"Smile! It keeps your brain from falling out when you're frustrated!" - Clinton Anderson (Downunder Horsemanship)

"They say boys never grow up, their toys just get bigger. I say I never grew up, my 'My Little Ponies' just got bigger!" - Me

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Long Road To Recovery for Cody

So, I’ve been really lazy about blogging lately.  Though for the most part, I really just haven’t had much time.  Cody’s knee surgery was three months ago, and……it’s been a long road, getting from there to here (hah, song lyrics, but they fit).  And we have a long road ahead of us.

Outside with Lady day before she went lame.
A couple days after coming home from surgery in November, Cody went three legged lame, refusing to put any weight at all on the leg she had knee surgery on.  And a couple days after that, we found the reason why when one of her incisions started draining nasty bloody yellow stuff like crazy.  Infection had set into one of her incisions.

How or why it got infected, we have no idea.  Infections after this type of surgery are rare, almost unheard of, especially showing up a week after the surgery was actually done.  Not to mention the fact that she was on preventative IV antibiotics both before and after surgery the entire time she was at the MSU vet clinic to prevent any infection from getting in there.  And the day she went three legged lame because the infection was apparently really brewing in there, she still had on the bandage that they sent her home in, per the clinics instructions, so it wasn’t due to leaving a bandage on too long, or being rebandaged in less sterile conditions at home in the barn.  It was just one of those bizarre things.  But then, welcome to my life, if it can happen, it will likely happen to one of my horses.

Resting Cody girl.
But on top of that, joint infections are very bad news to begin with, and the three legged lame part was even worse.  Horses just can’t stand on three legs for very long, before that other leg breaks down, or bows tendons, or laminitis sets in.  Heck, even Barbaro couldn’t beat laminitis, and he had the best vet care available.

But by some miracle, Cody has managed to pull through so far!  They say Thoroughbreds have a lot of heart, and while Cody might be only half Thoroughbred, I’ve seen that “heart” and I’m glad for that Thoroughbred side of her right now.  (And I still say she's part cat, though she’s probably used up another life or two.)  Even my vet keeps saying “she’s amazing, any other horse would have given up long ago”.  I’ve called Cody a pansy in the past, because she’s so thin skinned and sensitive, but I can’t call her that anymore, she is one tough girl!

And thankfully I’ve had an awesome surgeon and regular vet to work with, and they have both been amazing working together on this.  And thankfully Cody has been smart, and taking good care of herself.

View from my bucket while stretching her leg.
So we’ve been through four different antibiotics fighting this.  The first week was three injections a day with two different antibiotics.  I’m getting good with the muscle injections, poor Cody was a pin cushion.  Then we switched over to SMZ tablets twice a day, and a long acting antibiotic injection once a week for five weeks.  She’s still on the SMZ tablets and probably will be for a few more months.  Infection that gets down into the joint and/or bone can apparently take up to six months of antibiotics to get it truly gone.  We’re not taking any chances!

By some miracle, the two joints in her knee above the infected one that she had surgery on managed to stay infection free!!  But the infection did a lot of damage to the joint she had surgery on.  Demineralizing and destroying some of the bone, and destabilizing the joint some.  The x-rays we’ve taken of that joint to track it’s progress are just scary crazy looking!  I’ll try to post them in another blog when I get a chance.  The only good thing to this is, if there was any cartilage left in that joint, the infection has completely destroyed it, basically doing what the surgery did, so if she can pull through this without that other front leg giving out on her, we should get a solid fusion in that joint this time around.

Are you done with my stall yet mom?
I feel just awful that things have gone so wrong, making her recovery all the harder and longer.  But Cody has been such a trooper!!  Not once has she given me any indications that it was too much for her to handle or that she was ready to give up.  And believe me, I’ve been watching closely.  But she’s always been bright eyed and perky.  Friendly and looking for attention or cookies from anyone who stops by her stall.  And thankfully we have a fairly busy barn where I board, so there’s always people and horses to see coming and going or stopping at her stall to visit.  Not once has she really gone off her feed, eating all the grain and hay cubes I can put in front of her.  Pacing herself with her hay so she has hay in front of her to snack on 24/7.  She’s remained in great weight and condition, and even gained some weight, and her coat is just glowing with shine.  She did have some problems with all the bute, when she started getting picky about her grain (though still chowing the haycubes) and started pawing pretty aggressively and having that mildly colicky look.  So we suspect an ulcer having started.  But 8 days of Gastroguard and putting her on Succeed seemed to clear that problem right up in no time.  And since she didn’t seem any more uncomfortable without the bute than she did with the bute, she’s been bute free ever since!

