Sorry about not following up the last post about Echo's lameness. I have been feeling a little undecided about the future of this blog and writing on the internet in general...but that's another story.
Echo had another session of nerve blocking and we determined that it was definitely in the low hock area on both hind legs, but she had no improvement when the joint was blocked. The vet was pretty sure it was suspensories, so he scanned both hindlegs and, sure enough, the suspensory ligament right up at the top, near the hock, was inflamed on both. The right leg suspensory was bigger than the left, hence the increased lameness on the right hind, but both were fairly large and grainy on the scan.
The vet said that it isn't a specific tear, but wear and tear of the ligament. Its official name is apparently 'Chronic proximal suspensory desmitis'. He said that surgery is an option, but he wants to try using shockwave therapy and controlled exercise first, then if that shows no improvement we can consider surgery. This seems like a good idea - I was really worried about the prospect of box rest and, this way, she could keep on going out in the field for now.
I've been going over and over the last year's events, trying to work out when this could have started, but it's really hard to tell. It could be as long ago as October 2010, just after I moved to Lincoln, when she first started going badly and I found that the saddle didn't fit. It could have happened charging around in the field when she was in Lincoln....it could have been the feet being imbalanced that put too much strain on the ligaments...or it could have been the ligaments being sore that made her load the outside of her feet, causing the feet to be imbalanced. It's pretty impossible to tell.
So, for now, we are doing...not a lot. She has had two lots of shockwave treatment, two weeks apart, and has spent her days munching hay in the field. It's been good that the weather has been nice, as she's been pretty relaxed and chilled. She can get a little strong going to the field, but once she's there she doesn't run around or anything. I think, if she did, we would probably have to restrict her grazing to a small pen - but I didn't opt for this as she is better off keeping moving- the shockwave treatment is designed to stimulate blood flow and cell growth in the damaged area, so moving about is good for it.
Sh has her last session of shockwave tomorrow, followed by two more weeks of turnout, then hopefully the vet will re-scan the ligaments and we can go from there. If there is a significant improvement, we will be able to start working her - in walk and in straight lines. Although the vet said this could be ridden, I think I would start off with long reining her in one of the long paddocks. She won't be able to go on an arena surface for a long time, but I wouldn't want to take her out to begin with, as she can be really spooky and I wouldn't want to waste all the progress. If we long-rein, there is also more of a chance of building up the muscles more evenly, as her right side is much less muscled than her left at the moment. I have a feeling that if I were to put a saddle on her as she is, it would just sit wonky and make everything worse. Not to mention how utterly impossible it is to find a saddle that fits my horse.
So that's where we are! We'll keep plodding on and see how it goes. Luckily, Echo doesn't seem to mind all the time off - we've had no breakages or naughtiness and she's enjoying doing all the carrot stretches that the physio has recommended. She's having more physio next week to keep her comfortable and so I'm pretty confident. Or at least trying to be!