Having fiddled around for a while now, trying to make Echo more comfortable, things took a rather different turn this week. One of my best friends is an equine physiotherapist and came on Monday morning to have a quick look at Echo. She wasn't going to treat her, just have a look. She knows her pretty well and has known her since she was a yearling, so I trust her judgement.
She had a feel along her back and said she was quite sore from the 9th vertebrae back, and that something was not feeling right in her right hind - that there was a lot less muscle in the main groups of the right hind in comparison to the left. She then watched her on the lunge. Recently, Echo has been doing a weird hop up into trot on the lunge - unwilling to push off her right hind. It isn't so noticeable when she's ridden, but on the lunge it looks awful. She pushes off the left, then sort of hops on her right hind, seeming to not want to bring it right under.
Ella watched her on both reins and said that she was really unhappy with her right hind and she would recommend getting a vet to look at her. She said that if she was asked to make the call whether the horse was lame or not, she would say she is lame. Marvellous.
So I called the vet that she recommended and he came out yesterday. He performed flexion tests on both hinds, watching her trot up, and said she is definitely lame on the right hind. He said also that the flexion test affected the left hind too. He then watched her on the lunge in the school and on grass, then watched her trot up again, and said she was worse after work.
He nerve blocked just above her fetlock on the right, and she showed no different. She didn't think much of being injected, and nor did I. I forgot how squeamish and affected by needles I am - I nearly passed out, as I stupidly watched him inject her!
He then nerve blocked the top of the suspensory area / base of the hock in the right hind and she was much better. However, when she was better on the right, she showed some lameness on the left. He didn't have time to do any more yesterday, but is coming out again tomorrow and wants to block the hock joint, to see whether that makes any more of a difference than we achieved yesterday. He told me to ride her as normal today, so that he isn't seeing her after having a few days off. That was really tough. It's one thing riding a horse that you're not sure is sound, but riding a horse that you know is lame is really upsetting. She was very good, but of course I could feel her lameness every step now that I KNOW it's there!
Last night, I stupidly did lots of reading on some of the possibilities that he was discussing. I read about high suspensory injuries, about arthritic changes and about spavins in the hocks. And all of them sound horrible and terrifying. She is insured, so I will get her fully sorted out, but the idea of months of boxrest with a horse that a) gets frustrated when she has more than a few days off, b) gets cross when she's left in longer than the other horses and c) has a habit of jumping out of her stable when she decides she's had enough of being in there, is, quite frankly, hideous. I had a brief chat with Lyn, the yard owner this morning, who said that she is sure we would be able to work something out with a small pen in one of the fields for her to go in.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. I don't even know what it is yet. Something deep down, some instinct - that may well be wrong - is telling me it's a suspensory injury, probably in both hinds, but I am obviously hoping it is something easier to treat than this. I should know more by tomorrow, but in the meantime, keep your fingers crossed for her.