What do cookies and joints have in common?

You’ll have to read the entire article to find out!

I know I shouldn’t complain about this weather because we haven’t had it nearly as bad as lots of folks just a bit further north than we are, but c’mon already! Enough rain and cold–I live in the low country: I want sunshine and warmth!!
It was another dreary cold day yesterday. I layered my Patagonia silk underwear under my clothes before capping it off with my heavy barn coat, wool cap and scarf. I figured that would be enough to keep me warm under cover of the barn. Boy was I wrong. I don’t know where I’ve put my Carhartt coveralls, but I sure need to find those. If you own horses and don’t own a pair of those, you are missing out. They’re not super cheap, but they will last YEARS, and they’re worth their weight in gold. The lined ones are toasty warm, and the extra long zipper makes it easy to pull them off over boots.
But, enough talk about cold weather gear. Makes me shiver just typing it.
I had Dr. Mitch Lowrey out again yesterday to dig a little deeper into Johnny’s pain issues. I love a vet who tries to save clients money–when I told him I only wanted to x-ray the right side (his worse side), he was totally cool with it. I figured anything we found on that side was likely to be worse than what we found on the left. We radiographed both his hock and his stifle, and as soon as he emails the rads to me, I’ll post them here for all to view. In the meantime, I’ll just explain it.
His hocks were as expected: signs of impending fusion in the lower joints and some DJD (degenerative joint disease–aka arthritis) in the upper joints. Nothing to be too alarmed about. However, there was a little spur rising up from the bottom of the lower joint, and as a post-operative FAI (Femoral Acetabular Impingement) sufferer, I know EXACTLY what that feels like. Yikes. We’ll all be happy when that lower joint fuses. His stifle actually looked pretty good, but his patellar groove had a slight flattening towards the bottom. It’s a congenital flattening and mild, but enough that he occasionally catches his patella there (ever heard of catching stifles?)–I’ve seen and felt him do it on occasion, but it happens infrequently. I thought it was more or less lack of stifle strength. And, to some extent it is–building muscle around that stifle will help stabilize the joint the same way building my glutes, quads and hammies helps stabilize my hip joint.
We decided to go ahead and inject his upper hock and stifle on the right side. His left side appears to be going great (right lead canter is dreamy), though, if helping the left makes the right side feel worse, I suppose we’ll go back and inject the left side, too. Dr. Mitch had given Johnny a wee little bit of SedaVet to help him relax (cold weather does not make Johnny happy. He was dancing in the cross-ties and generally acting nutty–he was literally foaming at the mouth as he lolled his tongue around). By the time he finished radiographing him and was set up to inject, the sedative had worn off, so he gave him a little more happy juice. Moving around while needles are poking into your joint spaces is a bad idea. And, trust me, it doesn’t matter how much numbness solution they inject in that joint space, if the needle scrapes bone, you WILL come up off that table. Since Johnny was all relaxed, I got to take some pictures. Unfortunately, I’d left the Nikon at home, so you get not so quality iPhone images.

Going into the upper hock region

Going into the upper hock region

Pointing out the lack of viscosity in the joint fluid

Pointing out the lack of viscosity in the joint fluid

Finding the upper hock joint space

Injecting the upper hock joint space

No joint fluid at all. No bueno

No joint fluid at all. No bueno

Giving him some cushion in that stifle

Giving him some cushion in that stifle


I think I'll just stand here for awhile

I think I’ll just stand here for awhile

Good thing these cross-ties are here to hold up my head

Good thing these cross-ties are here to hold up my head


Johnny was still really back sore, but we concluded that, since it appears to only be muscular soreness, as his joints feel better, he’s using his body better. His back muscles haven’t been used properly in quite some time–it’s only logical that they would be sore. He suggested banamine or robaxin to help relieve muscle aches but that I was going to have to push him through that soreness to build appropriate muscle. So, I’m working on a strengthening regime that I would use on youngsters or horses who have been out of work for awhile. Lots of cavalletti in our future, as we have no hills here. We may have to trailer up to the beach and ride in the ocean as well. (I would have to hire a photographer for this.)
In conclusion, I’m happy to report there appears to be nothing career-limiting in Johnny’s joints. It’s all maintenance at this point. And now, for the best part of the story: Dr. Mitch will work for cookies. No, seriously! I don’t think I’ve mentioned on here that I own a Gluten Free custom bakery (click here), but in exchange for the farm call fee, I baked 4 dozen of my best cookies: 2 each of oatmeal raisin and chocolate chunk.
GF, dairy-free Oatmeal Raisin

GF, dairy-free Oatmeal Raisin

He wants to send my treats to some of his clients as thank you gifts, and so we discussed bartering services. Back home in Arkansas, this was a regular thing, but I hadn’t seen much of it around here. If you provide a worthwhile service or goods, ask your vet if he/she would be willing to trade services–as long as it’s mutually beneficial, it’s a great way for both parties to save some cash!
No riding for the next 3 days, but the weather’s turning around a little, and Monday’s looking great so far. I’ll keep you guys updated on his progress!

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One comment

  1. Shelby · March 7, 2014

    He looks so adorable with his head hanging low in the cross-ties. Poor loopy dude! What a blessing that it is maintenance and not “career-limiting.” Good luck with strengthening his back. I selfishly am rooting for an ocean trip so that I can see your pictures!

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