Thursday, April 19, 2018

tender loving maintenance

One of the nice things about taking this little unexpected break mid spring was that it gave me an opportunity to do another full inventory of the state of things. Evaluating where Charlie is in his health and well being, and thinking about it in terms of what all we will hopefully be facing over the next weeks and months.

always amused by this comic artist. maybe it's the birds. or maybe it's the vague existentialism lol
Seemed like a good enough time, albeit a little early, to do Charlie's hocks again. Everyone has their own comfort zone about joint maintenance, and hock injections are well within scope for me personally. So when Charlie's PPE showed that he'd likely be a card-carrying member of the hock maintenance club, I was cool with it.

i spy with my little eye.... sleeping ponies!
I've also had the benefit of speaking with his former race trainer who was able to fill me in on the care he received under her (like his tie back surgery and the suspensory strain he did back in 2011). She did his hocks on the track, and actually did his stifles once too.

oh man, look at Royal there on the left, homeboy is laid out haha
My vet who did his PPE and has done his injections since then feels like his stifles are in great shape, tho, luckily. And so far we've been able to keep them healthy and lubricated by building muscle through strength training.

It certainly helps that those joints are surrounded by big strong muscles that can provide support to the joint, vs hocks that are harder to improve with strength training alone.

charlie did not appear ready for wakey wakey yet, so i just sat down to hang for a little bit
And it's not unusual especially for large horses, who maybe had major growth spurts, to sometimes need more support in their stifles. So far tho we haven't had to do any interventions for Charlie. That day may come eventually, but maybe not.

really tho, everyone was drowsy and dopey in the warm sunshine
In the meantime tho, I like to stay ahead of the curve with his hocks. They aren't in very bad shape at all - in fact one is almost totally fine. But considering Charlie's occasionally sour attitude and decidedly not stoic nature, it's easier for everyone involved if I can reduce as much friction (literally!) as possible haha.

"c'mon, mom, just five more minutes!!"
The first time we did his hocks, there was quite a bit of pressure in the one. And the synovial fluid was kinda watery and had that slight rusty tint, indicating inflammation in the joint. This time tho, it was nice and viscous and healthy looking. A good indication that we were getting the joint taken care of before it became aggravated or inflamed again.

meanwhile i got mugged by a roving gang of chestnuts lol
So that's always reassuring. It was also nice to have this particular vet evaluate Charlie again in general. She has done his PPE, and previous injections, and also another lameness exam soon after I bought him to just double and triple check that the funkiness in his RF was indeed hoof soreness and not anything else (which we confirmed).

charlie's life does not suck, guys
I don't get to see this vet very often bc there's another good vet who buzzes around my farm constantly, and is there seemingly every week. So it's usually really convenient to just text her when I need a look at the horse, or more SMZs or omeprazole or Surpass or something. Plus, in the instances where I've needed more urgent care (like Charlie's whole splint situation last fall), I was able to just add him on to other appointments she already had at the farm.

big cat stretch after he finally decided to get up!
I really like this original vet tho, and especially since she did Charlie's PPE it's really useful to get her thoughts on where he is now, compared to where he started. And her verdict? She's really impressed with his overall condition right now! His weight and muscling are just so so so different now from the first time we laid eyes on him, 4 weeks after his final race.

then out of the sacrifice field and into greener grazing areas
Plus she declared him sound as a dollar during the exam too, which I will never ever ever get tired of hearing from a vet haha. Tho yea, flexions showed that we wouldn't exactly be wasting our time doing the hocks either lol.

wherein he also got to appreciate the spring flowers
Plus, conveniently she was able to take a little looksie at the latest ding in Charlie's universe: a gnarly puncture he picked up on his forearm. I had cleaned it out the night before and flushed it with betadine in one of those curved tip syringes that I love so much now (pictured bottom left). But was eager to have a vet look at it just to confirm there wasn't anything worse going on.

Luckily the puncture goes up instead of down toward the joint. And while it's a bit deep, it isn't terrible. So hopefully it'll heal on its own with nothing more than SMZs and regular scrubs and flushes (vet recommended chlorhex instead of betadine) to keep it draining. Tho she also gave him a shot of gent just to be reeeeeally sure haha. Bc let's be real, it's Charlie.

oh haha, there was also this too. a nice meaty chunky puncture up in the fleshy part of charlie's forearm. bc sure. why not. 
So. Ya know. Maybe now that Charlie's all juiced up again he'll do something stupid and end up back on stall rest, making it all pointless anyway. Which. Ya know. Wouldn't be the first time.

But hopefully tho, that won't be the case. Hopefully instead he'll be feeling like a million bucks and will be ready to hit the ground running when I get back on him in a few days (for an awesome trail ride!!!!). Fingers crossed lol.

Have you done much maintenance for your horses? Is it something you're comfortable with, or something you try to avoid at all costs? I know a ton of horses out there get their hocks done, but maybe your horse has had other hot spots too, like fetlock or neck or knee or SI?

Is there anything you wouldn't inject? Or would you be the first person in line to dunk your entire horse in a giant vat of steroids should that become an option??

