Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Oh Boy! Something New To Learn About!

My vet came out fairly early this morning, so when I got to the barn, Lilly was still outside hanging around the gate with all her mare friends. I decided that was reason #520 as to why I prefer individual turnout... trying to take the horse currently on the bottom of the totem pole to the front of the line, past the dominant mares = not fun. I hissed and hollered, swung my lead rope, stomped my feet, pissed off the number one (named Fancy), and prayed she didn't double barrel me, but eventually they all moved out of the way. Then it was a scramble to get Lilly out of the pasture, close the gate, and make sure no one else snuck out or came charging while we were half way through. (Group turnout is good for her... Group turnout is good for her...)

We were on the schedule this morning so my vet could take blood from Lilly for her mineral panel. I'm hoping when we get it back it'll show us something really important and helpful but we'll have to wait at least a week to find out. We couldn't do the IR test because they have to be off grass and have no grain for 12 hours prior to the blood draw. Plus, it has to go right to the office, so we scheduled that test for the end of the month. Lilly was good for her blood work, considering they needed to take a lot of blood. She shook her head a couple times, and some blood flew all over the floor, but other than that, things went well.

My vet also kept saying things like, "Lilly, you're so fat" and "look how huge your tummy is". I guess getting her off the super green grass hasn't helped her figure any. I've been procrastinating and haven't bought a muzzle yet... I thought I'd wait until after we find out the results of the mineral panel.

After we were done with the needles, my vet started her chiropractic exam. She said her pelvis was out on the left side, she cracked a few vertebrae, and did some work on her neck, but said she was in pretty good shape otherwise. Lilly did a lot of licking and chewing, and by the end she was yawning. All good signs! She also showed me some stretches to do with her because she thought she was a little tight in the shoulders.

There was one thing that concerned her, though. Without doing an x-ray (which neither of us thought was necessary to do today), she couldn't say for sure what was going on, but there is something not quite right with one of the vertebrae in her lumbar region. She thinks it's L5. When she palpates it, you can feel it catching on something. She had me do it so I could feel it too, and it's strange. She said she's never felt anything quite like it in that region and asked if Lilly has been back sore or if I have noticed anything unusual. Considering I haven't ridden in decades, I can't say if she is, but I haven't noticed anything. Lilly isn't one to be stoic, so if she is uncomfortable, it isn't enough to let me know something is wrong.

L5 circled in red.
So after hearing a lot of big words that meant nothing to me, I started researching things like kissing spine, lumbar vertebra, and cervical vertebrae. Normally, I have her adjusted and the vet says "blah blah blah, but everything is ok now, I need to see her again in two weeks" and I pay the bill. Not this time. It appears as though Lilly now wants me to learn about spines. I've learned about ligament and tendon lesions, digestion issues and ulcers, nutrition, and hooves... so what's left? Ah yes, bones!

My vet isn't concerned yet, so I'm not concerned either, but it'll be something else to keep an eye on and monitor once I start riding again. We might decide we need to do x-rays in the future, as it could be having a larger impact on things than we think.

(Just for my records, we also vaccinated her for EEE/WEE)


  1. Isn't your horse so considerate to help you learn so much about equine care? She really has your best interest in mind. :)

  2. I have read quite a bit about kissing spines, since my Pony has unexplained back problems currently. I read that quite a few horses actually have it and go completely undiagnosed due to it not bothering them. Maybe she has something like that, something that would otherwise go unnoticed since it doesn't bother her....fingers crossed for something that isn't a big concern!

  3. A very knowledgeable horsewoman whose opinion I highly respect (and that don't happen much!) Explained how pasturing mares together makes them very stressed if you have more than one alpha mare. In nature you have one alpha mare leading the herd. This is very much the case with my mare. She does well with geldings but when other mares come on the scene it is a battle for domimance. People often think mares should be with mares, geldings with geldings but that's not natural (of course geldings aren't natural either.) Maybe your barn owner could switch some groups around to make them more balanced.