Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Griffin update

Griffin left here April of 2013.  He went to live with a family who worked a lot with him from the ground up, then sent him to a trainer for 30 days.  He became very comfortable with them, and the trainer rode him with no issues.  I was updated regularily and was really happy to hear that he was doing so well. 

His new owner rode him over this last summer, but then had a couple issues with him.  It started with her mounting him with his head turned slightly toward her when the neighbors dog came around the corner and startled him.  He took off bucking and threw her.  She didn't get hurt that time.  Then another time, shortly after mounting again, he took off bucking, this time hurting her pretty badly.  Her husband was afraid for her, and told her she was not allowed to ride him anymore.  He again just couldn't seem to let go of the trust issues. 

She eventually this fall found a new home for him with a woman who trains problem horses.  She got along with him really well right from the start.  I guess he tried to buck her off too, but she rode him through it and they've been doing well. 

She reports that she taught him how to lay down and since that time, he's been so much more comfortable and has not attempted to buck since. 

She also says that he will have a forever home with her.  They just love him...and changed his name to "Spirit".

So, even though Griffin's been moved around a bit, I think he still has a happy ending...so far.  He is a special horse, for sure.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Rest in peace, Misty

You may have figured by now after no new posts for a while that the news on Misty's progress is not good.

After weeks and weeks of continued draining from abscesses with her severe lameness, I started questioning the ability to clear up the abscesses.  I had suspected that the infection was affecting the bone inside her foot though weeks of antibiotics had not made any difference in the drainage or her level of pain.  On September 19th, I retook radiographs of her front feet.  They showed that there was even more bone loss than there had been in previous radiographs. 

When bone infection is involved in the hoof, the most effective way to clear it up is by very invasive surgery and curetting out all the affected bone.  Given that Misty already had so much bone missing, I didn't think that was an option for her.    Still, I didn't make the call to euthanize her for several weeks.  After the radiographs, I was really heavily considering it, but as you can imagine, that is not a decision to take lightly. 

Misty's spirits were usually good and she was cheerful and always ready to eat.  And once every few weeks, she would have a good day where she was very comfortable and walking better without putting all the weight on her hind end.  Those days would make me really hopeful, but they only lasted a day.  Most of the time, she was very painful (though still cheerful) and very slow getting around overcompensating with her hind end to put less weight on the front.  It was her attitude that kept me trying for her.  She always was so easy to work with, accepting everything I had to do to her with grace and never getting cranky.  She'd occasionally try to walk away from me when I came with meds, but her crippled front feet would stop her quick.

I had been considering euthanasia for weeks, when one sunny warm day on October 7th, I went to feed the horses in the morning.  Like I often did on days that I was home, I let Misty and Jake (with grazing muzzle in place) out into the yard to graze.  On this day, I watched Misty closely as she took 10-15 minutes to walk the very short distance from her pen out the gate to the grass.  She kept stopping and standing there shaking her head with frustration that her front feet would not let her get where she wanted to go. 

It was her frustration that made the decision suddenly easy.  Once she got out into the lawn, I gave her additional pain meds, more than I would normally because I'd be worried about organ damage.  Then I slowly led her to a valley just on the other side of the pasture that was lush with long grass.  I let her graze that whole day along with her pony, Jake, then I peacefully euthanized her. 

After her death, I opened the bottom of her hooves because I wanted to see just how extensive the damage was in there.  On the left foot with the most pain (but interestingly not the most bone loss), the amount of necrotic corium was not surprising.  The "good" right front foot also had quite a bit of necrotic corium, but not as much as the left. 

I know I made the right decision for her.  After all the trying, the foot soaking, antibiotics, pain meds, ulcer issues, and not seeing any improvement at and only more bone loss after a few months, I don't think there was much hope for her to ever get over it.  And given that it was getting colder and the ground might freeze soon, I didn't want to wait until she was even more miserable before making the call.

I really was at peace with making that decision because I know she was as comfortable as she could possibly be, and undoubtedly more comfortable than in her previous situation right up until the day she died.

