Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Five Pillar Plan

On Sunday I very carefully watched and heard Raven moving. When she fully articulates the right hock joint it clicks, but she is not articulating it as much as the left. As a result she is pushing herself up high on the left fetlock to accommodate the slightly straighter right leg. This might explain why she looks sore on both hinds. I previously thought that the hock injury had somehow precipitated further degradation of the suspensory ligaments, but now I wonder if it is simply mechanical exacerbation of that weakness. Based on these observations I have formulated a plan.

Pillar 1: Joint Maintenance
This needs to happen with support from Kerstin, but I would like to try nutritional supplementation with MSM or glucosamine before jumping straight to something like Adequan or Legend. Any recommendations on good supplements are welcome -- there are about a million to choose from.

Pillar 2: Consistent Work
Joints are supported by the muscles around them, so we need to work on building up her legs and her quarters. On days when the footing in the pasture is good I will probably lunge her (she was fine after Sunday's session) to encourage more flexing of the joint by working in a circle. On days when it's wet I will hand walk her through some of the uneven parts of the pasture to encourage use of the leg under more varied conditions than she gets in the paddock. We'll do something every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday (when I am not in the office).

Pillar 3: Weight Loss
Thanks to everyone who commented on how good Raven looks. Because she came to me in such poor condition I take pride in keeping weight on her, but this isn't about my ego. Leaner is always better when it comes to joint injuries, and it wouldn't be unhealthy for Raven to lose 50lbs. I have started by dropping the high-fat pelleted feed from her diet, which accounts for about 1000 calories daily.

Pillar 4: Pain Management
No pain, no gain? More work might mean more pain for Raven, and I need to accept that using bute might be a short-term evil necessary for achieving our long term goal. Bute is dangerous because it can mask a real problem, but half a gram after a lunging session can also offer real relief.

Pillar 5: Attitude Adjustment
Mine, not Raven's. When I'm honest with myself I can admit that I have been pessismistic about Raven's recovery, which is unusual because I am hopelessly optimistic about most things. Am I just lazy? Or looking for a reason to feel sorry for myself? Or an excuse to avoid ever riding my crazy horse again because I'm skeered? Whatever. It ends here and now.


Grey Horse Matters said...

Raven is a cutie.
We're using the smartpak 'smartflex repair' joint supplement - it not only has high levels of glucosamine, chondroitin, hyaluronic acid, and MSM, but it also has vitamin c and grape seed for antioxidants and collagen and silica for tendons/ligaments (and the silica is great for feet too!) it's expensive, but it seems to work and Nate's annular ligaments (with possible dsld) seem to have stabilized after starting it.
Good luck.

Funder said...

I'd noticed your dour attitude about Raven's leg, but I thought I just didn't understand the severity of her injury or something. Anyway, good on you for figuring out what's going on in your head!

emoicso: Emo music in Italy.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you have a good plan mapped out for her!

Brandy said...

Wile I don't know much beyond the names of horsie supplements, I do know about long term joint and ligament damage! Your plan is really good!

I wonder if chiro or maybe a horsie massage might help her as well? I know my chiro has been quite good for me overall, as well as for some specific pains. And they may have more info on treatment and recovery, chronic conditions, and specific confirmation problems.

And while she may not be quite ready for a 3 day event, I think she should be sound enough for a weekend ride or two with this kind of steady gentle work!

I had a clicking ligament or something with some pain in my shoulder and had to give up on my dreams of Olympic level archery, but can still plink at a target now and again...

Raven seems so comfortable in general with herself and her new life, there's so much life in her! I know you will do your best to help her be useful and pain free and beautiful!

dp said...

GHM: Thanks for the tip. I spent an hour going through their supplement comparison chart this morning and decided on a 56-day supply of the SmartFlex repair to start. SmarkPak doesn't ship to Canada and doesn't accept Canadian credit cards online, but they very nice lady at the help desk took my VISA and was happy to ship to Sumas. Hurray! I also got one of the new BugBuster sheets for Raven this summer -- it is infused with repellent and got great reviews. I have always been envious of you Americans and your incredible access to online equine shopping, so I am glad to know that SmartPak is available to me too.

