What a week! Monday we went xc schooling with Blue which was loads of fun, but unfortunately he pulled front and hind shoes from his off side. Luckily we had the farrier due to the next day, and he was sound as a pound (phew) as we were meant to be competing in our first BE90 at West Wilts.
That same evening after being shod, I went to get him in to ride and he'd removed the shoe on his near fore - awesome. On Thursday my lovely patient farrier came back and was in the process of putting the shoe back on when I got a text to say West Wilts was abandoned. Cue swearing! After much grumbling, and unsuccessfully trying to get entries elsewhere (Tweseldown BE90 and Larkhill UA next weekend) I settled on SJ at Cholderton on Sunday.
Today (Friday) I had the vet out, and when I got Blue in for his routine vaccination and his shoe sounded weird - the nails from his shoe were bent underneath and a bit of his hoof had come away where it was nailed. Lucky the vet was there really to take it off for me - bang goes SJ though!
Diagnosis for Ruby
The vet was actually out to see Ruby. Poor little love has been really cold backed of late and unhappy under saddle so I've just kept her ticking over by lunging over poles or in the equi-ami. I've felt for a while that she has not been right; she's been making good progress with gridwork etc, but after having a short break when we moved yards she's been very difficult to ride and reluctant to work in an outline. She would tuck her bum under and scoot forward suddenly like she'd been bitten on the bum, even just when lunging, and didn't like having rugs or saddles on and would dip away violently
After lots of consultation, the vet came to ultrasound her back which was also picked up on the Veterinary Thermal Imaging as a 'hotspot' and where she has been stiff. After lots of preparation and scanning, he asked me to come and have a look and explained what he saw. Just after the wither was fine, but a little further back he found abnormalities on the veterbrae and the overlying ligament; there was scar tissue and swelling, particularly badly on one vertebra, but also mildly on another two. His diagnosis is kissing spines. A horrible phrase to hear but actually - after such a long time with no explanation for her behaviour and difficulty to ride, I'm so relieved. At least we know what we're dealing with now!
He has given her steroid injections into the affected area which, although temporary, should make her feel much more comfortable and therefore allow her to work correctly and build up some topline which will help to cushion the affected area and stop her hollowing and making the problem worse.
After a week off, she'll start back in work with the Equiami and some long reining and see how she goes. We have options as to whether to we go for surgery; the vet said he wasn't keen on removal of some of the vertebrae which is the traditional surgery, but if problems persisted we could consider surgery that involves cutting the interspinous ligament which is much less invasive.
You'd think I'd be gutted by this news, but in truth it's a relief that finally after all this time we know what we're dealing with. I love Ruby to bits, she's such a sweet and loving girl and I've hated seeing her not right and not being able to find the problem despite lots of investigation; I always felt in my gut that there was an underlying problem as she just wasn't 'normal' in her responses when ridden.
I'm looking upon it as a breakthrough rather than bad news. She has her 7th birthday on Sunday...maybe now she can finally get on with her ridden career and be happy and comfortable with it. What an honest little poppet she has been to try! Onwards and upwards.