Now, May sees the vet more than once a year, but she really only sees my lameness vet once a year. (KNOCK ON WOOD!) Last year, I had them come when I noticed a pretty significant (for May) hip drop. Short video below from 2018, so you all can see what I see:
At that time, they did a full lameness workup, and we decided to inject hocks and stifles. For a full, LONG write up on that one, there is a super detailed post: 2018 Vet Visit Wrap Up
This year, May seems to be doing really well coming out of winter. The increased workload from having a part leaser and moving to a barn that turns them out later during the week has really helped her keep some fitness. However, May is going to her first competition, a combined test, on March 17th, so I wanted to make sure she was doing as well as possible before we got into the season.
Most of the work my lameness vet does is on racehorses, so May is a slightly different creature for them. The great part of that is that she is easy for them to remember among a sea of Chestnut and Bay thoroughbreds! As soon as my vet laid her hands on May on Saturday, she remembered the large buttons on the end of her splint bones, her stoic nature, and how tough it is to actually get under her (short and round).
May got a full palpation, including hoof testers. We discussed her being barefoot. Consensus was that she seems totally comfortable now, but if she starts showing signs of discomfort if the ground EVER DRIES OUT IN KY, then we will throw shoes back on. Works for me, since that has always been the plan.
As usual, May showed no responses to palpation, so we took her out to jog and do flexions. The result? Ummmm she looked really damn sound. My vet was super pleased with how she looked. Her only comment was that she looks a TOUCH sticky in the hocks. She said that we could inject the stifles, if I really wanted to, or we could just do the hocks and wait on the stifles. Since, they’re available on Saturdays and are constantly working on racehorses in the area, it’s super easy to get them out. Plus, with the increased fitness this year, she might not need them again for a while.
Annnnnd that is why I love that vet. We could have an honest conversation about what she sees and recommends vs. what my opinion is on my horse’s case. She recognizes and considers the fact that she is looking at a horse for 15 minutes one day a year, while I spend countless hours looking at, riding, and touching this horse all year.
I opted to just inject the hocks, see how she does, and go from there. I’m not someone that just injects to inject, so if she seems comfortable, I am more than happy to let it be.
May got the lightest dose of drugs ever. I think the tech helping out joked that it was like dosing a thoroughbred foal, but within a few minutes, May was swaying on her feet and looking gleefully drugged. While she settled into the drugs, the team got to work scrubbing down the injection sites. Honestly, the longest part of this whole thing is always prepping the injection site, and for that, I am super thankful. Sticking needles into the joint of a farm animal is not without peril.
As with last year, there was a good amount of struggle getting the needles into her joints. We know they are fusing, so my vet just works hard to try and get as much into each joint as she can. This year, however, the right hock was easier to get into than the left hock. Overall, we got 2CCs in the right and 1.5CCs in the left.
I asked about x-raying the hocks, and her response was that we could if I wanted to; however, it wouldn’t really change the treatment plan. As long as her comfort level is managed with the injections and there is no acute lameness, it’s not really worth it. How dare she talk me out of just throwing dollar bills at my horse?
Once the injections were done, my vet hung around for another 20 – 30 minutes discussing options to keep May feeling her best. (Can you tell I REALLY like this vet?) She asked if she was on any edible joint medication (no, she used to be and I felt it did nothing. I would prefer just to inject what needs it). She did recommend possibly starting a regimen of general support injectibles through the muscle. She would start with a loading dose of one injection a week for one month, and then drop down to once a month.
The vet did note that she would like May to be producing more joint fluid than she currently is. Since they are up and down our road all the time, they could just swing by and do it. So that is something I am considering. I want to see the results of the hock injections first, but given May’s increased workload this year… I think it might make sense. Anyone have any experiences?
Recovery time is a day off then back in light work, and she can return to full work on Thursday. Since today and tomorrow (Monday and Tuesday) have highs in the low 20s…. she is just getting these days off too. She gets plenty of turnout, so I am not concerned about her standing around. Can’t wait to see how she feels on Saturday!