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Jingles for Missy needed--bad news, knee chip

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  • Jingles for Missy needed--bad news, knee chip

    I'm at my parents' place in OH for a "vacation" which has so far not been. My 90 year old grandfather is in the hospital (low oxygen, fluid on the lungs) and now my heart horse is lame.

    Missy is 22 and retired in Mom and Dad's pasture. She has a double sized stall she can enter at will, a attached dry lot paddock and 2 acres of pasture. She is out in the pasture 12-14 hours during the day and spends the night in the paddock/stall. It's really an ideal retirement setup.

    Sunday, she was just very subtly NQR on the left front. SW Ohio has been so dry and the ground is like concrete, so I figured she had a minor stone bruise. I gave her bute for a couple days, which seemed to help. Then I took her off the bute yesterday and by this morning she was worse, not just NQR but frankly lame.

    I know my horse and I know she's hurting. Even though she is only pasture sound, she starts every day with a couple yahoo bucks and a gallop out to the pasture before settling down to graze. At first, she was NQR but still running around. Today she's just shuffling along. Her left front knee is quite hot and she's not thrilled about picking up that foot. I can't find any punctures, scrapes, obvious lumps, anything. The vet is coming tomorrow afternoon (the soonest I could get).

    Any jingles and advice would be much appreciated.
    BES and Missy (the real life BES)
    Proudly owned by 2 chestnut mares
    Crayola Posse: sea green
    Mighty Rehabbers Clique

  • #2
    If i'm posting on Coth, it's either raining so I can't ride or it's night time and I can't sleep.


    • #3
      Knees are very painful, hopefully that is all it is and it won't be anything too serious to it.


      • #4
        Jingles! Sorry your vacation has been rough. At least you are there when you are needed! Hopefully the vet will have good news for your lovely mare.
        Be kind to the animals for they are the True Innocents!
        True Innocents Equine Rescue: www.tierrescue.org
        Join us on Facebook!


        • Original Poster

          The jingles are much appreciated......Missy seems worse today than yesterday, and I am not sure what to think. Today, the range of motion in the knee is less than yesterday and she walks with the leg almost straight. There's now a large, hard, bony lump on the front of the knee, right in the middle of the knee.

          This morning Missy was trying to lay down without success. She won't bend the knee, so she can't lay down but she obviously wanted to. At least she is smart enough to figure out that it's not working and stopped trying. Looking back, I have not seen shavings/straw/manure on her sides for the last few days, so I think she has not laid down since this happened.

          Vet comes in another 1-2 hours and I think I check the time every 5 minutes. I am a bit of a basket case, and my parents keep telling me to calm down, not to worry and pointing out that she is still eating and bright and alert. Well, Missy is an energizer bunny horse (mix of TB, racing QH and old working ranch QH blood lines) who is rather stoic, so I'm very worried that things are worse than they seem. Of course I am feeling guilty for not calling the vet sooner but 2 days ago she was only slightly NQR (and was still trotting around the pasture doing a few happy bucks). In a few days, it's gone from a minor issue to something that has me very worried, especially since winter is coming and she already has bad hocks.

          I can't help thinking of what might have happened (joint infection? twisting a leg in a hole in the pasture? too much pawing when dinner is 10 min late?). It's a mystery since we can't find any broken skin.

          Until the vet comes, I have been feeing lots of apples, dumor cookies, altoids (Missy's favorite), grooming, and hand grazing (since our pasture is hilly and I'm afraid the slope is too much for her). Will keep you updated,

          PS My grandfather is being released from the hospital today to a skilled nursing unit in his retirement community (normally he is in independent living). Is it wrong that I am more worked up about my horse??? Of course I was worried about Grandpa too, but it's seeing Missy limping that tears my heart out.
          Proudly owned by 2 chestnut mares
          Crayola Posse: sea green
          Mighty Rehabbers Clique


          • #6
            Hugs and Jingles for YOU ~

            HUGS & Jingles for you & Missy & of course your grandfather ~ you have alot on your "stress" plate ~ tackle one thing at a time ~ Glad the vet is coming ~ he will give you a plan and with a plan comes relief for both of you ~ Hugs for your grandfather too ~ he will be glad to see you for a visit after you get Missy more comfortable. Jingle Jingle Jingle & AO Always Optimistic ~ Keep us updated ~ Knees get very big when bumped or strained - her body is telling her to slow down due to injury ~Jingles that some BUTE and therapy will enable Missy to feel better Hang in there ~
            Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "


