Sunday, April 10, 2011

Kate goes to the Vet

So this Friday I loaded Kately up and took her on an hour and 45 minute drive to Southern Rangitiki Vet Services where they have an excellent equine clinic. The lengths I got to eh! She was really such a saint of a horse. I couldn't have been happier with how she behaved. Everyone loved her because despite the fact there wasn't a single other horse around her, she was quiet and biddable and did everything asked of her. So we started with a normal walk and trot up the breezeway. (I was a little hungover and I have to say the running was doing me in) On a positive note at least the sun was out there. It was a beautiful sunny Autumn day while at home it was overcast but absolutely freezing.

Now to recap, Kate has been stopping at fences even when I get a good ride, cranky under saddle and uneven until she warms up and reluctant to go forward. She has been missing some flying changes and cross firing a bit so I suspected that the issue was in her hocks, though she does throw some short strides on her right fore, which I though was because the issue was in her opposite hind, or because she needed her back done. Can you see where this is going? Lunged her on concrete on an 8m circle walk/trot and then we lunged on a big circle trot/canter and while she wasn't really positively lame, she looked clearly uncomfortable. Then we flexioned her and she only flexioned positively on the right fore- about a 101.5/5 lameness. (More running!!!)

Then we I got on and rode her at the canter on the packed lime carpark at the canter and trotted some small figure 8s. The vet then said that he thought the issue was in the right fore which was pretty, obvious after all of this poking and prodding and not her hocks at all. I was just like yea well thats why I'm here, you know more than I do. The problem being in her foreleg could just as easily cause the same issues I'm seeing in her as she tries to avoid waiting that foreleg. I have never really dealt with a horse with a low grade constant lameness, so I guess there is no shame in being wrong but I do still feel a bit dumb!

Then it was time for palpated and Kate clearly reacted when he got to the knee. The Vet was very confident she had a case of DKS- Dicky knee syndrome. It's common in racehorses but not in jumpers so go figure. Then the next stage is to either take that information and think about it or get x-rays which would cost me about $250. It's a funny timing to take her to the vet because I always planned to just turn her out for the winter and start again next Spring, but I needed to take her to the vet while she was still in work and the problem was still aggravated and obvious, even though any treatment would probably wait until the next Spring. One of the major reasons I took Kate there was because of their good x-ray facilities so I always intended to get films done if they were neccessary. It's one thing to know that the issue is in her knee, and quite another to be able to see what it is.

Anyway, she does have arthritic changes in her knee. Some remodelling on the second carpal bone, and some pitting on the surface of the 3 carpal bone, though the joint margin itself looked really clean. I think the vet was worried I'd be freaked out, but even I could see the changes weren't too major, and he was very confident that we would be able to make her comfortable, probably with injections into the joint. Like he said though, it may only be one factor that is causing her stopping but it's nice to know that she is sound and that the issue is something else- be it my riding or her confidence. He did say it could definitely be the major factor depending on her pain thresholds, and Kate is a bit of a wimp. she is a TB after all.

Anyway, belkow is an x-ray of a normal right knee on a horse and I have somewhat drawn in the remodelling in white on the 2nd carpus and the dark grey arrow indicates where the joint surface damage is on the 3rd carpal bone. This diagram is probably actually very inaccurate because it's just from memory and while it was easy to see when pointed out at the clinic, when I went to replicate it I realised I had no idea what I was doing. Still close enough eh chaps!

Realistically, Kates career will be shortened by this and I probably wont be able to sell her because she is already 11 and people don't buy older horses with arthritis. That being said I really want to breed her one day so all is not lost. Her prognosis is good and in terms of bad news it's not really so bad (It does sound expensive though).


  1. At least you were able to get an idea of what is going on. Breeding is not a bad idea (if you ask me- I'm sure others will say diff)

  2. Its nice to know whats going on ....bit of a bummer though. Breeding is an interesting option and lots of fun choosing a stallion. Its super nice watching foals grow and develop