Dolla Dolla (Vet) Billz Yo

So last week we had the vet out to give Frankie his full head-to-toe eval! Here’s what we found:

  • Fixing the saddle fit gets a thumbs up. The spots in his back that were sore before are much improved. I think it’s also likely that the chiro helped.
  • Keep up the carrot stretches. He’s a tall guy, but more importantly he is a LONG guy. Total long brontosaurus neck. He’s not naturally flexible, so we need to help him by encouraging him to stretch. As a side note- Frankie seems to really love his stretches! I don’t even have to use a cookie or anything, I just snap a little where I want his nose, and he comes sniffing around. He gets lots of face scratches as a reward. I thought he would lose interest once I stopped using cookies to bribe him, but he’ll ignore all distractions and even his hay to do his stretches with me. Sweet boy.
  • His SI joint needed some happy juice…like, yesterday. This was a big big ouchie point for him. I’m not super surprised since he got it done last May, so we’re coming up on a year. I think we may switch to a 9mo schedule instead of the full year though, so we don’t get to the point where he’s this sore. Poor guy.
  • The lameness locator picked up just a hint of something in his right hind when he’s traveling to the left (I’m going to ask for more detailed results of this so I can share with you, I think it’s such interesting technology!). This is the same leg that has mild arthritis in his hock- we found that in his pre-purchase exam. While we knew this was likely to just be a progression of that arthritis due to work and age, we decided to go ahead and do an ultrasound to completely rule out any sort of soft tissue injury on that leg. The vet said that his suspensory looked totally fine, so we decided to inject his hocks to keep him more comfortable there. We have a few other ideas just in case this doesn’t get him feeling 100%, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it- the vet is pretty confident that this will do the trick.
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Handsome boy bein’ sweet

I have a lot of feelings about all of this. On the one hand, I’m so so so glad we’re doing all of this BEFORE Frankie takes a bad step. He has been cheerfully coming out of his stall and doing his job without protest, so we didn’t wait until he was demonstratively off. He’s had a quiet schedule since Ohio, so he hasn’t had to work too hard in a while. I’m also INCREDIBLY relieved that we were able to rule out soft tissue injury, and that all he needed was some more aggressive maintenance.

On the other hand, my poor boy has been sore in a couple areas- his back from my saddle not fitting properly anymore, his SI from needing support, and his hocks from the arthritis. The few stops we got in Ohio make more sense now- they were not unreasonable stops and not dirty at all, but you all know it’s very unlike Francis to stop EVER. Between the SI and the hocks, it was probably just too uncomfortable for him to really rock his weight back when I got him to a tough spot.

So there’s definitely a mixture of relief at finding this early while it’s all still very manageable and treatable, guilt at not figuring it out earlier, and more guilt at letting this happen at all. I don’t know how I expected to halt the progress of arthritis, but we’re not always logical when it comes to our horses, right?! This was definitely a useful learning experience on what he needs from me and how often he needs it.

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His face hole is also healing well, so we’ll put his noseband back on shortly. Could he have a sweeter expression??

He’s been on a long-low-stretchy routine lately while we’ve been scanning him, and will be on light work a little while longer as we do this series of injections, but luckily after that we should be cleared for full work! It looks like I’ll need to take a show off the calendar to pay for all this, but that means I’ll have a happy, healthy horse. And with all that bouncy juice running through his veins, I’m guessing I’ll have a happy healthy horse with MAD ups. #blessed

Yet again, I am so so so grateful for my trainers. Assistant Trainer was the one who thought it would be a good idea to get him scanned, she arranged the vet visits and coordinated the whole thing, and kept me in the loop throughout the whole process. Her standards of horsemanship and care are second to none, and Frankie and I are so lucky to work with such a great role model!

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Bouncy Juice

Francis has the bouncy juice!

Myself along with the rest of Frankie’s healthcare team have been talking preventative maintenance for a while, and decided that spring would be when we made a decision on what to do. We know that Frankie is very sound, we manage his schedule carefully so he doesn’t get over-jumped, and he’s never shown any sort of discomfort with his job. And we also know that we very much never want him to deal with discomfort if we can avoid it.

So after consulting with my trainer, my vet (who btw I LOVE because he is brilliant and cares so much and is genuinely the nicest guy) and consulting my bank account, we decided to go ahead with an SI injection last week after we got back from the show. Frankie also got his sheath cleaned while he was doped up, ha ha bro deal with the indignity.

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WHAT DIGNITY

But back to the bouncy juice.

Frankie got several days off post-injection, just getting some groomings from Yours Truly. I then had a barn kid hop on him while I was out of town for the weekend to flat him around and let him start getting back into work after a solid week off post-show- he never gets kooky after time off so I wasn’t worried about him. He got a very good report card and lots of loving from his little friend! (She’s not so little really, she’s got super long legs and fits him fantastically. She loves Frankie, Frankie loves her, and I have a trusted barn rat to hop on when I can’t get to the barn. We all win.)

And then we had a lesson yesterday to start pressing some buttons and see how he’s doing! It was a very low-key lesson, nothing crazy. Pretty basic WTC warmup, I threw in a couple leg-yields to get him off my leg FRANKLIN. But his canter felt really fantastic! I’ve always loved his canter of course, but he had some great “bounce” to his step yesterday.

We tried out a couple courses- again, nothing crazy. At their highest I don’t think anything topped 3’ish (though what do I know) and the courses themselves were pretty simple. A couple singles, a bending line, a long approach oxer, all very comfortable. We got some cute jumps!

In the past we’ve gotten sub-par jumping efforts when we ask him to take off from a closer spot- he leans his body to give himself some room, legs go askew, basically he loses track of his body and flings himself across the jump. That’s a bit dramatic- it’s not all that bad and he’s not that contorted. But not great usage of his body.

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Um.

 

But I asked for the base to pretty much every jump last night (c’mon dude they’re not that big, you can trot these fences) and he gave some great lift through his shoulder and used his neck and back more! I don’t think this was due entirely to the injection- we’ve worked hard to build fitness and education, and he gave some lovely efforts at the show last weekend- but I do think increased comfort in his movement is only a good thing.

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Close spot! Jumping like a normal horse instead of a deer-llama!

I know I’m a broken record on this, but I really am thrilled with how Frankie continues to get better and better. We’ve worked hard to build fitness and muscle, we’ve worked hard to educate him on his job, we’re doing everything in our power to make sure he is healthy and comfortable, and he is responding to our efforts with a wonderful work ethic. It’s really a pleasure working with my trainers to mold Frankie’s natural athleticism into such a fun sporthorse.

I’m not sorry about being a broken record. Frankie is my unicorn.

I know some of you have gone the SI-injection route. What did you think? Did you notice a difference?