Funder: I think I picked it up from Kerstin originally, but she has been a bit negative about Raven since I got her. Whatever. Time to move on.

Brandy: I wish I could pull out all the stops for her, but I simply can't afford to. I will definitely consider chiro/massage down the line depending on how things go over the next month. Of course I don't need her to be ready for eventing (which is why I hesitate to jump at Adequan or Legend) -- but I would like to ride her out on the trails again this summer if possible. And as funny as it sounds, I think that the clicking is a good sign. It's somehow more tangible than mystery stiffness.

jme said...

sounds like a good plan!

keep us posted on the smartflex repair - it seems to work for mine... i also have seen some improvement with magnetic hock boots, if you're into that kind of thing. bioscan boots are also great, but expensive...

good luck :-)

Anonymous said...

I suffered through three suspensory injuries...all completely healed after about a year.

Handwalking, progressively increasing distance and time, but no lungeing was my vets advice.

i have seen the miracle of Legend on a horse's hock.

allhorsestuff said...

Oh, Grey horse sounds like she has a goodie!Springtime Inc. is an awesome co. as wel for research done in products for dogs and horses.

So sorry to hear more on this front. I am glad she has you for how dedicated you are to helping her...the plans are good. Yet I too wonder about the lunging.
There is a mare that is 22 being leased by my freind at the stable that has begun Adequan. She is a new mare..we go trail riding now and she is giving my friend a go, now that she feels better.

Hay..I thought of you for something special..and don't know if you'd participate but it matters not if you do. I want you to recieve at least in your heart some special awards-3- to be exact! I so apprciate you and how you encourage me in my horse stewardship.
Come by and see DP~
Yours truly,

dp said...

I agree that longing is the trickiest part of the proposed plan. But when she is lunging with the right hock to the inside she uses it more than when she is walking straight, and I want her to use it. There will be lots of hand walking as well -- never fear. Ultimately I would like to pony her off of Tonka, but this is going to take a little while to sort out.

KK: I can't promise that I will pass any awards along, but I would be honoured to receive them.

Black Jack's Carol said...

dp: You've made your plan and my uneducated opinion is that it is extremely well thought out. I've just copied a small portion of a message that came to me a year ago from someone on Craig's List who offered some suggestions when I was worried about Black Jack. He had both a lame horse and a lame dog, and had great success with this company. Here's the quote:

"The supplements are made by Equi-Pharm Nutrition. One is called Canine Flex Plus, the other is Hyla Flex 10. Both are a Liver-flavored powder that you top-dress on their food. The Hyla Flex 10 is Hyaluronic Acid, also called Sodium Hyaluronate."

And this last one I mentioned before, but feel it's worth repeating. It's called Sierrasil and suggest you google it if you get a chance. I have a copy of the book outlining the research results, should you want to borrow it.

EvenSong said...

Sounds like a very well thought out plan, DP.

One suggestion: What about, instead of internal pain management (bute) you were to try something topical? My HUSBAND's chiro just had us pick up EQUINE Absorbine gel for his sore shoulder, and it's already helping. I think there may be just about as many liniments out there as there are supplements, so it might take a little more research, but the "warmth" may not only ease pain and loosen stiffness, but also draw the body's own defenses into the area.

sentist = a researcher who relies on senory input for her conclusions

allhorsestuff said...

never fear about passing awards...I changed the rules for my receive-ees anywho. Pass at will.

dp said...

Thanks for the suggestions BJC and EvenSong. We'll see how things go with the SmartFlex -- I am too much of a scientist to try more than one thing at a time. I will pick up some Absorbine. I hate the smell of that stuff, but you are absolutely correct -- I should try it before something internal.

EvenSong said...

Actually, DP, the gel seems to have less of an odor than the linament I remember using in the "old days"--remember? I said my hubby is using it on his shoulder, before we go to bed at night! (Although, I do think it helped clean the cold outta my sinuses!)

pairipse = what the show judge said after my breeches proved too tight