Red is back in action! I first discovered some arthritis in his right hock last summer and injected it. The same symptoms cropped up this spring, and I decided to inject both hocks this time. He is finally back to total soundness, except for periodic episodes where his neck "thing" flares up. He was diagnosed in 2007 with calcification in his neck, possibly from an old injury from when he was a youngster, which is outside the spinal column but can irritate the nerves where they emerge from the spinal cord to head down his left front leg. This is at the base of his neck, between the 5th & 6th cervical vertebrae. He was originally treated with a steroid injection into the area to control the inflammation of the nerves, which worked great but rendered him unfit for endurance competition, as we are not allowed to compete our horses with any drugs or medications in their systems. I first started my acupuncture training in 2007 in the hopes that it would allow me to control the inflammation in his neck and keep us competing. In 2008, the only treatment he received was biweekly acupuncture and we had our best season ever! Since then, I treat him as needed, and have had great success.
Rhio's right front post-trim on 7-6-10. You can see the heel part of the crack is to the ground surface now, so we may begin to lose chunks of hoof anytime. You can also see how perfect his coronary band and new hoof growth are - yay! That means this is a this-season-only problem and not something we will continue to have to deal with once it's finally completely grown out.
Since Rhio's hoof crack has reached a critical point, I do not know what is going to happen with him in the near future in terms of how much conditioning and/or competing he is going to be able to do. I decided not to compete him at Mosquito Run last weekend because I don't want to overstress that hoof or have a larger chunk of hoof wall come off due to the rigors of competition.
Since Red is back to soundness, and will be legal to compete at our next ride in mid-August, I am embarking on a conditioning program for him so that he can truly be my backup horse and allow me to compete (only a 25 mile Limited Distance ride) even if Rhio is out.
Friday we rode 4 hours at Spirit Mountain, Monday we rode in the gravel pit doing hill work, and Tuesday we set off down the road with the intent to do about 8 - 9 miles of trotting.
Our home stretch of road, 1/2 mile along the shoulder of this paved (and really quiet) road, past a pond. You can see Red's left ear cocked toward the pond on our left, as we had just heard a mysterious shuffling sound followed by a "plop" into the water - I think a turtle hurried to safety. This pond used to be home to some bullfrogs (though I haven't heard them there in a while), which, with their loud, guttural "Aou-ump" followed by a big splash as they jumped into the water, were positively *terrifying* for poor Red. We would careen back & forth down this section of road from one shoulder to the other (thank goodness it is such a quiet road!) as the bullfrogs would sound off & splash on either side.
The pond, home to ducks and the occasional loon, plus many painted turtles and various frogs.
The gravel and the deer flies, however, had other plans for us and we completed only 6 miles, much of it at a walk. Even with his front boots, he was still ouchy on the gravel on his bare hind feet and unwilling to trot after the first 3 miles or so. There were at least 3 different types of "deer fly" type flies mobbing us anytime we got anywhere near any trees, so the only relief (despite a 15 mph breeze!) was in the totally open sunny areas of the road - which were also uncomfortably hot. And, since he didn't want to trot, we couldn't move fast enough to get away from the buzzing monsters. I broke a branch off a leafy tree and used it as a swatter, but we were still in danger of falling down as Red was so agitated by the flies, tossing his head, that he really wasn't paying any attention to where his feet were going. He's a bit of a clumsy horse anyway, and with the added distraction of the flies, it just wasn't a good thing!
This road looks pleasant enough, but the sharp gravel & hordes of flies sent us home early.
It was a no-win situation. Red was willing to continue, but neither one of us was enjoying ourselves, so enough was enough and we headed home. We did stop at the other barn to pick up the old pair of Old Mac boots that Rhio wore over his foot bandage all winter and that I keep around for emergencies. I put them on Red's hinds for the last mile home, and he was more than happy to stride along in his big trot once all his feet were protected. They aren't very good boots for endurance, though, because they are large & clunky, and this set is nearly worn out.
Easyboot Epic on right front, Easyboot Bare on left front, and old-style Old Macs on both hinds. If any of his boot-wearing buddies saw him in this get up, he'd be embarrassed!