The vet came out this morning to take x-rays of Red's left hock - this is the one where he got kicked about 10 days ago, and where it blew up like a baloon with what may have been cellulitis. This is also the left hind that I think he twisted pretty hard in catching himself when he almost fell while cantering about two weeks ago - he stepped in one of the big gouges in the arena footing left by a horse that had been run loose in the arena before we rode. Since that ride he's been sound at the walk but off at the trot, barely at all when going straight or tracking left but noticeably when tracking right. But he moves very happily at liberty and on the line and it may be that the source of his short-striding to the right is in his hip or back - it's very hard to tell. Anyway, when the vet came to check on him early this week she wasn't completely happy with the fact that he still had some minor swelling around the hock and also wasn't much improved in soundness. She wanted to take some x-rays, and to compare them to the x-rays we had of him from last year at the time I got him.
The result is that the x-rays don't give a clear answer - the hock is a very complicated joint and due to the way the splint and cannon bones lie it's not easy to get a clear picture of what's going on. The area at the upper end of the splint bone looks a bit inflamed - there's some roughness on the x-rays - and there's a possibility that he has a hairline fracture at the head of the splint bone. The good news is that, if there is a hairline fracture, there's no displacement, which means that healing should be good with no effect on the upper end of the suspensory ligament. It's also possible that he has a non-displaced hairline fracture of the upper end of the cannon bone - although this could also be an x-ray shadow cast by the splint bone. If these hairline fractures exist, no surgical treatment would be required. Although he's happy to move out, we're going to give him a break from any undersaddle work, even at walk, although I'll continue to do some in-hand and ground-driving walk work. The vet would prefer him to be confined, but he's a horse that would likely do himself more harm being separated from the other horses than out in the pasture - and the vet acknowledges that the likelihood of him making anything worse in turnout is low - he could of course get kicked again but that could happen anyway. Since it's unlikely to do him harm and it'll help his mental health, he'll continue to go out with the other horses.
I'm also going to keep him on the SMZs twice a day for another week due to the inflammation around the splint bone - the vet would like to see the slight swelling in the hock disappear and the very small cut that we think was the impact point heal up more completely. I'll continue to ice twice a day and also rub Surpass into his hock once a day. The vet also agrees that chiropractic will help, since he probably wrenched everything, so I'm scheduling our chiropractor (who is also a vet) for a visit.
Since the x-rays weren't all that easy to interpret, the vet will show her colleagues at their practice the x-rays and see what they think, and will also show them to a veterinary surgeon she uses for consultations. She'll probably come back in two to three weeks and take some more x-rays so we can compare.
So I think we'll be OK - Red seems happy and comfortable, but I'll be keeping a close eye on him. He's enjoying his in-hand and ground-driving work and just taking tours of the barn aisles in hand. I'm not worried about his being off from riding for a time - his training is now very solid and I think when we're back riding again he'll be right where he was - nothing will be lost. And one very big thing that I'm proud of - last year just after I got him when we did x-rays, he had to be sedated for the x-rays - he was fidgeting, pawing, swinging his body around and threatening to kick. This time, despite the extraordinary heat - it was about 100F and sweltering in the part of the barn where we were for the x-rays, and it was an area of the barn he isn't very familiar with - he stood like a trouper for many, many x-rays, including moving his leg to the exact position needed for each shot - I was very proud of how cooperative he was and told him so.