the pastern that had been found by his son three years ago. It's in the front of the pastern and there is some slight remodeling of bone which indicates stress and inflammation. It's at the point where a few ligaments attach. He also found a large OCD chip in the left stifle that was also discovered by his son. An OCD chip is a chip that comes off of the main bone due to a developmental defect in the bone, meaning that Kaswyn has had the defect and probably the chip his whole life. Kaswyn's OCD chip is in an area that is non-weight bearing. He said the hock looked really good and found nothing remarkable in it.

We started a discussion about what it could be and what to do. He thinks it could be either the stifle or the pastern, but he's not lame enough to be able to block the pastern and see a difference. So that leaves us with treating him and seeing what helps or not. Dr. G initially said he wanted to inject the stifle and the hock, but I told him that I've injected his hocks twice now and have not seen any improvement from it. He said he'd stay away from the hock then, and just inject the stifle.

I asked about injecting the pastern, but Dr. G didn't want to inject the pastern because he said that once you inject there the horse is prone to get fractures in that bone. So instead he wants Kaswyn treated with Surpass (anti-inflammatory topical cream) on the pastern twice a day. The thought is that if it's the stifle that Kaswyn will be sound in 6 days. If he's still off, then it's the pastern. I asked about working him, and told him that Kaswyn doesn't need to show until September so I could lay him off, and Dr. G said "No, right now he needs to be treated and worked. Once we figure it out then we'll lay him off if he needs it. But don't stop working him now because we need the work to help us diagnose."

The OCD chip is causing the stifle joint to carry more fluid than usual, and since Dr. G could definitively see lameness in the left hind leg he wanted to be more aggressive in treating the left stifle than the right. He injected into the joint with more fluid (Hycoat, which is hyaluronic acid, the typical joint injectable) and then added some prednisone around the joint to help bring the swelling down.

During our discussions we talked about Kaswyn's lameness history over the last three years. My take on it is that at some point when I was not riding while I was pregnant with Macey, Kaswyn hurt himself. I don't know if it was in front or behind, but it got to the point that he was uncomfortable both in front an behind, but not enough to be really lame. Just enough to be off. Eventually we pinpointed it as the left front splint bone, and that took a long time to heal. When that finally healed I put Kaswyn back to work, perhaps a little too enthusiastically. The sudden increase in work could have aggravated both the OCD chip area in the stifle and the arthritis in the pastern, or one or the other.

So, the plan is more hand walking, light work Sunday, normal work Monday. If he's not off then it probably was the stifle. If he is off, then it's probably the pastern. In either case I don't know where we go from here. Dr. G said the prognosis is open since he doesn't really know which is the problem.

Before I left, I asked him again "Honestly, do you think I need to retire this horse? Because a few people have hinted or outright said to me that it's time to stop this."

He put his arm around my shoulders and said "I have been doing this for a long time. I've seen horses with problems worse than your horse come back and be just fine. You have to understand that these people don't like to see you going through all of this. They think this is making you unhappy and that if you retired him that you would be happier. They don't realize that retiring him would make you more miserable than all this that you are going through. Your horse doesn't have anything that we can't get him through. When it's time to retire him, believe me, I will tell you."

I said "I think some people are also concerned about Kaswyn, but I know he loves his job and I don't' think he wants to retire either..."

He said "Oh no, this horse would not be at the level he is if he hated the work. Let me tell you a story. We were watching this big jumping competition on TV here a few weeks ago. These were big jumps, it was a jump off, and these horses were going all out. It was a big time competition. You know who won it? A 21 year old horse." With that he patted me on the back and walked away.

When I got home I called Marge to give instructions for Kaswyn over the next few days. Marge has said to me a few times that she thinks it's time to retire Kaswyn, so I relayed this story to her. She has known Dr. G since he graduated from vet school, and in fact used Dr. G's mentor as her vet. She said "Well, I trust him completely. If he says it's not time to retire him then it's not time. He is a brilliant man, and if he told me that my horse needed a fifth leg I would go out and try to find a donor." HA!

So hopefully this latest round of treatment will give us a clue as to what direction we should go in next. Right now I still have time if Kaswyn needs to be laid up for a few weeks. Regardless I will make sure that I don't work my horse too hard. I'll stick to very other day and even make sure that one of those days is a light day. He knows what to do, and likes doing it. I just have to keep him sound enough to do it.


Anonymous said...

That's really good to hear. Let's hope that everything is going in the right direction, and thank God
- it's only June!!!
I've been checking into those Sporthorse Nationals....

Stephanie said...

I can't wait to see the videos from the show! But more importantly I am very glad to hear that your vet is so honest and open with you. It is a good thing to have a good relationship with your vet.
Hopefully Kaswyn will be comfortable and back to work in no time!

craig said...

Huh. I'm glad I read this. Your doc is a wise fella.

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