Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Getting Ready for Spring - - The Discovery

Part 1

Once we were sure the foal was alive, the vet took Solidare out of the palpation chute to look her over in her normal stance. It was then he discovered the reason for Solidare's recent lack of movement.

Just the way the mare stood with one hock stretched out behind her told him the mare had probably torn the tendon over the back of her left hock. When he examined the hock more closely he confirmed the diagnosis. The change in Solidare's gait and her reluctance to move were the result of this new injury.

This diagnosis put us in a catch twenty two. For the hock to heal the mare needed to stay as quiet as possible. Yet, if the mare and the foal were to survive, the hand walking needed to be continued to restore the lost muscle tone so the mare had a shot at a normal foaling.

The foaling issue would have to take precedence over the tendon issue. There was no question about that but there were added risks if the tendon did not heal. The more compromised the mare's legs are the more likely she will harm herself getting up or down. There was the likelihood she might tear something else. If that happened it would most likely be catastrophic.

I know first hand from the dislocated fetlock back with Lindsay's therapy horse that a horse with weak ligaments or tendons is at risk of further injury. That horse had a mild strain to his suspensory ligament that led to that dislocated fetlock.

From what we could tell, the horse laid down with the weak leg underneath him. Then when he tried to get up, the suspensory ligament couldn't support all his weight putting part of it onto the collateral ligament. Not intended for such use, the collateral ligament blew out allowing the bones of the fetlock to spreak all over the place.

Luckily for us Solidare is wiser than that gelding. I'd noticed recently she has been exclusively laying on one side as evidenced by a stain I keep fighting on that side. The mare is not laying down with her weakest leg underneath her. The question is how long her already compromised legs will hold up to the abuse they're taking because of these injuries.

The vet did recommend some changes in Solidare's diet. He wanted the mare to be getting more fiber so I was to cut back on the alfalfa and feed her at least half of her forage in grass. Also, her senior feed was changed to T.A.C.O. but the ration remained the same. Minor adjustments really so I was left still worrying about my mare.

Before I took Solidare home we talked some about the big decision. Watching this mare the past months, it has been at the forefront of my mind. When is that time? When enough is enough? When does an owner make the decision to put a horse down?

For me it is about the horse. It is not about my own discomfort looking at her condition. It is about what Solidare thinks of her life. As long as she has that twinkle in her eye that says she's happy to be alive, I will respect that and give her the time. When the day comes that she tells me she's had enough, I will respect that too.

This day at the vet was a hard one for me. While the mare's eye clearing showed her discomfort, it did not say she was done to me. I thought it was clear she was looking to us for help. The mare wanted to be better. She believed she could be better. I needed to believe it too.

I guess I needed to know I was not reading something that really wasn't there so that's why I began talking to the vet about that difficult decision. I wanted to know if the vet saw the same look that I saw. I wanted to know I wasn't prolonging this mare's life just to save a foal. I wanted to know that Solidare had a chance and that she wanted that chance.

To be continued...................

The Next Step

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  1. This is a really difficult decision. I'm sorry you had to make this choice, whichever way you went. Keeping her alive, there is no way to know if she actually wants to keep living as much as you, as a human and her owner, do. If you decide to euthanize, it is just a painful situation for all who ever have to make that decision. It becomes an even more difficult decision when a foal, and in a way- your income, is at stake.

  2. This is hard reading for me , I lost a perfectly healthy mare last spring ,when she ruptured her uterus trying to abort a late term foal . I feel for you worrying about your mare . update soon please

  3. Is there some place you can swim her? That way, she'd get the exercise she needs to regain muscle mass without putting additional weight on the tendon.

  4. My heart goes out to you both. I hope this ends well for all.

  5. I'm sorry that poor Solidaire is struggling with her uncooperative body. She really seems like a sweet girl! I wish you the best with your decision :).

  6. more than anything i wish i could meet solidare. just to touch her and try to convey to her how "atemraubend" she is. *sigh*

    also i wish i knew more about her past. i've read your entire blog and i know a little, but not enough.


  7. Oh dear, a difficult decision indeed. Is there some sort of support that can be used for that tendon that doesn't impede or make it worse? Ooh and GunDiva, good idea, I forgot totally about that, good idea. I know where I am, a lot of the major race barns have those type of facilities.

  8. This is a total heartbreaker. I think we know what is going to be the result. I have a friend who raises Suffolk Punch drafts. She had a mare do that in her final month of pregnancy. They made her a cast of sorts that carried her through foaling. The filly was almost three months old when poor Greta just could not go on anymore and she was relieved of her misery. The filly really was not ready for weaning but made it through with alot of support-human and equine. It is just so sad and I am sorry you have to deal with this. My best wishes and sympathy to you and beautiful Solidaire.

  9. Heather, funny, I don't think of this foal as income although I'm sure the taxman does. To me it's more a genetic resource for the breed which is way more valuble that just income. But I don't think I could put that resource above Solidare's well being. I sure hope I don't end up in the position I have to make such a call.

    fernvalley01, I'm sorry you had to go through that experience. Breeding a mare seems like such a benign thing but it can certainly cause some life changing experiences we never counted on.

    GunDiva, I am unaware of resources to swim horses in my area. However, even if I were, I am not sure Solidare would be a good candidate. The whole process of transporting her and teaching her to swim would probably be more stress than the mare could handle at this point.

    TCavanaugh, thank you for the kind thoughts. I'm pretty sure we can use all of those we can get.

    jennybean79, I'm really hoping this doesn't come down to that decision. We're going to keep our fingers crosses that it doesn't.

    lytha, I will have to see what I've written and maybe do a history on Solidare. She certainly deserves it. She's been an awesome broodmare.

    Callie, so far we haven't been successful with finding something that works for her.

    phaedra96, I'm saddened to hear your friend had to deal with such an experience.

    I know it's entirely possible you are right about how this might end. I hope, however, that Solidare's great heart will win out and we'll all come out the other side happy and healthy.