            • #7
              Big, big jingles. I am just glad you are there for her. So sorry the post PhD euphoria has come crashing down so fast.
              a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues


              • #8
                Jingles from Florida for Missy also.
                There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams


                • Original Poster

                  The news is not good. I managed to hold it together during the vet visit but am crying as I type this. I need to get myself together before my mother comes home and wonders why I cried for my horse and not my grandfather....and before our hay man, a grizzled old farmer who's wondered more than once why we waste money on an unrideable horse, comes today with the hay & straw delivery.

                  The vet thinks Missy chipped one of the distal carpal bones, said the clinical presentation of gradually increasing lameness over 3-5 days, the location of the lump and her inability to fully bend the knee are all classic. Given that Missy is the only horse in the pasture, how she managed to do this isn't clear. Vet says either she whacked her knee into something hard or possibly was running in the pasture and hyper-extended the knee. My guilt is at least relieved because the vet says it wouldn't have changed anything if I called 2 days ago.

                  Arthroscopic surgery would be an option for a younger horse, but at Missy's age (22) and with her other issues in her hocks, she's not a surgical candidate. Since surgery is not an option, we didn't do xrays. The vet didn't think they'd be worth it since the non-surgical treatment is the same regardless of which exact carpal bone was chipped.

                  Per the vet's recommendation, we are giving her 1g Bute twice a day for a month, then taper to 1g once a day and basically wait and see. Vet said that she will have arthritis in the joint and it's just a question of how bad. So the goal now is to keep her comfortable and limit the inflammation during the healing process. He's suggested that we reassess in a month and that if she's going to improve, we'd see a change in 3-4 weeks. The vet warned us that this winter could be very hard on her and that we may have to bute her all winter. The one good thing is that she is allowed pasture turnout (assuming no ice/deep mud), since she is pretty quiet and the vet thinks ambling around the pasture, even with the hill, won't significantly change the outcome. The vet thinks that "maybe" she'll be pasture sound long term.

                  For now, Missy is her normal bright eyed self aside from the lameness and I think her limp bothers me a lot more than it bothers her. I don't think she's giving up yet. If she's happy to gimp around the pasture with a big swollen knee, we can bute her the rest of her life. But I am dreading seeing the light go out of her eye, and knowing that I might have to make the decision every horse owner dreads sooner than I thought. For today I've spoiled the poor horse rotten with extra treats and promised her that no matter what, I won't let her suffer.

                  Damn, why is this so hard????
                  Proudly owned by 2 chestnut mares
                  Crayola Posse: sea green
                  Mighty Rehabbers Clique


                  • #10
                    Sorry you're having to deal with this. For what it's worth, I've had a couple who had to be on bute long-term and they did okay with it. In spite of all of the reasons not to do so, if they have a good constitution, they can tolerate it. Hope she improves soon and settles to a functional soundness in spite of this issue.
                    "One person's cowboy is another person's blooming idiot" -- katarine

                    Spay and neuter. Please.


                    • #11
                      That was what was afraid it was going to be.

                      But it isn't necessarily the end of the world YET.

                      The horse I had when I was a kid had something similar ( the vet described it as "a broken off calcium deposit in his knee" rather than a bone chip- but I think the mechanics are pretty much the same). It all depended on WHERE in the knee the broken bit happened to be that day. Somedays were good, and some days were not so good. But he had another mostly-good 3 or 4 years before it got to be too much for him.

                      chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).


                      • #12
                        You know, we were (so far) successful- sweating the snot out of a chipped splint on my guy's RH...glycerin, DMSO, furacin mixed together, then layers of cling film, then elasticon to hold it all snug for 2-5 days in a figure 8. He lasted 4 days in it before it started to slip. I have NO CLUE if the same idea would apply to relieve the swelling and MAYBE see if that chip would settle back into place. No clue. All I do know is the above seems- so far- to have settled my guy's broken splint bone down, the swelling is gone, he's sound on it. We'll repeat films in 4-6 weeks.

                        Any vets care to chime in? I'm so sorry for your troubles, what a week for you and for Missy


                        • #13
                          I am sorry, but that is what happened to our 30 year old, that was still fat and sassy and happy, but three legged.

