Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Arthritic Horse: A Late Season Follow Up

Earlier in the fall, I discussed Guinness' worsening issues with arthritis lameness. We're almost to the end of the transitional season and into deep winter (whether it feels like it or not!), and I wanted to update on his condition.

It's a little better.

At the start of fall, we had a few big changes that effected Pig's soundness. First the weather, which anyone with an old achy joint could appreciate. Wet and cold weather has a unique ability to make everyone feel creaky. Secondly, with the cold and rainy weather also came the time change, which pushed us out of our glorious outdoor...

The glorious outdoor...
 ... and into our slightly rocky and hard-as-a-rock indoor.

The not-as-glorious indoor.
I know I'm lucky to even have an indoor and work year round, but the indoor footing backed Guinness off more than I even realized. We worked in the outdoor all weekend (sleety mist be damned!), and he was so much more fluid and forward. The deeper and softer footing out there really makes a huge difference. In the indoor he takes 15-20 minutes of warm up to start going nicely. In the outdoor, he's raring to go almost immediately.

His obvious discomfort inside causes me to keep our cantering/trotting work to a minimum. I also unconsciously stop pushing him to be correct or stay on my aids. That allowance needs to stop. If he's achy and creaky, that is even more reason to collect up and stay off those front fetlocks. That said, it can be hard to tell when Captain Evasion is doing his thing, or when Sir Ache is expressing a legitimate concern.

Luckily, the barn did drag the indoor some last weekend. The difference in the footing is subtle, but enough for Pig to be noticeably more comfortable. Maybe I can stay after them to keep it fluffed?

16 comments:

  1. I too struggle with making Mollie be light and soft, especially on days where she's sore and stiff. It really is the best thing for her though, I just need to remind myself of that little fact ;)

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    1. It's so hard to keep them moving when they're in pain. I completely get where you're coming from!

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  2. Your indoor is super cool.

    Mine is crazy hard right now too. It's as good a time as any to work on W/T transitions, right?

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    1. Totally! Or canter/walk? That's all we're doing right now anyway!

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  3. Arthritis is so frustrating. Simon has to wear BoT stuff in the winter, because he starts out a lot creakier as well.

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    1. I saw a BOT blanket at a tack store and imediately thought about how much less creaky it might make me. Sadly, I remembered how much cheaper a bottle of ibuprofen is waaay cheaper. ;)

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  4. With the crappy weather here, our indoor has gotten a bit packed down around the walls. So I know make goofy patterns all over the place trying to stay on the softer areas. Not great, but it works. Let's all just move to Arizona?

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  5. it's kinda nuts how much maintenance indoors need... the one at my lesson barn is super deep in the corners and shallow/hard in the center. at least some regular dragging can fix this...

    idk what kind of management your barn has, or your available time - but maybe it's worth it to offer to drag the ring once a week yourself? (i may or may not personally want to learn how to operate our tractor too lol). even if they say no - it still gets your point across ...

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    1. I have totally considered this. If they don't keep it up, I just might. I don't see them wanting to let me touch their tractor, though. I mean, I just drove around Chicago like a crazy person. I wouldn't let me drive a tractor either!

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  6. Ah indoors. They are lovely when the weather is awful, and good footing is still hard to come by! I've had hard indoors (mostly at the bigger barns I've boarded at where the arena sees a lot of use), super fluff indoor (the barn was owned by a girl who liked to do barrels and we hated it every time she dragged because she turbo fluffed the indoor. Once it was to the point where it was so deep that my trainer cancelled lessons and taught the barn manager how to fix it so it was a bouncy surface was a small amount of fluff on top. It's one of the lessons I really wished I hadn't missed because the footing was incredible! I swear my horse sunk past his fetlock joint into it before she fixed it.), and the one I'm at now that seems to still be settling but could use a super proper drag with a really heavy drag and probably a bit less sand. I guess I've found that even with light use (a couple horses a day), arenas really need to be dragged every single day. Maybe you could learn to drag it and get permission to drag it every chance you got?

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    1. Every day is really best, and not too deep. This ring was dragged super deep last winter, and it was ridiculous. The horses were also super tired from wading through the footing. The last drag in here was perfect, though. Hopefully they do keep it up, so I don't have to volunteer!

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  7. Yes do I hope you can keep it fluffed!!

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