Ginny is going for a bone scan

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Dec 22, 2008
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She appears sound just pootling round her paddock and during her in-hand walks which vet has advised. But till we block her we won't know really. I am not trotting her up in between vet visits as I want her to rest not keep doing things that hurt. Her general demeanour worries me. She seems down and she has gone back to biting/flattening her ears which had pretty much stopped. She was always at her happiest and most relaxed in work - she never suited periods off work and she hates being stabled too which she is overnight - again at vet advice.
 
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carthorse

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I do think that sometimes you have to look at the whole horse, not just individual problem areas. I find it interesting that despite her problems she was happiest in work, do you have any idea why that was? Why is the vet advising stabling overnight? If she isn't happy with that & there isn't a very good reason for it I'd be inclined to leave out, she's out in the day so what difference is there? I'm really not saying ignore vet advice but it might be worth talking about this to him, not least because an unhappy stressed horse is likely to be tight in it's muscles which in turn can cause problems. Also I wonder if the fact that she's so much happier & more relaxed in work should be factored into the calculations when they're trying to reach a diagnosis & treatment plan.

I do feel for you.
 

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Ok prepare for an essay! Here is the holistic story of Ginny - any ideas more than welcome.

We viewed Ginny as a 5 year old soonnafter she had come over from Ireland when she was with a well respected local dealer. I have since discovered that the dealer sold a known bolter to a nervous child as a bomb proof confidence giver and has a CCJ against her for missellling another horse - so I don't trust her anymore. But anyway she said she had had Ginny for a few weeks (I now know it was less than that as by coincidence her groom liveries her horse where I am). She was grumpy at the viewing but did not try to bite. We were told she pulled faces but never any more than that. She had a head collar on when we arrived. She was foot perfect under saddle at the viewing. She was not friendly but did nothing alarming. She was 5 stage vetted by an independent vet and passed fit for eventing. Vet was unable to perform hind flexions due to her behaviour but vet rang me and said she was a young horse and she was unconcerned about that. Vet also said she was unfit and unmuscled but again she was unconcerned.

Within a day of getting to the new yard she was biting and kicking. She was lunging at people over the stable door. I could not allow Katie to handle her at all. We had to cross tie her to rug/groom etc. You had to put a head collar on her to go into the stable to check hay/refill water buckets etc. However once you got her out of the stable and had a head collar on her she relaxed and her ears were pricked. And she never objected to being mounted and she was willing and forward under saddle. Again ears pricked. No sign of stress or tension..

We assumed this was because she understood the concept of work. So she understood what was expected of her and she was relaxed and confident when worked. And she seemed to love hacking and XC. But she did not really understand the stabling and handling bit. We assumed she had never been stabled, or worn a rug or been stroked etc. So she was territorial in a stable and suspicious of handling that was not directly related to work (tacking up, leading, etc). We thought she did not really 'get' the idea of being stroked. We never punished her or fussed over her - just handled her daily in a matter of fact way and slowly she relaxed. Our yard did not allow 24/7 turn out at that stage as I had not moved into my huge hill-field so she was in at night.

Physically she was poor - malnourished, unfit and weak. She had girth galls and an ulcerated mouth. She ate big mouthfuls of mud. She developed ringworm a few days after arriving. She was snotty and had gunky eyes. She was girthy. She was bullied in the field so we experimented with having her separate but she was happiest out with Amber. But under saddle she was always lovely and she loved to jump.

After several weeks of consistent handling, good grub, treatment for all the various issues, regular physio and a fitness programme she was tonnes better physically. Coat was soft and had a nice sheen, eyes clear, muscling up well and evenly. Her agggression was significantly reduced. She no longer needed to be cross tied for anything other than bathing her. She still hated being stroked but she was fine with basic handling in and out of the stable. She no longer lunged over the stable door. She remained girthy so I had her scoped which was clear.

