Monday, 28 March 2016

The Old Man is Going to Discover the Joys of Alcohol

So my old man has been getting progressively lamer. Some days he's almost completely sound. But some days he's so lame he's basically crippled.

When he came home this fall I was told that he had an intermittent minor lameness and their vet figured it was arthritis in his shoulder. My vet took two seconds to laugh at that diagnosis. Chase very obviously has ringbone in the front left (his crooked leg). The game plan was Previcox to keep him comfortable and Bute when we wanted to ride him (mostly walking trail rides).

That plan was no longer working so I scheduled an appointment with my mom's vet, who focuses on sports medicine and soundness evaluations. I made sure the Boy stuffed Chase full of cookies and apples before we left because I wasn't sure if I would be bringing a horse home. I am not prepared to dump thousands of dollars into an 18 year old pasture pet if the problem is only going to get worse and he would continue to be uncomfortable.

Dr. Chad went straight into X-Raying the front leg. I'm not super educated about what a normal X-Ray of the lower limb should look like but I could tell right away that it sure didn't look good.

The whole lower limb shows a fair amount of arthritis. He's got narrowing of the joint space between P1 & P2.

Dr. Chad figures this is why some days he's crippled. Basically if he takes a funny step, trips or is too exuberant he can squish the nerve between the two bones and it causes extreme pain.

There is also evidence of degredation of the tendon's where they connect to the bone (I can't remember which ones, the superficial digital flexor for sure though).

The good news is that Dr. Chad thinks the joint is well on it's way to fusing. If we can get it to fuse then Chase should be pasture sound for sure, and very likely riding sound. Since surgery is not an option for me (too expensive and too risky) we are going to give injections a go.

For comparison's sake, this is Ritchie's 4yo X-Rays from his Stallion licensing.
(The vet said they were some of the cleanest X-Ray's she'd ever seen)
We went ahead and did a cortisone injection. We need to see if we can get the pain and inflammation under control before moving onto the next step. In 45-60 days we will do the first of a series of ethyl injections. We will then likely do a series of 3-5 injections, each 45 days apart. At that point we will do more X-Rays to see if it is fusing. Dr. Chad sent me the research that has been done and it appears that ethyl injections (it's basically Everclear) have been quite successful at fusing joints.
Stabby Stabby
It's been almost 2 weeks since the cortisone injection and Chase still has good and bad days but the bad days aren't nearly as bad and there are fewer of them.

I'm really glad I got to bring the old man home and that we have a game plan to make him comfortable. Even if we never ride him again, just seeing his face every day makes me immeasurably happy.
Who wouldn't want to be mugged for cookies by this face?


  1. I'm glad you guys were able to get him comfortable and he is doing better. The old ones are tough on the heart.

  2. Awwww glad that mug gets to rob you of treats for longer! It's always scary when an older favorite has to see the vet :(

  3. So happy you were able to get him more comfortable! Love those oldies.

  4. sounds like a solid game plan - glad to hear he appears to be doing better already too!

  5. Sounds like you have a great plan. Alcohol has brought me a lot of joy for sure haha

  6. As Ries gets older, the idea of lasting soundness is scary