Sunday, May 13, 2012

Prineville 2012

"The best laid plans of mice and men...."
We were at the Prineville ride for a "short" while this weekend.  This was to be Octopelle's first comeback ride in 2012.  For a number of reasons he took the year off in 2011.  I've been steadily conditioning him for the past 3 months in all kinds of terrain, so we were looking forward to getting back into the swing of things at this ride.

But much to my dismay, he showed signs of lameness at the vet check.  We did our initial check-in on Friday night, and he was slightly off in the right front.  It wasn't very bad, but he had a subtle shortness to his stride.  When I trotted him out at the check area there was a patch of gravel that we trotted over, so I asked Dr. Jen if she could wait until we got our boots on to try it again.  I usually always present my horses barefoot at the initial check ins, so the vets can see their hooves in full view.  Most of the vets like to pick up the horses feet and check their soles and frogs, so it makes sense to leave the boots off until after the initial check is over with.   
We went back to the trailer and I picked his feet out really well and got the boots on, and proceeded to trot him up and down the road in front of our campsite.  Much to my shagrin, the prognosis still wasn't looking too good.  The boots weren't helping very much.  So, my first thought was that he might be gimpy on his sole or frog of the hoof, and the boot might be too hard of a surface and not enough cushioning.  So I placed an easyboot foam pad in the right boot.  Still didn't help, so we waited.  I thought that maybe the trailer ride on the curvey road down to Prineville might've stressed him out a bit - or if I waited and let him relax awhile - by some sheer stroke of luck he might appear to be okay.  So I let him sit for about an hour, and he ate his hay and bucket of mash.  Afterwards, we trotted up and down the road again.  Still no luck.  With no visible signs of improvement, we made our way back up to the vet check to talk about the situation with Dr. Jen and the other vets. 
At the vet check, there was a convergence of 3 veterinarians who inspected his movement up and down the check area.  We had the boots on, and everyone had hoped that would do the trick.  But, it was evident when he was trotting uphill that something was still not quite right.  (Downhill was great, but the uphill was when he showed the signs of lameness.)  One of the vets pulled out the hoof angler contraption to check his hoof angles and see if that might be the problem.  There didn't appear to be anything wrong with the hoof itself.  Octopelle doesn't have the greatest hoof walls in the world, but it isn't anything to get overly concerned about.  The boots protect him on long rides, and I was reassured by the veterinarians that his feet are in good enough shape to handle a shoe quite well if I was compelled to put them on him.  So his hoof wasn't the issue.
So that left us with one area to check.  The legs.  And sure enough, it was the targeted problem area.  A different veterinarian ran her hands down both of his front legs and squeezed and poked and prodded in certain areas.  Ox twitched a few times below the right knee.  After pinching the tendon and ligaments on that leg, it was diagnosed between all 3 of the vets as being hyper-extended.  They said that it was really lucky that he had showns signs of it before the start of the ride, or else we could've done some serious damage by stressing it out even more during the ride.  (Possibly permanent damage.) 

I hadn't noticed the lameness at our house, because our ground is flat and he didn't show any signs of being gimpy over the flat surface, but the Skull Hollow campsite area has a definite incline - so the signs did show going up hill.  We have been conditioning on all sorts of terrain with some boggy areas up in the mountains from the snowpack melting off, so I chaulked it up to being too much "sinky" slippery footing for him to handle.  I'm going to start therapy treatments immediately on his right leg and hopefully get him back into good shape by the time the Klikitat ride rolls around in 3 weeks.

I was bummed out about not being able to ride, but I guess that this is what the veteran endurance riders would call a "temperance" situation.  Sometimes you have to take the good with the bad, and this ride just wasn't in the cards for us.  I'm really glad that the issue showed up right away, and we didn't start out and get stuck halfway in the middle of nowhere with a seriously lame horse.  I'm not the first endurance rider to experience this problem, and definitely won't be the last.  We'll always have the next ride to look forward to.
But the trip wasn't a total loss.  =:)  We did get to camp out for awhile and eat a nice barbecue steak dinner that Craig cooked.
And we drove a few miles further to Bend and tried out a new piece of equipment that Craig is thinking about purchasing.  We also visited a few of the small ghost town types of places on the way back home, which was kind-of fun.

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