Quick BackstoryAs most are aware, Q presented with mild lameness (most visible on a downhill) near the end of last August. As last summer was a bitch for abscesses, I didn't fret much because the lameness was mild and she had no swelling or any other signs of discomfort. After several weeks at least one, and possibly two blown abscesses later, she was still NQR. Cue: lengthy vet lameness evaluation and the resulting ultrasound diagnosis of a lesion to her suspensory ligament in her LH near the origin point (hock).
I spoke to numerous endurance riders from around the country and got some second opinions from vets and ultimately decided to give Q time off. Lots of time off. Soft tissue heals best with time, so time I have given. Many endurance riders who have had horses with this injury have found the best results/recovery from a year of turnout; many report to be back competing at the same levels as before.
I threw Q out into the field with her friends after the lameness evaluation and haven't looked back. Other than administering some daily oral NSAIDs, I have let Q be a horse for many months. She's been sound the whole time; my BO watches the horses a lot from the house and has reported this to me. We did have follow-up ultrasounds at 60 and 120 days following the diagnosis. Both times Q showed marked improvement from former ultrasounds. My vet was very, very pleased by the time our 120-day ultrasound rolled around. I have no reason to believe she's done anything but heal more in the time since.
Present DayHere we are, 10 months after the lameness initially presented and 9 months after diagnosis. Q has done little to nothing for the 10 month period. I could have started rehab walking earlier, and we've had a handful of 5 to 10 minute bareback walking rides scattered about, but nothing with consistency.
My non-horse life has been beyond busy and stressful which has limited my time with the horses. Q has been a low priority for me because I feel more rest and time off will only benefit her. Griffin and Stan have competitions to be ready for in the near future so they've taking precedent for the time being.
But now? Well, the thing I knew without a doubt would happen has happened.
Sorry Q-mare, I can't lie for you any more. I can't fake the photos or shoot you "from your good side". Girlfriend, there's just no hiding that extra cushion you've got goin' on.
But, my dear, you really, truly ARE the cutest of them all even with those extra pounds.
As a result though, I'm more motivated to start "working" the mare more regularly. Time to start half-vacation instead of full-vacation (whereby half is still work but nothing compared to her previous endurance work, haha). She will likely also go in the diet pen/get a muzzle. (I'm still working out the details of these options with my current situation.)
The first step to her reemergence into the working world was to purchase some Back on Track hock boots. Now, when I go to work Griffin, I bring her in and let her wear them for a time while I work Griffin.
She really doesn't love them for the first few seconds they're on.
I do have to hand it to myself though. I know this mare well enough to know that she was going to have an issue with them for a bit. I also knew that if I only put one on she'd probably lose it more than if both were on. I was correct.
After she decides she isn't 1) being attacked by the evil Hock Monster, 2) she isn't weighted down to the ground unable to move at all, and 3) can bend her legs still, she reverts to being a normal pony.
Poor tortured Q.
Yesterday, Q enjoyed her first ride back. We showed Chelsey and Jean Luc the few "trails" we have left to access from the barn. (Oh, btw, new horse at the barn! My childhood best friend got back into horses last month 😀. They're blogging here.)
For anyone who thought Q would be "settled" and "lazy" after her time off, I'm happy to confirm for you that she most definitely is neither of those adjectives. More accurate descriptors would be: fussbucket, loon, spazz. She's her normal self absolutely fretting over every little thing she could find to fret about. She was wound so tight and ready to explode most of the ride despite our very sedate pace and the very casual atmosphere. As I told Chels, I was just doing my best to ignore her shit and ride her like nothing was going on. Hopefully, with time, she'll quit her crap when it doesn't garner a reaction from me.
Things that were terrifying and possible monsters on this short ride included: her shadow, stumps, moss, logs, ferns, grass, her shadow - again, the mere threat of wide open spaces (oh god the horror!), an old shed, a pile of dirt, a road cone, patchy sunlight hitting the ground. By the end, Chelsey confirmed, "I see how she could drive people crazy." Yeeee-up. This is my 100-mile horse, folks!
Fortunately, Jean Luc is a saintly horse who loves to lead. He motored along in front of us completely oblivious of Q's multiple nervous breakdowns. In fact, Jean Luc hardly flicked an ear when a fawn ran out from under his hooves! Q's reaction? A TERRIFYING BABY DEER OH MY GOD IT ATE JEAN LUC AND HE'S DEAD AND....oh, wait, no, he's totally fine and still walking home.
Q was behind him by a solid horse length. She spooked nice and big despite Jean Luc's obvious casual manner to the situation. Somehow, I manged to sit her spook with remarkable ease; muscle memory is a funny thing.
So the bottom line? Q is doing just fine. Probably better than fine. We've got lots of walking and dressage in our future. I'm going to build her body back in the most correct, balanced way possible to add support to that ligament. Maybe somewhere along this journey she'll get some new hamsters installed in that silly head of hers!