adventures with the vet · shoes · surgery · Uncategorized

Footgate 2018, the continuing saga

So. You probably forgot (I know I was trying to) among all the OTHER things that have gone on in the last three months that as of August, Tristan is back in shoes. Which is both budget- and soul-crushing for me.

The good news, I guess: they’ve worked exactly as they were supposed to. He’s clearly a touch more comfortable (not, like, dramatically, but he’s got a bit more float in his trot, and he’s a bit more willing to go forward). And his foot is clearly more stable.

When he was at the hospital, we had the surgeon (the same one who did his surgery 6 years ago) look closely at the foot with an eye to everything we’ve been talking about.

The surgeon’s takeaway was that he wasn’t surprised at all that the sole was growing back differently; that was just an inevitable consequence of surgery on the foot.

Interestingly, though, is that he was not nearly as concerned as the farrier was about the line of bacteria that was getting up into the foot. He felt that unless and until Tris was lame he would not worry about it.


I’m not entirely comfortable with “horse goes lame” as an indicator of problems when we have visual evidence for impending problems, but it’s at least a useful thing to keep in mind for how far we have to go before we start to really freak out.

So we’re still on the wait and see path. Specifically, we’ll wait until the foot grows back down to the toe with decent sole again, filling in the hole that the farrier had to keep cutting back. Then, once it does so, we’re going to sale the toe with Hoof Armor.

Image result for hoof armor

Farrier is a touch skeptical. I did a fair amount of back-and-forth emailing with the company owners and some sleuthing in endurance forums (where this product is most frequently used) and I think in our conditions, for our application, it has a decent chance of success.

Though it’s intended to protect sensitive soles on tough terrain, we’d be using it to simply create a barrier between the ground (and bacteria) and the funky scar tissue spot on his sole. The hope is that re-applying it periodically will keep it refreshed. It’s supposed to last from trim to trim, but I’m not counting on anything. If need be, I can rasp it off and re-apply every two weeks or so.

We’ll see. I’ll definitely report back whenever it is we get to this point – it will most likely be later in the winter, as he’s got a decent amount of sole to regrow.

In other foot issues, his hind foot heel grab is healing up more or less fine. Some proud flesh, but the nascent infection has been kicked to the curb. I’m still re-wrapping every two days and swapping back and forth between the antibiotic cream and the steroid cream, like we did with the front foot. So far our theory of “it will heal better if we jump on it quickly and it’s not so damn hot and humid” has proved true. Like the front foot, he hasn’t taken a lame step on it. Except when I scrub it down before re-wrapping (which I’m sure stings) he doesn’t even know it’s there.

Bottom left is last Friday. These were taken roughly at each re-wrapping so represent about 10 days of healing. WAY faster than the stupid RF.



adventures with the vet · Uncategorized

No Black Stallion Recap This Week

Sorry! I did read and make notes on The Black Stallion and Flame (spoilers: it’s the Black’s SECOND plane crash and also there’s a rabid vampire bat and it’s also the Black’s second fight to the death against a random animal but I’m not going to tell you what animal, you’ll have to live in suspense.)  But for obvious reasons I have barely had time to breathe this week. Let’s not even talk about the state of my bathrooms and kitchen.

So, next week. Wait for it.

In the meantime, Tristan is still doing well; he’s getting a bit of turnout in a dry paddock today, and is getting a little bit more hay. He’s not drinking as well as he should be so we’re soaking hay and grain, but still acting normally, and having a little bit more manure at slightly more regular intervals.


Oh, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t say also that if you’ve got a moment, please check out the Etsy shop and maybe recommend it to your friends? It kind of goes without saying that this week basically wiped out large swathes of my savings accounts. But I’ll say it anyway, because ouch.

adventures with the vet · Uncategorized

Sometimes, nightmares come true too

I don’t have the time or the energy for a full update, but here it is in brief.


On Sunday night, Tristan started colicking. Banamine and gastroguard at the barn did nothing. The vet arrived, and more drugs (more banamine, buscopan, dormosedan) and a rectal and three hours of walking did nothing. His heartrate and respiration kept going up and up. He could not stand still for more than a few seconds at a time without trying to go down.

We put him on the trailer at 1am to head to the clinic, and on the drive there I worked hard to get myself ready to make the worst decision. It seemed pretty clear that he would either get off the trailer to go into surgery – or not. I knew, by the time we arrived, that my answer would be no, for a lot of reasons.

