Thursday, December 22, 2011

Hooves: Since Ya'll Care

Guinness is still off in his fetlocks, with heat in the front left and all four horribly puffy.I'm wondering if the stress of walking through mud for the last few weeks is taking it's toll on him. He isn't a terribly active horse in mud, especially since he's sort of a prim horse. He kinda hates being dirty, and walks through mud about how I do: carefully, while muttering "ew, gross" under his breath.

So, while we "Bute-Up!" (I like to say it like Barney in How I Met Your Mother says "Suit-Up!"), I'll update you on the progress of our oh-so-bare thoroughbred feet. It's actually kind of exciting, especially now that the wintertime death-thrush is nearly eliminated.

As of last night, these are the comparison photos:
Side View. Awfully sorry about the lack of continuity. Obviously I would make a terrible film editor ;) 

From the bottom. Note how far we still have to come with those heels, but the foot is spreading out much more in the middle than it was before! In fact, the shape has changed quite a bit, and is now more circular than oblong.
So, what do you guys think? Sole hardness is something that is hard to see in photos, but it has improved drastically. In March the sole would flex under pressure from my thumbs. Now, I can't get it to move at all. Guinness still watches where he is going on rocks, but is able to walk on them without flinching or limping. This has made the walk back to his pasture much faster and easier. I think the turnout has made a world of difference in his feet.

Now, since we're doing comparison photos. Here's our conformation/condition shot for December. Note the weight gain (and not just in mud!) since then. Hooray!

GP's just resting a back leg in this photo. Oddly, that leg is the only one without swelling in the fetlock area!
Lesson learned? It's hard to take decent photos in the dark of mudtastic, rain-filled December. I got mud on my camera. Ew.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Lameness

I'm sure you've noticed that I've been struggling with a bit of lameness with Guinness over the last year. The severity of his fetlock arthritis has come and gone several times, but with the settling in of cold weather has become very noticeable.

Over the last week I've ridden GP for 3 days straight. Each day he was full of energy and lots of go, but the trot has felt "funky". To the point that I asked a friend riding with me if it looked like we were pacing, like a Standardbred.
(What GP's trot feels like)
I think this gait change is due to pain. My friend said that he looked less like a pacer, and more like he was three legged lame. Great. I can tell that whatever the cause of the issue, it is located on his right side. And last night, after an EXTREMELY energetic ride, his right front ankle had some heat in it. So, I gave him some bute and sent him back outside.

At this point, I'm really getting worried about what the progression of his fetlock arthritis will be. I know that the joint fusing is a possibility, but not always a good one. While it would stop his pain, the joint's loss of mobility can cause problems in the knee and the shoulder and cause problems with the deep digital flexor tendon (something I have been worried about due to his horrible crushed heels and inability to put weight on his heels). 

The arthritis is a scary, scary thing. I guess it's time to start saving up for another set of front radiographs.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Wintertime Routines

Living in the midwest, I've been struggling with the problems of wintertime horse ownership for years. Every time I visit the Chronicle of the Horse forums I see a post complaining about how hard it is to find time to ride, especially in the winter. I always refrain from commenting on these posts because that situation is all to real for me, and I try not to complain about it too much. But, right now I'm feeling the stresses of winter, so you all get to hear about it.

To fill you in, I work a full time job, my husband is in medical school and we own two dogs. It's not unusual for me to get up at around 5:30 a.m. just to be able to get a run in before heading to work. My husband and I ride to work/school together (I work at the same University he attends), and that morning car ride is the last time I will see him until 8 p.m.

Sometimes I'll skip lunch to try to leave early. Unfortunately, when I skip lunch it usually just means I have worked an extra hour that day and didn't get to leave early. After work, I dart home to try to get changed/check the mail/make sure the house isn't burning/pack up my dogs. Then, I can head to the barn. Sometimes during this time, I commit a cardinal sin and sit down. Never do this. You WILL NOT get back up. Bad plan.

Once on the road to the barn, things usually go just fine. I try to fill the 30 minute ride with things that get me excited/thinking, like Horse Radio Network or Stuff You Missed In History Class (yes, I'm a history nerd) podcasts. If these can't keep me awake, then I use the time to catch up on phone calls (hi, Mom!). By the time I get to the barn, the sun has set.

At the barn, I am all business. I don't have a ton of time on weeknights, so I catch my feral creature (Guinness lives outside 24/7 and currently resembles a yak) and brush off enough mud/water/hay to comfortably put on the saddle and bridle. During this time, GP gets to eat his dinner grain ration and my dogs get to run around and play in the indoor arena. I check his legs for obvious swelling/missing pieces/heat and pick out his feet, then we ride.

My ride+cool out time takes about 40 minutes, and the whole time I think about how awesome it is to have an indoor to ride in. After this, I untack quickly, love on my horse, and put him back out in the field. It is now around 7pm, time to close up the barn (I'm usually the last person out there) and drive the 30 minutes back home, picking up my husband on the way to the house.

Once home, I make dinner and clean house while my husband studies. We eat around 9 p.m. Afterwards, I fall asleep on the couch with the dogs, dreaming of doing it all again.

Whew.

How do you manage to find time to ride?