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We Are Flying Solo

December 5, 2015

In Which Solo Can Fly No More

*edited to add - Solo is still warm & huggable, my apology for any over-scare, but we did discover an injury effectively ending his ridden days beyond the occasional amble*

I tried to type last night, but..couldn't.  But before I continue (warning: it's going to be long), let me say that Beka Burke, of The Owls Approve, is just completely awesome.  For example, when random people send her crazed text paragraphs. 

Solo did achieve some improvement with his newly invented shoes, but over this fall, some soreness returned in both his shoulders & in the past month, his right front foot.  I made him rest (which earned me plenty of dirty Solo-glares) & began my own differential analysis.

Combine a stoic horse with a subtle "NQR" & the result can be a diagnostic rabbit hole.  I knew I needed to consult Batman Dr. Bob further, but to get the best actionable information, I also needed to know what questions to ask & where to point.

I can stare too, mom. (sry, old pic)
Step 1:  Patient Scrutiny

An extensive Solo interview (they do tell you, so long as you listen), a whole lot of staring, & last week, a very helpful meeting with Wonder Farrier's hooftesters narrowed things down to some sobering options.  

The resurfacing of muscle soreness coincided with my observation that both front frogs were fairly pathetic-looking.  This told me Solo was not placing his heels on the ground first as his feet landed, reducing circulatory flow to the frogs, which steals away their fat, healthy cushion.

He was also reluctant to pivot smoothly on that RF & tested sore across the width of his heels.  Pulling up my mental image of hoof anatomy, this all pointed to sidebone, navicular pain, or bruising/calcification along the back of his coffin bone.  He didn't stand with toes pointed like a true "navicular horse," & he's had good hoof care, so I hoped for the "best," a.k.a. least limiting.   

Now that I could circle general region of the problem, it was time to take him in.  

Step 2:  Look On The Inside

I was pretty close.  How I wish I wasn't.     

Dr. Bob deployed his magic hands, his kind practicality, & all the experience we rely on.  After a jog & flexions of fetlocks, knees, & elbows, a single palmar digital (rear of the foot) nerve block confirmed where we'd take pictures.

A lateral & dorsal (front-on) view of the RF told us all we needed to know.  A flexed radiograph of the same knee, taken just in case, was thankfully clean.

From triplebarhoofcare.com
Step 3:  Decipher, Plan, Cry

In short, Solo tore his DDFT (Deep Digital Flexor Tendon) where it cradles his navicular bone. Essentially a low bow, only much lower than horses normally have, on the rear of his pastern, nestled between heel bulbs, because it's Solo, & conventional is nowhere in his playbook.

There is some scar tissue in the 2" tear, some still healing, but the navicular bone itself is also degraded in the process, or to quote Dr. Bob, "falling apart."  The coffin joint is still clean, although P2 (the short pastern bone) is slightly pushed up by some fill in the navicular fluid capsule.

So much happy. By Pics of You
Which Means...?
He can never jump even a tiny thing again.  Because if he trips or lands a little heavy on that foot, he could fall & kill us both.  The thing that makes him glow, the lights him up with joy such that he still hunts anything jumpable every time I sit on him, is off limits.  

All flights officially, permanently grounded.  Which is excruciatingly difficult to explain to a horse who believes retirement is a synonym for punishment.  Even when his owner is sobbing like a dying animal.

Not even his hated dressage; he has to move however he needs to in order to be comfortable.  Which means crooked, lopsided if he needs it, whatever is necessary for his muscles to adapt & let his legs travel wherever they want.

There Are Bits Of Good

He can do light hacks if he wants.  The injury itself would have stemmed from a "simple" bad step in the pasture.  So being ridden is still ok & even important to maintain range of motion & muscle tone, as well as circulation.  

And our invented shoes were right; Dr. Bob said they were "the most a farrier can do for him at this point."  And my instinct to rest him was correct.  I couldn't have prevented anything, although it's impossible not to wonder if I could have "done something" (what, magic bone re-grower??) sooner.  

There are many more details & some fantastic sources of information, but they'll have to wait until I can emotionally catch up.

Whatever he needs - for he gave me the world

44 comments:

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    1. There really isn't a better word for "things horses do," is there? Thank you.

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  2. What an almighty bummer.

    If you ever need a listening ear you have my email - any time.

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  3. Oh, I'm so sorry. That just sucks. I know that feeling well, unfortunately.

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    1. Thank you - and I'm sorry that the Club Of Heartbreak seems to be unavoidable in the equine vicinity. :(

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  4. Oh I am so very sorry. That is horrible news and you have to give yourself time to mourn. give yourself time, take stock and figure out what's next. ((hugs))

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    1. Thanks for this very kind note - that can be so hard to do, but you are very right. He still has so much to give, even though his heart has always written bigger checks than his body can cash. But I can still look between his ears, he can still be a patient teacher for others, I just have to digest the paradigm shift.

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  5. I'm so sorry. Hopefully he'll learn to love trail riding. It can really be a lot of fun, sometimes I consider retiring myself to just lazy trail rides!

