Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Keeping Fingers Crossed . . . and October Summary

Pie and Drifter are on day five of their paste treatment with Oroquin-10, and I'm encouraged so far.  For the benefit of the clinical trial, I've kept detailed records about our experience, which can be found on the EPM page, and will be providing the notes to Dr. Ellison, who's conducting the trials.

So far, both horses seem to be doing well.  Pie did have a minor colic attack on day one, which was probably due to the immune system stimulant that's part of the treatment - this is intended to help the horse's immune system form long-lasting protection against the organisms.  We think the immune system stimulant, like the vaccinations, may have irritated his abdominal lumps, which may well be enlarged lymph nodes.  I spoke to the senior vet at U. Wisconsin yesterday to give him an update on Pie, including the EPM findings and treatment, and he said that, although most vets would say the type of abdominal issues Pie has are unlikely to be due to EPM, EPM can produce symptoms that are highly variable and he isn't going to rule out that the lumps were an immune response to the EPM organisms, particularly as Pie certainly doesn't otherwise look or act like a horse with lymphosarcoma.  And in any event, the treatment should help with his other symptoms.  Here's hoping the treatment helps the lumps to improve . . .

The biggest change in Pie is that his old friendly, sweet personality is back - he's no longer crabby and grouchy.  Now, he has been on Banamine (at our vet's recommendation) for a few days, and that could explain the personality change.  We're doing our last dose of Banamine today, and we'll see if the friendly horse stays with us - if he stays his normal self, it's the EPM treatment that's doing the trick, if he gets irritable and grouchy again, it was probably the Banamine.  Only time will tell . . .

Drifter has had some improvement in his hind end soundness.  I observed yesterday in the pasture that he was trotting pretty normally, and his walk looks normal.  Today I put him on the lunge, briefly, to see what we have.  And, indeed, although his trot is improved - the toe-dragging with the left hind is gone - he's still not 100%, and was reluctant to move out at the trot.  Drifter is also leaning heavily on me when I pick his right hind foot, which is new for him and probably means he doesn't want to overweight the left hind. Pie seems somewhat tentative in his walking, but willing to move out, and he even whinnied to me from his paddock today, which is the first time in a long time he's done that.

I'm not riding either Pie or Drifter today at my vet's instructions (although I did get on Drifter for a few moments as he was saddled up and I wanted him to feel we had done something together) - she wanted me not to ride much if at all on days 3, 4 and 5 of the treatment as neurological symptoms sometimes get worse during that period.

And not to leave out the Dawn mare - she's doing well with her transition to barefoot.  She's less tentative on the concrete, although still prefers not to walk over the gravel areas.  Her front feet were slightly warm last night, even though she was walking well, so I gave her a little Bute to reduce any inflammation.  Today, she came in walking well from the pasture so we saddled up and had a little ride at the walk in the arena.  It'll take her 6 to 9 months to grow complete new front hooves, but considering that her hoof structure, shape and angles weren't too bad to begin with, we should be able to so some good riding before winter closes in and we take some time off.

Today, Dawn and I worked on some components of the floating exercise - breaking it down into bits so she understands what I want.  We worked specifically on transitioning smoothly from walking forward into side pass in the same direction, and then concluded after a few steps of side pass with walking forward at right angles to our original direction of travel.  One of the aspects of this exercise that's most important is never losing the feeling of forward.  To that end, we also did some work on changing our turns on the haunches into walk pirouettes where the hind end keeps on stepping in place, and on changing the bend in our leg yield to begin to turn it into half pass.  With Dawn, there's a very fine line between keeping her hindquarters active and aggravating her with my leg - she's a good teacher because she always clearly tells me when I'm doing too much.

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I did much better with my riding in October - I felt like getting out there most days and the fears and worries are getting much less troublesome.  But we did have a number of days off due to bad weather, other things I had going on, Pie's trip to the hospital and Dawn's starting to transition to barefoot.  Here's the summary: Pie: 15 rides October; 113 rides 2011 to date. Drifter: 15 rides October; 82 rides 2011 to date. Dawn: 10 rides October; 48 rides 2011 to date; all horses 40 rides total October; 233 rides 2011 to date.  Here's hoping for some good riding weather in November!

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