Friday, April 2, 2010

Fallin' Apart

This is what Sofie's feet looked like on the day I tried her out.

And after six months of natural trims:

I never thought Sofie's feet would come so far. But they have. Can we fix her body, too? I don't know the answer to that.

The hock injections have done absolutely nothing for Sofie. It has been two weeks now, and she is even worse than she was before. She is stiff in the hind end even after being turned out all day in the sunshine and warmth, and she is not even comfortable or happy doing light groundwork. She doesn't run and buck and spin and strike out when turned out in the indoor arena, she just trots around stiffly, occasionally swishing her tail.

We had her regular massage therapist out, and it seemed to help her, though it didn't last. She had extremely tight inner thigh muscles - obviously compensating for something, but what? Her whole hind end seems to be falling apart.

We've been through a lot with Sofie. We knew she would be a project. We did not have a prepurchase exam done. I'm sure she would have failed, between her sore hooves and what appears to be widespread, advanced arthritis in her hind end. We had a lot of hard rides, but we had some shining moments, too, like when she was relaxed and moved nicely when a girl who doesn't like me, and always likes to point out what I'm doing wrong came to watch me ride my new horse. The night she got her hoof casts off and she'd grown sole and developed concavity, and I took her into the arena and we did groundwork at liberty and she was so happy and I started crying because I was happy, too. The first rides after she got her new feet. October and November were amazing. Most of the winter was good, too, especially when we went out in the snow and she trotted and cantered like a Warmblood and plowed through drifts without ever balking. In Early March she was in the best shape she'd ever been in, and was looking less like a cutting horse and more like an Thoroughbred.

In March I started riding her outside routinely, since she was bored with the indoor and it was warm out. The snow was still fairly deep in areas, and denser than it was back in December and January. Remember my when she started rushing and not steering and being barn sour? I thought it was a training fail. It wasn't. My training was fine. Physically, though, she was having trouble going through that snow, so of course she wanted to go back to the barn and driveway area, where it was melted out.

Then she fell. That would've torqued her hind end for sure. She was doing okay after that, with conservative riding. But then I went and had a lesson with that idiot trainer who didn't listen to me and decided my horse was just being a bitchy mare. "She just doesn't want to do it," she said. BUT WHY? Why doesn't she want to do it, is what you should be asking. Think. Don't assume. It's all well and good to ask for more straightness, more quality of work, blah blah blah. But you start with five minutes, and you give the horse a break, and you work your way up to more intensity. An hour + of hard work (and yes, I know we weren't asking her to do a Grand Prix test, but hard work is a relative term! The work she was being made to do was hard for her, a trail horse with her conformation working against her who had only been doing dressage for a year.) was the last thing she needed at that point. I should have stuck to my instincts, but it was after 5 at night and I'd gotten up at 5:30 AM to work at the barn. I was brain dead, and I allowed myself to be pressured into something that was wrong for my horse.

We need to have x-rays done. We need to try to find out what the hell is going on with her hind end, and we need to know if she has a chance at a good quality of life. If she does, then I may move her to Anne, our farrier's barn, where the horses get more turnout on a hilly pasture, and the mare herd may be more active than the lazy group of four at Judy's. I love Judy's barn, and I love the facilities, and I would miss it dearly, but if moving her is the only chance she has, then I have to do it. I trust Anne, as she has done more for Sofie than anyone else, and she was a barn full of horses with all kinds of issues, and they are all happy and healthy.

I do know one thing. I will do the right thing for my horse, whatever that may be.


  1. Sorry to hear about your horse's issues. Is she lame right now, or just sore? You may want to give her a bit of time off, or just a bit of time with a lot of long walks to keep her fit without too much strain. Dressage work is tough and does push horse's boundaries (as any fitness routine does, even for people), but you know your horse and you'll know when to push her again.

    If you're still looking for a saddle, there are two that came to mind for a wide horse...have you looked at a Wintec Isabelle? Or a Duett dressage saddle? They are made especially for wide backs. I strongly suggest buying a dressage all purpose won't put you in exactly the right spot.

  2. The flocking in a Duett isn't good. It's poor wool. I just reflocked mine. I have a few other complaints about it as well.

    As someone whose mare is in season, it's made the work just more difficult. You're not asking the world, but you are asking for more. You might want to have the chiro out.

  3. She's very stiff in her hind end, and while she's not head-bobbing lame or anything like that, her movement is definitely off. She hasn't wanted to canter while free schooling, and when she does, she drags her hind end and doesn't want to use it at all, which is very unlike her since her canter is normally surprisingly uphill. Her demeanor is "off", too, she has been rather unhappy and uncooperative when just a month ago she was much happier.

    I haven't ridden her in two weeks, we've just been doing light longeing and free schooling and hand-walking her. I'm going to have a vet out who is thorough, whom Sofie and I like, and who has also done chiro on her in the past. It may be that she really needs an adjustment, though I suspect there is some arthritis involved too. I'm not worried about the saddle at this point, it seems like equipment is the least of our concerns.

  4. Have you thought about putting her on a glucosamine supplement? It'll help if her joints are arthritic.