Friday, December 31, 2021

2021 Review

January- This month did not set a great tone for a new year. The first few days included euthanizing Leila and the end of my riding time with J mare . 

The sweetest, purest mare - defying all red-headed mare stereotypes

A wonderful trail partner

The combination of these events led to ramping up my previously half-hearted horse search. The horse search was also off to a great start that included trying a few lame horses and then vetting one lame horse. Between my own search and my friend's search in the spring/summer of 2020, I started to wonder if I was going to need to re-evaluate my budget for this whole hunt. 

February- I met Yoshi/Shidoshi at the start of February. After two trial rides, I was REALLY excited to take him home for a month trial. He went cross country schooling, jumped some gymnastics and small courses, and went to a dressage lesson before his vetting towards the end of the month. 

Jumping new jumps during our second trial ride 

He vetted sound with no problems, so we called him officially mine and ended the trial. About 3 days later he went lame! 

March- We made a quite expensive trip to a specialist who radiographed his hocks, fetlocks and feet; ultrasounded his suspensory ligaments; and blocked his right foot. The take home message was shitty feet that needed a lot of help, possible front suspensory ligament issues (of some kind... more on that later), and hocks and fetlocks that are fine. This did help set us up with a fantastic new farrier who started to work on making him more comfortable. His first set of shoes were not at all made for riding, but made him SO much happier. To fill our time we worked on becoming an equine good citizen. Also he turned 7 ! The end of March marked 30 days of pasture rest. 

Grazing with his buddy on his birthday after turning down all the junk food I bought him! 

We continued building our relationship on the ground during this month. I also received a report from the surgeon who saw him at the beginning of March. This caused a bit of a meltdown because the report varied more than a little bit from the verbal information and instructions I received. Including recommending stall rest, something that had definitely not been happening since he had told me pasture rest would be fine. With the help of my BFF in Delaware, we broke down the actual information to something usable. The last day of this month, we moved to a new barn

May- Yoshi and I settled in at our new barn. We took a dressage lesson with my favorite dressage trainer. We also went on a 5 mile solo trail ride as well as a few trail rides from our new barn. May was mostly focused on slow miles and NOT panicking when I pulled on the left rein too much and made him rein lame. We both fell in love with the new barn though, and he really started to finally come out of his shell. 

June- This month we ramped up our instruction. Whereas May was focused on getting back to work very carefully, June became about getting back to work correctly. Unfortunately/fortunately due to scheduling difficulties, we started riding with a new dressage trainer in June. The fortunately part is because I adore her (obviously); the unfortunate part is that I had known the original dressage trainer since I was 15, which made it sad to move on. We also started with a new to Yoshi jump trainer and started jumping baby courses. 

July- Yoshi hauled off property 8 times in July, including to our second cross country schooling. We started working on transitions within gaits and also got nailed on our transitions between gaits. JT and DT seemed to be on the same wavelength and the lessons complimented each other very well. 

August- This month I again was incredibly grateful for having purchased insurance when I bought Yoshi. He spent the night in the hospital for IV antibiotics after being diagnosed with nasty cellulitis that THANK GOODNESS was not a septic tendon sheath. Yoshi also learned a new way to carry himself and spent a week with JT to help him understand those lessons more quickly. 

September- Yoshi and I went to our first show together! He was an absolute star and would've won except for my forgetting a jump in stadium and causing a TE. He also stabled at the show for the first time, and I camped in my horse trailer for the first time. We experimented with leg wear to keep him from knocking himself in the pasture. We also had an awesome cross country schooling in which we tackled BN and a few N fences, made much easier by being able to use himself better. He gave me new confidence over down banks as we tackled the T/P bank very uneventfully. 

October- We started with our second show. He actually did win our entry division this time because I remembered the courses. Our dressage was a bit worse though, prompting a couple month hiatus from showing 3 phases before we planned to move up to BN. We did go to a jumper show though, which was a fun low key way to get him out over some new stadium jumps. Yoshi also celebrated his 1 year retirement from his last race. 

