Vet Check

Olivia   October 20, 2015   11 Comments on Vet Check

As much as I like my vet, I’m really sick and tired of seeing her every week. And getting billed by her every week. Friday’s visit was a recheck for Shasta. After 3 rounds of shock therapy and months off, her front left – injured back in July – if finally sound. Unfortunately, she looked slightly off on her front right. The vet wants her feet trimmed and my husband needs to start trimming her in between farrier visits as well as conditioning the hairline to encourage more even hoof growth. Her right front is nearly a club hoof and she’s never had any club hoof issues before, but she’s doing some sort of weird compensation with that leg. She also had a huge chunk of missing hair and bloody scab on the right knee from doing something so she may have been off from that. She’s cleared to return to riding at the walk once the farrier fixes her feet and cleared to return to trot work in a few weeks once we build up walking. Shasta was bucking and hurling herself about on the lunge line during her check so she’s certainly feeling better.

After Shasta’s recheck, the vet drove up to the upper barn to do X-rays on Nilla’s hocks. The upper barn is where we had the party. It used to be a barn, but is now mostly a garage and no animals live up there. Unlike the horse barn, it has electricity and the vet didn’t trust the x-ray machine to run well off her car battery like we use for shockwave and other low energy procedures. I went to walk Nilla up the road and she refused. As I’ve mentioned before, when a mule doesn’t want to do something, she’s not freaking doing it. She planted her feet first and when I pulled her on, she pulled back, ripped the lead rope out of my hands, and bolted off through the barn area. She was caught by the barn owner and my husband and we tried again. This time with my husband wearing gloves and leading her and me walking behind with  crop. She reared up, pulled away from him and took off. Her chain lead rope is in the trailer so we had to steal a chain off of Shasta’s gate. She tried to rear again, got yanked by the chain and quit. Then we walked up the freaking road like we should have done from the beginning. Mules!

Drunk and splay-legged. And DIY chained.

Once at the upper barn, Nilla was lightly sedated just to keep her from moving and we x-rayed her hocks. For background, we were doing this because we already injected her hocks and the right hind is still a bit stiff. That hock also wouldn’t take the full injection at the time. In talking to my trainer and the vet, they both thought she might need a different joint injected in the hock. There are other joints in the hock that don’t usually need injecting but sometimes do. So we x-rayed to find out what’s really going on in there before injecting all willy-nilly. Once x-rayed, I left the drugged mule standing by herself while the vet and I looked at the x-rays on her laptop and discussed the options.

so drunk she’s not going anywhere

My layman translation of everything my vet said is basically that Nilla’s lowest hock joint (tarsometatarsal) has degraded in the middle and the front part of that joint didn’t get any of the injection because the fluid couldn’t move past that middle part which is starting to fuse (the injection is done from the back). It’s entirely possible there are other issues, but the X-rays seem to point to this being the problem. The other joints looked okay. Nilla is cow-hocked so hock problems are to be expected, but she’s only being asked to do low level work. The options for treating this include:

1. Do nothing and wait for the joint to fully fuse, which it will do eventually, but this can take a few years. While stiff, she’s not being injured by working on it and I can continue to ride her like this.

  • Pros: Costs nothing
  • Cons: She will present as lame at endurance rides and she will hesitate to fully use that joint which will not help our dressage/cantering issues.
2. Do another injection from the front into that joint.
  • Pros: This is likely to solve the problem and do so in days.
  • Cons: It’s somewhat expensive (not too bad to do once, but if needed every 6mos or yearly adds up) and dangerous. The vet has to go in from the other side of the horse and Nilla is very difficult to do injections on. Even sedated to the point of nearly falling down, she will continue to fight and kick and move around. This is dangerous for the vet as she could get injured and if Nilla moves at the wrong moment, the injection could go wrong and create complications.
3. Do an injection of alcohol into the hock joint. Here’s a CotH article on the idea. 
  • Pros: Cheap (if done in the field) and permanent. 
  • Cons: I’ve read about it and find the idea of doing it in the field scary as everything I’ve read has this being done in a hospital with radiographs to make sure it’s being done correctly. It would be significantly more expensive if done in a hospital. 
4. Treat with daily Previcox. 
  • Pros: Fairly cheap and requires no injections/invasive treatment.
  • Cons: It’s an every day pill. It’s also liver flavored as it’s made for dogs and so it needs to be disguised in a treat or the horse will avoid eating it. It’s not show legal so I have to switch to Equioxx going into a show and that stuff is expensive. 
Because it was late at this point and I needed to get to work, I didn’t want to do any injections. I chose the Previcox. Our horses are due for fall shots in November so if the Previcox isn’t working by then, we can do the injection from the front then. I’m also going to talk to my trainer’s vet who works out of a local equine hospital about the alcohol injection. 
Finally, the vet asked me to have Nilla’s hind toes trimmed shorter to give her an earlier breakover and remove some of the strain on the hock. I didn’t include this in my options list as I am getting this done no matter what.
When I got to work, I was talking to one of our vendors who I had a meeting with and telling them why I got there so late. I told them that if they want to experience horse ownership, the could just take their money in one hand and a lighter in the other.

11 thoughts on “Vet Check

  1. Alanna M.

    Ugh…I know a horse who had the alcohol injections done and I'm not sure that it really worked. Also, in my experience horses will eat the previcox pill with no problems when it's thrown in their grain. I hope it works for you!

  2. Cathryn

    Previcox is not bad stuff. It's cheap and I don't mind feeding it every day – I just put it in Suzie's grain and she doesn't even notice. She also comes off of it before a competition. In the Summer she wasn't even on it since she never was stiff due to the warm temps.

  3. emma

    good luck 🙁 and i echo other commenters – i haven't seen any issues with horses eating their previcox pill (and we've got quite a few at the barn who get it)

  4. Olivia

    I don't love the cost, but it's not too bad when you only have to do it once a year and sort of set and forget. But doing it more frequently is annoying.

  5. Olivia

    We have a few seniors on previcox at our barn and I was told they all skip the pill if it's in their food and have to have it put in a treat/apple. I'll have to try throwing it in her grain.

  6. Olivia

    Since I'm not getting a vet check at a show, I'm sure I can just take her off it before a show. her hock pain is not that noticeable. But I don't think I'd want to do an endurance ride without it.

  7. TeresaA

    I gave Irish previcox for a while. He ate it crushed in his feed. I had to stop because it began to bother his stomach (but he's ulcer-ish anyway).

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