Before Thanksgiving, I noticed Kasane had been off on her back left. Some time in November, Kasane did something to her stifle. Kasane’s lameness wasn’t acute. It wasn’t an obvious lameness. She just wasn’t moving right and she didn’t worked out of during riding or free lunging.
I gave her a week off, and then rode her lightly the day after Thanksgiving. The following day she looked off again. Because Kasane’s lameness didn’t go away after two weeks off, I made an appointment with the vet. The vet asked me to ride Kasane lightly the evening before the visit. Sure enough, when the vet came out in early December and I trotted Kasane for her in the round pen, Kasane was not moving correctly.
My vet did a thorough lameness exam. Part of the lameness exam involves holding up the leg for 30-60 seconds and then immediately trotting off. Depending upon how you hold the leg, you can target different joints. This exam helped the vet determine that the injury was most likely in the stifle area. The next step was to take a series x-rays of Kasane’s back left leg. (We opted to not do nerve blocking on the legs since my vet was pretty sure that it was a stifle issue after the lameness exam.) The x-rays showed no damage to her left hock or stifle. Her joints looked great, in fact.
The surprise was how much weight Kasane had lost underneath her woolly bear coat. She gets an impressive winter coat. Not only had she lost weight, but she was in the middle of a growth spurt. She suddenly had withers that were level with her rump, and in fact, it looked like her rump was once again going to be higher.
The vet said to up Kasane’s grain to one pound and give her as much hay as she wanted. Kasane was confined to a small paddock to minimize her movement. Theoretically, this helped let her rest the injured soft tissue. (She’s a self-exercising exuberant youngster who runs around when she gets excited. She is smart enough to stop running when she feels something twinge.) We upped her grain from 1/4 pound to a pound twice per day. She was also given the loading dose of Aniflex Complete for a month.
We weren’t allowed to do anything: no walks, limited hand grazing. The whole idea was to keep Kasane calm and cool for a month. Ever try to keep an inquisitive, tool-using mare quiet when she wants nothing more than to play and have fun? Kasane was bored bored bored bored bored! I did play with her some times with standing up in halter and learning how to bow. There isn’t much you can do when you can’t walk with your horse… We spent lots of time grooming and just hanging out together in her paddock.
Her boredom paid off. The vet was very pleased with how Kasane looked today. Kasane is in excellent weight and has grown a little more. When I asked Kasane to free lunge in the round pen, she moved out very well. Only a few steps looked gimpy, mostly to the right when she was coming around a corner in the round pen to avoid a water puddle.
For the next month, Kasane will be started back into work. We’re going to hand walk for the first three weeks around the farm. We need to work at least three times per week for 15 minutes each time. Initially we’ll do just straight roads or trails with no hills. Gradually we’ll work up to adding hills. We’re going to avoid any lunging in circles (no round pen work, for example) but will will be able to work on the long stretches in the ring if it gets muddy. After three weeks of in-hand walking, we’ll be allowed to add in some trotting three minutes at a time. The vet said I could probably start riding her lightly if I wanted to, but I would rather be very conservative in rehabilitating her. I can wait another few weeks to ride her.
Sounds like a great opportunity to do obstacle courses in hand and work on different speeds of walk. We will figure out lots of things to do so she doesn’t get bored.
In addition to the in-hand work, Kasane will stay on the joint supplement for another month. The chiropractor is supposed to come back out some time this month. My vet thought an adjustment would be a good thing for Kasane.
Tomorrow morning Kasane gets to go back out into the big pasture with her buddies for the first time in a month. She isn’t going to know what to do with herself.
It is so good to be able to post some good news.