If You’re Happy and You Know it Clop Your Hooves

Hudson developed a slight problem.

His right knee got a bit bigger, with  arthritic changes normal for an older horse. His soundness level didn’t change.

I’m seriously over qualified for two careers:

  1. Master Obsesser
  2. Professional Annoyer

If I had either of these careers, we’d all be boarding at Jane’s Fabulous Barn of Many Horse Wonders, for $50 a month. Because I could afford the tax write off, and I would love to see you all every day.

Hudson tried to launch my new careers.  He banged the arthritic knee on the one lonely 6′ section of pipe fencing, while messing around with his pasture mate.

No heat, no swelling, not lame.  Slightly bruised.  Fine to the touch in three days. The bump on the knee began to grow, in a “Hey. Is that bigger today? Nah.” sort of way. He’s still sound.

Exhibit A: The problem knee.  Attached to the problem leg he likes to stick through fences.  Because the dirt on the other side is softer.

Weird, huh. He looks like his normal, big-boned self.

Hudson yesterday: poised to swan dive into his Happy Meal.
Hudson yesterday: poised to swan dive into his Happy Meal.

Then his knee went all Pinocchio on me.

Problem? What problem?
Jane’s successful career launch.

How can he be SOUND?!?

Two things happened:

  1. I couldn’t handle the stress I was creating.  I was annoying myself.
  2. Hudson’s chiropractor, a competitive roper and fantastic chiro, sighed compassionately at my anxiety, picked up Hudson’s leg and bent that knee to full flexion. Hudson didn’t blink. It didn’t hurt.

The joint is that mobile?? I instantly saw the possibility of an obsessionless future.  One in which I wouldn’t be afraid to hand walk, ride, pony or touch Hudson.

I called our vet, Jamie Kerr, and made an appointment for lameness exam and possible x-rays. (If you’re going to do it, use the best, right?) Jamie spent most of his life preparing and riding in the Tevis, or vetting the Tevis. He’s seen every possible lameness on the planet.  Hopefully even non-lame lameness.

I worried (surprise!) that it would be a little tricky to explain why I wanted a lameness exam on a sound horse.  Meghan, the clinic’s office manager, was also wonderfully compassionate.

Oh good.  They’re familiar with nut cases.

If it looks like an arthritic calcium deposit, walks like an arthritic calcium deposit, and creaks like an arthritic calcium deposit, it should BE an arthritic calcium deposit, even if we don’t want one, right?

This is the good part of finding oneself in the middle of Chaos Theory.

It didn’t walk or creak properly. He DID have Pinocchio Knee.

Copyright: Disney
Copyright: Disney

Jimminey Cricket. The knee was lying.

Jamie has to be the kindest vet in existence. Before the physical exam, he asked me Hudson’s age and history, explained it looked like an injury common in older race horses, cow horses, and over-used brood mares. I think he expected what we all expected: calcification of an arthritic joint.

After the physical exam, it seemed to me that Jamie was cautiously excited.  He had me press my finger on the point. I’d been afraid to press it hard. Hudson had no pain reaction, and my finger went in about half an inch.


Bone doesn’t give.

Jamie x-rayed.  I don’t think either of us could believe the image that came up on the laptop. A nearly perfect knee-joint, with tons of fluid padding between the bones, and only very minor arthritic changes that Jamie had to point out to me.

No flashing arrow that said “Your Horse Has Arthritis, Stupid”.

The Pinocchio Protrusion didn’t show up on any of the x-rays.

It’s chronic soft tissue inflammation.  With no heat.

My older horse, who spent all his life in hard work, has the joints of a nine-year-old.

Jamie said, “How old did you say he was, again?”

Hudson is going to be 24 in seventeen days.

I had to break the bad news to Hudson: “Jamie says no more galloping, no fast starts or stops, and no dressage circles. Nothing with sharp turns. You get to do trail rides, walk, trot and lope. But only in big arcs or straight aways”

I think all he heard was “no circles”, as he raced off into his paddock, bucking and joyful.

25 thoughts on “If You’re Happy and You Know it Clop Your Hooves

  1. I have had some time lately and needed a project to keep my mind busy, so I relaunched Horse Bloggers (http://horsebloggers.com) — free directory for horse-related blogs. This is a soft launch, so there are some design things that need to be cleaned up and some functionality that isn’t there yet, but I figured I would get it out there so if people want to start listing their blogs they can.

  2. Wow, that knee is… impressive. In a very strange way. Glad to hear that nobody told Hudson that there’s a problem, and he’s still happy to rodeo at the trot.

    As for trick-training Hudson… wait, you mean you didn’t do that already!?!? 😉

  3. Our horses seem very good at causing us all sort of worry…my horse once came up with a slight stone bruise, but the way he acted I thought it was turning into a full-blown abscess! Worse part was, he’s a horse I’m leasing, and his owner was coming home in a few days. My instructor had to convince me that, no, I hadn’t broken the horse and he would be perfectly fine in a week and his owner wouldn’t hold the injury against me.

    The little bugger walked around for three weeks as though he was dying every time we went to ride. “But Mom my hoof hurts I can’t work OH WAIT IS THAT HAY?”

