Saturday, September 14, 2013

Return of Bob

We drove back up to Phoenix today to retrieve Bob from the veterinary clinic.  His surgery went well, but he will be on pen rest for at least three weeks.  He won't be able to do any work until sometime in October. 
Bob checking things out in his room at the spa.
Bob jumped out of the trailer without effort, when we got home.  It is nice to see him sound for a change. 
Meanwhile, he gets to stay here at the horsey spa before his eventual return to the Army.  Bob is okay with that. 
Room with a view. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Navicular Treatment for Bob

Bob is one of our slow, ponderous horses who cam to the troop about five years ago.  He had been used in cowboy mounted shooting before coming to us, so he was considered a good find as he was already gun trained. Although he was slow, I considered that an asset as many of our horses turn out to be too fast when charging up the parade field.  I was wanting a horse that a beginner could ride.  I thought I'd found that in Bob, but it turned out that in a charge all that slow, ponderous behavior disappeared.  He is also obstinate and difficult to ride, if you don't have a lot of confidence in yourself.  Despite all that, he was a decent horse when paired up with the right rider.  Basically, the same situation as we have with every other horse. 
Waiting for the effects of the first nerve block to take effect.
Unfortunately, he turned out to be bi-lateral navicular and had to have a neurectomy to correct his lameness.  All attempts at pen rest, corrective shoeing, shoe removal, etc. had not helped him. The surgery went well and he was pain-free for a couple of years.  However, earlier this year he began to show signs of lameness again.  We thought it was the navicular reappearing as the surgery typically only lasts a couple years before the nerves regrow.  We had him evaluated but it seemed that the lameness was caused by a bad bone bruise on one of his fetlocks.  We put him in pen rest for several months to see if he would come out of it, but once the bruise was healed, he was still lame. 
The vet blocking the second hoof. 
Thus, we took him back to the veterinarian for another evaluation and a possible neurectomy.  The veterinarian blocked him out (numbed his heels) and the lameness disappeared, so it was clear that he had gone navicular again.  You can only do a neurectomy twice on the same horse, so this will be Bob's last surgery before he has to be retired.  Hopefully, he will be able to perform for a couple more years before the nerves regenerate and lameness sets in again. 
Meanwhile, he will be in pen rest for a couple weeks, before we begin the process of reconditioning him.  He will have to be paired with an experienced rider who can recognize lameness and can deal with any stumbling, should it occur.  After a year of so of additional service to the Army, we will start looking to retire him so he can go shoeless and not have to work anymore.  He will never be completely pain free, once the nerves regenerate, but we can hopefully find a home with nice, soft ground, where his discomfort will be minimized. 
Bob wishing he could have a coke. 
I don't really like giving a neurectomy to a horse, but sometimes it is the only option for extending the useful life of a horse.  In this economy, no one wants a lame horse, so it is in his best interests to keep him working as long as possible and then hope we can find a nice home for him where he can just be a pasture pet.  Once he's free of shoes and having to work under saddle, he might enjoy a decent retirement with minimal pain. 
Navicular disease cannot be cured and no one really knows what causes it.  It is disheartening to see a young horse, with so much promise, become navicular.   Bob is getting the best treatment available in Arizona and hopefully we can keep him going a bit longer.