Today when the vet was out to give Panama his fall shots, I told him about Panama's recent reluctance to let me pick his front left hoof. He said the same thing Kate had suggested — that it could actually be that he didn't want to shift the weight to the other foot. He had me pick up his front left, and determined that it was actually that leg that was the problem. He said if the horse gets increasingly more agitated, it's usually that the foot they are standing on that hurts, because the longer they have to keep all their weight on the other leg, the more it hurts.
My vet laid out my options: He said we could do nothing and hope it went away, do just a basic exam, or do it all (including x-rays). I decided on a basic exam and we'd take it from there.
First the vet cleaned out the hoof: no sign of thrush. Then he pulled out his hoof testers and looked for problems with the foot. Nothing, so he continued up to the joints.
First he had me trot Panama away from him. He didn't see anything, so he manipulated the lower joints (canon?, pastern, and fetlock) on his front left. Panama didn't seem to mind. Then the vet told me he was going to flex each joint, hold some pressure on it for a short period, and then put the foot down. I was to immediately trot Panama away from him as soon as he put the foot down.
When he started flexing the fetlock pretty hard, Panama immediately got rather agitated. He shifted around (he is remarkably agile on just three legs, and can even balance on two diagonal legs for brief periods) and even tried to pull away. Then the vet put the foot down and had me trot Panama away from him immediately. After I trotted Panama, he said, "We got a little bit of something there."
He still checked the knee, elbow, and shoulder on the left, even though he said he was pretty sure we'd already found the problem. Then he checked the front right out too. Panama was completely unbothered when he flexed the front right fetlock, with none of the agitation he'd shown on the left.
So the verdict is that I am not to ride him, lunge him, or turn him out for two weeks. At that time, if he's still showing signs of discomfort, we'll take the next step — x-rays to determine the problem, it sounds like.
I find this timing very interesting. I was just thinking on Friday that lately I've been riding every time I visit Panama, which tends to make me start feeling like I'm "using" him by not spending quality time with him on the ground. I start feeling like I'm not connecting as well with him, and it had actually occurred to me that this might be having an effect on his behavior, too.
So I guess I now have two weeks to, er, reignite the romance in our relationship. I plan on doing a lot of grooming and "just hanging out," though I think we'll also work on things like patience while leading and walking into the indoor sections without hesitation, just to be sure we do something productive with our time.
Interestingly, the vet did say that Panama looks physically better than he's ever seen him before. He commented on Panama having grown, and that his pot belly is gone. Not long ago, I blogged about how grown up Panama is looking, so it was good to hear that my vet thinks he is looking good, too. At least it wasn't all bad news today!
Labels: horse care