33 comments:

  1. Charlie. Enough with the dings and dents! More naps and cat stretches instead?

    I'm really only familiar with hock injections and would totally do them for my horses. I suppose I'd take the others as they were presented as options and consider the situation as it evolved making a decision in that moment. Hard to really say with certainty what I'd do or not do without having the ins and outs of a whole situation to consider.

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    1. Yea I tend to be pretty comfortable with the idea of injections but the context really matters. Things like age, reason behind the need (injury? Arthritis?) and reasonable prognosis all matter.

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  2. I want to take a nap with Charlie in the sun. That is hysterical. LOL I may have watched him sit up and lay down way too many times...:)

    It is interesting about injecting his hocks as I have a blog post started but never finished about hocks. Remus has no issues but he is 15 this year and i am wondering if it is time. As you say, better safe than sorry (WHY wait for issues).

    PLEASE WRAP CHARLIE UP IN BUBBLE WRAP TILL Saturday. THank you VERY MUCH. :)

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    1. Ha I want to nap with Charlie in the sun too - and hopefully that’s all he will be doing until Saturday!!

      And re: Remus’s hocks, that’s awesome that you haven’t had to do them yet. And I mean, if there aren’t any changes visible on x rays or if he doesn’t flex positively, there’s really no reason right? I certainly wouldn’t have gone this route with Charlie without knowing that he definitely needed it (in other words - I DID confirm that he had issues in the PPE before deciding to inject). But now that we know this is part of what Charlie needs to stay comfortable, I try to stay ahead of the curve so that we address the joint before it has a chance to get sore again.

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  3. I am all about better living through pharmaceuticals! I do like a horse to be as "natural" as possible so I tend to wait until things need to be done, but have no hesitations doing them when needed. I haven't done Mia's hocks yet but I have App's. I haven't done them the past 2 years bc the vet feels that they aren't really the issue, his shoulder is the problem and the hocks would be a waste. Eh, retired life, right?
    But come on Charlie, can you NOT try to maim yourself for at least a week?? Give poor Emma a shadow of hope that she can ride you sometime this year?

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    1. Yea I basically have the same philosophy. I don’t want to intervene unless I have to, but if I have to I’m not going to cut any corners. Tho yea once a horse is retired or not working as much that really changes the game in terms of focusing on comfort for quality of life vs comfort for performance.

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  4. Charlie looks very content in the sunshine. Gem is 20 and has never needed anything which is mostly luck and her genetics at play plus endurance is a lot easier on the joints versus jumping and dressage work. If she needed them to work and I wasn't ready to retire her, I'd go ahead and do them. I did pass on a few sale ads that specified that the horse needed injections as I wasn't wanting to get involved in it from the get go, but I'd be open to doing so for the right horse in the right situation.

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    1. Definitely. When I was shopping I passed on a four year old who already had a fetlock injected (no thanks!) but was comfortable with an ottb who raced for four years needing hocks. Also realistically many race horses get something or another injected on the track (it’s just a real hard job on their bodies) so looking at ottbs meant being aware of certain care needs beyond what my hardy little Arab Isabel needed. Tho... honesty had I been allowed to I probably would at least have had Isabel evaluated to see if doing her hocks would have helped make her more comfortable to keep jumping....

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  5. Sooooo I have to admit that I was skipping between reading this blog and answering a few early-morning emails and drinking coffee. When I saw out of the corner of my eye the pic of the syringe going into Charlie's puncture... yeah my head thought that was a pic of the vet injecting his hock. I was like OMG NO! It should look like that! Then I actually read what was going on. Whew!

    May has had her hocks done twice and her stifles done once. Keeping her strength and fitness up helps us go a while between getting them done, but obviously, I think it is important to make sure we are properly maintaining what we have. The horse that needs injections every 3 months and rounds of Adequan constantly to stay sound? That might be overdoing it, but large joints once and twice a year is totally reasonable to me... especially since we have some clear conformation issues that could cause more wear and tear on joints than a perfectly built horse. After all, May needs to pack my kids around cross rails and w/t dressage tests in 10 years!

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    1. It Shouldn't Look Like That***

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    2. Omg no haha that wound was not on his hock - not even the same leg or we would 100% have held off on injecting bc I have exactly zero interest in opening the joint capsule in a situation where infection might already be present.... but yea. I think the key for me with routine maintenance is ensuring that it stays routine and doesn’t grow into a bandaid type situation.

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  6. Good ol' spring maintenance! I consistently keep batting around the idea of injecting his hocks, but for the most part, his RH is fine and his LH, while a little boxy and arthritic, is maintained well with an oral joint supp (I'm generally a skeptic about these, but hey he hasn't come out stiff since starting it soo...). But hocks are definitely on his radar. His SI is a little weird too, so that will probably get injected one of these days. He just loves to spend my money, although probably not as much as Charlie loves to spend yours haha!