Sweet new no bows!
And so far not a trace of laminitis or tendon strain in that other front leg.  That is truly amazing, unheard of!  I’m so thankful!  And Cody has been very good about taking care of herself, laying down a lot to get off her feet and give her three good legs plenty of rest.  I know it’s usually not good when a horse is laying down a lot, but the vet and surgeon both keep saying “very smart horse!”  And thankfully I have a great farrier to work with too.  We didn’t even try trimming her feet when the infection first set in, she just couldn’t put any weight at all on that leg and there was no getting her other feet up to trim.  By the next trim her feet were getting scary long, but we managed to get three feet trimmed while standing, then waited till she lay down for a rest, and thankfully she let my farrier lean and crawl all over her while she was down to get her good front foot trimmed too.  Hopefully by the next trim, we’ll be able to trim all four feet standing.

Thankfully over the last two months, she has been trying to put some weight on that leg.  Experimentally testing it, stretching it, resting it on the floor flat footed while she eats instead of just resting it on the toe, resting it flat and teetering little bits of weight on it here and there.  We originally wanted to put her knee in a cast or splint, but until she’ll straighten it out and bear some weight on it, we haven’t been able to do either one. 

OMG, is that snow?!?!
But over the last two weeks I’ve seen some definite improvements.  Before if she walked forward she would hunch her back feet as far forward as she could get them, then hurry up and step forward with her good front foot as fast as she could, putting weight on her injured leg for the shortest amount of time possible and slamming her good front foot down hard in her race to step it forward and get off her injured leg.  Not a good idea!  So when I did have to move her in and out of her stall, we did it in reverse.  And eventually started backing up and down the barn aisle a time or two to encourage her to use that injured leg some, without slamming her good front leg around.  By backing up she could move her back feet back, then either brace herself on her hind end and slide both front feet back at the same time (which helped file her feet a bit on the cement floor), or eventually shuffle her front feet back in baby steps that still made her but some weight on her injured leg, but not for too long, and saved wear and tear on her good leg in the process.  So we got pretty good at going places in reverse.

First walk outside in 3 months!
But two weeks ago, I noticed a change.  She’s still not truly standing on it yet. And while she still likes to “put the parking brake on” a lot while she’s standing around, bending her knee and resting the toe, I have noticed her putting the injured leg down flat footed more often both in and out of her stall and putting some weight on it while she’s eating and standing around.  And from the looks of her stall, she seems to be lying down a little less lately.  But she can also walk forward!  She doesn’t have to scrunch her back end up way under herself before she takes a step, and she can put weight on the injured leg a bit longer now in order to step forward with her good foot much more gently and no longer really slamming it around!  It’s a small victory, but after three months of what seemed like little to no improvement, I’ll take it!  So our short trips up and down the barn aisle lately have been in drive instead of reverse!  And we’ve even made it outside on to the driveway a couple of times to go for a short walk out there, or go to a patch of grass to graze, or just to get out of the barn!  Chain over her nose though just to be safe!  Three months in a stall makes her a little bouncy outside, and we don’t need her doing anything stupid!!

So we still have a long road ahead of us, and probably another couple months of stall rest yet.  With the weird weather and the deep mud/frozen rut pastures, I don’t dare put her out any time soon, and not until she’s a whole lot more sure footed anyway!  Here’s keeping my fingers crossed that things continue in the right direction!

Fat and happy Lady!
So how’s Lady?  She’s doing well.  Fat, and happy, and very out of shape!  She’s pretty much been on “vacation” all winter.  Ride?  I’d love to, but there just aren’t enough hours in the day.  With working full time, and heading down to the barn twice a day, morning and night, to feed the girls, and medicate Cody, and clean Cody’s stall, and try to walk Cody a little bit, and redo three standing wraps and a knee bandage every other day or so, riding just isn’t in the picture right now.  But that’s ok.  Lady isn’t really a fan of arena work anyway, and the hard indoor arena surface limits what she can do because of her arthritis.  So Lady can enjoy being lazy for a while yet, then hopefully by the time the weather is nice, Cody will be walking better, and Lady can go back to work helping me pony Cody for her walks.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


How to keep a stall bound horse entertained. Cut some holes in a milk jug, fill with goodies, hang in stall!

Earlier in the day, she flung it so hard she launched grain and cookies out of her stall and clear across the aisle!
Caution:  Beware of Cody and her milk jug.  Projectiles in the form of grain or cookies may come flying out of stall at any time!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Cody's Surgery

Cody's knee surgery seems to have gone well.  Though it definitely had some scary moments.

