Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Updates... LONG Overdue

It has been FOREVER since I've updated this blog, my apologies. Life has been chaotic and hectic at most and crazy busy in the least. Needless to say, this hasn't been one of my priorities, but I do plan on changing that... or at least updating much more frequently.

Now on to the boys.

I'll start with Gringo.

Gringo is doing just a good as he's ever been. Soundness wise he's probably at 99%, 95% of the time. That other 5% of the time he's just slightly off on the left front due to his mainly healed, fractured coffin bone. I had the vet out back in April to take new x-rays of Gringo's left front hoof. Surprisingly, not much has changed but some arthritic changes have started to appear. So it looks as if he's as healed as he's going to get and we just need to basically move on and see how he goes. Vet has cleared him to begin undersaddle work, yet again. But, yet again, I'm very leary to start working with him.

Below is a side-by-side comparison of his March 2008 and April 2011 x-rays. Still EXTREMELY obvious where the fracture site is, but thankfully there are no major red flags with the new x-rays.

Weight-wise, I think I've finally got Gringo down to a weight that is acceptable. He was PUDGY this winter, which is somewhat okay given the fact that he is pasture-boarded in Minnesota in the winter, but I think this was totally unacceptable. He was down right FAT.

These photos were taken in February.

And here's a few that were taken just a few months later, earlier this month in June.

He's still a bit heavy, but better now then he was then. He's only getting 1/3c of alfalfa pellets daily along with his hay. And a lush pasture he shares with just one other horse, Jade. However, I think the combination of hay AND 24/7 pasture is making him still too pudgy. You can feel his ribs though and the vet did like his weight when she saw him in April... so I guess that's saying something positive. I think I'm just used to seeing horses with muscle and Gringo sadly lacks in that department, as does Gus.

Here's a rundown on Gringo's feed stuffs:
* 1/3c of alfalfa pellets
* hay... lots of it (I really should weigh it sometime)
* pasture, again LOTS of it
* 1oz Mega-Cell
* Mag-Ox 56% - 8g
* MSM - 10g

And here's a picture of Jade, Gringo's girlfriend. She's a pretty, young thang ... haha. Actually, she is quite young and very green. Surprisingly still, she's 100% Appaloosa.

Alrightly, now on to Gus. So, what's new with Gus? or what all has happened since October 2010? Gosh, where to start.

October 2010
Well, after my last blog post, we did end up injection Gus's stifles again. Both this time. However, because of his Insulin Resistance and Cushings, we opted to not use any steroids at all, just plain old Legend. Well, in doing so, there was nothing to control the inflammation that is associated with joint injections, so Gus was extremely uncomfortable after his injections and for weeks later.

This was also the start of the beginning of the end of Gus's hooves as we know it. I'd let the pictures speak for themselves, except I must have lost some in the process. Anyways, what was minimal damage in October ended up major damage in December.

November 2010
Nothing notable happened... least nothing that I can recall.

December 2010
All h*ll broke lose this month. I think pictures explain things well enough.

Taken right after being reset in mid-December:


So, as you can tell, Gus had two nice sized cracks, one of each front hoof. The left hoof crack was on the inside near the heel, the crack on the right front was located on the outside of the hoof, also near the heel. To this day we have no idea what caused the cracks.

After discussing things with the vet back in December, we opted to remove Gus from all work, least til we could get his hooves figured out. So, we ended up pulling Gus's shoes on 1/13 and the vet took some new rads. Had a new farrier out to pull the shoes. He ended up doing just that but no trimming of the hooves. We also ended up putting Gus in come Cavallo hoof boots (a pair was generously given to Gus from a CoTHer) with 2 degree wedge pads. He ended up in that boot combo for about 6 weeks.

Here are the photos and rads:

 Right Front
Left Front
Again, no big changes from January to the beginning of February. Gus still had not had his hooves trimmed since December, if I'm not mistaken. Still off work and spending 24/7 in Cavallo Simple Boots.

Here's the sequence of photos from the month of February.

February 13th:

The brusing and cracking that you see around the heels/back of coronet band are due to the Cavallo boots. The day I took these, I pulled his boots. It was so icy out that Gus was ending up way sorer then he should have been.

February 19th:

What you see above is all from damage from walking on an icy pasture. There was really nothing to do about it and it was mostly due to not being trimmed since December. This was partially my fault but also due to the farrier. He did not want to trim Gus until more hoof grew out. We more hoof grew, that's for sure, and we ended up with some severe breakage.

Again, the photos speak for themselves.

March 2nd:

Basically, more of the same photos, except this shows what happens when he was allowed to continue to walk on long hooves. I was still waiting to get the farrier out when I took these. Believe it or not, Gus was still fairly sound, though still out of work.

March 15th:

So, after talking to the farrier and verbally agreeing to trim him in earlier March, I had to call the day AFTER he was out wondering why the heck Gus was not trimmed as agreed to. Needless to say, the farrier made it out on a Saturday to trim Gus and only Gus. I made sure to tip him for the trip, even though it wasn't my fault that Gus wasn't done when he was out a few days prior.

It was around that same time that a very generous CoTHer sent Gus a pair of Soft Rides. So for the next few weeks, Gus sported these boots, which I LOVED. I highly recommend Soft Rides. They are fabulous.