Against all odds, he walked off the trailer looking a little bit better. His vitals started to stabilize. We held off on any decisions, and he made slow but steady improvements through Monday, then through Tuesday.

img_4671Staying up all night scaring everyone to death is EXHAUSTING.

Today, he’s coming home. Everything aligned perfectly – he had the best possible people taking the best possible care of him, and every single lucky break went his way. I am exhausted, emotional, and profoundly grateful.

To everyone who followed along on social media and commented or even liked a photo: thank you, from the bottom of my heart. It really, really helped. Thank you.

adventures with the vet · Uncategorized

Footgate 2018 Update

Finally, some news trending positive!

Well, ish.


I texted the picture from my last update to the vet, and since she was coming out a day later to look at another horse, she tagged Tristan on to that visit.

Never a good sign when the vet’s immediate response to your photo is “yes, I’ll see him ASAP.”

I could not get away from work, but by reports she was happier with it than she had expected to be, but the bell boot rub on his pastern was not great. She poked and prodded and said that now she was worried about summer sores. Of course. So he got some deworming treatment to apply directly to the wound.

That was 6 days ago, and we’ve been doing regular bandage changes and treatments since. Because part of the heel grab was right on the coronet band, that’s opened up a bit – much like if he’d blown an abscess there. So he’s getting some stuff squirted into that hole, too, to keep it clean.

Even with all of that, though, yesterday’s bandage change showed progress.


So, yeah! It still looks pretty gross but it is actually better. There’s real new skin and everything. We’ve got a ways to go yet but it’s encouraging to see it on the mend.

As for the toe hole…that’s stalled out a bit. Yesterday was his one month since getting the hole dug out. We had a brief email chain with the farrier, surgeon, and my vet talking through next steps that I think resolved in favor of treating for white line? But it’s really kind of unclear. I shot another email off to the farrier asking another treatment question and saying I’d love to talk and see what he thinks the next time he trims him. He remains sound. No outer indications of any other problems.

I’m guessing at least two solid weeks more of healing on his foot wounds, at least. Probably a little more. The vet said if we wanted it to really heal as fast as possible we’d cast his foot and put him on stall rest. Obviously that’s out of the question! So the slower healing time means he still gets turnout, still gets treated normally except for having it wrapped. I did ask her about putting him back into work and she was really iffy. It’s a high mobility area of his leg and each step would stretch the skin over and over. So I opted to just continue to let him be off.


Sadly, this is what his back looks like right now. Topline gone. Hay belly. Still shiny, still decent muscle tone, but horribly out of shape. Cushings sucks. This is after about 3 weeks out from full work. I grant you, he did not have a perfect topline before, but he had something, at least.

Anyway. Onward and upward. Keep buying more supplies, keep taking care of him, and I have my fingers crossed for September.


adventures with the vet · Uncategorized

Footgate 2018, Week Two

When last we left our intrepid asshole horse, he spent an afternoon with the vet getting poked, prodded, x-rayed, and prescribed several different medications. Then followed a week of every-other-day bandage changes and both topical and oral antibiotics, as well as sending off the x-rays to both the farrier and Tristan’s original surgeon.

Even before 30 SMZ pills a day, Tristan had decided that pills were poison, so getting all his meds into him has not been fun. For the first three days, I mixed everything together with applesauce and then syringed it down his throat. That sucked.


On day 4, I realized I could put at least the allergy pills inside peppermint lifesavers, so that meant I could get all the SMZ pills in one syringe. That worked through day 6, and then on the afternoon of day 6 I bought a bucket of Dimples Horse Treats at a local tack store and HOLY SHIT YOU GUYS. Overnight change – I got all his allergy pills in one of them, and his SMZs spread across three others. I still had to dissolve the SMZ pills, but having him look forward to seeing me instead of hiding in the back of his stall was amazing. Let me be clear: It’s not like I wasn’t trying everything else under the sun alongside the syringe. He was just having none of it. So, huge quality of life improvement there.

What about the actual foot? Well, the x-rays came in, and they still look pretty good. We’re waiting on the surgeon and farrier to weigh in, still, but when you put them side-by-side with his original surgery x-rays you can pretty clearly see the coffin bone looks better, at least.

left is immediately post-surgery, right is last week

So no real update other than what you can see in the x-rays, which is that the overall foot structure looks pretty darn good!

That heel grab, though…sigh.


Yeah. That is basically the picture next to the definition of proud flesh in the dictionary. Which is obviously not great news.