At the clinic - 11-15-11
Thankfully I was able to take the day off work, so after taking away all food except water after 10 pm Monday night and leaving her in a stall with no bedding for the night to make sure there was no temptation to eat bedding, we headed out with her Tuesday morning and arrived at the MSU vet clinic by 10 am.

Cody was going to be the last surgery of the day, and since I had the day off, I camped out with my book in a chair in her open stall door making sure she didn't eat any of her bedding so she didn't have to suffer wearing a muzzle, while she stood there with me either snoozing or poking at my head or my book now and then with her nose looking for attention.

She was a good girl while they got her IV put in.  Not such a good girl while the students tried to put her meds in her eye for her eye problem.  That is definitely a bit of a battle.  Not that she's throwing her head around or anything, she actually stands there pretty well, but Cody can clamp her eye shut tighter than any horse I've ever met, and prying her eye open enough to get meds in there before she clamps it shut again is definitely a challenge.
IV in, now nap time - 11-15-11

But finally they came and gave her some sedation, then walked her back to prep for surgery.  And I sat in my chair outside her stall with my book, waiting and worrying.

Finally Dr. Caron came out and said the surgery went well, and she was in the padded stall for recovery.  Instead of doing five passes like he did last time, he did seven this time.  So that should have cleaned up any cartilage left in the joint to encourage it to fuse all the way this time.  And the parts that were fused were fused pretty solid with bone, so there shouldn't be any trouble with that part of the joint refusing itself.  And hopefully it will be enough to get the parts that didn't fuse last time, to finally fuse this time.  Time will tell.

But my heart just sank when they brought her back to her stall after surgery.  I heard her calling on the way back to the stall, but what I saw when she came around the corner definitely had me thinking "OMG, what have I done to my horse!"  She was still very drunk and shakey from the anesthetic, but she also basically couldn't walk on her leg.  And it's really scary when the surgeon and the people working there are all saying "That's not normal!  That's not good!"

Still shaky after surgery - 11-15-11
As soon as Cody saw me, she stopped calling and pretty much dragged the lady leading her down to her stall as she tried to get to me as fast as she could on three wobbly legs, weaving around like a drunk as they tried to slow her down, but she wanted no part of slowing down.  When they finally made it to her stall, I stood aside out of the way since Cody was pretty unsteady on her feet, but then she refused to lead past me and go in her stall.  So I went in her stall ahead of her and she followed me in.  She calmed down some in her stall, but kept tipping and stumbling forward.  She finally planted her forehead against my chest and just stood there trying to keep her balance.

Her degree of lameness and pain apparently was a first after this type of surgery, and very concerning.  Dr. Caron ordered morphine for her right away, and also gave her a half and half short term/long term nerve block in her leg so she could stand on it as she finished waking up and make her more comfortable.  And added another three bags of bedding to her stall to give her a nice comfortable place to lay down.  He said it's the first time he's ever had to use morphine and a nerve block on a horse after this type of surgery.  I felt horrible.
Looking better the next day - 11-16-11

But, apparently she had a pretty rough recovery this time around.  It sounds like she started trying to get up a little too early, and fought them when they tried to keep her down a bit longer.  And stumbled and tumbled a little in the padded stall.  So they're wondering if she wrenched her leg trying to get up and stumbling around, and if that's where some of the pain was coming from.  She also started calling for other horses, but since she was the last surgery she was the only horse back there, and started working herself into a bit of a panic and trying to pace when no one responded to her calls.  So that's why she was still so out of it when they brought her back to her stall, as soon as they knew she wasn't going to fall down trying to walk, they brought her back a little earlier than normal, hoping being back in her stall and with me and the other horses would calm her down, which thankfully it did.  Poor girl.

When I left that night, she was still a wee bit shaky, but able to stand on all fours and busy eating hay.  But we'd have to wait and see what morning brought.

Give me cookies! - 11-16-11
Dr. Caron called me Wednesday morning and said she was still more sore than she should be once the morphine and nerve block wore off, so she had another dose of morphine that morning, and he wanted her to stay another day.  Apparently morphine can slow down gut function, so he wanted her there where they could help her right away if she started having any colic problems.  Which I completely agreed!  But thankfully they were able to wean her off the morphine and by that evening she was staying fairly comfortable with just bute, no colic problems, and was standing on that leg and walking on it gingerly, a little more normal for this type of surgery.  When I went to visit her Wednesday evening, she seemed in good spirits and was happy to mug me for more of the treats I brought with me.

Thankfully Thursday she was staying comfortable all day on just bute, so she was able to come home that evening.

