A new diagnosis

It has been a whirlwind week. Over the last week or two, Whisper has been odd. I was REALLY having to remind her to get back on her hindquarters, she was a lot more unwilling to work, and she’d start biting at the air whenever my mom would saddle her or I would put my spurs on her – even if they were the small little English nubby spurs I use on Amber. This was absolutely not like her. At first I thought perhaps she’d lost fitness or was giving us a few of her very rare “no” moments. But after a bit of a tough ride, and still a not-too-productive next ride, she still wasn’t better after a week and I rode her again. That ride, to the right she felt a bit wiggly, and it felt harder than usual. To the left though, if felt as if she’d lost all of her rhythm and cadence and that’s her good side. That piqued my interest, and I started a deep tissue massage on her a few nights later after I’d gotten to thinking. I really worked over her SI and Psoas around 3 nights in a row, and she was certainly improved by the weekend. No biting the air when I’d use spurs or when she’d be saddled. She still was just NQR though, so my mom made a Monday appointment for the vet to look at her. Since the vet was coming out, we figured he could check Amber over as well since it was time for her 1 month post-first-vet-visit visit.

He did a flex test on Whisper, and noted that she flexed a bit positively on her hocks. While her SI could certainly be the culprit, Whisper IS 16. We don’t believe she had any injections when she was younger before we got her when she was 4, and she’s been in consistent 4-6 day works (although those may not have been extremely HARD rides haha) for a good 12 years. Over the past 2-3 years, we’ve really worked on rocking her back and utilizing her hind end. This year alone we’ve upped her fitness since the Feb show, and have had increasingly intense – though short – rides so we can prepare for the Sept-Nov show series. I’m honestly not too surprised that it was probably time for a hock injection. Since she’s a sensitive horse, I think the injections will last her a long while – hopefully longer than a year, but I’m not too worried. Compared to Amber at the moment, Whisper is EASY-PEASY.

Cutie patootie

After Whisper’s flex test I grabbed Amber for him, and his immediate answer was “I still really don’t like this.” Well, damn. I thought she’d been doing pretty well actually. Over the month I’d actually taken down her walk time to 15 minutes, but increased to a bit of trotting for 10 seconds 2-3 times in one ride. The second walk of the day would be outside on pavement for 20 minutes. She did pretty well with this – ahhh or so I thought. So far, it seems the stifle is actually fine and all well and good pretty much, but he’s puzzled about why she doesn’t want to bring that RH forward. She walks really well on the street and stumbles a lot more in the arena with that RH. So we decided to inject her stifle with a steroid to help in case there was some build up of arthritis or tenacious inflammation that’s hindering her from wanting to bring that leg forward.

His words were “You’re (Amber) going to drag this out all the way to the end, aren’t you?” and “You’re lucky your mom loves you so much.” Truer words have never been spoken. If that doesn’t describe the both of us to a T I don’t know what does haha.

After walking her Tuesday she looked more comfortable. The steroid helped with the inflammation I think, and she was actually quite willing to bring the leg forward and only had a few bobbles in the arena. I was ready to just go ahead and start the IRAP process if that’d help her feel a lot better. However, the farrier came out Wednesday, and after he pulled her shoes told me to come look at her LH asap.

Amber has a new diagnosis – she has laminitis in her left hind foot. And pretty progressive laminitis at that.

You can see the yellow-ish spot just beneath the point of the frog – that was pretty mushy. Not to mention that red bruise is not good, and her white line doesn’t look too good either.

Looking at that foot on Wednesday, and after hearing the farrier say that it looked a lot like a laminitic foot, I knew they were right. I knew it wasn’t anything good. So I scrambled my schedule around and got her in to the clinic on Thursday. I wish I had the x-rays to show you guys (they will hopefully be emailed to me and I’ll post them) but I don’t think she really has more than 5 or so millimeters of sole between the coffin bone and outer sole. At first, after just watching her walk the vet wasn’t convinced. He seemed quite surprised and shocked after seeing the x-rays. (After finding that, all 4 feet were radiographed to make sure they were okay and to get a baseline) I don’t blame him. We both discussed how she doesn’t walk AT ALL like a laminitic horse and unfortunately, her symptoms were believed to be and clouded by the recent surgery to the RH stifle. Because honestly out of most of the symptoms, she really only noticeably did the “reluctant to walk forward” one, and we both just figured it was due to the stifle.

This would also make sense as to why she’s still getting this sore on her left hip and has holes in her hock boots a lot faster now, too.

But she wasn’t bringing the RH forward because that would cause her to put weight on her LH toe, and that hurt. For it to be so progressed though means that it’s been building for a while – not just post-surgery. I’m thinking it’s back to when she really injured it – during the show in November. Over the past 8-9 months she’s just been consistently weight bearing on that LH. Either way, as all of you know, this isn’t a good development at all.

So Amber has been taken off of everything – no stretches, no walks, no riding. Just stall rest. She is now wearing some soft ride boots, and by evening, it actually looked like she felt better. She was walking quite a lot more than she has for a while, so I think she’s more comfortable. I sure hope so. I suppose it’s pretty obvious to say that Amber is officially retired. Nothing more for her. The only silver lining I can find at the moment is that it’s a hind foot and not a front foot. Ironically, both the vet and I mentioned how it looks a bit like Barbaro. I only hope it doesn’t develop in any other foot and that we caught it at an okay time.

