Saturday, November 27, 2010

Snow Day!!!!

It snowed hard enough earlier this week that after making it in for only a few hours on Monday, I was told not to come into work for the rest of the week. YAY! I drive a 1995 Ford Mustang... not the best snow vehicle, but we managed for 4 years in Pullman, so we know how to handle it well enough if we have too.

With so much time on my hands, I really didn't know what to do first! I decided that Mercy really needed to get out for a walk. It was really icy on the road, so I didn't want to walk her there. And, I can't take her on the trails, which would have been too icy too. So, I led both of the girls over to my neighbor's pasture for a little walk-about.

I let Starlett loose so she could dink around on her own, but Mercy needs to be kept under control. A controlled walk. Period.

Here's how it went.... :

"OMG! What is that!?!?!?" *snort*
"Can I stare it down?! Maybe? No, no I don't think it's working! What is it?!"
"Maybe I could just get close enough to touch it!?"
"Oh.... ok.... it's just nommy snow on a branch!"
"What?... It WAS going to get me! I have no doubt! Seriously!"
*Rolls Eyes*

After all of that craziness, she decided that tree snow wasn't that good after all. She decided that real grass was! Mercy actually had a lot of fun digging out the snow to get to the grass. She tunneled around for a while, looking for the longest, tastiest grass.

Soon Starlett wandered over and started digging for grass too. She didn't want to be left out of the fun!

Both girls rolled in the snow while we were wandering around. Mercy got concerned, because of the lead rope attached to her halter, and decided to get up rather quickly. Star, however, really dug in and enjoyed her roll!

After they had had some fun, I put them away and went for a walk out back. I can't ride Mercy, and we don't ride Star when it's icy because of her likeliness to fall, but that doesn't mean I can't go out an enjoy the snow scenery!

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!


Monday, November 22, 2010

All Strung Out

Lame, lame, lame. Mercy is still lame. It is ever so slight, but she is lame.
And I needed to know why.
That's why she was trailered down to Emerald Downs to visit Dr. Schneider. She loaded like a pro and we were on the road extra early. I had been to Emerald Downs many times, but only for the races, not to get a horse looked at and I wanted to make sure I got there in plenty of time. The drive was uneventful and we pulled in a good 30-40 minutes before my appointment.
I climbed out of the truck once we pulled into the parking area and I went into the building to check us in. Of course, I got lost. Kinda. I couldn't find any sort of 'check-in' room or desk, and of course who sees me all confused?! Dr. Schneider! He helped point me in the right direction and I soon got us checked in. They were running behind, so they asked me to keep Mercy in the trailer until the came out to get us. No problem.
I started looking around this end of the property. I could still see the grandstands! Amazing! And the lines and lines of barns were spectacular amoungst the fall colors!
Then I went to check in on Mercy. *sigh* Can you see what she did to her eye?