Trailering there and back was a bit of an adventure both ways.  Tuesday morning was the foggiest morning I've seen in a long time.  One of the awesome ladies that boards at the barn hauled her to MSU for me, and I followed in my truck, but even following a quarter of a mile behind the trailer, I couldn't see the trailer at all.  I noticed the running lights on the trailer weren't on (brakes and blinkers worked, we checked those), so I called Nancy to see if she could turn them on so anyone behind her, myself included, could hopefully see the trailer a little sooner.  Well, it seems her new Grand Traverse decides for you when to turn on the day time headlights, and the night time headlights, tail lights, and running lights on the trailer, and according to the Traverse, it was day time so we didn't need running lights on the trailer.  Gotta love modern technology.  I'm guessing the sensor on the dash needs to be covered so the Traverse thinks it's night time, but by that time we were finally on the express way and soon drove out of the fog.
Anybody out there? - 11-16-11

Coming home Thursday evening was another adventure.  Another of the awesome ladies that boards at the barn was bringing her home for me.  I met her at the barn to ride with her and we headed out.  It was still day light, but would be getting dark soon.  As dusk just began to set in, she turned on her headlights and bam, dashboard lights on the truck went out and no running lights on the truck or trailer!  Headlights, brake lights, and blinkers was all we had.  Blown fuse or something.  So we got Cody checked out and loaded up as quick as we could, so we could try to make it home before dark.  But we finally had to pull over because it was too dark to go any further without lights, and waited for my husband to drive out and meet us and follow us the rest of the way to the barn with flashers.  Thankfully Cody was an angel in the trailer for all of this.
Home sweet home - 11-17-11

Sometimes I swear Cody and I are cursed!

"It never goes smooth.  How come it never goes smooth?" - Malcolm Reynolds (Firefly)

"If we could bottle your luck, we'd have a weapon of mass destruction on our hands." - Edward Cullen (Eclipse)

Oh well, at least we can laugh about it now.

But Cody is finally home, and seems to be doing ok.  She's tucked in a nice deeply bedded stall for 3 to 6 weeks of stall rest.  And we'll see how sound she is in 6 months.  Here's hoping and praying!

Welcome home big girl! - 11-17-11
And things were back to normal with the girls.  Love each other one minutes, fight like sisters the next!
My hay! - 11-17-11
Laying down for a nap - 11-19-11

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Miss you little man!

One year ago today we said good bye.  Can't believe it's really been a year already.  Just doesn't seem possible.  I still miss you like it was yesterday.  I miss you every day.  Rest in peace sweet boy.

Wayne - Haflinger Stallion - 1986-2010

Wayne - 11-19-10

Let's call today "Hug your ponies" day.  They're never with us long enough.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Last Ride

It was a beautiful day out today, so Lady, Cody, and I took our last trail ride together.  At least for a while anyway.  Life's been kind of crazy lately, and I haven't ridden in probably a month, but Lady is such a trooper, you wouldn't really know she's had a month off.  And Cody seemed to enjoy getting out to pony along with us, though she was rather full of beans.  She hasn't been out on the trails in a while and mixed with the crisp wind, she was practicing her little Cody explosion airs above the ground every now and then.  It's nice to see some spunk, but she was usually a little ouch for a couple of strides after that.

So I say last ride, because it's probably the last time the three of us will trail ride together this year.  The weather is getting yucky, the days are short, and Cody's knee surgery on Tuesday is going to land her out of commission for the winter.  Though I'm sure Lady will be pulling lead horse duty often over the next few months to help hand walk Cody, but most likely in the arena on good footing while Cody's knee heals up.  And here's hoping by next summer I'll be riding Cody and ponying Lady!

On the eye front, Cody's eye just didn't get any better over the weekend, and by Tuesday I noticed a small spot in the middle of it.  So Dr. Collier came out Wednesday afternoon to check it out, and Cody's done a bit of a number on it.  I don't recall seeing the spot over the weekend, so she thinks she might have scratched it rummaging through the burrs and weeds (which are now all successfully cut out of the girls pasture as of last Sunday), then proceeded to itch and dig it, and made it horse.  But she's got a nice little round ulcer dug into the cornea of her eye.  So new eye ointment and plenty of bute and a fly mask till things heal.  Poor girl can't win. And it obviously hurts really bad, because trying to medicate that eye is a battle, but I think it might finally be getting a little better, or at least less ouchie, because she's actually been really good about letting me put the meds in her eye last night and again today.  So here's hoping that heals up quick and easy.

July 2011

Monday, November 7, 2011

Nine Lives

Sometimes I swear Cody is part cat.  With the number of times she's nearly killed herself, she's got to be.  Though she's definitely used up some of her nine lives.