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    1. Definitely - trails have always been a huge part of our training, so he enjoys them very much. They'll just be much slower and less technical then we used to do, but that's still much greater than none at all.

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  6. oh no- i'm so sorry! how incredibly disappointing for both of you :( sending hugs!

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  7. So sorry! But glad you can still flat at least and enjoy him. Hugs!

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    1. Thank you and I hope so - honestly, as long as I can still hug him (which he hates, heh) and know he's happy, I'm ok with that.

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  8. I am so sorry to hear this! He is a lucky horse to have you.

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    1. Thanks - and you're right, he should appreciate me more! ;)

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  9. Your bog title scared me. Glad to see I overestimated. Sorry he's going into forced retirement, but at least he is still there, in your backyard. Hugs.

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    1. Oh no, I'm sorry for that. While it is a hard thing, I am deeply grateful that I can have him with me. He is a connection to so many treasured pieces of my life, some I hold close still, some that are lost; I've begged him to stay a while yet, as I still need his very special kind of aid.

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  10. No words, my heart is breaking for you :( Cyber hugs for you and the wonderous Red Solo.

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    1. He sends his thanks for the paint pony hugs, he is partial to girls with lots of white.

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    2. LOL, and my red headed paint girl is partial to red boys with some chrome.

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    3. I keep telling him it's not cool to be a horse racist, sigh...

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  11. Very sad to hear this, what awful luck. Glad you can still enjoy the trails on him a little. Thinking of you both.

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    1. Thank you -- one never knows what horse luck will be, but I'm grateful for all the good bits.

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  12. Oh no, I am so sorry to hear this!

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    1. Solo says thanks for your thoughts. <3

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  13. Sorry about being grounded with your boy. I was worried it was worse when I started reading, so glad to hear he's still really comfortable.

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    1. Thank you & sorry for the more worry. Perhaps I should add a clarifier that our story isn't completely over yet.

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  14. I am so sorry :( it sucks that we know when we know. I'll workon the time machine and you work on the bone regrowth serum

    *hugs*

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  15. Oh how crappy. :( But what a blessing that you have the ability to give him a comfortable life, and will still get to enjoy trail rides with your special Solo! It is so sad that the jumping chapter of his life is over, but I'm sure there will be good - if different - things ahead for you both.

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    1. Thanks, I am grateful indeed that I can give him the gift of the farm. It makes putting the dang thing together the right choice after all.

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  16. I am so, so sorry to hear this. That's a tough diagnosis, but I'm so glad that you listened to him and were able to put all the pieces together to figure it out. Hopefully the DDFT will heal enough for comfort, and L's bone regrowth serum will be available next week.

    Give him some extra carrots from me and Paddy, and give yourself some time. *hugs*

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    1. He will love the Paddy-treats, & give the Haffie a hug from us. I think we'll make a fortune on that serum...is it ready yet??

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  17. Well, now he's done it, the Big Red Lug. Your blog title scared me, too, as I'm still digesting that Stacey's Harv is gone :(. I'm looking firmly on the bright side here - at least Solo is still his warm and fuzzy self in the pasture. Regardless, I know this is a bitter pill for you to swallow. I think it's so sweet that Solo looks for all the jumpy things, and now you'll have to turn him away. That makes me very sad as I know it does you... but you'll still have that view through his beloved ears. Look forward to happy ambles (but meanwhile, a firm hug because I know this is really, really hard).

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    1. Thank you & I'm so sorry to hear about Stacey, I will have to go send a note; between travel & travel recovery, I have not been able to read (or do anything) much. :*-( Solo has been wonderful through the whole weekend, every time I let him through the gate, he pauses & puts his head against me & tells me it will be ok, snif.

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  18. Why is it the right front? Why does it seem like every old man's right front is just failing? We can call our crippled ponies brothers now.

    I'm glad that you turned to me and that I was able to answer. Sure as shit know that I've gotten similar devastating news recently, so I'm extra sympathetic to all the suckiness and emotional upheaval. It doesn't matter if we never cared if they were competitive again, we just want them comfortable and happy.

    And don't you hate being right? When it comes to the horrible gut feelings?

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    1. Hey, thanks for being wonderfully you. And yes, this is definitely in the small category of "things women hate being right about."

      What IS up with that foot? I was palpating Encore's RF fetlock with extreme paranoia this morning before Dr. Bob arrived, even though I know his stifles are just sore. Poor Solo's now only got one good leg left, if you count his hock arthritis, I'd really rather he not interpret his Quarter Horse half, well, literally...

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  19. I'm not crying...it's allergies. I'm so so sorry Brena. I know how much he loves flying. You guys are definitely in my thoughts. I miss his fuzzy face - give him lots of hugs from an old minion. Give yourself some hugs too!

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    1. I have mysterious allergies too, it's ok. Hugs shall be shared, thanks for thinking of us. We miss you and firmly believe you probably need to come check on your buddy. ;)

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    2. I really really do need to check on you guys. And bring candy canes. :)Candy canes fix a multitude of ailments.

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  20. Replies
    1. Thanks - we're adjusting(I think) and Solo isn't complaining about all my guilt treats...

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