I just got home from that long drive up I-5. I need a gin and tonic. I didn’t drive for the fun of a competition this time, but instead to discover why one of my horses was not quite up to par. The long drive from Lake Stevens to Oregon City to see Dr. Mark Revenaugh is never one that I really look forward to, but I know it will bring me some sort of relief, and quite possibly some tears too. It takes me days away from my other horses, my students and my husband, which is never easy, but everyone is on board for supporting one another.
First, let me say that one of the BEST decisions in my entire horse career was to find my vet, Dr. Ron Colton and his team at Evergreen Equine Associates. For the first time in my life, I finally have a person who goes to bat for me and my horses every time that I need him. He knows them, remembers them, relates to them and loves them, and I couldn’t be luckier. If this blog is about anything, it is about the need for a team of professionals to back your riding dreams up so they have a snowball’s chance to succeed.
I count my farriers in this team just as much as I do my vets. Who else intimately knows your horse’s hoof tissue? I certainly don’t! And without a shoe….. you know how the rest goes. I am grateful that I can lean on my farriers, Ruben and Jake, and they continue to support me.
So, back to my long, arduous drive down horrific I-5.
Archie…. Oh Archie, Archie, Archie. Why art thou so difficult? I would love to whine about him and his sensitivity, but in truth, I am grateful that he is letting me know that he is not 100%
My first line of defense is Ron. Call Ron and say: Archie is fully sound, and is moving well, but he just is not right. (This must be a vet’s nightmare sentence to hear!!) Whatever the issue is, its not blockable, and you have to trust me that it is real. So, Ron dutifully comes out and we do a full workup. One of the things I love about Ron’s workups is that they involve riding the horse. Many, many vets are either too much in a hurry, or not as thorough to investigate how the rider’s weight changes the situation. Sure enough, when I am on Archie, only then can Ron point to a leg. To make a very sordid story short, Archie ended up having a gravel/fissure/fracture in his hoof wall that was extremely sensitive to heel pressure. And, cue Ruben the farrier, all was solved!
Or so I thought :/
I managed to have about 2 weeks of good rides before I was back again to “Archie is NQR” (cue the sleepless nights and beer). Since we knew we had a sound horse, I needed my next line of defense: travel to Oregon City to see Drs. Rachel Gottlieb and Mark Revenaugh for a more high tech investigation, i.e. imaging. My rule of thumb is that when an unsoundness or change in personality/work ethic is not solved by the magic of Ron and Gastrogard, then you might consider a bone scan to point to higher, more complicated issues. Backs, necks and SI are all very complicated areas that don’t specificially get solved without imaging. Yes, it is expensive. But I can tell you first hand that lying awake in bed wondering what is wrong with your horse and crying because your ride is yet again, not your usual horse, is a very very expensive way to deplete your mental bank account.
Rachel Gottlieb is one of the most amazing vets in my team. She is Mark Revenaugh’s secret weapon. Within 20 minutes of me calling the office to make an appointment, I get a text saying, “What is wrong with boyfriend??” Which completely melts my heart.
To make the second long, sordid story short, the bone scan did not reveal anying major horrifying soft tissue injury (thank goodness!!). But it did help pinpoint a few areas that are causing Archie pain, and now we can treat those areas. His neck and poll lit up on the scan, and after xrays to determine that nothing was horribly wrong, it was determined that he needs help breaking a pain cycle caused from either a soft tissue injury, over use, or a swimming injury. Who knows why, but at least now we can do something about it. The scan also helped identify that his hind feet are needing a shoeing change. His angles are not good, and I didn’t know this because who xrays the hind feet regularly?? I don’t. Maybe I should, but at least now Ruben can attack it with concrete evidence and help promote future soundness.
So, all in all, I don’t have a lame horse. But, I do have a horse who is a serious competitor and needs some help staying in top form. I also may have prevented future injury to his hind suspensories by catching a faulty angle before it caused soft tissue damage. All in all, I am relieved and grateful. I know more about Archie than I did two days ago, and that can only be a good thing. He is not for sale, and he will stay with me forever, so this is a good investment into him. I look forward to making future BIG deposits into my mental bank account due to him. He is pretty spectacular and worth it.