It was also in March that we got the go ahead to start lightly working Gus again.

April started off and continued just like any other month. No major hoof issues with Gus, but as the month progressed, Gus was starting to have stifle issues again. So a call was made to our favorite vet and an appointment was set for the beginning of May.

The farrier also came out in early April to touch up the fronts and actually trim the hinds. Here's the photos from that visit on the 6th.

As you can tell, the hoof cracks slowly but surely were growing out. And other then being off in the back due to his stifles, Gus seemed to be getting over whatever was ailing him in the front.

At the beginning of May, the vet was out to reinject Gus's stifles. We opted to do the Legend again, but added a little bit of steroid to the mix to help with the inflammation. Back in October when he was done no steroids were added, because of the risk of laminitis. Well in not doing so, we ended up with more inflammation issues then we had to begin with.

The injections were a success and Gus started to improve. However, we were still dealing with some sticky issues on the right hind. We opted to start Gus on a round of Adequan to see if that would help at all, so a week after the stifle injections, Gus started the 7 series injections. Dr. N also recommended having the chiropractor out to see if she could find any sore spots. Oh and boy did she ever.

Dr. K was out at the end of May and Gus was out just about everywhere. Actually mainly just his back, SI and withers, if I'm not mistaken. I did mention to her about Gus's increased yawning... I have noticed since the beginning on May (when we started to increase his work load) that after working out, he would yawn excessively after the bridle was removed. I don't think we really addressed that issue, so in June I'm hoping we can find why that is going on.

Below are the hoof shots from May:

Needless to say, from the end of May until now (the end of June) nothing major has happened with Gus. He's still continuing to improve although was are still dealing with issues on the right hind. He will willingly enough pick up the right lead canter under saddle, but it's nearly impossible to get it while on the lunge.

Speaking of the lunge line, part of Gus's workout includes lunging. We typically spend anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes lunging Gus before riding. He goes in Vienna balancing reins (a type of sliding side rein) and we try really hard to NOT do circles. Circles are bad for stifles.

We are also working over cavalletti and ground poles. Gus can successfully navigate 3-4 trot poles in a row and can also canter two poles, spaced 1/4 of a 20m circle apart, if that makes any sense. I plan on incorporating more cavalletti and poles in Gus's future work, as they really work well in strengthening the stifle.

Just a couple weeks back, Gus was trimmed yet again by the farrier. He seems to be doing okay with his hooves now, and slowly but surely those cracks are growing out. The one on the left front is gone or very nearly gone, if I'm not mistaken. The right front crack is still there, but it too is nearly gone.

Here are the photos:

We also opted to drastically change Gus's hind hooves. He now is sporting a squared off toe. This actually really seemed to help him break over faster in the back. He's now w/t/c without tripping, or at least not tripping nearly as frequently.

Here's the photos of his hind hooves:

So, that's where we stand right now. Here's some basic body shots I took of Gus just the other day. Weight-wise, I think he's looking pretty good. Definitely needs more muscle but the only way to get that back is with proper work and time. Lots of time.

 Gus is due to see Dr. K again on Thursday. I'm hoping we can get the last bit of his TMJ or whatever is causing all the yawning taken care of. I'm also hoping we can get the rest of the SI/back issues resolved. He improved about 85% with the chiropractor back at the end of May, but I want to try to get that last 15%. The only issues noted are the sticky right stifle which is only noticable when attempting the right lead canter and general stiffness, which is mainly resolved with lunge work prior to undersaddle work.

Goals for Gus for the summer are very minimal. I just want him to stay sound and comfortable, both front and back.

Final Diagnosis
We sorta put a diagnosis to what Gus was suffering from all last year. Dr. N says it was subclinical laminitis. Basically we didn't see the root of all his issues, so while we were treating the symptoms we weren't treating the cause. Gus is now, and has been since ~ April, on Pergolide. It's a prescription medication to treat Cushings. Gus started off on 0.5mg daily and just recently (in the last 3 weeks or so) has been on an increased dosage of 1mg daily. The reason for the increase was we didn't think the 0.5mg dose was making any improvements. He is still carrying his winter coat, or what's left of it, on his barrel. The rest of him has been shedded out since about mid-June. He is currently about 3 weeks behind his normal schedule for shedding out. I'm not sure if that is due to the odd spring we had (or lack there of) or due to being on the Pergolide.

While Gus continues to improve with his hoof issues, I don't think he'll ever be totally out of the clear. It'll be something I need to continually watch for the rest of his life. His diet is closely monitored as well, and that in addition to the farrier and prescription makes Gus truly a "hard keeper" now.

His current diet includes:
* 2lb Triple Crown Senior (divided into two meals)
* hay (couldn't tell you what or how much though, I really should retest it)
* MSM - 10g
* MagOx 56% - 8g
* SmartHoof
* Pergolide - 1mg

We keep changing his grain as Gus has decided that grain is the enemy. So, since oh November/December, Gus has gone from Progressive Nutrition ProAdvantage Grass (had to cancel due to feed store closing) and alfalfa pellets, to Purina Enrich 32% (a comparable "grain" similar to PN), to Purina WellSolve L/S to the Triple Crown Senior. Hopefully he'll maintain his appetite with the TC Senior.

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