November- This month we made it back out onto the trails twice. Yoshi was a star there as usual. Yoshi also rejected his fancy PSofSweden bridle and seemed perfectly content in a plain crank noseband (not cranked tight). He went through some chiropractic work at the start of the month and then four weeks later. His recheck got a great review. He felt great overall with much less tripping after the chiro. He also moved up to 3'

December- We started December with a mystery lameness. We're ending the month still not sound, but with a few more answers than we started with. Fortunately it doesn't look like cervical arthritis is the culprit, which has good implications for his future. Unfortunately though his future as a sound event horse is still questionable at this point. This feels unfortunately similar to how I ended 2020. 

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

WW: Horsey Rorschach

(Not Yoshi, I'll share his soon though) 

Image from

Good or bad, just hoping for an answer. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

A Short Update

Yoshi's first ride back was Monday. He felt sound. But more stiff than usual especially when it came to bending left. It was pretty hard to work through because he was a bit spicy after not working for 1.5 weeks. We kept it short and sweet though, just some w/t and an unintentional canter. I checked in with his vet who said flatwork with bending for 2 weeks. He wanted to see a video of him next week on the lunge. He said he wanted to make sure the systemic effects of the steroids weren't masking something else. Systemic effects from the steroids could last up to 8 days post-injections, so today will be the test on that one I suppose. 

Tuesday we hacked out with Ms. GY to check out the areas that were just cleared around a power line cut. We trotted through the woods and he felt sound still. As we exited the woods I looked down to see a banana spider crawling up my arm. I managed to extract my feet from the stirrups and fling myself off, barely. Yoshi stood like a champ while I used my dressage whip to remove the spider from my saddle. Eeesh. We kept the excitement level high by going down the power line cut across the road. There was a field with an adorable donkey or perhaps pony mule, a pony, and three cows. The mule/donkey was really, really, really excited about talking to our horses. Yoshi held it together really pretty well and just did a bit of sideways when the cows started running. 

Hopefully this all means that we are back on the right track. Time will tell.

He came to hang out with me in the pasture while I was working on my trailer

Friday, December 10, 2021

Dire Predictions

Yoshi went lame last Friday. Ironically, my friend was coming out to ride him to reacquaint herself with him so she could hack him over the weekend while I was at work because her horse is currently on stall rest. I felt a few funky steps on the left front while trotting left, but pushed him through it. 

But when she got on he looked lame. When I started him back to work in May, if I pulled on the inside rein while tracking left, he would go rein lame. I verified more than once with Ms. GY watching to confirm that when I tossed him on the lunge he trotted sound. And this eventually went away. So I had my friend get off and we put him on the lunge. Where he looked lame. I palpated his entire leg and other than his perpetual dislike of having any of his suspensory ligaments touched, he had no swelling, heat, or pain. Mr. GY watched and noted some swelling in the area of his right pec. We worked a bit on mobility on both front legs which he initially resisted and then relaxed into. 

He had the weekend off and then I tossed him back on the lunge Monday morning. Still the same degree of lameness. I put in a phone call to the lameness vet that JT recommended and he was able to come out Tuesday afternoon. It ended up being "the longest vet appointment I have ever seen" according to my husband. The lameness vet started by watching and palpating. He said that with the sensitive TBs, you sometimes have to call their bluff on the suspensory and managed to palpate that more successfully than I had without much reaction. He found it odd that the lameness was equally bad tracking left and right on the lunge. He blocked out his distal limb without much improvement in the lameness. Which left him thinking either proximal suspensory, neck, knee, or zebras.

He asked if I wanted to keep going and I did, so Yoshi got a light dose of sedation, and we moved on to imaging. He shot rads of his knee that looked great (this horse is working on being the most radiographed horse of all time). He took foot rads (for his own interest, I was not billed, I'm not sure what that interest was, he didn't explain) that showed an ever so slightly positive palmar angle (hooray!). He ultrasounded his suspensory ligament and did not find any lesions. He ultrasounded some of the structures just proximal to the knee and did not find zebras. He ultrasounded his neck and identified the right-sided chip that the chiro vet had found. The left side looked better, but there was some mild OA there. The ultrasounding of the neck is so interesting, you can only see about 15% of the facet joint, but it is more sensitive than rads. Most sensitive would obviously be MRI, but there's the whole expense, time, getting a horse into an MRI, etc. 

