I found Gen’s Problem…I think

See that? I think that is root of my very stressful week! That giant crack was not there a few days ago. I went to the barn Thursday morning and bam, it was just there all of a sudden, no sign of it the night before. 
Since everything was coming from heel pain, and now there is a giant crack in the heel, I think we have found the coulprit! A part of me wants to call it an abscess, but there was no moment where poof, he was better. Instead it has been a slow gradual thing. My Gen has been getting a little bit better every visit, and his tendon is back to its normal self!

Here it is last night, looking good right! That is 100% within his normal range, it looks like how his leg looks after he is hard on it and runs a bit. You can’t even see definition a little with the bone towards the bottom.

And an even clearer sign Gen is feeling better…he wants to paw!

He is starting to be a butt to deal with, wanting to paw, kick, toss his head and just be dramatic in general when he is on the cross ties! The first day he wanted to kick me I actually laughed in relief because my Gen has, and always will be a handful so when he actually asked like a 25-year-old somber horse, I get nervous!

This sweet thing is nearly sound and almost ready to be turned out again!!! Once he is all sound at the walk he gets to go out in the medical field again, I am so happy he is doing better!

I literally can’t handle life when Gen is hurting

Last Friday I walked in to the barn to find something that no horse owner ever wants, a lame horse. Gen was head bobbing lame, barely able to put any weight on his left front leg, his bad leg. I was near tears when I looked down and saw his tendon swollen up, convinced that he bowed his tendon again. I called my vet, who could hear the strain in my voice, and agreed to hang around the barn until he had finished up with his other appointments for the day. 

That was the look of concern he wore all day Friday

Gen has been retired for a decade and I am really grateful to have had so much extra time with him. I was upset about him having potentially injured himself again, but in the few hours it took for the vet to get there I had already decided that if it was a bowed tendon I at least owed Gen the chance for him to try and heal himself. I had vowed that no matter what the news was from the vet, I would give Gen a month to get better as long as he stayed at the same level of lameness and did not get worse. Adding extra stress to all this is the fact that it is nearly time for my trip to Alaska, so I would potentially be leaving Gen for a week during his time of need. My husband could clearly sense the stress in my texts and decided to come to the barn after work to check on “his son” in person. I am just never okay when Gen isn’t okay, something that everyone who knows me can tell you!

I know it looks terrible, that is why I was freaking out!

As soon as the vet got there and saw me walk Gen out, he went back to his car and brought back a ton of hoof equipment. I pointed to the leg, wanting to know where the ultra sound machine was, convinced it was the worst case scenario, when my vet quietly bent down, touched Gen’s foot and I watched Gen nearly sit down he was in so much pain. For the first time all day I felt like I could breath again! My hubby was laughing at my panicky self for overreacting, and I was laughing with him! It was a hoof issue! After some poking and prodding (where Gen actually reared up on his hind end enough that both my feet came off the ground) it was clear the pain was in the heel, but other then the fact that his heel was soft we didn’t have a ton to go on. My vet cut off Gen’s hoofwear (a cool almost cast like thing he gets to help save his toes when he incessantly stomps at bugs) and started treating his foot like it was an infection. Already Gen was walking a little better so the advice was to treat it like he had a foot infection and turn him out for a few hours in the hopes of getting the swelling down in his leg. 

​Gen enjoying a roll Saturday night, listen to those groans of joy!

I was happy over night, slept like a baby, but that all came crashing down when I got to the barn on Saturday morning, Gen was now lame on both fronts. The vet came out again, looked at his now tree trunk sized leg, and poked around again. He felt the same way about his leg as he had the day before, that it was not causing Gen pain, but that his feet were hurting. He told me to treat both front feet now for a possible infection. I got to work soaking, drying, medicating, etc and did that twice on Saturday, staying all morning and coming back before bed. Gen had gotten an injection of pain meds and seemed to be feeling better so I was feeling better about things and watched him at night peacefully grazing after I turned him out. Yes, he was hurting, but maybe moving around a little would make him stock up less and help him feel better.

Not as swollen as his injury a decade ago, but not good!

When I got there bright and early on Sunday morning, Gen was dead lame again, leg still the size of a tree trunk, and he was barely moving in his field, pointing his bad foot as he refused to put weight on it. I did cry at that moment, convinced that it had been his leg all along and that I had done terrible damage by not treating the tendon injury from the get go, I know my horse better then the vet. I snapped a picture of how terrible his leg looked and texted it to the vet, along with letting him know that my horse was barely putting weight on his leg and was head bobbing badly when I walked him. My vet is a very patient guy and instead of grumping at me for bothering him, he told me to go ahead and treat the tendon as though it were injured, but not to stop treating the feet at this point either. We figured we would give him another day of clearing up his hoof infection in the hopes that would help before he came back out. 

