In our Sunday clinic it was noted as more of a strength thing than anything, but we agreed that it's probably time to step up Theo's maintenance to make sure we don't have anything developing. He's working those joints harder, wear and tear is a thing. Better to act early than to let damage accumulate. He's a total princess about these kinds of things, which is nice because I know something is starting to bother him.
But at the same time, nuts. Good thing I enjoy being broke. I'm sorry, checking account. I don't want our relationship to be like this, but there are great forces working against me.
So begins the rodeo of the older performance horse. I fully expected to need to start maintenance on Theo when he turned 15 and as there's nothing urgent going on, it probably won't be starting immediately. It's a few months ahead of schedule, no big deal. I just need to get a move on and preserve those precious joints for as long as possible.
From our clinic last Sunday, showing that left lead
He's currently on SmartPak's SmartFlex Ultra for his oral supp. That's 10,000 mg glucosamine, 1,000 mg chondroitin sulfate, 100 mg HA, and 10,000 mg MSM. I'm big on glucosamine and chondroitin for prevention by making sure the necessary building blocks are there in excess so the cartilage has the best chance of repairing. Yeah, he's peeing a lot of it out, but I know he's not short on the things he needs. MSM has always performed well for me for managing inflammation. The HA is just making expensive pee, but whatever. I consider this a pretty standard support package for a horse in consistent training. I'm planning on leaving that alone for right now.
Friday he had an appointment to have a lyme titer pulled, just to cover all bases. He's lyme positive, but so is every other horse in NH. If he's NQR, I usually get him checked to make sure his counts haven't jumped which would indicate he's having a flare up. If he's having a flare up, he goes on Doxy for a month and he'll feel better in a week or two. It's so standard here in New England that I'm not even worried. I'd prefer lyme to a lot of other options. I'll get my results this week.
The vet also did a quick lameness exam to make sure I'm not seeing things. He agreed, Theo's stiff on that left hind and not really stepping under himself when he's on the lunge. Nothing at all serious, he's sound, but he's known the horse since he was six. Assuming the lyme titer comes back negative, we'll move forward with the theory that he's showing early arthritis. We'll do some x-rays of his hocks and stifles to check for changes compared to his base x-rays from years ago. If it's just minor remodeling, I'll ask for a script for Adequan. I like Adequan for a step up in joint support and once you're done loading, it's only one shot a month. Not bad. I can do IM injections and it's not a huge bill to add to the plate. The loading is going to SUCK of course, but that's why I have maintained a taste for ramen.
I'm not thinking joint injections right now. Once you start those, you're stuck with them for the rest of the performance career. So long as he's comfortable without them, I'll hold off at least until spring. Let's save the big guns for when he's doing the really hard stuff.
Chiro is being scheduled. Theo's a twice a year visit kind of a guy, mostly to keep his pelvis from getting out of whack and to keep him from putting his poll out. He's not crazy about flexion right now and dragging the outside hind on circles in both directions, so I expect he needs an adjustment.
My last thing will be to do a check in with the farrier. His right front looks crappy right now from when he tore his shoe off in June, but I don't think it's a problem. Overall I'm happy with his feet. He does have a reoccurring problem with horizontal cracks appearing on the back of his front hooves. The first time we saw it, it was right after the abscess wars and on that hoof so it made sense. The second time was weird, but Theo has a history of abscesses so not out of the realm of normal. This is the third one and the red flag is up. Both front feet get these horizontal cracks back by his heels. That would mean he's blowing small abscesses in front on a regular basis, which hints at white line disease. Or something else since I'm not a farrier. Mystery hoof issues, my favorite.
I'm trying to not fall into full pony-noia, but I do want to get ahead of any discomfort. We were discussing putting changes on mi papi in my clinic and we're now working through the prep to get his canter ready. Shoulder in at the canter, a gazillion transitions, introducing half pass, spiral in and leg yield out on a circle in the canter, swapping between shoulder in and haunches in at the trot, all the exercises to develop a lot of sit without getting in his face. The clinician shrugged and said he could hit Fourth if I tried for it (and knew what I was doing which I don't) and that he shouldn't have a problem with changes, especially since he already has the concept in his little pony brain. He's built for collection. There's nothing stopping us from the pony's side of the equation, so long as he's comfortable and happy. I want to keep him comfortable and happy as long as possible.
I just wish prevention wasn't so darn expensive.