Last week he wasn't doing too well. While his leg with the bowed tendon was free of heat and swelling, I was being told he was laying down for long periods of time and that his breathing sounded labored. I also discovered a small bedsore starting on one of his hips Thursday night, which confirmed that while even though he was pretty much on his feet whenever I saw him, that he was infact laying down more than he should be when I wasn't there. I started making phone calls to start getting a plan in place because I was likely going to have to put him down.
My farrier came out the next day, and I was really hoping we would be able to get Wayne's feet trimmed and see if that helped him at all, and my farrier is well versed in things like bowed tendons, founder, etc, and works closely with a couple of well respected vets that specialize in lameness issues, so if there was anything that could be done with his feet to help him with this bowed tendon, my farrier would be able to do it. Wayne's feet had grown pretty fast in the six weeks between trims, and this past spring when we went seven weeks between trims instead of six, and Wayne's feet grew like weeds, he was laying down a lot the week before our appointment and kind of acting like he was now, but as soon as he got his feet trimmed, he was fine again, and was a happy camper all spring and summer, patrolling his pasture and keeping an eye on the farm, running to the gate to greet everyone, keeping up with his favorite geldings on the other side of the fence. So something kept nagging me not to make any drastic decisions until my farrier had seen to his feet.
Friday morning came, and when I got down to the barn, Wayne was walking better than I had seen him walk since he injured himself. I was hopeful. I cleaned his stall, and fluffed his bedding, and put him back in his stall with his breakfast to wait his turn, and half an hour later he stopped eating, was laid out flat, and seemed miserable. When it came to be his turn to be trimmed, he was still laying down and wasn't too thrilled with the idea of getting up. My farrier suggested we just try trimming him while he's down. But while Wayne didn't mind me being in his stall while he was laid out flat, it was a different story as soon as my farrier walked in. Wayne rolled up on his belly and tucked his feet under himself, which of course wouldn't work to trim him. We gently tried to get him laid back down flat, but Wayne finally decided no way, and stuck one of his legs out in front of himself to keep himself up on his belly and prevent our attempts, then popped up on his feet. So much for that idea, we had to try trimming him the normal way.
My farrier also suggested changing the depth of his bedding to see if that might help at all. I had been bedding him pretty deep to keep him comfortable, but apparently I was doing him a major injustice with the deep bedding, as my farrier said it was actually putting more stress on his tendons with the deep unstable footing, he'd be better standing on the heavy mats with minimal bedding with a bowed tendon. Give him a nice soft bed in the back corner if he wants to lay down, but otherwise mats and minimal bedding in the front so he was on a firmer stable surface when he was standing. So we fixed his bedding like my farrier suggested, and that night when I went down to take care of him, he was up on his feet and eating. So maybe the bedding was an issue, that could explain why he was always up on his feet and perky when I was seeing him, because he'd paced enough to knock the extra bedding around the outside and had the middle nice and flat and mainly just mats, but then he'd be down and miserable after I'd cleaned his stall and fluffed his bed. I feel like a complete idiot. I learn something new from my farrier every time he comes out, so lesson learned: deep bedding for founder, minimal bedding for bowed tendons.
But bedding and trim aside, my mind was made up, I'd call the vet on Monday to put him down. But Saturday I found a different horse. He was up and seemed quite chipper, a complete difference from the day before. And he was that way all weekend. And while he did lay down some, it seemed to be 10 to 15 minutes at a time, verses 30 minutes or an hour. And he wasn't always laid out flat, sometimes he'd just be curled up. Eating everything I put in front of him. Happy to walk outside to see what was going on and graze a bit. Even snuck him out to the arena for a couple rolls in the sand. Talking his head off to anyone that came near, and happily hanging his head out his hay window to see what was going on. Usually chewing a mouthful of haycubes while doing so, and leaving a pile of dribbled haycubes on the aisle floor. Monday morning and at lunch was the same thing. Needless to say I was once again torn on what to do.
She said he's definitely uncomfortable at this point, he's not sure which front leg to put the most weight on, but not excessively uncomfortable. He's not suffering at this point, she said he's got a good sparkle in his eye, and a good attitude, and if he's keeping a good attitude and appetite and will be ok on stall rest, then he may pull through if I'm willing to do the nursing care. But we're also looking at 3 to 4 months of complete stall rest and standing wraps, possibly stall rest and wraps all winter. So it basically came down to, if I'm willing and he's willing, go ahead and give it a shot, but if he back slides again or starts laying down too much or giving you the signs that it's just more than he can take, then it's time to put him down. He's definitely not in the clear, but he may pull through and be a happy retired pasture pony again. We'll just have to see, and let him tell us how he's feeling. If he continues like he was over the weekend and this week, keep going, if he starts acting like he did last week, then it's too much, and it's time to put him down. I just have to prepare myself that things could go either way. And I guess if he has to be in, winter is a good time for it. And thankfully we have a fairly busy barn, so there should be lots of activity going on to help keep his mind busy while he's inside alone during the day, and he has other stall buddies to keep him company at night.
She is a little concerned about his front feet though. She said the growth rings are showing a little bit more heel growth than toe, which means there could be some rotation in his feet. Which would not make his prognosis very good. So we x-rayed his front feet, but then her digital developer suddenly decided to stop working for some reason (which apparently is a first), and they have to send her a new part for it, so she's coming back out Friday at lunch to x-ray his feet and see what's going on. And whether there is any rotation or not, the x-rays will give my farrier a better idea of just how far back he can trim his toes to give his tendons as much relief as possible. So we'll see what the x-rays say on Friday.
So we're taking things day by day and just seeing how it goes. But so far so good, he's definitely having a better week this week than last week. And so far he doesn't seem to be telling me it's time.