Thursday, July 21, 2011

So this is what I think I've got:

Weak, unconditioned stifles, that have become aggravated by fly-season stamping, and further weakened by decreasing turnout on hilly pasture from 24/7 to more like 8/7 (in the name of keeping her legs dew-free). Occasionally, her stifles will lock up, which is painful, it seems. Otherwise, if the stifles do NOT lock up, she is sound and comfortable. The left side locked up more often than the right - which would coincide with the fact that she prefers the left lead, prefers to have me not post on that diagonal.

Okay. Sound unless stifles lock. If they lock, it hurts, and causes her to be cautious about the next several steps, then she walks sound again. Everything I've found about locking stifles indicates that it's a problem caused either in growing horses (under 4) or where the muscles are lacking condition.

So, cautiously, I've begun riding with an emphasis on building strength in the hindquarters, especially. She's done VERY well, in the 3 times I rode probably only locked up twice.

The first two times we walked and trotted in the yard, and worked on the hill by the driveway at the walk. The third time (yesterday) I took her across the road into the woods pasture and went "trail riding."

Stayed at a walk the entire time, going up and down gradual hills, over ditches, over logs, carefully picking paths over tree roots - all that lifting of the legs over things is supposed to be excellent for building muscle strength. She did not lock up once the entire time. Yay!

And, on a somewhat related note, as I was picking her feet, on her left hind hoof, I found a tiny hole at her inside quarter on the white line - evidence of an abscess!! Which, I believe, totally explains her extreme reactions (even though they were inconsistent) walking over gravel. Tonight I will examine it carefully and try to see what I've got - if it needs further treatment or if it's healed enough on it's own for a trim to open the hole so that dirt/manure doesn't get packed in.

I have a good, willing-to-please horse. Hope I can keep her sound!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Well, I've ordered some stuff. Some of it has come, some hasn't. Some won't for several weeks. It's not exactly what I posted about, either. I may or may not blog about it (though I probably will) but for now I'll wait a bit until I get everything and try out and see how I like them.

But....I've got another problem.

The first weekend in July I had made plans to ride with Jacke and try out a saddle to see how it worked, and I was very much looking forward to that - I love riding with her and it's been too long!

I went and picked up my breastcollar on Wednesday (it had been loaned out to someone else with a no-withers horse) and on Thursday went to fit it to Arabee again. I finally got it all adjusted the way I wanted and led Arabee out to get on, then proceeded to ride her around a bit, up and down hill, to make sure I had the crupper and breastcollar adjusted just right. Occassionally, and only on the gravel driveway, she would take a few super lame, hobbling steps, and then as soon as we were on grass again, walk normal. Sometimes she could walk on gravel just fine, for several strides, walk lame for a bit, then walk normal. It was very strange, and totally intermittent. Shoot! Well, I untacked, and decided to wait until the next day to diagnose any lameness - maybe she just stepped on a rock funny. Well, in the morning I went out and made Arabee walk around the pasture so I could watch, and it was no better, in fact, less intermittent and more consistently off - so I had to call and cancel the Saturday trail ride :-((((

Well, I kind of thought that she was dealing with an abscess. So I trimmed her hooves all nice and pretty, and poked around to try to find the sensitive spot. I thought that perhaps she was sore in her heels, from being out in dewy I started bringing her into the dry lot at night, and not turning her out until the sun burned off all the dew. Well, it improved the look of her hooves quite a lot, but it didn't stop her from continuing to be lame.

Now she's started to walk VERY short strided - it's her left hind leg - and every now and then it will "catch" and she won't be able to unlock her joint at the stifle or put any weight on that leg at all until it "un-catches." So now she has taken to full-time just reaching way far underneath herself with the left rear leg, and never allowing it to extend back, which is when it seems to catch.

Yet, she'll still gallop around the pasture.

I've done a lot of googling about this, and it seems that this may have been caused by weak muscles and that I'll need to strengthen those muscles - using exercises like uphill walking, ground poles, and collection exercises. I've also read that body-work, massage, and chiropractor adjustment can help with this, as well. I'm just not sure where to start - vet? equine chiropractor? exercises at home?

Arghhh! It seems that every time I get something 'fixed' - get better fitting tack, get the abscess healed, get this or that cut healed, get more time....seems like everytime I think I'm finally going to be able to just get out and ride SOMETHING else happens! I just want my mare to be comfortable, and both of us to be safe, and BOTH of us to ENJOY riding together! Even if it is just short, infrequent rides. Can it happen?