Horses are BIG, fragile creatures. I've always known that but it never really struck accord with me until recently. Yes, and by recently I mean Wow decided to hurt himeself within the month before we were scheduled to move to Virginia. *face palm* Read more for my chronicling of his injury.
Wednesday, June 28
It was a quiet Wednesday at the barn and I was hand grazing Wow after a nice bath following a FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC lesson. He jumped around like a school horse not fussing over anything and all around just a good boy. I was ecstatic. He was grazing and I was talking with my barn's assistant trainer Adriana. Out of no where Wow tucks his head and neck and flings himself backwards (slightly uphill). He proceeds to hobble around three-legged while screaming. He finally came to a stand still holding up his right front and his neck wretched to the left. I for sure thought he broke his leg. Adriana came up to Wow and I. It took a few minutes for Wow to put any weight on his right front. After he did, we walked around and everything *seemed* fine. We checked his leg for any obvious injuries or pain -- and to our surprise NOTHING. He got some meds in his dinner to be safe and I *thought* that was that.
Thursday, June 29
I got to the barn early and hopped on him thinking we'll just walk around and go for a nice trail ride. I asked Adriana to watch us trot so we could eliminate any lameness. He was a little sore -- to be expected after his episode the day before -- but no visible lameness on his right front. We did little work and called it a day. Again, he got more meds to heed off anything.
Friday, June 30
I jogged Wow for Adriana and again, no visible lameness. I tacked him up and walked to the ring. We flatted amazingly. And when I say amazingly I mean he was very responsive to my aids, didn't argue when I asked for lateral work, and jumped over all the cavaletti and a few filler jumps like a rock star. I, again was ecstatic with him and chalked up his episode, as I've come to call them, a one-time thing. Maybe he stepped weird, I don't know, but I do know my horse was back to normal. Or so I thought.
Adriana was teaching a lesson at 10. All the riders were in the ring as I was walking Wow around to cool him down. I stopped to talk to Adriana about how good Wow had been. Long rein. Holding the buckle. Feet out of the stirrups kind of thing. Everyone does it. (Does that make it ok? No, but that's not what this is about). Wow puts his head down to scratch his nose on his leg -- something that we all allow them to do and something he's done a million times before -- and I thought nothing of it.
With his head down, he quickly takes about five steps back and proceeds to have another episode. I jump off to keep myself safe and grab a hold of the reins. He again hobbles around three-legged and screams. His neck wretched in the same position. I'm able to get him to walk out of it and we walk back to the barn thinking 'ok, what the hell!?'
On our walk back I notice one thing I hadn't before -- he was walking with his head and neck slightly to the left. So that got me thinking it was a neck issue, not a leg issue. Our vet came out later that afternoon and I discussed with her what had transpired both Wednesday and Friday. She thought neck as well and ran along his accupressure points - poll to tail with little reaction. She recommended Robaxin for a week or so and to have my phone handy to catch it on video should it happen again.
I gave him a few days off -- until Tuesday -- because two episodes in three days was stressful on me and I could clearly see how uncomfortable he was.
First week of July
Tuesday comes around and I ride Wow. A little cautious we do a little flat work but he was foot perfect and very responsive. This week and the week prior, minus the episodes, was the first time I felt he was learning and I didn't have to re-teach him how to horse every Tuesday ride. Wednesday's ride was great: more flat work and some cavaletti exercises. I was thrilled with him.
Thursday was a bit of a clusterf***. I got to the barn early because it was supposed to be ridiculously HOTTTT and I wanted to try to beat the heat. We flatted around -- again, what a good boy! -- and I was excited for our lesson Saturday because my trainer, Claire, would be back from vacation and I couldn't wait to show her our progress.
After I'm done riding, we notice one of the horses hadn't eaten his breakfast and didn't touch morning hay -- great, colic. Vet was called immediately and a decision was made to take him the UF Large Animal Hospital. With Claire still on vacation another of the assistant trainers and I loaded him up and made the 2 hour drive to Gainesville. Long story short, the horse his fine but we're glad he got to UF as quickly as he did.
Friday morning I'm tacking up and I notice Wow is acting a little funny. I walk up to him in the cross ties and he starts to slowly stumble backward. Knowing what's happened last week, I quickly unsnap the cross ties and he immediately wretches his neck to the side and lifts his right front. I yell for someone to grab my phone out of my trunk and I catch this on video.
He didn't hobble around and scream like the first two episodes but he'd been on Robaxin for about a week which I believed to be helping. After walking it out he WOULD NOT turn his head and neck to the right. He would side step to face me, but would not turn.
Luckily our vet was coming out to take care of some other horses. I showed her the video and she asked me to send her the video ASAP so she could forward to some specialists at UF. After consulting with the vets at UF, we scheduled an appointment for some neck radiographs to see what's causing this issue. Wow went to Gainesville on Thursday, July 20 -- TWO DAYS BEFORE WE WERE TO MAKE THE DRIVE TO VIRGINIA!
After seeing how sore and uncomfortable Wow was I decided he'd be out of work until we found out more about his mystery injury.
Thursday, July 20
7am: Arrive at the barn. Feed Wow breakfast. Love on him. Get a little nervous because of my uncertainty of what we'll find -- arthritis? fracture? pulled/strained muscle? pinched nerve?
830am: Depart HaddenLoch for UF Large Animal Clinic
1030: Arrive at UF Large Animal Clinic. Get Wow checked in for his appointment.
1100: Wow's appointment time. Me -- a bundle of nerves. He went through a passive lameness exam and here's what was found:
Radiographs taken from C1 - C7
Results: Moderate periarticular changes at C5-C6 and C6-C7. More plainly, cervical osteoarthritis.
Treatment: Bilateral injections in each joint space, C5-C6 and C6-C7.
430pm: Depart UF Large Animal Clinic en route back to HaddenLoch.
We went home with previcox (2/day for three days; 1/day for seven days), the recommendation of an oral joint supplement, an Adequan regimen, as well as massage therapy (got that in the bag!) and possible accupuncture.
630pm: Arrive back home. Unload Wow and take a deep breath. Happy to be back home, I hug Wow, take him to his stall, feed him dinner and wait so I can monitor him for a little after the sedation, injections and two-hour trailer ride home.
I said my goodbyes to Wow as I was leaving to drive to Virginia the next day, Friday July 21. Cry as I leave HaddenLoch.
730pm: Arrive back at my house a tired, emotional mess. I left Wow in the best hands possible to begin his treatment schedule. I've received a few photos of him from trainers and barn friends in the few days I've been gone.
No work for two weeks. Wow was on strict stall rest until today, Monday July 24. Since I had moved to Virginia on Friday, July 21 I am thankfully he was hand walked by Adriana during his stall rest. Afterwards, he was returned to routine turnout for the remainder of the two weeks.
After this period of rest and he ships up to Virginia with me, if clinical signs of neck pain have improved, he may be hand walked or walked under saddle avoiding any contact or bending work for the following two weeks. If he shows no signs of neck discomfort, I can gradually return him to exercise working "long and low" and gradually increasing engagement. Once he is comfortable with engaging at a walk, trot and canter, I can gradually introduce some jumping. So basically, we'll be starting from scratch.
We've got an interesting journey ahead. Fingers crossed.