Thursday, September 10, 2009

"Things that are stressing me out." Part 1: Armani is lame

So I'm a big believer that when something is bothering me, taking action is the only way to make it better. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to make something better by taking action. Sometimes all you can do is wait, or let other more knowledgeable people help you.

I'm really bad at handling those situations. So I have to satisfy myself by misdirecting my "do something!" initiative. So in other news, my yard is looking really nice this fall.

So here is part 1

As you may have read, Armani and Huey got a new farrier. They were both overdue. The farrier had to remove a good amount of hoof from Armani. The next day I rode him down the road and back. Everything seemed fine.

We got back to the driveway. Suddenly, I felt him slide his left front and then trip over what must have been a rock. (I couldn't see it. Maybe he hit that frog with his frog. Har har.) It felt like he stubbed his toe and then his shoulder dropped. It wasn't really dramatic.

But he continued to stumble. I rode him into the soft arena. He continued to take short strides on the left front.

This can't really be happening. I thought. I ride him on rocky trails, over fallen trees, through underbrush, slide down rock slides and for many miles on paved roads. We jump, we actively show. All of it barefoot. He'd never taken a bad step once. Now he gets hurt in his own driveway? I got off. He gave me a sad look.

A week later, he is still off...
It isn't much. But I can feel something isn't right. I dropped our showing plans for the immediate future.

I let other people's opinions upset me.
Some suggested my horse was "just lazy" or perhaps trying to avoid work. And I suspected they suspected I was imagining things.
I felt like avoiding the barn. But then I feel guilty. This is when Armani needs me the most.

Armani is far from the most compliant horse. But I knew he wasn't "faking it". I could feel that something was wrong. He was willingly going through the motions. But he lacked spring and energy. He didn't respond as quickly to my aids. Every few strides, I could feel a "funny" step.

My instructor got on Armani and showed him to another top rider, while I wasn't there. So no one can argue they weren't objective. They did both agree he looked off. But his pulse was normal in all 4 feet. There was no heat or swelling. In their opinions, it is a mild stone-bruise. If it were an abscess it should have popped already, they said. Ride him at a walk in soft footing for a few weeks and see if time fixes it. She also asked the vet to stop by soon.

But why?
Was it the new farrier? Did he take too much off? Huey seems fine with his work. Was Armani just too overdue? Did Armani stumble because he wasn't used to his new trim?

What now?
I already scratched from a two-phase schooling show. In a week we have a hunter/jumper show. Then after two more shows, our planned season would end. But are we out already? After it finally felt like we were improving?

Will it get better? Happen again?
Many horses I know seem to have frequent, reoccurring bouts of lameness over their lives. For some it effectively ended or limited their career. Others I know never had a single issue. I thought Armani was the latter type. He was always sound, never sick.

But what if he is the former? What if this happens again? What's your opinion based on my story? What is your experience in these matters?

I better get back to the yard work...


Stephanie said...

SO sorry to hear that Armani is off! It really is bummer when things mess up our well laid out plans.

Fist of all I think it is too bad that you are in a barn situation where people 'talk' and that you feel the need to be vindicated or stay away from the barn... arghhh... that people can act that way irritates me.

In my experience, if it is a soft tissue injury, it can just take time. I have found that in most cases if you give the horse the time to heal then you should have no recurring issues (as long as it is just simple soft tissue injury). I have seen horses that get pushed too soon and never really get the chance to heal and then they have recurring issues.
I am pretty conservative and always try to err on the cautiuos side and take the time.

Wouldn't it be great if you could just ask him what is bothering him??

Good Luck and keep your chin up!

Mrs Mom said...

I will most surely not not NOT tell you it is your imagination, or that he is trying to get out of work. Ooooo no.

I'd cold hose feet and lower legs. Rub him down with some good liniment, hand walk, and watch. Feel him out. Breathe deep. Keep his mind occupied by doing odd ball things.

And let the other folks at the barn just blow dust somewhere else. This is YOUR horse, and you know him WELL. If you see something wrong, then there IS something off.

Give it time. Love your horse. And don't pay a whit of attention to nay-sayers. They don't know your horse ;)

allhorsestuff said...

I am so sorry for the crack comments those folks have made.Do take Mrs. Mom's advise...the dust they stir..let it settle somehwere where else!

Well, not having a shod horse myself probably makes any thing I say null and void. But the first thought I had was "New Farrier".
My mare has not been lame in the 4 years Iv'e owned her..and not before as well. She is a barefooted Thoroughbred.
I have had some shoers trim her and it is a different trim from the barefoot specialists.I have considered shoeing...just lately so, as no boots fit her and I am road riding more for the winter..too many rocks. I am afraid of her being lame= from the shoeing.

Being around folks that shoe..I know that there are definately stray nails/off angles and changes going on in the hooves too..sometimes the shoeing did not bode well with the hoof. Some of my freinds had a lame horse too..for a time, after the shoeing.It is frustrating, I imagine, shoeing for protection and then having it be maybe a cause for lameness?
Time....will help I hope. I have seen folks take the shoe off and administer tests done on the sole to identify if it is an absesss or ?
Well, maybe something has changed by now..I pray so.
Do take care

Anonymous said...

Horses don't "try to get out of work" by appearing lame - what planet are those people from? I guess they think a horse would be dishonest enough to pull a trick that only a person could do - shesh! Sorry you're having to put up with that - trust your own judgment and perceptions - if he's not right, he's not right. Taking too long to put a horse back into work after a bruise/injury is much better than pushing too hard too soon. It could be the farrier - he may have changed something in the way the foot strikes, or in the balance between wall/frog/bars/sole. Talk to him about it and see what he says.

SprinklerBandit said...

It could be a stone bruise. From what you've described, I doubt it's a huge and reoccurring problem, though it sounds worthwhile to have the vet out. My TB mare is very sensitive about her feet and is off for a week or two if we don't put front shoes on her. My WB/TB mare doesn't care at all.

So. It sucks that people are not being nice to you. I'd talk to a vet if you can afford it. In addition, I'd just mentally let the show season end right now in your head. Maybe he'll be sound enough to compete. Maybe not. If you're ready for him not to be, and he is, then great. Otherwise, don't sweat it. There's always next year to run those barrels in a dressage saddle. ;-)

baystatebrumby said...

I have a very similiar experience that occasionally comes up with my paint. I don't show her so I never have that riding on her hoof health, but of course I want her to be healthy. Each time I go through each scenrio of what could be wrong. Some of the possibilities are scary, some are benign. I know I just hate seeing her limping. I want to know what is going on. My farrier says she just has soft ouchie feet.
Good luck with Armani! Maybe it really is just that he stepped on a jaggedy rock.