Saturday, April 26, 2008

Old Age

I took Jimmy in for an "old age inspection", aka lameness exam, about a week ago. I've noticed over the last 2 years (he's 22 now) that his arthritis was getting worse in his left hock. I also noticed that his right front leg seemed to be a little off once in a while. And at the end of March when I started to ride him more, he got really sore and looked awful for about a week. I felt awful about it! So, I took him in with the intention that I would inject every joint with pain killer and start him on expensive supplements and regular treatments. The exam revealed that, indeed, his left hock and right front fetlock were the worst joints affected by osteoarthritis. The vets and decided, after a $300 exam with radiographs of 2 joints, that it would be a reasonable start to his treatment if I were to start using Adequan and more joint supplements to see if they relieved his pain any. We chose the most non-invasive treatment for now, just so we wouldn't have to go into his joints with injections. I think that is reasonable, but afterwards I did feel a little bit like I copped out. I had fully intended to have his hock and fetlock injected before I showed up at the clinic. It was about 3 years ago that I almost started using Adequan with Jimmy. I even had some in my hands once, but I decided that was really too much to do at that time, so I sent it back to the vet. Now I wonder if it was the right thing at the time.... Where would we be now if I had done that then? We'd probably be at hock injections! At that would have been after spending $600 a year on Adequan for him. I do think Jimmy has been pretty comfortable up until this year. I have kept him in regular exercise up until this winter. He really did lose his fitness and muscling this winter, and it is going to be hard to bring him back up to the level he was last year (before breast cancer). Not only do I have my own physical problems now with lymphedema, but I also have no outdoor arena to work him in. I feel pretty limited. However, I am working on his training and supplements. I already increased his joint supplement, added Hyaluronic Acid (HA), and switched to a different brand with different doses. I think he does look better already, but maybe my observation is just affected by my own feeling that I am doing something for him.

I also took Zoe in for her tendon evaluation. They did a lameness test on her and ultrasounded the tendon. She looks great! The healing has really progressed in the last 2 months, and she was okayed for limited turnout! 1-2 hours/day for a week, then increase to half days for a week, then regular turnout with everyone else. I can start riding her somewhere in there (when I feel safe about it!). I think I will let her have her turnout for a few weeks, then start lunging her. I will have to take her to my friends with arenas, since good footing is essential for her work now. So it won't be easy, and it will be time-consuming. But I can't wait to be riding her again.

In the meantime, a friend of mine bought a grand prix schoolmaster. She has offered to let me take lessons on him twice a month and get some rides in edgewise, when possible. I rode him for the first time last weekend, and Wow! I had so much fun, and did pretty well on him. The people watching didn't laugh too hard, and were complimenting me at the end. I was so excited. I will be able to learn a lot on him -- the right positioning of my body, making sure I am light on my aids, and the psychology of a grand prix horse. This will make me such a better rider and trainer for Zoe. It's a really great opportunity.

So it appears that with the weather, my horse life is also improving. Everyone is back on track, including me. I will focus on rehabilitating my beloved horses, and improving my own riding skill. Yep, just in time for winter, I will be back ready to ride full time and then will have to deal with freezing temperatures, dark days, and the general unpleasantness of winter chores. Boy, am I psyched!