Wednesday, June 7, 2017
Copper the Family Pet
Jay and I hadn't said anything about our grand plans for the summer, because we didn't want to jinx it. Having already jinxed the horses' trip to Arizona, we weren't looking for more bad luck.
One of Jay's goals is to ride a 25 or 50 Limited Distance (LD), which is a "short" version of an endurance race. Our vet's wife mentioned that there was going to be one at the end of August not very far from us, and at the time, we knew our horses would come back from Arizona ready to ride that far. Since the AZ trip didn't pan out, we looked up a training schedule on line and we were looking forward to getting the horses started.
Now, Copper has been intermittently lame since we got him. He had a hitch in his get-along that would come and go. But he's a ... big ... boy and we usually noticed that he was gimpy after a bout of running, bucking, and farting like he was in shape. I mean, I get it, I feel good and overdo it, too.
However, this bout of lameness didn't seem to ever go completely away. He had good days and he had better days, but for about two months he was never 100%. I'm a firm believer in "tincture of time" for horses; even I had to admit that ToT wasn't working and I began to consider calling the vet.
I thought maybe it was an SI joint issue, because he'd taken a hard fall a few months ago while running, bucking, and farting. All of that weight hitting the ground at an angle (mid-buck/turn) had to have hurt. His SI joint was swollen and a little tender for a few days, but resolved.
One of the things Jay and I had planned to get the horses ready for the LD was to attend an Obstacle Clinic on our anniversary, to get some more desensitization work done. We all enjoy it, and thought it would be a great way to get back up on our horses. With Copper still looking lame, though, it was time to get the vet out.
She is awesome and good with equines. (She was also a wrangler in her past life, which automatically raised her cool factor with me.) It didn't take her long to come to the conclusion that Copper will never be an endurance horse. In fact, he will never be more than a light-weight, flat-land, for no more than an hour horse.
His back left stifle is a hot mess. She's fairly certain it's congenital, and did offer up surgery as a solution. Even without consulting Jay, I knew surgery was not an option. Maybe if Copper was a highly trained athlete who was winning us a ton of money, we might consider it. But he's not. He's a well-loved pet. Surgery is expensive, painful, and has no guarantee of fixing his issue.
For now, we're managing his inflammation when needed: bute the day before, of, and after farrier work; bute the day before, of, and after any work; and bute the day before, of, and after anything that might cause him to run, buck, and fart (such as us taking his girls away). When we can no longer manage him with the occasional bute, we'll bump him up to daily Previcox.
The vet thinks we can manage him for years before we have to look at putting him down. We love him an awful lot, and won't make his quality of life suffer. Right now, he's happy and healthy living with his mares.