Monday, March 1, 2010

Trail Training Newsletter #110 - part 1 - Update on Mingo

Update on Mingo

Where do I start? I skipped the update last month, so I guess I have to start there. Early in January, something very odd happened to him. He got very grouchy and paranoid—didn’t want anyone—particularly me—to touch him. He would stand in the corner of his stall and bob his head up and down if anyone looked at him. He would even be hesitant to take a treat out of his dish. He would slowly walk up to it, grab the treat and retreat. It was very puzzling and upsetting.

I called the vet out to see him. While leading him, he walked and trotted fine, but he wouldn’t bend his head towards me if I led him on the proper side. There was no problem if I led him on the near side.

The vet had to examine the sore leg from the opposite side just so she could touch it. He was fine with that, and showed no pain in the leg. It seemed like the problem was in his neck. Neck? Could this be?

Just to be thorough, she decided to check for Lyme disease. It was very unlikely that he had it just because we don’t have the offending ticks in our area. As predicted, he turned up negative. It was a relief and disappointment at the same time. I was glad he didn’t have it, but was disappointed that we still didn’t determine the problem.

Each day, his symptoms got a little better. The only thing the vet could come up with is that he may have fallen asleep standing up and hurt himself in the process. You see, he hasn’t been laying down to sleep or roll.

We put him on a big dose of bute for a few days, and he did lay down to sleep. We tapered it off, and he seemed to be doing all right. Eventually, the vet decided he should be on a long-term painkiller, but Bute can be harsh on a horse. She suggested switching to Prevacox. There is a horse version that is a paste, but it is very expensive. They have found out that the dog version, in a pill format, will work on horses. Because of the way the drug works, a horse has the same dose as a beagle. It is easy to give, too. We just put it in his grain, and he eats it. Finally something that is easy.

After a few days of it, Ellen caught him rolling in his stall. We were thrilled. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen him roll, since. He was doing very well, though.

At this point, there were only a few signs left that he had a problem. The first was that he was having a lot of trouble lifting his foot, again. Some days, I didn’t even succeed in cleaning it. He could lift it up, but not bring it back so I could see the bottom of it.
The other symptom, one he had from the very beginning of the whole saga, is that on a small circle, when his bad leg was to the outside, he would step short. One other thing that he had all along was that he didn’t lift that foot up very high. In the early days, he was even stubbing his toe on the ground.

That got me thinking—could he step over a pole? Well, he could, but with much difficulty. With the help of clicker, he would give it a good try, but it was definitely one more symptom.
Physically, there was one more odd thing—he had a hunter’s bump. The joint on the top of his back where his hindquarters start was very prominent. Originally, I thought it was just his weight loss. I did some research. This is his sacroiliac joint. One way to determine if it is bothering him is to see if one side is higher than the other. The other is if the top of his pelvis isn’t symmetrical on both sides. Bingo for both.
Also, each of his problems in movement are signs of sacroiliac troubles. What isn’t a sign is the extreme swelling he had, the original severe lameness at a trot and a sore neck. I talked to my vet, and she said that it could be a sacroiliac injury or even a pelvic fracture. Who knows about the neck and bad attitude. A pelvic fracture would explain the extreme swelling, too.

There are other tests we could do that may pinpoint the exact problem, but even the vet at the clinic I took him too last fall said they may not find the problem. There is nothing we could do at the barn to find out the cause. The next best thing to expensive diagnostics is long-term painkiller and a lot of time to rest. That is where we are at….

Things were going fine, until the neck thing came back with the bad attitude. It wasn’t as bad as the first time. He isn’t too cranky unless I approach or touch his flank. Could he have fallen asleep and fallen again. I don’t really know at this point. What I do know is he is now bending his neck fine, he isn’t stepping as short on the circle, he is trotting normal and he is allowing me to lift his foot up to clean. It is as if his brain hasn’t caught up with his body. Sometimes, though, I do catch a few lame steps and if he moves suddenly, he jerks.

Thanks to clicker and a thoughtful (and wonderful) farrier, we were able to trim his feet. We did a lot of reviewing lifting and holding with the clicker to reinforce him when he did well. He was able to lift his foot and hold it for the farrier. My farrier could feel him shaking his leg, so he lowered it to a position it didn’t shake and trimmed at that level. He also gave him a lot of breaks.

My plan is to just give him a lot of time—as long as he isn’t suffering a lot. He doesn’t mind if I don’t ride him, and at this point I would be happy to have a healthy pet horse to coddle and play clicker games with. If it is his sacroiliac or a fractured pelvis, it should heal in a year or so. If it is some sort of odd groin pull, it might heal, too.

I will keep you updated…

1 comment:

achieve1dream said...

Poor Mingo! I'll keep him in my thoughts and I hope it turns out to be a pulled muscle or a fracture that will heal on its own. I'm glad he seems to be doing a little better though. You're doing great with him.