Sunday, December 1, 2013


Well, it looks like we’re in for our annual, ominous start-of-winter, is-this-the-end routine. We were due for one of these.

It’s been over a month since Sofie came up lame, and she is still really bad. Apart from those two promising rides mid-November, when she cantered without an issue and seemed like she was on the mend, she has come up hobbling at some point during every one of our rides since that day she pulled something, or did something, or something happened.

On our last “real” trail ride, she was feeling good, and when I first started trotting her she broke into a canter, which of course disintegrated into hobbling. We went on, and I tested her occasionally. She was mostly okay at the trot, and when I tried the canter once more, she felt great, but then she just broke and started limping again. She was fine on hills, and fine trotting, except occasionally when she’d limp, but then she’d work out of it.

The last time I rode, I just got on bareback in the indoor arena for a few minutes. She was okay at the walk, but she couldn’t trot to save her life. She’s not lame at the walk, and she’s not lame even when she’s not carrying my weight, so we’re not quite back to square one. But it’s still very discouraging.

I’m at the point where I may want to have a vet out and have some flexion tests done, because I can’t figure this out. She did so well throughout this year. She was so strong, and so sound. And this doesn’t feel to me like the typical arthritis flare-up. With arthritis, there’s usually more guarding, and disengaging and self-protecting. There’s more buildup. And when she’s not cripplingly lame, she looks and feels great. Even the other day, her canter was spot-on before she broke. It just doesn’t make sense. It feels more like an acute injury than ringbone.

But then I recall all the things I’ve read about how ringbone can be career-ending and super painful, and I get confused all over again. Maybe this is just what happens. Maybe this is how it goes. But there’s no heat in the joint. The lump on her pastern is cold and hard. It’s set. It shouldn’t be causing this much pain. And besides that, I can pick up her hoof and flex that joint hard, basically wrench it and torque on it, and I get no reaction from her. If I palpate up on her rump, where Chiro Lady said she pulled that muscle, she moves away from me more often than not. And a lot of the muscles on that right leg and rump feel super tight. So, I don’t know.

What has changed? Certainly the mud was a factor. I can blame myself for not being more proactive, but mud happens where horses live, and it has never been a problem before. And, we remedied the situation when it did become a problem. That’s all you can do.

The main thing is that Sofie’s herd has undergone a lot of changes. Horses have been moved out of there, and new ones have been introduced. The new herd seems perfectly peaceful to me, but the fact remains that my horse keeps going lame. Something needs to change, because what I’m doing is not working.

Fortuitously, one of the mares Sofie used to live with needed to be moved out of her new herd. She is a pretty nasty, dominant mare, and she was causing dangerous situations when people went to bring their horses in. Sofie always got along with her, though, so when I heard my boss was thinking of moving her to a smaller paddock I asked her if we could move Sofie, too. She loved the idea, and I moved both horses the day before Thanksgiving.

They have a nice spot right out in front of the barn, with a shelter big enough for the two of them. They even have a slow feed haynet. Sofie is fine being by herself at night (the other mare is on stall board) and she has a friend during the day. The other mare has a friend she likes and gets along with, and she’s not endangering people and their horses. And I’m hoping that being in a smaller space, with only one other horse will be what Sofie needs. As much as I like having her in a big field, with an active herd, it’s no good if she hurts herself all the time. And maybe as she gets older, and with all her fused joints and old injuries, she just needs to be a little less active on her downtime.

It feels like a good decision for all involved. Hopefully it pays of for Sofie.

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