Saturday, June 9, 2012

Talk Me Off the Ledge

When I first started working Ashke, he favored his left front, just slightly and only at the trot.

In early April, when the vet first examined him he noted some trauma to the point of his left shoulder, probably due to being kicked. The knot the vet noted has since disappeared and Ashke seems to be using the shoulder just fine. There is no soreness or reaction from Ashke in that area and he enjoys being groomed with no pain reaction.

I noted when I got him that his feet were in better shape than should be expected based on his condition, and that they had been recently trimmed. I didn't, however, realize that the trim that was done was a hack job which left his feet unbalanced and sore until I got him back to Colorado. I had the farrier come in a do a trim within the first weeks I had him.

Even after the trim, Ashke was a bit sore on his front left at the trot. He is also dragging his front toes when he walks and trots and stumbles when being worked. Part of his stumbling I have to contribute to his skygazing, head tossing and general disregard for where he is putting his feet. Sometimes he is so focused on protesting any thing I ask of him that he forgets where he is. We've had a couple of close calls in the round pen where he has been watching me with his nose in the air and almost crashed a panel. All of that said, I think there is an underlying issue I haven't addressed that is causing his toe dragging and slight limp. We tried leg wraps, but that seemed to aggravate the toe dragging, possibly due to lack of flex in the pastern, but who knows.

In doing research into toe dragging on the front feet (the thing that concerns me the most) is that symptom can be an indicator of the pre-conditions for navicular disease (a chronic inflammation of the navicular bone in the horse's heel and the tendon that run across it). Ashke is not showing the symptoms of navicular disease, just the precondition symptoms that can lead to navicular if not treated. Primarily, he was trimmed with short heels and a long toe. This causes the heel to flex too low when being worked at the trot and aggravates the tendon, causing inflammation and pain.

The farrier has started trimming and now shoeing to address the issues with his feet, however, Rome was not built in a day and you can't fix hoof issues like this with a single trim. I am worried that the trimming/shoeing will not happen fast enough and damage will be done that can't be corrected.

The research I found said that allowing him to stand in a stall all day and not be worked was the worse thing you can do for his feet. He needs the exercise to keep blood flow up and reduce the inflammation. Regular, consistent work on a daily basis will actually help reduce symptoms and I may have to shorten the time between farrier visits, especially considering how quickly his feet are growing out.

Additionally, I am going to check the fit of the saddle. I don't think that is the underlying cause, but I do want to make sure it isn't a contributing factor. Finally, I am going to work Ashke outside of the arena. I think we are both incredibly bored with riding in circles. Even working him outside of the arena in a big circle last night was better than being inside. Ashke was more interested in what was going on and much more engaged in our activities.

After our work out last night, I treated his legs and the saddle area of his back with horse liniment. I just want to make sure there is no stone unturned in assuring his comfort. He is being asked to do things he hasn't been asked to do prior to 10 weeks ago and I know my muscles are sore, I can just guess at his. I really hope that the steps I've taken take care of the issue and that he doesn't develop navicular.

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