So, he gets daily bandage changes through Friday, and since the infection is gone, he switches over to a steroid cream to hopefully fight the proud flesh back. On Friday afternoon, we’ll re-assess, and if it continues the vet wants to come out next week and cut it back.

One. Stupid. Heel. Grab.

adventures with the vet · Uncategorized

What the vet found

Short answer: foot is probably fine, but heel is not. Surprise!

Okay, and now for the long answer.

We started off right away with the vet pulling off Tristan’s heel bandage and blanching at what she saw – which I did, too. It did not look good. I knew that it wasn’t doing great, but it was several shades of not good worse than I had anticipated.

We set the heel aside for a moment, however, to take a good deep look at the problem child foot. I laid out what the farrier had told me – he believed there was scar tissue preventing the sole from growing well in that spot – and asked her what she thought.

IMG_4013reminder of what the foot looks like right now

Almost instantly, she said she thought it looked like white line disease – not a problem of the foot itself. But she also said that she’s not a farrier, and we should get foot shots juuuuuust to be sure.

IMG_4128without question the most radiographed foot in the history of horse feet

Sooooooo we did! Many of them!


We also got shots of the left front for comparison, because findings from the x-rays were as follows:

  • holy shit does his foot actually look good?
  • let’s take another shot to be sure
  • god damn, look at that coffin bone, it might actually have remodeled
  • shit, that is a really deep hole
  • you know what, though, nothing else is cropping up
  • hmmmmmmm, his toe looks longer than we’d like to see it.

Vet and I formed a preliminary hypothesis – which is what was in the back of my mind – that his toe is too long, and that’s leading to just a touch of separation at the toe, which is leading to white line. That toe will always be more susceptible to fuckery because there is still a scar at the hoof wall. And it may be that the toe just needs to be brought back further than the farrier would take it based on external evidence because of the abnormality in the hoof wall.

IMG_4070lateral view from a week ago: a little tough to follow the lines properly because of the wrap, but you can actually if you look closely see the slight bulge of the scar and maybe that the toe is a touch long

Overall, though? Actually less worried about the foot.

That said, vet is sending the rads off to both the farrier and Tristan’s surgeon because she is the very best and wants everyone in the loop. I’ll wait and see what the farrier has to say, but the meantime prep is to keep the hole clean, spray Blu-Kote in it, and pack it as possible.

My usual treatment for white line disease would be to nuke it with White Lightning, but that’s not possible right now because, well, that heel grab (which I will have you know I just mistyped as “hell grab”) is really not in good shape.

IMG_4061a week and two days ago


Why yes that IS both a raging infection AND proud flesh on both the heel grab AND the rub from the bell boot. BECAUSE WHY DO ANYTHING HALFWAY, TRISTAN.


Vet was not thrilled at. all. We spent almost as much time talking through a treatment plan for the heel grab as we did for the foot.

Going forward:

  • wrapped 24/7, changed every 2 days
  • heavy-duty antibiotic cream on both wounds until they’re good quality pink flesh again
  • oral antibiotics for 8 days
  • once the wounds start looking marginally healthy, swap between the antibiotic cream and a steroid cream to fight proud flesh
  • fingers crossed?

So yeah that’s great. Not.

I reminded everyone cheerfully that it’s been almost a year since his last epic vet adventure, to which the vet shook her head and said “I see all these animals in crappy pastures that no one has touched in months and they’re in perfect health, and then I come see your horse, who is so immaculately cared for, and he’s always doing something.”

(that said she does have a soft spot a mile wide for him, she grew up in California and had a red roan mustang, so she genuinely thinks he’s great)

Syringing meds 2x a day is still the plan going forward, though, tiny bright spot, he’s at least eating his cup of alfalfa again – not the multivitamin supplement – so there may be a future in which he at least eats his Prascend in his grain once summer is over and the allergy meds can go away.

But in the meantime, he’s now up to 25 pills at each feeding, which is, count ’em, THREE 60cc syringes’ worth of dissolved drugs. I loaded up on applesauce now that we’re doing this longterm, and last night he did at least seem to tolerate that a bit better than the water+jello, so that’s not nothing.

HORSES. *facepalm*

adventures with the vet · Uncategorized

When it rains, it pours

Also an apt description of our weather for the past 10 days or so, after several weeks of brutally hot and dry weather. Yay climate change?

Anyway, when last we left our intrepid mustang, he had a funky spot on his sole in the same place as his old surgery scar.

