It seems a bit silly to write this post now, as later on this afternoon Echo will be seeing the vet again, who will reassess her lameness and see if the shockwave treatment has had any effect. But there have been some improvements that I thought might get lost in today's events if I didn't write them down now!
I haven't been doing the yoga quite every day, but not far off - and I am quite pleased with the results. As my last post showed, she is standing much more square, much more frequently, which has to be a good thing. She quite enjoys the exercises, particularly the one where I hang off the end of her tail. She doesn't much like the butt tucks, but she is getting much more responsive in them - and the belly lifts. I've noticed that when I do the yoga then long-rein her, she is much straighter on the long-reins, which is interesting. She had physio last week and Ella said that she definitely feels a bit better - she's still a bit sore through her lumbar region on the right hand side, but it is more localised now and she was able to loosen it off fairly easily.
So that's good.
And the most interesting thing has been the developments with her feet. As you know, the first diagnosis of any problem was done by the farrier, who told me that her feet were very unlevel - each hind foot had about an inch's difference, as she was loading the outside of her feet. He assured me that it was down to poor shoeing when I was in Lincoln and that getting her feet level would solve the problem. He then worked with her for eight months before I got a vet and he confirmed she had suspensory damage that was probably causing the foot balance problem. The vet advised lateral extension shoes, and, knowing my farrier, I knew that he wouldn't be prepared to work with the vet on this. He had been treating her unlevel feet by putting a stud in the outside of each shoe to lift the outside heel. This didn't really do a lot, and I knew I had to listen to what the vet wanted to do, since I was going down the vet route.
So I changed to the farrier that shoes most of the horses at the yard; he's a really highly respected farrier round here and, more importantly, he phoned my vet personally, to discuss her feet and decide on a plan of action. He also knows Echo's physio, as he shoes her horses (which is a good sign, as she's REALLY fussy!) and last week, when they were both at the yard at the same time, they both watched her trot up and had a discussion about her lameness. Amazing.
And EVEN more importantly, having had lateral extensions on for the last six weeks, the outside of her hoof has now grown enough for him to get them pretty level. He said that the stud she had in, while he could see the logic, would have probably made things worse. Because it was protruding out beyond the shoe, it would strike the ground first and in fact concuss the heel, preventing it from growing. Also, as a stud's purpose is essentially to provide grip, having a stud in meant that any residual movement had to go up through the leg, which was why I was seeing such hideous twisting in her hocks as she walked. New farrier has brought her toe back, so that she is not sitting so much on her heels and when I have been long-reining I have seen a lot less twisting in the hocks - her walk is starting to look much straighter.
But none of this really matters if she is still lame. Which I think she is. She's much better in walk, but I can still see that she is holding her right hip higher than her left. In trot, I don't know what she looks like as I am always the one trotting her up, but Ella says she is still snatching the right hind higher when she trots. So I don't really know what is going to happen. I think the vet will probably suggest surgery on her suspensory ligaments, but I'm not sure whether I want to do this yet. I think he will have wanted me to work her a bit more before today, but I don't want to ride her at the moment because we still have all the unsolved saddle fitting issues and I REALLY don't need any additional problems right now. I don't really want to operate on her suspensories unless I know for sure that there isn't a higher up problem causing her to load the suspensories too much. It just seems weird that she would have chronic wear and tear - I can't help feeling that there might be something else going on.
So the vet is coming out this afternoon and I will hopefully know a little more then. There are lots of things to be pleased about though - this is the most relaxed she's been when out of work and stabled - I have her on a nupafeed calmer, which seems to have done the trick. She isn't a zombie and she's on a pretty low dosage, but it just seems to be keeping the edge off her.
Keep your fingers crossed for us!