There was the back leg through the high tensile wire fence that she very nearly bled to death from, having ripped open her hock clear down to the bone and joint.  That was the injury that resulted in my taking ownership of her.  More on that story here.  She should have been broodmare sound at best if she survived, but by some miracle, she was rideable sound with only a small scar.

There was fillet o'knee, when she somehow managed to rip open a huge flap on the front of her left knee.  Amazingly that one healed with only a hairline scar.

Then there was the Friday October 13th phone call five years ago.  "Cody's hurt pretty bad.  The vets on the way right now.  How fast can you get here."  Of course I was an hour away, that was a long drive.  When I got there, there stood Cody in the cross ties, all four legs swollen twice the size they should be, all four legs cut and bleeding, some of the cuts nearly to the bone.  Apparently she had laid down in her stall and gotten cast or something and couldn't get up, and proceeded to fight and panic and turn herself into a pretzel until she finally got back up.  There was blood all over the stall, and the divider between her stall and Lady's (wasn't the most sturdy of stalls in this old barn cobbled together barn) had been shoved over so far in Cody's panic, that Lady was literally left with nothing but a standing stall that she couldn't turn around in.  We had to take down part of the wall to get Lady out, because Lady's stall door was now the second stall door in Cody's stall.  Thankfully Lady was unhurt and didn't panic, and Cody recovered with a few more battle scars.

And of course there was knee surgery last December.

So what's that, four out of nine?

Not to mention all her other bumps, bruises, scraps, cuts, near misses, and "Cody, what the hell now?"  When it comes to accident prone, she is the queen, and has the battle scars to prove it.

More than once she freaked out while tied, pulled back, broke the lead rope and flipped herself over backwards.  This was when I first got her and didn't know about this little panic attack bad habit of hers.  Thankfully we broke that habit and she's much better these days.

There was the back flip out of the trailer.  The barn owner was making two trips to haul a bunch of us up to the show at the fairgrounds.  Cody was going in the first trip along with the barn owners mare and foal and another horse.  After a battle (foals first time loading and mare wasn't very good at loading), mare and foal were in the trailer.  But just as Cody and I stepped in to the trailer, foal panicked, mare went berserk, and Cody tried to back out of there as fast as possible, rearing, slipping, and somersaulting right out the back of the trailer.  How she came away unharmed, I'll never know.  Needless to say, we waited for the second trip, and somehow loaded with little drama.  Though the whole affair was chaos with the barn owner who was about as nutty as her horse.  Someday I'll have my own trailer.

There was Lady and Cody vs the Gate, round 1.  But that's another story for another day.  And then Lady and Cody vs the Gate, round 2.  Again, another story for another day.

There was the cowboy that decided to hobble her front feet to teach her to stop pawing.  Can we say upside down pretzel.  How she didn't break a leg, I'll never know.  I was livid.

There was the hives attack, when she suddenly broke out in hives, that broke open into sores and got infected, all within a matter of hours.  Most bizzare thing I've ever seen.  Called the vet, vet came out, gave her antibiotics, said she could go back outside.  Put her back outside the next day, and suddenly the hives came back twice as bad, which broke open into more sores and got infected, all within a matter of hours.  Call the vet, put her back in the barn, hives went away, but nearly 50% of her body was covered in weeping sores and her eyes were nearly swollen shut.  Still no idea what caused that, and thankfully it's never happened again.  That definitely falls in the "what the hell" category.  Along with the worse case of scratches I've ever seen on all four legs.

There was the kicking a fly while standing next to the gate and slicing her leg open almost to the bone on the bottom of the gate that no one realized was sharp till she cut herself open on it.  The gelding that was determined to eat her alive, leaving her looking like an appy with all the spots of ointment all over her body.  And the gelding that left a nice hoof print scar on her butt from his steel shoe.  Come to think of it, that was the same gelding that just left a scar on my face with one of his steel shoes.  Guess Cody and I match now.

There was her attempt to slit her throat, thankfully it was on the opposite side of the juggler vein.  And her punctured and ripped open shoulder.  Old farm machinery in the pasture with Cody is a recipe for disaster, but try telling those old farmers that.

And there was the kick to the knee that resulted in knee surgery last year, and is now resulting in a second surgery to try to fix that knee.

Most recent boo boo, appears to be a scratched eye from scavenging around in the burrs and weeds in her pasture because the grass is dead and gone for the year.

I know there are many many more mishaps and close calls that Cody's had over these last 8 1/2 years.  Too many to remember or mention them all, but those are some of the highlights.

So she's definitely used up some of her nine lives, but here's hoping she's still got a few more in her, and praying for another miracle.  She goes in next Tuesday for knee surgery to try again to fix her knee.