In rapid succession, last week after I wrote and published that post, a heel grab that he’d done a few days previous started to get worse, and he went on a hunger strike against his grain, which meant he wasn’t getting his meds, which meant his hives came back.

First, the heel grab. It was fairly run of the mill last weekend, and for my lesson on Monday we covered it up with alushield and a bell boot and it was fine. He went out in bell boots the next day…and came in with a rub from them on his pastern.


Not catastrophic, but not great, right?

Well. Between the humidity & wet rain, and I don’t even know what idiocy, it got worse. It kept opening up, and kept bleeding. The coronet band below got white and soft. Kept bleeding. We kept chasing it but finally had to start wrapping it, and as of today, it’s still not really healing. It’s not getting worse anymore, but it’s pretty definitively not great.


Around day 3 of the heel grab just not cooperating, he started truly and definitively refusing to eat his grain. Now, in one sense, that’s not a huge problem; he’s on the chubby side of where he should be just from hay and grass, and when I say grain I mean “a cup of alfalfa and half a cup of ration balancer” and really it was mostly intended to hide his allergy pills, because remember how he has to be on allergy meds all summer or he breaks out in hives?

Yeah, well, no grain, no meds, hello again hives! So starting Friday night, I’ve been going to the barn in the morning and evening and dissolving his pills in some water with Jello powder and syringing them down his stupid throat. Which we are both enjoying just as much as you might imagine! He’s always been really bad about taking meds orally – he’s a total pain to deworm. No coaxing, positive reinforcement, patience, or anything else has ever changed it, nor will it ever. The only thing that works is to grab his halter, and if he is being extra asshole-y, snapping the halter hard once to remind him who’s in charge, and getting it over with quickly.


the face of a horse who is very carefully ignoring me

In good (?) news, I chatted back and forth with my sainted vet last week, and she’s going to be in the area tomorrow, so I took the day off from work and we are going to go to town on him. Initially, she thought she was just looking at the funky spot on his hoof, doing a lameness exam, some x-rays, and maybe a venogram (short aside, I am struggling with the venogram because on the one hand $$$ but on the other hand my brain keeps going THAT SOUNDS SO COOL!!!!!).

Little did she know that she’d also be trying to find us new allergy meds (maybe a powder?) and looking at a heel grab that the barn manager is increasingly worried about getting infected because IT JUST WON’T STOP FUCKING BLEEDING.


the barn manager does a damn fine wrap

I am a little on edge and fed up with life right now, is what I’m saying. I’m trying to channel into other things, but with yet another week of no riding, my hopes of competing at First Level in September and not completely embarrassing myself are starting to fade.

adventures with the vet · Uncategorized

Much Ado About Nothing

Okay, not nothing. But relatively speaking – a nonissue.

When last we left our intrepid little mustang, he was pretty off in his RF after a recent shoeing.

So, after much back and forth with the farrier and the vet, we formed a plan and executed it.

The farrier pulled off Tristan’s shoes and looked closely. He had a couple of possible ideas for what it might be, some of which were eliminated pretty quickly. It wasn’t a bad nail or a thin sole. It didn’t seem to be anything related to the usual trouble spot – the scar tissue & bad growth from the old surgery/abscess.


What he did find, however, was some pretty extreme frog sensitivity. Not from thrush or contracted heels – the frogs looked pretty darn good, nicely broad, tough, and uninfected. Angles were all good.

See, when Tristan started his shoes, the farrier did pour-in packing and a pad with a triangle wedge of frog support. He was worried that a horse who had been used to barefoot for so long would need to mimic that ground contact as closely as possible in a shoe.

But now it looks like that frog support is too much – it was fine the first few cycles, but has turned up a problem in the last two.

We still kept our appointment with the vet to do x-rays…which turned out to be a bust, as her machine is on the fritz.


He did stand awfully adorably for the vet to keep trying to make the machine work, though! And don’t those blocks do great things for his topline?

Since he had the shoes pulled, and since he’d just had his feet trimmed, the farrier was worried about turnout without shoes. Not that he’d hurt – he trotted gorgeously sound for the vet, of course, all barefoot. But that he’d chip his foot and the farrier would have a hard time getting a shoe back on without any foot left to trim.


Enter baby’s first pair of boots! I know, I’ve had a (mostly) barefoot horse for over a decade and this is the first time I’ve booted him. (Except for the hospital boots after surgery, which I don’t think counts; those were more like fancy expensive bandages.)