And I'm really sad to have to report that I also euthanized Jake, the pony, that day as well.  I haven't written at all about Jake's time with us because Misty's care was so intense as it was.  But Jake came to us as an older pony with previous issues with metabolic syndrome and laminitis.  His front feet were permanently damaged and had dished growth from his previous laminitis episodes.  And he was thin with unusual fat pads over his hindquarters.  His ribs showed easily and his hair was long and hadn't shed out this summer.  We actually shaved him to make him more comfortable when the weather was hot.  I suspected Equine Cushings disease, and indeed he tested with high ACTH levels indicative of Cushing's disease.  Jake hadn't had any recent episodes of laminitis when we got him, but even so, he was quite sore in his left front especially on hard and slanted surfaces.  So sore that I felt bad asking him to carry Wren even on short rides, so she graduated quickly to Stormy this summer.  I suspected arthritis in Jakes lower limbs, but never radiographed him. 

In August, Jake flaired up with heaves.  I attempted to treat the heaves, but the steroids caused him to become laminitic in his front feet.  At the same time I was treating him with pergolide for Cushing's disease.  After stopping the steroids, his breathing became worse, and his front feet stayed tender.  He didn't seem to be responding to the pergolide, though I did not measure his hormones again.  As Jake's breathing became worse, his feet remained sore (despite pain medications), and winter was approaching, I was also wondering what was going to be the best choice for him.  His breathing effort made his ribs really stand out.  Jakes heaves was a result of his hay eating habits due to his worn out old teeth.  He would rummage through any hay looking only for the small particles on the bottom.  I just couldn't see how he was going to get over the lung inflammation since he couldn't be on grass without a grazing muzzle or he would develop laminitis.  And winter was coming with the prospect of feeding more hay and hard frozen ground. 

Jake and Misty had become best friends in the few months she was with us.  When they were out grazing, if they got separated (usually because Jake would wander off in search of longer tender grass that he could get through his grazing muzzle while Misty was left behind due to her crippled feet), they would both suddenly realize they were separated and whinny to each other until I went and found Jake and brought him back to Misty.  It was really sweet.  So given Jake's compromised condition, and the thought of how lonely he'd be without Misty, I decided to let him go peacefully with her.  Jake spent that whole day grazing the long lush grass in the sunlight without a grazing muzzle alongside Misty.  I think they really enjoyed themselves on their last day, and that makes me feel at peace.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Healing Misty - Ongoing abscesses and frustration

I was so concerned about Misty's right front foot because of the exposure of that soft subsolar tissue.  And indeed that foot took a long time but once the abscess stopped draining, and the sole started thickening and hardening up, she was much more comfortable on it.

However, her left foot, which seemed the better foot before because the abscess was so much smaller, has become the bad foot.  The small abscess which seemed to cease draining initially opened back up a few days later and it has drained continuously for the last 3 weeks.  Shortly after it opened back up, I put her on a course of SMZ antibiotics because I was really concerned about the abscess affecting the bone.  I have not retaken radiographs yet, but I think my concern is well warranted given the prolonged draining.  I'm very very concerned that the infection is now involving the bone inside because despite the draining, she is still so sore on that left foot.  The left foot is also the one that has the heel crack from and old abscess.  There is a chance that the crack which is growing out well, but getting sand packed in it, is also contributing to her discomfort.

A few days after I started her on antibiotics, she had a very bad couple of days.  She was extremely painful somewhere.  I was suspecting colic type pain as she kept laying down, would be comfortable and eat, but then suddenly have a spasm or something that was extremely painful. 

Either gas colic, or potentially an ulcer.  The other potential was recurring laminitis, but I was really hoping that wasn't it.  I treated her like both a gas colic and ulcer.  I stopped her bute completely, and started her on a few doses of gastrogard (super expensive med!!!!), then switched to ranitidine.  She is currently getting ranitidine twice a day and will continue for probably a few weeks.  As soon as she got the gastrogard, her pain stopped, so I'm thinking ulcer.  But she had been eating in the lawn that day and could have overdosed on clover.

Her right front was her good foot for about 2 weeks, but just a few days ago, she suddenly seemed more sore on that one too and now she is draining an abscess at the coronary band again.  Though this one seems to be behaving normally...once the abscess started draining she did seem a little more comfortable on that right foot again.