                          Our vet told us and we could see that knees are some of the more painful joints and we could have kept trying to see how he may fare, but the prognosis was bad and why put him thru that, so we let him go then.

                          The vet had blocked him and x-rayed him and we knew what all was also not that clean, at his age, so that was part of the decision.

                          On the other hand, a month ago, our 20 year old was dead lame behind, we could see stifle, X-rays were showing a chip on the inside of the tibia.
                          He drained the bursa, that was swollen and the horse is fine today, although he eventually may develop arthritis from that chip, if it doesn't reattach itself.

                          I sure hope that your mare may heal where this is not a problem for her.
                          Attached Files


                          • #14
                            I would toss some antacids in her food with the bute to keep her stomach happy and her appetite up. I might also throw some herbal anti-inflammatories in her (yucca, devil's claw, MSM) since they aren't very expensive. Are you icing or sweating to take down swelling? Jingles for a pasture-sound recovery!


                            • #15
                              More hugs and Jingles for Missy and you ~

                              * Damn hard because you love Missy and you are envisioning the worst ~ I am sorry about this news ~BUT with some Bute twice a day and her own perfect retirement set up = Missy has a very good chance of surviving for a long time ~ I second the icing or cold hosing to help take some of the swelling down... you have a plan ~ so settle into your treatment plan and let Missy and time tell you what needs to be done and when ~ in the meantime give that girl a hug and some BUTE and smile so she does not worry about you ~ Jingles for some rest and recovery for Missy and you ~ Keep us posted and Hang in there ~ Jingles & AO ~ Always Optimistic ~
                              Last edited by Zu Zu; Oct. 8, 2010, 05:06 PM. Reason: spelling
                              Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "


                              • Original Poster

                                Thanks for all the jingles and good wishes. I appreciate all the advice and stories, good and bad. By personality and by training (scientist), I look for all the possibilities, even the bad ones (in science it's the only way you avoid getting the dreaded "fatally flawed" comment from reviewers!). Believe me, I have already gone through all the scenarios in my head.

                                Since I start my 3rd year med school rotations 2 states away in another 3 weeks and won't be back until mid December for xmas break, I am worried about not being here. It's not that I don't trust my father, it's that Missy and I have, at the risk of sounding sappy, this connection. I can glance at her and know how she's feeling (I think it's mutual). The uncertainty is what's bothering me, and the fear that maybe I'll miss the signs that it's time to let her go. It's not time yet, but depending on how the knee heals, it could be sometime soon.

                                I've already had "advance directive" talks with my parents about how much is too much. I don't have a living will but my horse does....

                                In case anyone wants to see Miss Missy in all her redheaded glory, these pictures were taken Sunday before it all hit the fan:


                                This is the reason I started a life-long love affair with chestnut mares. She is 22 now and has lost a lot of topline muscle during retirement. All my pictures from her glory days are non-digital and not scanned yet. Missy was a regional 2 and 3 year old WP futurity champ before becoming my 4H horse. She had soured on pleasure, but was a good showmanship/equitation pattern horse (once I learned to ride her--she didn't put up with ineptitude). We even did a bit of gymkhana fun day stuff at the county fair. The last few years before retirement we switched to huntseat because Missy liked moving out more. Basically, she's royalty and she knows it.
                                Proudly owned by 2 chestnut mares
                                Crayola Posse: sea green
                                Mighty Rehabbers Clique


                                • #17
                                  Good looking filly she is, is she.

                                  Well, you got the vet's opinion, a treatment plan and that is all you need to worry for now.

                                  I do agree with our vet, that always tells us better too soon than a minute to late, for the horse's sake.
                                  Although we can't always be just right, just try is all anyone can do.

                                  Horses keep about 1/3 of their weight in front, that is why front leg issues tend to happen more and be more serious.

                                  I hope you can find a way to manage, maybe have your parents send regular short videos of her would help?


                                  • #18
                                    I will call later. So, so sorry.
                                    a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues


                                    • #19
                                      doubling up on the jingles for you and missy. Sorry to hear the not so great news
                                      If i'm posting on Coth, it's either raining so I can't ride or it's night time and I can't sleep.


                                      • #20
                                        Bumpoing for an update on Missy ~ Jingles she is feeling better ~ AO ~ Always Optimistic ~
                                        Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "