Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Russell in rehab

If your horse is going to be out of commission for awhile, this is the time for it. The holidays with the attendant decorating, shopping, partying, and family visits – not to mention a new puppy coming soon; when WOULD I find time to ride? (Actually, I DO find a little time to ride another's horse, as a favor for a friend who is herself out of commission.)

Russell has had white line disease, the equine equivalent of toenail fungus, for over a year now. We managed it as best we could through last winter and the following show season, but decided that in October we would pull his shoes and get aggressive about eliminating it completely. That meant trimming away all the affected hoof, leaving him without enough support to do much more than work at a walk on soft ground until he grows out some healthy foot. Rick got many "hints" that while Russell was out of work would be a perfect time to check out some other areas of concern. Eventually Rick got around to doing that, finding an old suspensory ligament injury in his right hind (probably there when I got him, contributing to his struggle to stay comfortable in his back), and a large, new suspensory ligament injury in his left front. He's treating them both with extracorporeal shock wave therapy, one of the best modalities for soft tissue injuries like these and a benefit of being married to a vet who has the equipment. (Rick may not want to be bothered once he gets home, but the care is top-notch and free when I can get it!)

Right now Russell isn't even home. For performance horses with these types of injuries, Rick recommends shock wave combined with work on an underwater treadmill, available at a rehab facility owned by one of his clients. Said client owes Rick some money and her husband was just laid off from his job, so Rick offered to do a trade to benefit me, Russell AND the client. This combination should help Russell heal faster and make him stronger than ever, so I was thrilled. We dropped him off last Friday on our way to look at the puppies.
Yesterday Russell was introduced to the "pool." Since I had to take my sister to the airport early this morning and Bald Peak is kind of on my way home, I called to see if I could stop by. Michelle (owner of Bald Peak) said that would be great, since getting a horse in the second day is often the hardest. It was good to see my big handsome horse (and assure him that I hadn't sold him off and left his life), and I was able to help get him in the pool and experience the moving treadmill for the first time. He scrambled a bit both going down the ramp and coming up the other side, but overall he did well.Every horse is groomed beforehand and rinsed off afterwards.When Russell comes home, he'll be fit AND clean!

That's it for now from . . .

10 comments:

Lauren said...

Our neighbors do aquatic therapy with their horses (she does reining competitions. They trailer them to their rehab place every Saturday. I always thought it was a bit much but now that you explained it further, I get it more.

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

Interesting! I wonder what kind of aquatherapy your neighbors are utilizing. There are swimming pools for horses, underwater treadmills like Russell is using, and hydrojets, kind of like a jacuzzi for horses. For the first two types, at least, I wouldn't think once-a-week use would do much for the horse, any more than once-a-week-exercise does much for us humans. Bald Peak puts horses on the treadmill five days a week while the horses are there, which over time really muscles them up without putting any concussion to speak of on injured tissue or bone. An advantage of the treadmill over swimming is that the treadmill works the muscles a horse normally uses for locomotion; swimming uses different muscles, and can cause sore backs because the horse has to work at keeping its head above water.

Jamie said...

Poor Russell! Sounds like you've worked out an awesome deal for him. I had no idea there was aquatic therapy for horses, but it makes such good sense.

I'm almost feeling jealous. I wouldn't mind some aquatic therapy myself. :) Glad things are working out for you and Russell.

Sharrie said...

How DO you find time for all the STUFF that you are involved in? I am envious. I wish I had all that energy. Cripes, I didn't have it even when I was your age. I will have to tell all this to my friend that has a horse. Enjoyed the info.
Understand the vet, husband, when he has time. Mine is a mechanic, when he has time..........

Tammy said...

Russell is a good looking fella Michelle. You mention that he is a high performance horse. I know that you trail ride - are you into dressage and jumping as well?
It's great that you have the facilities nearby (and of course the husband with the knowledge) to help out. Good luck with Russell.
PS - package was mailed Monday.

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

Yes, Russell is my dressage partner; last year we showed at Third and Fourth Level. His conformation isn't great for it, but he tries hard and has good gaits. Besides, he's wonderful with my little boy!

~~Sittin.n.Spinnin said...

To have a vet in the family... *sigh*
My daughter used to tell me when she was little 'when I grow up I want to be a vegetarian' well, she meant veterinarian :) and at 15, she is still kind of heading in that direction, we'll see when she gets there.

Kathy said...

I am glad to hear that Russell is getting some much needed rehab! I can sure empathize with his sore back. :) It's wonderful that such facilities exist now. So many years ago, poor Russell would have had to find another "job".

shepherdchik said...

The water is warm, right? It is only 12 degrees here right now so that little swim does not look too fun to me! Kudos to Russ though for doing his therapy.

Sharon said...

Boy, that's a whole 'nuther world, and it reminds me of our friend Laura's definition for horse: the hole in the pasture you pour money into.