I am frustrated that she cannot become comfortable.  Battling these abscesses is really depressing.  I knew this was what was likely to happen, but I thought she could work through them.  I'm still working on it and she is still fairly cheerful, but I wish we could get back to those good couple of days she had right after she arrived.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Healing Misty - no hoof no horse?

Misty's back feet, while not laminitic, have problems too.  Her heels are quite underrun and her foot was overall very overgrown. 

While trimming them, I found evidence of old bruising in the heels.  She seems comfortable on them though.  I will continue to keep her heels rasped back to the frog and shorten the toe in an effort to change her angles and encourage the heel to grow more down rather than forward.

After being comfortable for a few days on her fronts after her big trim, Misty became uncomfortable again.  I was decreaing her bute dose, so wondered if it had anything to do with that, but bumping the dose back up, did not make any difference.  At the same time, I began to notice a bump over both coronary bands above the toe.  She was landing exaggeratingly heel first while slowly walking.  I suspected bilateral abscesses.  She was so sensitive over the coronary band that she would not let me soak her feet, so I just let her go.

It took a week, but she finally burst abscesses out of both coronary bands.  They were nasty.  The right front foot was much worse than the left - abscess was much bigger and pussy.

I expected her to be more comfortable after the abscesses finally burst, and she wasn't really getting there, so I decided perhaps I needed to work on getting her toe more parallel with the coffin bone inside.  It was also time to lower her heels again.  They were growing pretty fast.  It had only been about 2 weeks since I did her first major trim.

I lowered her heels, then started working on her toe and found a nasty black pocket in her hoof wall at the quarter.  I expected that this all communicated with the coronary band  at the toe.

I looked more closely at the bottom of her foot and found a flat that was soft and has some black oozy stuff under it.  I grabbed the flap with the hoof knife and ended up peeling away the whole sole on that outside hoof, exposing very soft grayish material - the material put out but lamina trying to cover themselves and produce new sole.  I was millimeters from the coffin bone.  At the time, my first thought was I was going to have to just euthanize her.

Thankfully, a little bit of hoof wall was still attached (though loosely) which kept her weight off that super soft material which was also quite sensitive.  After I watched her walk around on that foot, I realized she was no more tender than before, so I decided to see what would happen.  Afterall, if I quit now, neither of us would be benefiting.  Dealing with hoof abscesses sure is discouraging though.  Misty's hoof abscesses are huge.

I retook radiographs and the extensive nature of the abscesses could be seen. 

After exposing that soft tissue, I soaked her feet in iodine water for an hour. 

I had to do nerve blocks to make her feet less sensitive in order for her to leave her feet in the soaking water.  Then I booted her in softride boots with iodine soaked guaze covering the areas where her absesses were draining and over that soft sole. 

She drained for several days at the toe on the left foot (where I had opened up an abscess pocket that communicated inside when I trimmed) and at the coronary band on the right foot.  She does lay down a lot, but also is up and fairly mobile often.  And, she has gained a little bit of weight in the short time I've had her.  She is still bony, but is losing the sharpness.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Healing Misty - Jake's new best friend

Pictures of Misty in the round pen. She really loves Jake, the pony, since they live in neighboring pens, so I turn them out together. 

These pictures are from the time of the previous post, just a few days after her first big trim.  I was trying to get my video to load, but I can't figure out how to get it off my phone and onto blogger.  So you'll have to make due with pictures.

The following pictures just show how hard life has been for her in the past.  

She laid down a lot because her feet hurt and wore the hair off her elbows, her hindquarters, and developed a fluidy filled sac to cushion her sternum.  The ground was hard at her previous place.  She also has pin-firing scars on her right hind leg.  She raced very successfully all last year.

She also has a small hernia...nothing that will hurt her most likely, but could be passed on if she were to be bred...not that the racing folks probably consider a hernia when breeding a fast horse.

This is a picture of her racing last year.  She is number 4.  It's just a sad story all around.  This horse with great potential ended 2013 racing all washed up (probably injured or showing lameness if the pin firing is any clue), then was sold to a working family who was excited about their new fast cart horse, then she foundered after just a few times out on the road.  Sounds like there was just too much stress at the end of the year there for her, and it all may likely have lead to the severe founder event.  And then without appropriate management, she could not heal.  I'm glad she has had these good days at least and we'll see what her future holds.