Over the past four weeks or so, I've noticed a few changes in my girl:
* I have noticed that she's a bit foot sore in the cross ties. They have a concrete floor, and when I walk her in, she's a bit gimpy making the turn. She's more tender on her right front than her left front, but she's slightly uncomfortable on them both.
* I have noticed that she's put on some weight. She's always been on the pudgy side of things, just because she's such an easy keeper, but she's definitely put on weight recently. If I had to guess, I'd say she's put on about 50 pounds.
* I have noticed that her hooves are starting to change shape. Her right front (seedy toe hoof) has become more upright, and her left front has become more forward. I even noticed a few days ago that the heels on her left front looked a bit 'crushed'. I had to get out my rasp and clean them up because I didn't like the way the heels looked.
Some other noteworthy tidbits include: we're having saddle issues again, it's time for fall grass, and when my trimmer was out yesterday, she had nothing to trim.
Now, keeping all those things in mind, and putting the pieces together, I'd say we're dealing with some metabolic issues induced by the wonderful fall grass.
She's put on weight, her hooves are sore, she's keeping more of her weight on her left front hoof to relieve her right front hoof, which is causing it to change shape, which is also causing body soreness and totally explains why she suddenly hates her saddle.
This has all happened over the past four weeks... prior to this, her weight looked good, we had a really nice looking hoof shape, my trimmer was using her nippers to cut off hoof growth, and while she couldn't walk down a gravel driveway, she was comfortable on surfaces I'd expect her to be ok with. Now we have none of that.
|At least she's still beautiful.|
If you'll recall, I had Lilly tested twice for IR. Once in the fall last year (early November) and then again this spring (early April). The fall test showed that her glucose and insulin levels were fine, but her ACTH baseline was 126. A normal reading would fall somewhere between 9-35... so she was off the chart high. My vet reassured me that numbers fluctuate wildly in the fall, and it would be a good idea to do the test again in the spring. So when we received the test results from the spring tests, I was relieved to see that her number was normal, at 17.
I guess I really don't understand what the numbers mean. I didn't question them much in the fall because my vet didn't seem concerned, and then when we had good numbers in the spring, I dismissed it. I imagine if we tested her again now, she'd show similar numbers to what we saw in November. But what does it mean if her ACTH levels are super high, but her insulin and glucose level is fine? Since we only seem to see these kind of symptoms in the fall (September - December), can she be medicated for IR just for those four months?
My vet is coming on Wednesday to do vaccines and float Lilly's teeth, so we'll have a very lengthy conversation about it. I know she's going to freak when she sees how fat my girl is.
Bottom line is her hooves are really suffering, and I can only do so much to help them if I'm fighting a losing battle with her body. I could probably manage this until January when things go back to "normal", but I need to STOP it. I know it'll improve as it did last year, but we'll spend all next year getting her back to where she needs to be just in time for it to fall apart again. The cycle will be never ending and I will completely lose my mind.
I think I'm already too far behind to stop anything. The changes are already there, and they're quite visible. So for now, I'm playing catch up, and I have to do something to make her more comfortable. My trimmer was very upset about what she saw in Lilly yesterday too, and we talked about a variety of solutions.
Option 1: Riding boots with pads - I still have my Renegades, but I'm not happy with the fit, and they can't be padded. Perhaps the riding I've been doing without boots (even though it's been in the sand arena and she seems comfortable there) has been too much and it's making her sore. Maybe simply riding her in padded boots would be enough to help her become less sore. Movement is the best medicine for bare hooves and fat bellies, but I don't want to be working her if she's not comfortable. I'm probably looking at $200 to buy her another pair of boots.
Option 2: Easyboot Glue-on - While they're not supposed to be left on for more than five days, it would provide her an option for protection during turnout, which she wouldn't get if I just purchased a pair of riding boots. Unless there's a secret boot out there I don't know about, boots just will NOT hold up in a turnout situation, especially since Lilly is turned out about 15 hours per day. I could glue on the boots, leave her in them for five days, and then take them off. I've been told I could get two or three applications out of them, so I could put them on again a few days later. They run about $25 each, plus the Sikaflex ($10), tips ($12), Adhere ($30), and fancy gun ($85). Spendy. Plus, if there is any kind of bacteria in her seedy toe (we don't think so, but who knows), it would seal all that up nice and tight.
Option 3: EasyShoes - The glue on ones are just ridiculously expensive. My trimmer told me she could show me how to apply them and it would save me some money, but it's still ridiculously expensive. If we only needed to shoe her for four months during the worst of it, I suppose I could budget somehow and spend the $1,000 it would cost me. If that's what she needed, I would do it in a heartbeat. There are, however, the EasyShoe NGs, which can be nailed on instead of glued on. My trimmer said they recommend both nails and glue, but I'd be willing to try just the nails. The shoes themselves are only $41 per pair, and nails only cost a couple cents. My trimmer doesn't do nails, though,so I'd have to find a farrier willing to come out and apply the shoes. Or, if I could find a farrier who is also a dealer, maybe he could get the shoes cheaper.
Option 4: Casts - A similar idea to the glue-ons, except a bit more permanent, and a bit less expensive. I can't remember how much I paid for a set of casts back in the day, but I'm thinking around $50. They're also something I could learn to do myself to save some money, but I would still worry about trapping any kind of bacteria in her seedy toe, and I wasn't super thrilled with casts last time we did it with Lilly. They're definitely an option to keep in mind, though.
Option 5: The dreaded steel shoe - As my trimmer has told me, this doesn't have to be an all or nothing kind of situation. If the best, most cost effective way to manage this is to put her in shoes for four months during the fall months, then we put her in shoes for four months and when January rolls around, we pull them off.
Other non-hoof related options we talked about include muzzles, moving to a new barn with a dry lot (or at the least a really crappy pasture), and simply running away from home.
She recommended that we take the 0-25 approach and start with a new pair of boots that I can pad, see how she does with those, and then go from there, rather than taking the 0-100 approach and slapping a pair of steel shoes on her.
Before I make a decision, I'm going to wait until my appointment with the vet and see what kind of information she can provide. She's always been a 'put shoes on her' kind of person, so I'm not sure I want to talk about hooves with her, but I am interested in what she has to say about the nutrition aspect of it and possible medications we could try. She'll say muzzle, muzzle, muzzle, and perhaps that can be part of the new Fall Plan that we have to implement next year to head this thing off. I'm totally open to that, although I hate the thought of my horse wearing something on her face all day during turnout with other horses.
I have so much time, money, and energy invested in this, coupled with how well she has been doing all summer, that I just feel really defeated. I've felt this way before, but we had made so much more progress this year that it just hit me really hard. I have a great team of professionals around me to help, and I do have a lot of options, so things aren't hopeless or anything, but it just really sucks.
Thoughts? Comments? Suggestions?
In other news, I do have some good news on the Rylee front... all her digestive issues have disappeared. I found a great probiotic/digestive enzyme supplement that has worked wonders for her. She's still on the raw diet and is doing amazing.
|She makes me smile. I just love her.|