In February - after 5 months - she started napping in a lesson. She would not move off the leg. Katie was told to 'get after her' and she went forward without too much protest. After that the napping became more frequent. For a few weeks she would be amazing, then she would start to nap. Over time the episodes became worse though in between she was fine. Her napping was purely not moving off the leg and protest bucking/kicking out at leg or whip aids. She never tried to throw Katie off. Her biting behaviour continued to improve and by then she had become quite gentle and affectionate.

I had her checked out by a vet as I was concerned she was feeling her feet which is why she was napping. Nothing was picked up and seasons were considered. I put her on a supplement and started keeping a diary but there was no clear pattern emerging. A few more weeks passed then I had a lesson and the RI said she was not tracking up and not moving freely and she was convinced it was physical. We did the bute trial and she was back to the pony she used to be on bute - forward, willing, no napping. Hence the referral to Leahurst.

She went back to biting/kicking at Leahurst - being away unsettled her I think - and she has not really stopped again since coming home. She is fine with me and Katie but she has gone back to lunging at people she does not know which we have not seen for months. I think Leahurst has made her suspicious of people she does not know.

Re turn out - we are alternating being in/out. She does hoon around a lot out. And she has been known to jump out though not since we have been putting hay in her paddock. But she is out today and unless she starts being silly we will keep her out. The ground is quite hard and she had a very deep soft bed so the idea of being in was to give her feet a little more cushioning, but I agree her mental wellbeing is just as important.

Looking back I think there are 3 related problems:

1) She was not properly socialised to people and is mistrustful/fearful of people in general. Especially when she is just free in a stable as she does not know what we want and can't predict our actions. So she was better as soon as the head collar or tack went on as she knew where she was with direct instruction. This is something we could overcome and I think we were well on the way to that no longer being an issue.
2) She has never been comfortable. She was willing at the viewing despite an ulcerated mouth and girth galls. She was more or less willing despite being significantly lame before we knew there was a problem and she was still in work. So we know she is stoic and honest. So I think her general demeanor reflects a pony who has always been in at least some degree of pain. I said months ago that I was worried about her because I just never felt that she was a contented pony and I did not understand why. I wonder whether other horses bullying her is also to do with their recogntiion that she is physically vulnerable?
3) There was a significant deterioration in whatever is wrong with her in Feb/March and that has continued to now.

I don't know if 2 and 3 are fixable. If she is still as lame as she was when blocked I need to seriously consider her well-being and start thinking the unthinkable. You would not allow a dog lame horse to carry on like that but with bilateral lameness, it is easy just to keep going because they look ok. But she may not be ok at all. :(:(
 
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Jessey

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Everything you describe there, I don't think you could have done much differently or that I would have thought much different in terms of behaviour of a new pony, it takes time to learn their tells especially when they are stoic.

Some ailments are better with exercise, just not too much, if she's paddock sound it might be eventing career ending but not life ending, waiting for that work up/diagnosis is the worst :(
 

OwnedbyChanter

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This is not really helpful at all but if she was fine i would field rest for s good few months to let her poor body relax and unwind let the muscle drop off and allow to relax wherever possible. I would however bring in daily for a hay/feed but more importantly a good groom.

I know you said she doesn’t like it but this daily interaction will be good for her teaching her kindness and trust.

I would also continue with a good sports physio to work on the muscles.

I know this is not what tutu want for Katie but this pony is only five and clearly not had the greatest start.

Just as an aside I couldn’t go in the stable with ginger unless he had s head collar on and he didn’t not like to be groomed. It took over a year to get past that
 

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If she is paddock sound I am more than happy to rest her for an extended period. I'd be happy to retire her forever for that mattter! If she was paddock sound. My fear is I can't even get her paddock sound.
 

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Though actually I do think she prefers to be active.... Katie is doing her rehab daily now and she is really keen to get out. She strides out, ears pricked, full of energy. She seems to really like her little outings. She seems quite well in herself. But she flew round a BE80 XC track 2 weeks before that lesson which started this all off. Her being keen is not an indicator of her being sound.
 
