I still feel like, to a certain degree, I’m still processing the news that I got yesterday. I know what’s happening, what I have to do now, and what I will eventually have to do. I knew that I would probably get the news that I did, but I was hoping and praying that I wouldn’t. I expected it, but I didn’t want it.
Orion has a tendon/suspensory problem. He’s not too bothered by it, but it’s there. It may be part of the reason why he reacted the way he did the day I tried to get on him at the new place. From what I understand about DSLD, which wasn’t officially diagnosed but has a good possibility of being what he has, it’s always there, but there are good days and bad days. That may have been a bad day, and because he’s such a chill horse most of the time, he just wasn’t letting on that anything was bothering him. Heck, even yesterday when the vet was messing with his legs and really cranking down on his tendons in places, he couldn’t have cared less. He just stood there, calm as could be, sometimes nuzzling Sara, me, and at times, the vet herself, loving on everyone and just being his usual loves the world self.
So he is okay for now. There are a couple things that I am going to add to his regimen that weren’t there before, such as putting a bar shoe on both front feet to help take some of the strain off of his suspensories, and starting him on Biotin as a supplement. Both were suggested by his vet. Also suggested by her were things that we’ve already been doing in an effort to try to reverse what had been done (I know now that these things will never actually reverse it, but they will/are helping make him more comfortable), such as lowering his heels (his farrier has been doing this, and I had planned to start doing it myself in between farrier visits this summer), using SMB boots or polo wraps for added support when doing anything with him (I’ve done this from the beginning, first with polos and starting a couple years ago with SMBs), and keeping him at a healthy weight so that he doesn’t have any extra unneeded strain on his legs. His weight hasn’t been an issue until recently. He was at a pretty healthy normal weight until the last few months, at which point he’s started to turn into a regular chunkmeister. Until I can ride again and when my arm is strong enough to deal with it, he’s going to start walking with me everywhere. If I can get a friend to come walk with me before my arm is strong enough, he can walk then too, with them leading him.
He can still be ridden at a walk as long as it doesn’t bother him and he doesn’t come up lame because of it. We rarely went above a trot when riding anyway, and even that wasn’t often, so this isn’t a big concession. I’ve always been super paranoid about what I do with him because of his previous tendon issues, so I guess in hindsight, that’s a very good thing. And the fact that he can still be ridden is good, because that means I have another means of exercising him besides hand-walking and lungeing.
She also left me with a tube of bute and instructed me to give him a gram of it if he seemed to be in pain. No more than four grams a day, but if it gets to the point that he needs more than even two grams, I’m to call her and let her know. At that point, it might be time to re-evaluate.
In talking to Liz yesterday, we contemplated the possibility that he’s always had this condition. She was looking at pictures from the first day she met him, before getting him, and said that even then, his fetlocks looked “wonky”, though nowhere near as severe as they are now. It wasn’t enough that anyone really took notice until the last year or two, and it didn’t drastically become worse until the first half of this year. Throughout it all, he hasn’t seemed bothered by it and has never come up lame because of it; for now, it just looks bad. If he did have it before she got him though, it would definitely explain why he broke down as badly as he did while they were training.
Following that same train of thought, it makes me wonder if the reason he is a “left-handed” horse is because of this as well. He’s always preferred going in a counter-clockwise circle when we lunge and put up a huge fuss about going clockwise. The same goes for turning when riding. He majorly prefers turning to his left over his right. His right leg was the one that was ouchier during the vet visit yesterday, and if I’m remembering correctly, it took the right leg a little longer to fully heal when he had his tendon injuries. I never put two and two together, but with this new bit of information, it really makes me wonder.
Later on we might do some ultrasounds to have something to refer to as it gets worse, but at this point, they would have shown the same thing no matter what actually is going on. There would be disruptions and abnormalities in his tendons and suspensories because it’s already obvious something is going on. On top of that, we didn’t have enough electricity to run an ultrasound yesterday, so next time I’m going to find somewhere that we can hook up the machine just for those shots of his legs. Regardless of what the ultrasound showed, the treatment would have been the same, so there really wasn’t any vital information lost by not doing them.
So that’s pretty much all there is to know for now. I’m going to start cracking down on his diet, exercise, and these things with his feet (shoes will go in the few couple weeks). But above all, I’m going to love the crap out of him even more than I normally do and make sure he has the best life he can possibly have for as long as he is happy and can be made comfortable. I hope that this is a period of years, but no matter how long he’s still here for, I’m going to make the most of the time that I have with him.