    1. Amen! Very lucky to have Jamie. Hudson says thanks for all the moral support. (he tells me constantly how smart you are, knowing cookies = moral support, and what’s my problem? Why am I so slow on the uptake?) 😉

  4. That knee would have had me on speed dial to my vet for sure! Glad he’s not in any pain and that it won’t restrict him too much. Horses sure can do crazy things to themselves.

    1. It’s such a common “aging” issue in cow horses, that I had a lot of experienced input from people who’d lived with it in their own horses. I was looking at a common form of arthritis, given his age and work history. No heat? No swelling? (It’s hard and tight) I hesitated to call the vet. If its a known issue with no treatment possibility, I didn’t want to put him through a battery of tests. Then it began the whole Pinocchio expansion, and it was CALL THE VET time!

  5. Jamie is certainly one of *the best*. We love him up here in NV and I always enjoy riding, or even better volunteering, at the rides he vets. One of my favorite past times is vet scribing at the rides and just absorbing as much information as possible. That knee is CRAZY!! Glad to hear it’s nothing too major. Will it resolve over time?

    1. He said he just came back from vetting an endurance ride in NV last week. He loves Nevada too. ;).
      Yes, it will resolve. But it’s not going to be the resolution we want, though I sure am going to fight for a good resolution.
      He’s on Previcox to help with the inflammation, I’m trying a combination of ice, cold hosing, exercise, and massage. Jamie said it will eventually go through other changes, and get worse, as part of the aging process. He will become lame.

      Honestly, the first micro changes likely started when he was two, competing in cutting futurities. Most horse breeds knees don’t close over until they are three or older, leaving them vulnerable to injury. Which is why the arthritis/calcium deposit thing is usually seen in older ex-race horses….they start racing at two I think? I feel SO LUCKY that this is not what we all thought! Happy doesn’t begin to describe how I feel! 🙂

      1. Previcox can be a real miracle drug and it doesn’t seem to upset their stomachs the way some other NSAIDs do. Here’s hoping it works for Hudson.

  6. I had a horse (actually my senior stallion) that actually shattered a number of the the small bones in his knee (you know, it’s like your wrist — several stacks of small bones). He apparently hung a foot in a pipe stall at a show overnight and wanked his leg. — had a loose shoe and a big lump the next morning. He was sound. The lump was COLD. Farrier tacked the shoe back on. Show vet (not mine) claimed he had to have had the lump some time, or it wouldn’t be cold, and I just “hadn’t noticed (yeah right). I pointed out that he was freshly body-clipped, including the knee — something I believe I would have noticed if I were clipping over the lump. Vet shrugged. Horse was sound. Horse ribboned in every class, won two, and won a championship; I have video of us jogging directly toward the camera — lump visible — 1000% sound. WTF? Lump remained. Sometime later, I was taking a load of mares to the vet for ultrasounds, had an empty spot in the trailer, so added the horse and got him x-rayed — that’s when we saw the bones turned to shrapnel in the lump. Horse is STILL sound. Vet scratches his head. Another year passed. Horse still sound. Eventually, horse went through a period of being a little less sound, but not lame. Vet determined broken bits were calcifying. This period passed. Horse was sound again. Horse remained sound and VERY active until his peaceful death (took a nap in the sun and didn’t wake up) at 31 years old.

    May Hudson follow this example with his fetching Pinnocchio knee. 😀

    1. Now that I not only have the green light to work him, but it’s part of how he’ll get better, I went ahead and started our new riding program. Hudson missed the memo on “gradually increasing in duration and gait”. Day one through three: walking, 30 minutes. Day four: walking, 40 minutes, and hit the Yeehaw button when Jane asks for a jog…

  7. Master Obsesser and Professional annoyer, At least your vet still answers your calls(emails)…mine doesn’t anymore despite the huge amounts of money I have spent with him. He is tired of the endless questions and the “what if’s”

    1. I was so delighted by the results, that I forgot to ask a number of important “what-ifs”. I’m writing them down as I think of them, then crossing out the idiotic ones, so hopefully will have a sensible (and short) list to ask! Maybe I need to add Purveyor of Finely Wrought Idiotic Questions to my career possibilities?

    1. Welcome, have a donut! (Standard issue for friends who comment: donuts of your choice).

      I’m a confessed horse hypochondriac. I’ve broken a couple of ribs, decided I was breathing fine (no punctured lung, good to go.) skipped the emergency room and gone home to Tylenol and ice. But my horse sneezes and I’m ready to call the infectious disease specialist. Go figure!

    1. We’re all happy here. 🙂 kicking up our heels and ready for our fourth retirement career. From cutting to roping to dressage to…trick horse! That’s what I’m terrorizing the barn with anyway, threatening to teach him tricks. (No one wants to find him standing in the bed of their pick up, or more likely, in the front seat fiddling with the radio.)

      1. Fiddling with the radio! Love it! My horse was boarded at a friends house with a ramp into her house for her old dog. I got a call one morning saying my horse had gotten out ,went up the ramp, managed to open the door and had helped herself to the apples on the counter. She didn’t get pictures at the time but did end up with a nice hoof print in the hardwood floor.

        1. If Bella ever left her back door open while Hudson was on the patio (yep, he can open the gate to the patio) he be inside rummaging in the kitchen in a heart beat. Not afraid of much, our Hudson! Which is why Bella has commented, more than once, “trick horse? Hudson? Have you REALLY thought that through…?” Love the story of your horse stealing apples of the counter!

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