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Bodshi

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I don't know what more you could do for her and I can't think of any ideas as to what could be troubling her. The only thing I can hope is that if she was happy to fly round a xc course 2 wks before the lameness was identified and she is now happy to be going out again, albeit only in-hand walking, maybe the napping wasn't related to the lameness and was a behaviour thing after all, and maybe the rest and rehab will do the trick. Fingers crossed for you all x
 

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@Bodshi I think the napping was lameness related because she stopped napping on bute. By the time we bute trialled her she napped every time we rode - just at the beginning of each ride - but every ride she tried to say no, and then complied when Katie rode her forwards firmly. And that just stopped on Bute.
 

Bodshi

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@Bodshi I think the napping was lameness related because she stopped napping on bute. By the time we bute trialled her she napped every time we rode - just at the beginning of each ride - but every ride she tried to say no, and then complied when Katie rode her forwards firmly. And that just stopped on Bute.
:( worth a shot I suppose. I had the stopping thing with Raf once - only for a couple of days and that's all he did, just randomly stop from time to time. He didn't show any other signs of pain but then he burst bilateral hind abscesses on the coronet band, so it clearly was a pain thing. Don't you just wish they could talk and tell you where they hurt?
 

carthorse

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One thing I wonder about the stabling is that I've sometimes seen the same behaviour in horses that have done lengthy periods of box rest, particularly if it's been combined with painful procedures. I guess you'll never know but I wonder if, despite her young age, some of her problems stem from old damage. If that's the case then I really would try to avoid stabling her at the moment because the effect on her mentally could have a significant physical impact.
 
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Me? I would turn her away for the winter and reassess in the spring. No drugs, shoes off, no exercise, 100% unlimited turnout and see what like in Spring.

Is that possible?
Yes I could but if she is in serious pain why would you want to do that? She was crippled lame when nerve blocked on whichever limb was not blocked. Would you turn a horse on 3 legs away for the winter and just leave it to hobble around? Genuine question as I assume you have realised she is bilaterally lame and looked sound when very lame.
 

Jane&Ziggy

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I think you have done everything you could possibly do for this pony. Given the dealer who sold her, I think she was very lucky to end up with you.

I have no experience to base my opinion on, but my gut tells me that I agree with @OwnedbyChanter and @Frances144 - turn her away for a good long spell and start again from scratch.
 

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Thanks @Jane&Ziggy for kind words.
Regarding turning away I guess the same question to you then? If the nerve blocks show she is in constant pain - which you can't see because it is hidden by the fact it is all 4 limbs - would you still turn away?
 

Cortrasna

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Me? I would turn her away for the winter and reassess in the spring. No drugs, shoes off, no exercise, 100% unlimited turnout and see what like in Spring.

Is that possible?
100 per cent agree - turn away - it is pretty obvious now nothing your or your vets can offer her is helping her - and given how young she is and having personal knowledge of the possible early life of this poor pony , I really dont hold much credence to she is not 'happy' unless she is working - that is just gobbly de gook IMO, horses were not and never have been designed to 'work' their default preference in 99.9 per cent of cases is to revert to their basic inherent genetic disposition and just be a 'horse' if you have the insight and patience to allow them the time to do that, please do so.... and that ridiculous phrase is often used when the horse/pony is very close to taking a bullet. Give her a chance, she deserves that, turn away without shoes, without interference and see what spring says, hopefully her early life here has not damaged her beyond repair. And I agree with an earlier comment continue to interact with her every day even if it is just bringing her in, telling her how wonderful she is and turning her out again. But personally I would not even do that...just begin all over again in the spring...she is just 5 years old for heavens' sake!!!! :eek: and SO much has been asked of her both in Ireland and seemingly since she arrived in the Uk. Poor, poor little pony :(
 

Frances144

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Yes I could but if she is in serious pain why would you want to do that? She was crippled lame when nerve blocked on whichever limb was not blocked. Would you turn a horse on 3 legs away for the winter and just leave it to hobble around? Genuine question as I assume you have realised she is bilaterally lame and looked sound when very lame.
Yes! Have done. Given daily pain control if unable to walk but let the horse determine its own exercise, ie follow the herd at its own speed. Rest at the horse’s own speed.