Prevost - Unanswered Questions
Horses, horses, horses! They always are up to something that can keep you guessing. That's the case with my gelding, Prevost.
An update from last season - Prevost was being conditioned to start his first official year of Endurance in 2016. We had taken our time, two years prior to going down the trail with "long slow distance" in mind to build up tendons, ligaments, bones and maybe the most important part, mental conditioning. We had the plan of starting off the 2016 season with a few Limited Distance rides (LD's), which are between 25-35miles, with the end goal of finishing the season with a 50 miles Endurance Race.
All was going pretty smooth. I got hooked up with a great Endurance Mentor out of the Ephrata area, that helped guide me into stepping up our conditioning schedule. It was a great eye opener, that yes, he's ready, you can push a little more! I am always so worried about over doing it, I needed that experienced person to help give me the courage and confidence in my horse to up it to the next level, and we succeeded.
Our first ride was Klickitat Trek near Goldendale, WA. We entered the 25 mile ride on Sunday with temperatures nearing 100 degrees! Luckily we start pretty early and missed most of the heat that the longer distance riders were competing in. Prevost did awesome. What an amazing ride to come in, mid pack, and finish with a healthy, happy and strong horse! I did a write up on this on Facebook last year if you are intersted in hearing more about Klickitat.
Prevost was getting supper fit and I wasn't haveing any major issues with anything at that point. Our next ride was about a month later in July, Renegade Rendezvous. This ride is known to be as one of the toughest rides in our NW region. It has a ton of elevation gain and is very rocky. Feeling pretty confident, I wasnt too worried about it, my horse was ready.
Renegade ride morning came and we were off. WOW HILLS! Hills that were a lot more steep that what we had been conditioning on. To make the story short, I need another post for this ride, we finished over time by 14 minutes! UGH! Lots learned on this ride about my horse, but the good thing was he finished with all A's on his vet card and was pulling me around camp. He felt pretty good.
NOW, this is where it all started. I gave Prevost about a two weeks off after the ride to recoup. I rode him lightly a few times over hills, mostly walking, and noticed when I would get back to the trailer he had some swelling on his Right Front (RF) leg, on the inside right below the knee. It filled from the knee to about half way down his leg, only on the inside. Weird. No swelling whats so ever in his pastern area. All upper portion of this leg on the inside.
Of course this was alarming to me, as Prevost was sound when he was moving out. I decided since it didnt have any real heat I could feel to just keep an eye on it. After about 24hrs the puffiness would be gone and his leg felt pretty normal. He did have a hard spot about where the swelling would stop, on the inside of his cannon. I was just assuming he had an old splint and that's what I was feeling.
A couple days later I took him back out to do an easy 10 mile ride. This time something was up. He wasn't lame, but I could tell something was bothering him. I was convinced it was his Easyboot Gloves that I use on his fronts, because I had a slight rubbing issue with the gaitor portion of it at the last ride. I adjusted the velcro, got on and off several times trying to adjust them with no change. I finally just took them off completely, as we were in a nice sandy spot, and even with the boots off he was just not 100%. It was intermittent head bobbing...
By the time I got back to the trailer, that RF was pretty swollen. Same as I described above. One thing that I noticed in addition was the vein that runs down the inside of the leg, when palpated, was very enlarged compared to his Left Front. Weird! But even with all my poking and squishing of it, Prevost never seemed to mind and didn't tell me it hurt. Even more weird.
I made an appointment that day to take him into my local vet. Fast forward to Appointment Day, LEG NOT SWOLLEN! Ok, it has to be swollen for the vet to see what I'm talking about and get an idea of whats going on. So I decided to turn Prevost out in the arena and let him trot around a bit. He is normally really good boy and takes a lot of encouraging to get moving. Well not that day. Dang, he ran, he ran too much. That arab snorting and jumping around, he tore a huge slice into his Left Front heal bulb. It was pretty terrible. It was bleeding and now he was LAME. Great.
I get to the vet and he addresses the slice and removes some of the skin and wraps it up. My vet didn't have any great hypothesis other than a possible splint. I had to make an appointment at the Ellensburg office in order to do x rays since the Cle Elum office wasn't set up to do this.
Things always get drawn out right? Another week goes by and I show up for our appointment. Nothing much has changed with his leg and I had restrained form riding him. The vet watched him move in the round pen, sound. We did flexion tests on him next. He was sound on the questionable leg, but slightly of on his LF due to the heal gash. So far nothings been found. We took x rays next, that showed a tiny tiny splint, possibly and old one even. I decided to go ahead with an ultrasound to check out the tendons and ligaments.
The ultrasound took some time. Comparing between the two legs. Prevost was so good too for all this. Really quiet and didn't need sedation. The only thing the ultra sound picked up was blood. Blood is what the vet thought the swelling was from. You could see a bunch of little branches where the veins and blood spread out in this area. Tendons and ligaments looked good and clean.
Ok, so blood. I didn't know what to think about this but trusted my vet. We decided to do a leg sweat for a couple weeks along with some Bute.
Another several weeks go by, we are in for our check up after sweating the leg out. It feels the tightest its been and I get the go a head to put him back into light work.
Well of course, swelling comes back. GAH! Calling the vet back asking for what to do next. He recommended two things: ride him and ignore it, if its blood it may just need to push through (what ever that means) or go to WSU for and MRI. Well at this point I had already spent about $1200 and I really didn't have the extra $900 plus travel time to get an MRI. I felt so frustrated, especially because my horse was SOUND. What was this mystery swelling?! Am I over thinking this because hes not lame, even on flextion test trotting on pavement?!
So I did neither. I didn't have the money, and I know my horse wasn't in dire need, he was sound, but at the same time it just didn't feel right to continue riding him. I decided to give him the rest of the season off, turned out in pasture, hoping several months of healing time would be the cure.
Fast forward to today, about mid January 2017. I started a couple days of light lunge work. Walking and some trot, maybe a couple strides of canter. 15 minutes max. THE SWELLING IS STILL THERE AND VEIN IS STILL ENLARGED AFTER WORK! GAH!
I am torn, not knowing what decision is best. Either way I have not used him since August! That's almost 6 months. I have had a hard time getting a hold of the vet I was using. He was not hired on for winter, so I have no way of getting a hold of him according to the vet's office. I put in a call today to a lameness vet that works out of Emerald Downs, hoping I can talk to him and see what he suggest.
Horses will be horses and I sure wish they could tell me whats going on. I am happy he doesn't seem to be in any pain, still sound. But I am so baffled at whats going on. Our season is put on hold until I sort through this. I just keep wondering how much money it will cost to find an answer, something that just came out of no where.
It was a long post, but it feels good to get this typed out. I'll be back with an update when I get in touch with a vet! :)