She appearantly got a woody piece of hay jammed into her lower eye lid. It swelled up a little and was a little sensitive, but once I got the piece out and wiped the wound clean, it looked much better. Mare... We came for a lameness exam and ultrasound, not for an eye problem! >:(
It was a half hour over my appointment time, which I know happens when horses are involved, and we started hearing a loud noise approaching. Suddenly we could see what was coming. Hundreds, if not thousands, of geese flying over head!!!
They made so many "V's" and lines that it looked like lace! I couldn't believe how long we sat there watching and listening to them pass.
Then, we heard another noise approaching from the other direction- a train! Yay!... :/
The tracks are literally across the street from where we were parked, so it was loud and the vibrations were crazy! Thank goodness Mercy really doesn't care. She could see the containers moving past, so it wasn't such a big deal for her.
We finally were called over shortly thereafter, so I unloaded Mercy and followed the assistant in through the side gate. After another short wait, Dr. Schneider came out to meet us and briefly go over Mercy's history. He had his assistant take Mercy through a whole range of lameness exams. They manipulated her tendons and joints, did a hoof test, flexion tests, trotted her up and down the road over and over while Dr. Schneider watched from the side and behind. He concluded that she was slightly off on the right front, just as I thought. He couldn't, however, tell where she was hurting. He had poked and prodded her tendons, ligaments, and joints and got no reaction what so ever.
Here are the options he gave me:
1) Do nothing more but take her back home and continue stall rest for a few more months
2) Block her leg starting from the ground up
3) Ultrasound the leg to look for soft tissue damage
I brought Mercy all that way knowing we were going to be doing an ultrasound, so that's what we did. Another assistant asked me to move Mercy closer to the building where Mercy got her legs shaved down along the back of the leg. She was quite uncooperative for that part. Another horse had just been taken out and she wanted to follow. It took a while to get her head back to what was going on here and what was expected of her. Then Dr. Schneider came over with a light sedative. She needed to be very still for the ultrasound to come out correctly.
After she started to relax and droop her lower lip a little, his assistant had me maneuver Mercy into the building and onto a stall mat, where he applied gel to the back of her leg and called over Dr. Schneider. I was still holding Mercy while he looked at her tendons and had a quick look at things. I had one of his assistants come over and hold Mercy (like anyone needed to do that lol!) while I moved over to watch the ultrasound screen. As soon as I got a good view, Dr. Schneider exclaimed he knew what was going on!
In the area that I had showed him during the lameness exam where the immediate swelling occur ed after the fall, behind and directly below the knee, had a massive tear. Her superficial digital flexor tendon (SDFT) had a spotting look to it, showing where the muscle fibers were no longer whole. He compared it to the deep digital flexor tendon (DDFT) which is located right next to it for me to get a visual. The DDFT was pure white, showing the solid and complete muscle fibers. It isn't a bow, but *simply* a tear.
The image was amazing to see and became even more incredible as he slowly moved the ultrasound head further down the leg. As he slowly moved the head down the ligament, away from the knee, you could see the muscle fibers becoming more normal- indicating a high tear. he also took a quick look at her left front leg to compare too. I wish I had asked him for copies of those images. Maybe when I see him for a recheck in the future...
Dr. Schneider gave Mercy a good prognosis: a 70% chance of healing and returning to work without further injury. Dr. DeWard, my regular equine vet, says this is pretty conservative. It's most likely more like 80-90%, but only time will tell.
Mercy's rehabilitation began the day she was injured. She was on stall and paddock rest for weeks, iced and cold hosed daily (if not multiple times a day) for the first week, and slowly introduced back to walk/trot trail rides. But she was still lame- so she was on and off stall resting until we saw Dr. Schneider almost 2 months from the day of the injury.
Since we have already started the rehab program, Dr. Schneider recommended we customize his rehab program to fit what we have already done. He agreed that stall rest at this point was, well, pointless. She has a small stall and a 30'x45' paddock that she lives in, unless she is healthy and turned out to pasture for a few hours a day and being ridden. He thought the paddock was a little big, he would prefer a 30'x30' area, but I fear that making it smaller will actually make Mercy more hyper. Dr. DeWard agreed, as long as she doesn't get running around.
Additionally, we are hand walking for up to 30 minutes a day. I try to get 20 minutes a day, but the weather is not cooperating, nor is my work schedule. I just do what I can. Dr. DeWard also asked me to gently stretch her leg out, as far as it would comfortably go, once a day. This is to apply a little stress to the leg so that as it heals it doesn't bind up. It should still be flexible and maintain a range of motion. I definitely have to be careful when I do that. She is much more sore and stiff on that leg than on her left front. In about another month or so, I should be able to start jogging her a few minutes a day, and slowly increase the time up to 20 minutes a day. That's the point at which I will be looking for some boarding. There is no where for me to safely trot her at my home. I need somewhere that is indoors, flat, and soft.
After two or so months after we start jogging, we can then begin riding at a walk and trot. I still will not be able to trail ride what so ever... That's where that boarding facility is going to be most sweet! If she is sound at six months, I can begin riding her as usual, slowly building up to her previous athletic abilities. Dr. Schneider asked that I bring her back at six months out to perform another ultrasound to recheck the progress. I can't wait!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Now We Know

Mercy tore her superficial digital flexor tendon right below her right knee. That is the official verdict from Dr. Schneider, who performed an ultrasound on Mercy's leg at Emerald Downs this past Thursday. He performed a full lameness exam and then completed the ultrasound, which ultimately proved our suspicions. Mercy has had two months of on and off stall/paddock rest already, with some light riding, so we are to continue that, without the riding, for another 2-3 months. We can slowly introduce hand walking into the mix once that is done and then haul down for a recheck ultrasound to make sure things are healing up.

I should get the official report from Dr. Schneider soon, at which time I will write up a much more interesting and in depth post. Just needed to get something up.