Saturday, August 14, 2010

Would I Ever Had Known?

Without those digital X-rays taken well over a month ago, I don't think I would have ever suspected that something was wrong with Mercy's joints. She had never taken a bad step, limped, or refused work. I most likely would have barrel raced and reined her until she broke for good, never realizing that something was wrong until it was too late. And at such a young age... But now I have a chance to keep her as healthy as possible, for as long as possible.
We took over 20 pictures of various angles of her hocks, knees, and front pasterns. Her knees are by far the worst of her joints. On the images below, you can see the sharp little points on the first articulating section of the joint.
You can also see how her knee joint does not "stack up" in a straight line. It deviates to one side or the other. This is what is most likely causing the strain on her legs, thus causing the bone spurs' growth.

In some of the other shots you can actually see some cartilage damage represented in lines and waves, where the image should be smooth. Unfortunately, those images don't show up without some digital editing, which I don't have right now.

Anyway, the game plan is to just assume she is an arthritic horse in order to prevent any further damage to her joints. The more quiet, low key rides we can go on, the more flexible she will stay and the stronger her hind end and back will get. Before and after any strenuous rides I am to bute her to prevent inflammation. It was also advised that I use liniments on her joints after longer rides to keep any swelling down and keep the joints flexible.

Also, after a lot of consideration, I decided to start Mercy on Adequan. It will help maintain the state of her joints as they are currently, as well as help them heal a little. We have had such great results with Star, who is also on it, so why not!? I did decide to try using it a different way thought. Instead of the usual 7 doses every 4 days, and then one injection every 30 days as a maintenance dose, I am going to do 2 loading doses a year; once in the fall and once in spring. This way, I can build her joints up before show season, and then I can help her repair any damage taken during the shows before heading into winter. Thank goodness she is so good with shots! It took me a while to get comfortable giving them, but now it's no biggie.

She still doesn't feel any different. As smooth as ever, really. I guess we will know if it's working if in a few years I get another set of X-rays for comparison, or if she happens to get a bone chip... :/ For now, I am doing what I can for now, short of not riding at all. Which we all know isn't going to happen, lol!

I did, however, get the approval of my vet to continue reining with Mercy. At low level shows, at least, where sliding stops and fast spins don't guarantee a win for anyone. Reining is a great sport to perfect cues and really build a partnership with your horse. So, as long as Mercy doesn't start resenting work or acting out in pain, we will continue to go to a show or two a year. In fact, we have another show tomorrow- the last reining show of the year for us, at least. It's going to be a hot one, but the show starts at 7AM, so it shouldn't be too bad by the time my classes are done. We'll see...


cowgirlwannabe said...

I hope everything goes well for you and Mercy. Have fun!

Cowgirl Sprat said...

Thanks! It went pretty darn well, can't wait to write about it!