Then he asked me what I wanted to do. I told him I needed to be given options and then I could choose. He said we could do NSAIDs and time off or that we could try injecting the neck. He said if we went with rest/NSAIDs he felt he probably would be back out after he went back to work and went lame again. I tended to agree and really wanted an answer (yes, I know that isn't always possible in lameness things...) Yoshi was given an extra dose of sedation and we moved ahead with injecting the neck with steroids. It was SO COOL to watch. His neck was sterilely prepped and then he used the ultrasound to guide the injection into the facet joint. He did C5-C6 and C6-C7 on both sides. On the left side C6-C7, synovial fluid flowed back out of the needle after he placed it into the joint - apparently any synovial fluid is significant, so this told us there was synovitis in that joint. He aspirated the fluid so as to not increase the pressure in the joint and then injected the steroids. 

Yoshi is now off until Monday when I can start lightly hacking him. If he is improved, great. If not, we start again. If he initially responds but then worsens again after a short duration (<6 months) then we may talk about orthobiologics ie alpha-2 macroglobulins or prostride injections into the joint. Prostride apparently runs ~$800 for the amount that would be needed to go into one joint, so we would likely focus on the left C6-C7 if we went that route. However, he had a lot of good things to say about alpha-2 macroglobulins, so I think that would be the more likely choice. 

I've been reading up on cervical facet OA and it seems to be a mixed bag. One paper had 71% of horses returning to their prior performance level, but the duration of time before needing repeat injections varied from a few months to a few years. Another, with only 8 horses, had 64% of them returning to or exceeding their prior performance level. The durations of response were longer in horses of this group.

I sometimes question putting this all out on the world wide web when, soundness issues aside, I have openly admitted Yoshi may not be a forever horse. But I would be forthcoming with any potential buyers on what he has dealt with and what we have done to keep him sound. Selling him without disclosing all that would be doing him a disservice.  

Side note, I've now gotten three different Adequan protocols from three different vets. It is labelled for 7 injections, 4 days apart. Everyone has agreed to do that loading dose to start. But then: 
  1. Repeat that loading protocol every 6 months. This is the way it is labelled, this is the way it was shown to be effective. 
  2. Give 1 injection every 2 weeks. This maintains therapeutic levels in the serum. 
  3. Give 1 injection a few days before every time you compete. A lot of people down here do compete every 2 weeks during the show season, so this may amount to the same as option 2. 
Anyone have any other favorite protocols to offer? I ended up restarting a loading dose on Yoshi and then I'm going to go back to the every 2 weeks. I may repeat the loading once a year in addition. Who knows. 

Thursday, December 2, 2021

November Wrap Up

In November Yoshi had: 
  • 23 rides
    • 5 training rides with JT at the start of the month 
    • 2 trail rides away from home- one with company and one solo 
    • 2 stadium jump lessons
    • 1 cross country school at Majestic Oaks - Yoshi jumped all the N things and a few T 
    • 1 dressage lesson - our left lead canter transitions are finally coming together (I say this and then we'll go through a falling apart phase again) 
    • 1 jumper schooling show at Majestic

  • His first hair cut! And I learned how ticklish he is. Which makes way more sense with his general dislike of being groomed. We have a plan for round two.
These feels...

The point at which I decided we needed drugs 
  • 2 chiropractic sessions - something I am SO excited to continue with him, given the differences we're seeing 
November Goals Check:
  • Boot camp week with JT to solidify canter and transitions well they're solid with her in the irons
  • Hauling out to trail ride twice Watermelon Pond and San Felasco
  • Clip Yes, with plenty to learn from for next time!
December Goals:
  • Two away from home trail rides again, this was great motivation to get out and make it happen - they are great conditioning and he's just so much fun to trail ride. Also the weather has been absolutely amazing, so I am going to take advantage of it while it lasts! 
  • Show at Majestic on the 11th
  • Take reindeer antler or Santa hat pictures...