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    1. ha i'm pretty sure all horses love spending their owners' money! luckily none of charlie's dings have been very expensive (ahem, aside from that surgery....) and very few actually require vet visits. so. that's something, i guess lol. and yea i always worry about the SI too just bc it's such a big and important joint. every time i get all anxious about it to charlie's massage therapist tho she just palpates the crap out of it right in front of me while charlie shows absolutely zero reaction.... so.... i guess we're dodging that one for now haha (fingers crossed!)

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  7. Omg, find that horse a padded stall and a bubble wrap suit! He's determined to get out of being ridden!
    Are you uttering the "s" word in his presence? I couldn't do that with my last gelding - if I said "show" in front of him something would go wrong - mostly shoes falling off, not maiming himself. I had to say that we were going on judged trail rides.

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    1. lol we don't even have any imminent shows planned on the calendar, this horse just seriously can't even help himself haha.

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  8. Dings are do-able! So long as that's all they are haha. The pictures remind me of a day somewhere before our 11th and 13th winters, (but after 4th lol) that was all mild and sunshine-y and nearly every horse outside was either flat out or in tucked up burrito mode. Love seeing Charlie and friends looking all adorable and relaxed :)

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    1. lol i can never get enough of watching the horses all stretched out, soaking up the sun. actually maybe i'm kinda jealous of them lolol, such carefree lives!!

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  9. That's so Amber! Lying flat out haha. She loves to sleep and nap like that lol. Yep. Because Charlie *facepalm* He is without a doubt king of the dings lol

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  10. Murray after being dunked in a vat of steroids is a terrifying thought!!

    I'm willing to do a fair number of injections. But there's this line I don't want to cross where it seems to become gratuitous and just for the sake of extending competition on a horse who might be better off retiring. So I try to be aware of that, though we thankfully aren't anywhere near it yet!

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    1. lol yea you might be right about that, i don't think anybody needs to see murray go all HULKSMASH on life haha. hahaha.

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  11. I love me some hock injections! Rio gets his done twice a year currently, as well as IV injections of pentosan every 3 weeks, and a load month (1 time per week for 4 weeks) every 6 months. I'm all about joint health!!

    <3 Kelly @ HunkyHanoverian

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    1. yea i definitely appreciate doing what i can to help keep the horse happy and comfortable. we haven't gotten into anything IM or IV at this point, but that's also an option for the future.

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    2. Lurker here! Kelly, do you find the reload of the pentosan actually does anything? My horse is on a similar regime with pentosan every 3 weeks, and IA injections every 8ish months, but could probably use more support between IA injections.

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    3. hey i'm not sure Kelly will be checking back here in order to answer your question, but she'll definitely respond if you comment directly on her blog here:
      https://hunkyhanoverian.com/

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  12. I try to avoid at all costs. But also feel that if we want to keep jumping and prancing with our horses, there comes a time they need some support. I've never done injections on any of my horses as they haven't needed it. But I'm not totally averse to it, and should June need them one day, I'll for sure buck up (literally, lol). If we can keep the joints healthy without injections, I think that's ideal but that is DEFINITELY not possible for all horses, and I totally get that.

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    1. yea i've kinda come to see support as inevitable for any sport horse... but there are levels, right? hopefully by going the route of having a baby horse whose training you can pace based on how her body is developing, you'll be able to avoid a lot of the wear and tear that might be more common in ottbs who are out racing by the time they're 2. gosh i just love ottbs but damn the sport is not very forgiving on their bodies!

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  13. Ha, funny we post about almost the same thing today. Obviously, I will inject all the things, should the horse need it (having injected Mikey's hocks and now Penn's SI).

    I've also come to realize from his surgery that thoroughly investigating things quickly (ie, "should we xray his hock just to be sure?" "no it's probably fine" then "oh, look, we ended up xraying it and it's not fine and now he may not recover 100%"), can make the biggest difference. It wouldn't have cost me less in the long run for Mikey, but it could have gotten him surgery faster and a better prognosis. I feel lucky that he recovered despite the delay in care. I'm sure I'll spend more money in the long run doing "just be sure" checks, but I won't miss something like those chips again.

    I diverged from the original point... check all the joints, with all the things, lol.

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    1. yea i know exactly what you mean. i regret not being more proactive about charlie's first splint last year. we could have possibly avoided... like... all of that. all. of. it. sigh. and that wasn't even a joint! it's so hard to know sometimes tho, ya know? and hindsight is always 20/20. but sometimes i'm pretty cool with paying a price for peace of mind!

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  14. Now that P's getting up there in years (the ripe old age of 8 next week!) I'm more on the lookout for signs that he may need some comfort juice. So far so good, but definitely not adverse to that, should the need arise. Hooray for soundness!

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  15. Cupid is 7, so far his maintenance is just regular chiro adjustments. Not opposed to doing something more if he had a problem and I thought it would help, but we haven't crossed that bridge yet.

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  16. I am all for keeping them comfortable in their work!

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  17. My OTTB got her hocks done about a year ago and she's feeling much better on them still. The vet hasn't said anything about needing them done since (she's 6 now) and fingers crossed they're still looking good. Of course, if they need it, we'll do 'em to make her comfortable

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