Sunday, September 21, 2008

Gus... his story.

Gus has literally been through hell and back. When I got him back in 2000, he was definitely not eye catching. He had not had a "job" in three years, so he was fat, happy and sassy living in a pasture in the rural Midwest. However, despite that winter coat and those long, overgrown hooves there was something about him that caught my eye.Gus was my first horse. I have always been one of those little girls that loved horses. I was finally getting my own horse; I just jumped at the first one we checked out. He was worth it.

His first "accident" happened that first May, May 2000. My trainer/barn owner "BO" was lunging him. Well, he decided to be stupid, as was his thing on the lunge line, and ended up slipping. That accident resulted in a hyperextended stifle. He recovered just fine with about a month off.

No further issues until the spring of 2003. That was our first spring together in the South. Did not know what was going on. Vet finally diagnosed the problem as arthritis in the left front fetlock. Sorta resolved itself over the summer.

Spring of 2004 brought about another bout of lameness. This time the vet thought it was navicular in the right front. Treatment consisted of really expensive, custom bar shoes. Was sound after that.

Spring of 2005... Guess what? Yep, you guessed it. Another spring of lameness. New vet. Didn't think it was the front end this time, but thought it was the back end. Diagnosis was hocks, specifically the left hock. Ended up doing a round of hock injections, which seemed to help, but still wasn't 100%.

Fast forward a couple months... I moved Gus back home following graduation. BO at our "old" barn (same barn we were at prior to the move south) thought it was stifles. Vet confirmed the diagnosis as probably arthritis. Treatment consisted of injecting the left stifle with a steroid/sodium hylauronate mixture. He was sound, 100% again.

Ended up needing the stifle injected multiple times in the course of a couple years. Legend worked wonders in helping prolong the time between the joint injections. However, this spring, things were very different.

So, this March Gus was lame, again. What's new? My vet and I have been through so much with Gus so we both immediately suspected the stifle, except this time it felt like it was the right one, not the left. Ended up injecting both stifles in March. Moderate improvement, but still lame weeks later.

It wasn't until May that I decided to take him to the specialist, to see if we could get a more concrete diagnosis. Well, I got more then I bargained for. By the time I got Gus to the equine specialist, he was so lame he could barely even walk. Diagnosis was a torn cranial cruciate ligament. Prognosis was poor.

Gus ended up on stall rest for about 4 weeks. Then he was allowed turnout, only after he'd been ridden. Finally, by late June, he could be turned out in the mornings like everyone else. He was making progress, even if it was slow.

But, like everything else, we had our setbacks. First one was in July. He had been previously turned out by himself, but in mid-July, the BO turned another horse out with him. Gus, quite literally, beat the crap out of the other guy. In doing so, he reaggravated his injury.

He was getting better, and then ended up running around on his bad leg again a few weeks later in August. Since then, he's not been getting any better. And, now we're dealing with a swollen cannon bone (noticed on Labor Day).

Aghh. I don't think any of this will ever end. Had the vet back out for the swollen cannon bone (it's his left hind). Not sure what he did... it could be a number of things. Like: bee sting, infection (splinter possibly?), or (getting dramatic now) he could have fractured something. We don't know. So, with the help of a DMSO/Nitrofurazone/Dex sweat, the swelling has come down. However, after a week of sweating the leg, the swelling is still present.

It's frustrating because he's still lame... though now on both hind legs, but more so the left hind now then the right. But, he can't be on Bute because it's causing a lot of stomach upsets... he's been cribbing again since I put him back on Bute back at the beginning of the month.

He's got until October to get this issue resolved, then I'll do x-rays. He's comfortable, but it's so sad seeing him not "happy". And, I can't even ride my boy right now, which is frustrating in itself. But, at least he's weight is up and his coat is looking nice again. I'll have to post photos of his stars sometime soon.

ETA: Another blog I follow, Behind The Bit, had a nice article on stifles... so for my information (mostly) here's a link:

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