Today was a crummy day.
I decided to have the vet out, just because Jetta has been acting so weird lately. I haven't mentioned it on this blog save for saying that she's been "bad" because I had no idea what was happening and I just couldn't handle comments speculating on what might be the matter or what I was doing wrong because I have enough issues with my own imagination! But now that I've had the vet out, speculate away! I'd love to hear what you think.
Here's the deal:
Two weeks ago, a Friday, I rode Jetta and she was absolutely perfect. It was a fantastic ride. She had three days off and then I rode her again on Tuesday. I plopped the western saddle on her with the bitless bridle and hopped on. She refused to go forward and would violently buck and threaten to rear when I tried to get her to go forward. She would walk slowly on a loose rein but any time I gathered up the reins or tried to get her marching forward she'd kick out. I got off and switched saddles thinking she might be having a temper tantrum about the western saddle. I put the dressage saddle on, which is her favorite. Same deal - wouldn't go forward, bucking when I put my leg on. I got off again and took her temp. It was a normal 99.9F. Then I put her on the lunge line. She was quite full of it, snorting and bucking and leaping all over the place. She was not off in the slightest, her trot was bouncing off the ground about a foot. Once she calmed down again I got back on her, but the same deal. I decided I didn't want to die before I finished my final exams so I put her away for the night after lunging her a bit more so she didn't feel like she got away with not working.
Next day I got on with the dressage saddle and her dressage bridle and rode. Same deal, though this time I was prepared and I managed to make her trot. Next day after that she only bucked minorly and I managed to get her to canter. Since then I had a jumping lesson and went and played on the trail course. She was getting almost 100% back to normal, except she had decided that she didn't know how to lunge and would turn and face me, refusing to go forward and would rear if I tried to make her. We worked through that and lunging is back to normal now. Then I rode her on Friday and she almost bucked me off.
The issue is that when she's walking and I put my leg on her, she freaks out, pins her ear and kicks out, bucks multiple times and threatens to rear. Once I get her into the trot, she's perfect. A tad more sensitive perhaps, but we've been having the best canter work ever. But bring her down to the walk and she will buck again. It's the opinion of most people at the barn that it's behavioral, but I wasn't sure since it was so sudden and violent. I would feel terrible if she was in pain or something and I made her work through it. I couldn't find any sensitivity along her back.
Today, Dr. W came out and did a physical exam and flex test. He found no soreness anywhere on her body, which was very good. He watched her trot out and noticed a slight shortness on her left hind (LH). He flexed her on both hind legs. She tested positive on her upper leg on her LH, but Dr. W said is was barely a one. Lameness is evaluated on a scale of 0-5, zero being absolutely sound and five being dead lame.
It's his opinion that her hocks are fusing. While they normally fuse between 12 and 15 years of age, sometimes due to workload, nutrition or genetics they will fuse early. There is some discomfort while the joint fuses, but once it is fused there are absolutely no problems. Of course it also could be her hip or stifle, but if needs be, we will figure that out later.
He said he thought that her bucking and kicking out was just behavioral, that she's testing me (even more than usual) since between the ages of 5 and 8 years old, mares experience hormone changes and look to challenge others because this is the time during which they would normally take over a herd.
I asked about ulcers and he said it could be possible. I could try a 10 day treatment of omeprazole if I wanted, at $35/dose which totals at $350. Ouch. Then if that helped, I'd do the full 30 days of treatment which would end up being over $1000. Oh dear.
I also asked about tumors on the ovaries, since I had heard that it causes aggressive behaviour and while I volunteered at the University Large Animal Hospital there was a horse with an ovary the size of a volleyball (they are normally closer to the size of a small fist or a golfball). Dr. W said that then there would most likely be soreness in the lower back, of which she had none, but to make sure he'd have to do a ultrasound and he just got a new one which will be coming later this week.
So right now the game plan is to bute her with 2 grams per day for 5 days and see if that changes her behaviour. If it does, then we can discuss blocking her joints to make sure it is her hocks, then injecting the joint to make it more comfortable and to speed the fusing process along. If it doesn't, I think I'm going to give it a week or two to try and correct her behavior then if it doesn't go away, consider the omeprazole trial.
I'm also considering adding some more herbs to her diet. I really did feel like the raspberry leaf helped over the summer with her touchiness when in heat, so maybe if I add something else she'll mellow out a bit more. I'm considering stinging nettle leaf, but am finding it difficult to buy it in large quantities in the US. I read a great article in one of my favorite magazines, Equine Wellness, about different herbs for mellowing out mares so I'm wanting to try some to see if they'll help.
It's just so frustrating because everything was going so well and I really cannot afford any of the treatments which makes me feel even more crummy. The whole way up to the barn I was having a panic attack because I was freaking out over what was wrong with my horse. I currently have a headache from grinding my teeth. And I'm broke. I had set aside $200 to get Grady and Colton's teeth done and now I just had to spend that on Jetta's vet visit. Also, since I'm moving barns Jetta needs a new turnout blanket because she doesn't have a waterproof one. I have a car payment coming due and I my bank account is running dry while I wait for my paycheck to come. Sometimes being an adult sucks, especially being in school and not having a full time job. Blegh.
We'll just take it day by day though. There's a tack sale on the 7th of January so I guess I'll be sorting through my stuff to see what I can part with and hope it sells. Grady and Colton's teeth will have to wait and since I've been working more over winter break, let's just hope my paycheck is large enough to be helpful.
So any thoughts? Do you agree with the evaluation of it just being behavioural or is there anything else you would have ruled out by the vet?