Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Heartbreaker horses

The Irish mare
Flying home from Rolex, I sat next to a woman who was competing at Advanced level on a horse that she thinks might be Rolex-capable. An Irish-bred mare a famous event professional found for her. They have been cleaning up at events for several years. She's placing "up there" with the Rolex folks, and she is training with nationally known trainer who has encouraged her to set her sights on Rolex. "We clicked from the start," she told me. "From the moment I got on I knew she was the one." 

Hitch in the getalong
Her story continued. On Thanksgiving 2010 she brought her mare in from the pasture, got on her, and she was lame. The next day, lame. And the next day. A week later they did X-rays that showed her mare had broken her coffin bone. She has been on stall rest and has now been cleared to walk under saddle. They don't know her prognosis, but the woman is optimistic. I told her about Ri's hoof injury. The woman looked at me and smiled. "They break your heart, don't they?"

Riley update
I haven't written about Riley's hoof situation.  He's being ridden every day which says a lot. He has the hole in his toe which is creating an entry point for bacteria/fungal stuff. He has white line disease and the edge of his hoof is lookin' chewed up, but nothing so bad that he can't be worked. The other day my trainer worked him on footing that had been rained on and dried to a cementlike hardness. He looked great, stepping out with those front feet and lifting through the shoulder.

Ministry of funny walks, Riley style
Here's the funny thing. He's sound under saddle, from what I can see. But he has a definite funny walk, especially on sharp turns. He is extremely resistant to lungeing counter-clockwise, but when I force the issue he looks okay. And all you who think I'm a whack-o mom, my trainer sees it, my husband sees it, it's there, we're a little baffled.

We had x-rays recently. Everything hoof-wise looked good--the navicular bone, the lateral view, both unremarkable, the lamina looks healthy. The missing chunk of coffin bone showed zero change -- zero change! After a year of steady work! What a relief. But still there's the weird walk.  Who knows, maybe he's a little sore on a hind leg? That I can deal with. Next step is for the vet to see him go under saddle and on the lunge (that hasn't been scheduled yet). 
Till then, as my former trainer used to say: Work'im! And think good thoughts for my airport friend and her beautiful mare.


  1. Well, phooey. This stinks, but I think you should remain positive. I'm hoping (?) it's something in a hind leg and not that bad foot, but it doesn't sound like it. And how bad can he be? After all, he just won a nice blue ribbon... so I would assume he doesn't look off to a judge, thank goodness.

    We'll be waiting to hear the vet results!

  2. I'm no expert, and nothing I say should go for veterinary advice, obviously. I've found in my own experience that the weird funkiness when not working like that is usually in soft tissues or non-weight-bearing joints, and problems which can be fixed and don't cause the major problems of things like if his coffin bone weren't holding up. (Great news that it is!!!!)

    My horse was just somehow not right for months at the end of last year. Vet said he was sound, but something just felt... off. My trainer agreed. And it was more longing than riding, but as we got into collection it started showing more and more. Turns out he should have been in a lot of pain in his SI area - related to a nasty fall he took mid-summer when he was playing too hard for the size of his arena. Massage helped small amounts, but not enough. Finally my trainer's chiro came into town, and checked him out - and he was misaligned all over the place from that fall months earlier. One treatment, and everything was lined back up, and has stayed that way. It's the lingering weirdness that can really get you, though!!!

  3. Had a trainer who was shortlisted for the Olympics years ago and her horse broke his coffin bone. Aspirations dashed in a moment. She opted not to try to event him again, but he was ridden for many years after.

    New techniques and healing approaches offer hope to many injuries today. Riley's recovery is a prime example.

    Here's hoping both horses in your post have long and happy careers in the disciplines of choice.

    As for Riley's walk...a bit strange, that's for sure. Maybe he's just trying to add to his already unique character with some individual style. *S*

  4. Sometimes when I read about things like fungus, white line disease, I think, Too bad they can't move to Texas where we have a drought. I bet his hooves would toughen up pretty quickly.

  5. sure hope Riley keeps improving until there is no noticeable hitch and his feet/legs are sound. It is heartbreaking when your horse is unsound and especially when it is so hard to diagnose. Sending healing thoughts to your airplane friend and her horse.

  6. I think your trainer is right... work him! Lots and lots of movement is key to developing healthy & properly-functioning hooves!

  7. I'm not a vet or an expert or a pro (is that disclaimer enough? :)) but I would definitely get a good chiropractor to take a look. Massage and chiro combined, with everyone talking to one another (vet, massage therapist, chiro, farrier) would probably get a clearer idea what's going on.

    There's a vet here who is incredible at sorting out the "offnesses" that don't seem to make sense. She's a dressage person too, which I think helps - but mainly she just seems to have an uncanny eye for connecting the dots. She does acupuncture and gives the humans in the picture things to do to help as well.

    There's also a woman in Texas who has helped a lot of folks find really underlying issues with their horses. If interested let me know - it's an alternative diagnostic technique but is low cost and there's a list as long as my living room of folks who use her and swear by her. She's booked 6 weeks out almost all the time as a result.

    Our vet told me once with these things you can go two directions - no riding, 24/7 turn-out to let the horse heal, or work with care and impeccable warming up and see if things get worse or better.

  8. Soak his feet in oxine or White Lightening- that'll get rid of the fungus and white line disease. He's probably got thrush too if he's got the other issues. (thrush doesn't always stink and ooze)

  9. I'm still catching up on the blog archives, but I wanted to recommend Zephyr's Garden products to help his feet recover & be stronger than ever.

    The owner of the company, Georgette Topakas, is a huge font of information, especially on the Zephyr's Garden facebook page.

    She has been very kind & generous in product and advice for a couple of horses that have come into the equine rescue I volunteer at, that I have purchased her products for out of my own pocket because I felt they were too compromised (Henneke BCS of 2 or less) for chemical fly sprays, etc.

    Here's her FB page
    Zephyr's Garden

    And an article about her horse Tall, Dark & Handsome (aka Zephyr) & his recovery:

    Barefoot is a Way of Life for Tall, Dark & Handsome


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