The barn manager had these and thankfully she was willing to sort through her stash and find some that fit him, and her stash had a pair that fit him really, really well. Like, so well I’m thinking about buying a pair. (But mostly talking myself out of it because let’s be real he’s going back in shoes soon and I just don’t need them that much.)


Still, if anyone can ID them for me I’d be grateful. Just for future reference. Some kind of Easy Boot, but which one?

Anyway, long meandering story short, today I talked further with the vet and farrier both. Vet’s machine is still on the fritz, and farrier and I both want the shoes back on ASAP. The only view we can’t get with shoes on is navicular, and the vet feels very strongly that’s not what we’re looking at here. She tends to agree with the farrier that it’s frog pain from the pads.

So he’s getting his shoes on Wednesday sans frog support, and the vet will do lateral views of his feet when her machine gets fixed. Which will still provide helpful baseline information, no matter what.

And if he goes sound with the plain pad & packing, and stays sound, we have our answer.

Which, all in all, is actually a really damn good outcome here. It’s the cheapest, easiest solution that’s not actually a long-term issue. I’d rather it hadn’t resulted in two weeks off from work but let’s be real, I’m not exactly training for Rolex, here. He’s happy to hang out, I’m happy to groom and fuss over him, and when he gets his shoes back on we’ll see what there is to see.

adventures with the vet

Chiropractor Results


Thanks to everyone who weighed in yesterday, it was all very useful.

The bottom line: Tristan’s fine.

His back was pretty darn loose, only minorly locked up.

His biggest points of tension were in his neck, mostly on the left side.

He tolerated the adjustments exceptionally well.

Overall, the vet (who had seen him once, ten years ago, at a different barn, but understandably did not remember either of us) said “you have the healthiest senior mustang around.”

That’s good news!

I do feel somewhat conflicted, though.

Now the answer is, as always, “ride better.”

It would have at least satisfied something if I’d spent a pretty good chunk of money (more than my monthly grocery budget; money I had set aside to buy new tall boots) and found and fixed a problem.

mostly he wanted a nap

I don’t blame the vet for that, though. Getting the news that your horse is in terrific shape considering his age and his general health setbacks is reassuring, and for that if nothing else, I’m glad we did it.

But yeah.

Ride better.

Gotta work on that.

adventures with the vet

What to expect from a chiropractic appointment?

In the last few weeks, I’ve noticed two things about Tristan.

First, he’s tracking up evenly behind for the first time in a very long time. Years, perhaps. I actually trotted him out for the vet this spring to see if she had anything to say about it. She thought it was perhaps some arthritis but mostly weakness and over-protecting. So I focused hard on getting both hind legs to step under in all of our work, and I stepped up our time on hills. It seems like that’s been successful!

Second, less positive, I’m hearing a popping sound from behind the saddle. Now: Tristan’s front legs have snap-crackle-popped for years when I lift them to pick up his feet. His joints just seem prone to air bubbles (apparently what that noise is) and it’s never directly correlated to weakness or pain. Multiple vets and the internet have told me it’s not a symptom in and of itself. I think it’s lower back, but it could be stifle.

However, he’s also been more sour in his warmup lately. Even as he’s tracking up better, reaching better, using his back better, he’s also stiffer through his warmup. More flailing. More reluctance to trot initially, and that’s a rock and a hard place for me: if I don’t push him to be forward right from the first step, I never get it. So when I push him to be forward, he’s unhappy but it results in a better ride after the warmup; when I let him shuffle along slowly until he’s more responsive, it’s a shit ride from start to end but at least he’s a bit happier at the beginning.

the goober in question after a recent dressage ride

Anyway, this is a long way of saying that I have finally pulled the trigger on something I’ve thought about for a while now: scheduling a chiropractic assessment and adjustment. Vet is coming out tomorrow.

I’ve never had it done before. I haven’t had time to properly research it. I just know that a) it’s helped me a lot in the past b) a lot of people in blogland swear by it and c) the ways in which he is exhibiting sourness make me think it’s not a muscle soreness but a stiffness.

So, I crowdsource this: what should I expect? He’s generally stoic about pain; will he be too sore to ride after the appointment? Have you seen a huge difference in your horses, or no difference? Anyone with senior horses who uses chiro? Anything I should make sure to ask or discuss with the vet?

Obviously this will all be a conversation with the vet tomorrow too, but I’m fiddling my thumbs anxiously and hoping I’ve done the right thing so would like some opinions before we talk!