Saturday, January 15, 2011

Me-worthy If Not Seaworthy

Conclusion No. 1:  I think I may have spent more on her yesterday than I did the day I bought her. It underlined in stark terms how I feel about her. To invest in her is to invest in me, and that's what I'm going to do.

Conclusion No. 2:  I should probably change her name to "Stax." Her front ankles look like Roman ruins, stones stacked unevenly, ancient mortar all but vanished.

We took a dozen X-rays, starting at the left front. They were good, clear images. I couldn't help but be startled once again by the delicate architecture with which these creatures are designed. We were looking at a thin tower built of just three bones; to me they seemed ill suited to support the 1,130 pounds standing patiently above them.

Saxony inherited some crookedness between the fetlock and coronet band. Her foreleg pasterns are uneven front to back, though normal in side views. She has really good joint spaces. We X-rayed the naviculars in two views, from above and below, and they're both normal. This is good news. Her right front shows more crookedness than her left, though only her left front shows an offset. Dr. B pondered that a bit.

By the time we had finished up with her front end, I knew it was worth it to me to keep going. I felt determined; I wanted to see all of her. There's no such thing as an imperfect horse, but how imperfect is mine? No, that wasn't the question at all, actually. The question was: what is her normal, and how do I maintain it, support it, help her thrive?

Images of her hind legs, both hooves and hocks, showed  normal anatomy in her ankles -- no crookedness or offsets back there -- and two teeny tiny bone spurs in her right hock. Her left hind is the star, the exception that proves the rule, I suppose.

We moved her out before doing the X-rays. Dr. B pointed out a striking improvement in how Saxony goes. She attributed it to the Cosequin ASU.

What does all of this mean to me? We did not take any X-rays of Saxony's heart or mind; they were plain to see. She stood like a statue for all the pictures, let Dr. B place her feet, one by one, just so. Once, she gently lifted my braid between her teeth while I was kneeling beside her right knee, assisting Dr. B. Any of those German muffins around? Just wondering.

My vet, who I trust, has told me there's little I can't do with my mare. There are no arthritic changes other than those two bone spurs. She traced Saxony's right hind hitch (now almost gone) to bracing against the left front crookedness.  She doesn't recommend taking her over four-foot jumps or into Grand Prix Dressage. She does recommend trying shoes up front, and she told me to think of them as orthotics. The anatomy in Saxony's ankles causes her to wear her hooves unevenly. Dr. B thinks shoes could help protect her joint spaces from compression and stave off arthritis. We agreed any experiment with shoeing should wait until the spring. My homework now is to think about that, and see if I can find a way to get around my bias against shoes. 

I think my other homework is to figure out how I feel about the vulnerability built into my girl. Right now, I feel like it's just reality. I think I'm sobered, but I also think, so what? She's the one.


Calm, Forward, Straight said...

Peace of mind is priceless isn't it?!

Did your vet discuss Saxony wearing boots at all... I wonder if using a boot when working would be a compromise with the shoe / uneven wear issue? Good luck on that :)

Barbara said...

That was great. Not all horses can go barefoot. In a wild situation horses with imperfections are weeded out, we can overcome that with diet, exercise and sometimes, shoeing. I am not a proponent of just slapping shoes on all horses. I have tried with nearly every horse I have owned to have them barefoot. For most (not all) the choice came down to ride or barefoot. Both was too hard on the horse. Remember they are replaced often so it's not like a lifetime commitment, if it doesn't help, just undo it.

Denali's Mom said...

It's always good to know that the decision that you are making is the right one. You are such a good writer!!!

OnTheBit said...

You have been awarded the "Stylish Blogger Award". Please come by my blog ( to pick it up.

Wolfie said...

Who needs to fly over four-foot jumps anyway? :-) I have a barn mate who ended up putting front "orthotic" shoes on his horse for a shoulder issue and it made a world of difference. I am a barefoot supporter, but sometimes there are valid reasons to have shoes on a horse. You must be relieved.

Anonymous said...

How great that you were able to get those x rays. It does provide real peace of mind.
The original price of the horse is never the big deal (unless you're buying Totilas), it's the cost to keep them up that is so darn expensive!

Rising Rainbow said...

X-rays are good. At least you know exactly what was there. I don't envy you having to make your way through all this information to figure out what is best for your horse.

There will always be more opinions than you know what to do with. As horse owners we just have to do what we feel is right and know that's the best we can do.

Good luck on this journey.

June said...

Toes too long, esp in front, imo. She'd do better barefoot if you shorten them.

June said...

Too long on the hinds also.

Muddy K said...

June, thanks for stopping by. You're absolutely right, and she was scheduled for a trim until the farrier threw me for a loop by telling me to shoe her. I put on the brakes to consult with my vet first. She'll be trimmed now, and we'll try shoes come spring.

CFS, boots is something that hadn't occurred to me. I'll have to check it out with my vet.

June said...

Can you post a photo of the underside of her feet?