New kicks

I’m still going to be following everyone and commenting, but unless there’s an update I’ll probably not blog more than once a week. I still want to get my reviews out and am planning to go back to lessoning hopefully within a few weeks, but it’ll just take time for me to fully process everything and really get a solid outlook on where I want to go from here – be it buying a horse, leasing, or continuing to lesson for a while. Buying is certainly not in the cards yet, but leasing or lessoning are certainly options that I’ll fully decide in the future. Mostly though, I’m just focused on getting Amber as comfortable as we can get her, and hopefully manage this now that we know what it is.

30 Comments on “A new diagnosis

  1. this sucks. Oh poor Amber. And you. I hope you can find something else to ride and event in the future.: ( I didn’t think I would be reading this this morning. 😦 I need more coffee now. I am glad the boots are helping.

    I am so scared of this diagnosis. With my two heifers (Remus and Tate) I am so so so worried. They both are a wee bit too fat and the grass too green. I haven’t let them out on the field yet today for this very reason they get a couple hours in the am after it dries up some and a couple hours in the evening but that is it). They get mad but I am so so worried that one of them will come down with a similar diagnosis.

    Again I am sorry. I am glad you have Whisper to ride but know you want to ride English too…


    • Thank you so much. Out of all the diagnoses I didn’t think she’d get this. It was in the back of my mind because my brain does that, but it is what it is now. She’s walking much more comfortably today with the boots, so I’m hoping that really helps for a time.

      Yeah I totally understand your worry. It’s not something any equestrian wants to hear or see their horse get. I think Remus and Tate will be fine tho – you’re super cautious and won’t let them be out there too long 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ugh. Not the update I wanted to read today. I don’t have too much to say now but at least she’s a little more comfortable with the boots and not knowing is sometimes worse than knowing? Take your time to figure out what’s best for you.


    • Thank you ❤ Actually, I’m pretty relieved to know. She’s had a bit of a mystery lameness for a while now, and even though this progressed without us knowing, I finally know why her stifle hasn’t been healing as we thought it would. She’s certainly more comfortable today with the boots, so I’m really crossing my fingers that they really help for a while.


  3. Oh my gosh! I am so sorry to hear this. At least you’ve caught it in time to be able to do right by her in retirement, but I know it hurts all the same. Hugs to both of you ❤


  4. Awwww, I hate this for you and Amber. As soon as I read your vet’s words, my heart was sinking. I’m glad the boots are making her more comfortable, but being officially retired is the pits.

    If you ever want to rant, I’m around! Sending hugs to both of you.


  5. Oh no, I’m so sorry to hear this. That is nuts that she’s been so stoic about it, I can see how it took so long to find it. I hope you guys are able to figure out a good plan for her, and a good plan for yourself too.


    • I even have a video of her walking only 1 week prior to this, and she looks practically sound. I’m hoping the boots will help for a while and that we’ll be able to come up with a solid plan in a few weeks.


  6. Ack, I am so sorry to read this but glad you found out and can get started on keeping her comfortable. Retirement like this always feels like a tough break.


  7. Ugh I am so sorry. This is so tough to hear and I can’t imagine how tough it is for you. She is a stoic horse, that’s for sure. And like your veterinarian said, she is definitely lucky to have you.


  8. The great thing about blogging is it will be here for you when you are ready to come back (and so will the readers). *hug* I’m so sorry you are going through this but I know what a relief it is to have a clear diagnosis to make a plan moving forward. I hope with your vet and farrier you guys are able to develop a plan for Amber that has her feeling very comfortable. Take care of yourself.


  9. Oh no. I’m so sorry. Poor girl. What a trooper for carrying on as long as she did with her foot like that. I’m glad you got a diagnosis even if it’s not a good one. I hope you can find a way to make her comfortable. She’s definitely lucky to have you!


  10. I’m so sorry about Amber’s diagnosis and her retirement 😦 Not what I wanted to read at all. I hope that she stays comfortable and feels better soon.


  11. I’m so sorry, poor Amber. she seems such a brave sweet girl.

    I hope you can get her comfortable so she can enjoy her retirement. You have worked so hard for her! Make sure you look after yourself too, and I hope that you might have a new super star in your future.


  12. This is so disappointing. You can tell poor Amber was really trying to hide what was going on and be so stoic about it. While the diagnosis sucks, I am sure you are glad you kept looking for answers. Hopefully this sweet girl gets to enjoy her retirement, and you find another wonderful partner. Sending lots of hugs. ❤


    • I am definitely relieved to know what the real problem is. I do feel a bit bad that I didn’t catch it but with her being that stoic no one could see it. I am certainly going to make sure she loves retirement as much as possible. Thanks Emily ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Laminitis = not fun. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. I wish you lots of luck on figuring out the management required to keep her comfortable and hopefully even sound again.
    I’m curious though as to why only one hind foot is involved. Did the vet offer any ideas?


    • Thank you Heather. That right stifle has been hurting her since she kicked out at the show last November. I couldn’t get the surgery as soon as I wanted because the abscess the bone chips caused after her tooth removal prevented it, so the vet and I are thinking that she’s been weight-bearing on the left hind since then, so around 8 months. Of course what we don’t want now is for her to weight bear on the right hind so much that it develops laminitis too, and I’m hopeful the soft ride boots provide enough cushion to where she can distribute the weight a little more evenly. Hopefully that answers your question!


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