Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bummer Dude

Horses. The highs are so high but man, the lows can sure be low. After last year, which was pretty much a nonstop roller coaster of soundness problems between Kiki and Ringo, my primary goal for 2011 was that everyone finished the year happy and as sound (or sounder!) than they'd started.

Touch wood, so far all has been going fine with my two horses (but there's still more than 4 months left! Plenty of time to do stupid crap like fall off the trailer or just mysteriously hop oneself into massive lameness like Kiki did on two separate occasions late lsat summer).

But, alas, things have not gone so smoothly for The Dude. The vet came back to visit Dually again on Monday, and he was, inexplicably, worse yet again, despite the most controlled possible treatment of stall rest, short hand grazes, and constant hoof packing and soaking. WTF?! At that point Dr. L (our vet) recommended that Pa drive D up to New England Equine to get a further diagnosis, as we'd pretty much run through the gamut of diagnostic options available to us at home. They headed up yesterday, and today the news came back: it's not good.

Dually has torn his deep digital flexor tendon down in his hoof. Tendon injuries within the hoof are super slow-healing because there isn't a huge amount of blood flow to that part of the horse's body compared to other places, and good blow circulation is one of the primary factors that determines the speed at which the body heals itself. The injury is such that the vets my dad spoke to today were not super confident about his ability to return to full competitive work, and at the age of 16, it's not likely that we want to push him to do that. So, we're in for another long and difficult road of healing and decision making.

I feel awful for Dually. Over the past 10 years, The Dude has completed 60 USEA events between Novice and Intermediate (with over 30 at the Preliminary level or higher) and in all that time amassed only a single cross country penalty (which I completely blame myself for - as far as he's concerned, he's been perfect!). Even more incredibly, he never missed a single event due to lameness. I only even had to give him more than a single day off twice in our six and a half years together: once for ehrlichea and once when we fell on a gallop and he cut his leg open. He's never had to be on extended stall rest, never had to miss out on the job he loves. He's the horse I owe more to than probably any other single living creature, human or otherwise, on this planet (with the exception of my parents), and it destroys me to know that he's in pain. Fortunately he's a pretty laid back guy and I feel good that he'll take this setback in classic Dude fashion, but I'm still gutted to know that he's going to have to be on stall rest for the foreseeable future.

(Me and the Dude getting ready for a jog; he was never held once in all his many CCI*s)

(Coming home at our first Intermediate, a lifelong dream come true for me - my mouth is open because I'm shouting 'Good boy!!' as loud as I can)

(You'll always be my favorite handsome man)

I also feel terrible for Pa, who was just starting to really figure The Dude out. I'm certain that they were right on the brink of a real competitive breakthrough, and am crushed that they won't get the chance to highlight one another's talents in competitions in the near future.

(Pa and The Dude sharing a moment back at Galway 2008, before their partnership began)

Ughh!!!

11 comments:

jenj said...

Oh goodness, I'm so, so sorry to hear that. That's really tough news, especially for a competitor like him. But it sounds like you've got good vets working on him and a plan to move ahead, and that's a good thing.

On the blood flow issue, did the vet recommend removing his shoes and maybe trying boots instead? I know shoes restrict blood flow to the feet (of course, so does lack of movement) so I was curious if they would suggest that.

Checkmark115 said...

Thats depressing :(
I had no idea he competed that much...I bet he feels loved though and he knows you are trying to help him. Speedy and happy recovery for the Dude.

Dressager said...

Awful! But boy has that fellow been around! He has such good care going for him right now, and a good game plan. Best of luck for you and The Dude.

And I agree with Jen. It did help a friend's horse while he was on VERY extended stall rest and when he was turned out.

Katherine Erickson said...

Thanks guys. Jenj and Dressager, that's a great suggestion. Dually has excellent feet and we usually pull his shoes for the winter anyway, so I'll suggest to Pa that we do that again now.

Suzanne said...

Oh no Kate... it was so exciting to see your dad competing him... Sending jingles your way to be used in whatever manner you need...

Kate said...

I am so disappointed for you. I was hoping it was a minor issue/quick fix. These horses sure know how to break our hearts.

Gingham said...

Sending good thoughts your way. What a great partner.. and what impressive stats!

I'm pro-shoe pulling, whether or not it really made a difference in recovery time, I always felt like it did, and if nothing else made me feel like I was "doing something"

Dom said...

So sad to hear the bad news. Thinking of you.

Amanda said...

Oh no! I am CRUSHED!!! I actually cried a little. I may have only gotten to hang with Dually a few weeks one winter in Aiken, but he's always been a fave in my book, and knowing he's no bueno makes me way sad. Hugs to you and your Pa. :(

newtone said...

Do you mind if I ask how they diagnosed this injury? We've got a horse with on-off foot lameness and are concerned about a tendon in the foot as well. We've had three vets say they don't think it's that, but haven't done anything besides xrays and blocking.

Katherine Erickson said...

Thanks so much for all you kind words, everyone. It means so much!

Newtone, we sprung for an MRI. It was expensive but, given the location of the injury (literally at the very end of the DDFT, where it connects to the coffin bone), I don't think we would have been able to find it otherwise.

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