Thanks for all the support (and sympathetic wine drinking) I appreciate it.
It's been a frustrating week. My emotions ping from "eh, this is horses and I'm totally ok with that" to a totally victimized "why Prair, why…. I'll never get her sound... etc etc."
Wisely, The Boy has been traveling for work most of the week, so my cat has suffered a majority of the manic ranting.
Basically - as awesome as Prair has been feeling since her back injections, this little (tiny) hopping action she does during her initial warm up has been nagging in my head. It started back when we were just getting back to trot work last summer. Prair would pop above the bridle and sort of hop (a tranter-like thing) for a step or two, especially when changing direction.
At the time, my vet was unconcerned so I’ve consistently told myself to shut up about it and put my head in the sand.
However, after her back injections, the hopping seemed to exaggerate itself. She always works out of it – usually only in a lap or two, but recently it’s been more obvious when you add left leg.
A stiff hoppy thing for a lap or two that’s unexplainable is one thing, but something that consistently shows itself with left leg? Quite another, and much harder for me to accept.
So, I called the vet back. And since Prair only does the hoppy thing under saddle, I tacked her up and got ready to ride.
The good news was her left front looks spot on. No glimmer of shortness or soreness, so big YAY there. The bad news was that her left hind was looking like a .5 or 1/5.
At this point I couldn’t decide if I was relieved to be dealing with a new limb or ready to cry because we were adding a new leg to the mix… but it turns out my emotional reaction doesn’t do shit for what the mare feels, so I ignored myself and waited for some flexions (that’s what the flexi-bicep emoji stood for, btw).
Everything flexed great until her Left Hind Fetlock, which she was uncomfortable even holding the flexion in.
Then we trotted on hard ground which didn’t exaggerate any lameness on either left limb – which was moderately encouraging.
Then we took out the ultrasound machine since Vet thought the extremely bad flexion warranted a look see. (the flying money emoji)… And the world’s-longest-ultrasound commenced….And I heard my Vet say “sorry this is taking so long, but there’s a lot to look at.”
But after what felt like endless scanning and consternated looks, we sat down to talk about what she saw.
Good News: No major tears or massive trauma that’s readily obvious.
Bad News: The medial branch of the suspensory, medial branch of the superficial flexor tendon and lateral lobe of the DDFT (I may have mixed some of those up, but there were definitely two medials and one lateral in there) all look… angry. Some edema, minor disruption, etc. The most concerning of the three is the DDFT which is hard to see and (my vet thinks) could be the hardest to rehab.
Ideally she wants another MRI, which, if the mare was insured would likely be covered since we are now dealing with a new limb. But she’s not, so that’s another $3,000 and right now I’m not sure it’s worthwhile. The first time around I was adamant about getting the MRI and not making any assumptions about what sort of injury we were dealing with. But this time? I don’t know. In talking it over with my vet, she can see enough on the ultrasound to want the mare on 2 months (gulp) of stall rest no matter what, and to shockwave the area.
Part of me feels like if the MRI isn’t going to impact our treatment plan, then why stress the mare with the trip and spend the cash when it could go toward treatment.
Now, if we recheck the mare in two months and still have some questions? Maybe the value of additional diagnostics goes up. I’m not sure. I just am having a huge mental block about loading the mare up and hauling her east again – but maybe I need to get over that.
As for what potentially caused this? No one can say for sure, but the minor disruption and edema make it look like a slow irritation/strain rather than a traumatic sprain/tear. In an infuriating twist of events it’s quite possible that the slight fill that Prair picked up in her hind legs from her previous stall rest was enough inflammation to lay the groundwork for this.
I’m so frustrated. And I’m mad at myself for not having felt this earlier. I suppose my nagging concerns about the hoppy-warm-up-thing were silenced by how straight and balanced Prair has been. Her changes have been nearly automatic, she’s pushing off straight over her fences (which is a new skill) and she’s so much calmer in her work, all signs have been pointing toward “comfortable.”
But clearly that is not the case.
So, two months stall rest (she can go out in a small paddock if she’s good), with wraps on for 12 hours a day to try and keep her inflammation out. Ice Vibes will be doing double duty on the front and hind limbs…. And that’s our plan.
If this is truly a hiccup from having additional fill in her legs and extended stall rest, then fine, I can deal with it no problem. But I can’t quite silence my worries that we’ve started a downward spiral of chasing soft tissues injuries from leg to leg to leg. Fingers crossed this is a one-off and not a slow degradation of the big, lovely mare.
But that’s a bridge I’m not crossing yet.