Gen getting grumpy that I keep interrupting his sleep

I spent the morning soaking and treating each hoof in addition to carefully cold hosing, wrapping and taking care of his bad leg. Gen was officially put on stall rest, and I could tell right away he was feeling pretty crappy because normally he makes a fuss being put in pony jail, but Sunday he was almost enjoying to be stuck inside. When I got there Monday morning and he was just as bad as the day before, I knew I needed the vet out again. I had to work so I was at the barn by 5:45 am, and waited to call until 8:00 when I got to work. He said he would be there in a few hours and I spent the day worrying.

Such a hard life having a human stare at you for 5 hours a day!

When I got the call from the vet in the afternoon I was shaking, afraid of the news, especially when he said that he decided to ultrasound Gen after the nerve block left him with more questions then answers. When he told me Gen’s tendon looked like swiss cheese, I let out a huge breath I didn’t even realize I was holding. While a tendon filled with holes might not sound like a good thing, that is perfectly normal for my Gen! The vet laughed at my relief and admitted he had been a little nervous himself, but had been thrilled with what he saw, which is as healthy a leg as Gen can have.

Making a Boo Boo face to my hubby Monday because I don’t know what’s wrong with Gen

So while it is great news that he didn’t suffer another tendon injury, it still means that Gen is my special boy. If it was a hoof issue, the nerve block should have stopped his limping. If it was a tendon issue, there should be a noticeable area where it was pulled, or even a hole where Gen’s body made the tendon disappear in an ultrasound. As of today, Gen is letting me touch his heel and all over his hoof without protesting, but he is still very, very lame and reluctant to put weight on his left front. He is slightly better this morning, walking further for a good patch of grass today compared to yesterday where he barely made it out of the barn. 

Gen as of Monday evening and his level of lameness.

Since we aren’t sure what it is, I am going to keep treating for the hoof, keeping his heel dry and infection free, and keep treating the tendon, taking off the cool cast he got on yesterday and doing the standard cold hose, poultice and wrapping routine. He will be on stall rest with 2 times a day hand grazing for either 20 min, or for as long as he can be quiet for, whichever one is longer and he is getting bute now as well. This could be one of those things that we will just never really know what happened.

As long as he gets better I am happy. I love my Gen so much, he is me if I were a horse! I will keep you all posted on his progress, hopefully with less wordy posts then this one!

I know this is just me being crazy, so if you are still reading this post I have to tell you something that makes me sound like a but job. The day before Gen got hurt I told him that I was leaving soon for a cruise and that I needed him to be a good boy because I was going to be away for a whole week and he wasn’t going to have a “nanny” to come and give him extra love, he was going to have to be a big boy. I swear he speaks English and was like, “I am no peasant horse who just gets normal board care, I refuse this arrangement and will now do something to garner daily attention so I can be dotted on when you are away”. My Mexican General really is one of a kind! I am just hoping his spoiled self is all healed up soon so I can worry a little bit less about my pony!

I don’t even know how my horse hurts himself…

*This post includes pictures. They are not super gross, but there is a little blood*

So I get to the barn yesterday after work, and all of the horses are on high alert. It was windy and the coldest it has been since May. I knew when I saw all of the horses running towards their gates in the field as I drove up, Gen would be a crazy man.

The great thing about Gen is that he really is lazy at heart, so while he was carrying on when I first walked in to the barn, I could hear him just standing there being annoyed when I was in the tack room. The moment I came back in to view I was treated with a Mexican Jumping Bean instead of my Mexican General. He was leaping, bucking, and jumping around in a circle right by the gate. I thought about going back to the car to get my phone to video his antics, but I decided against it, afraid he would hurt himself putting on the show. I grabbed his lead and he stopped by the gate long enough for me to get him and then proceeded to snort and crab walk all the way to the barn.

Turns out my fears were justified because as I went to pick his feet, I saw this…

Sigh. Clearly he must have clipped himself on something. I have no idea if it was a rock, his hoof or a tree branch, but whatever it was at least it wasn’t worse. The good news is that the cut wasn’t deep and wasn’t bleeding much so it didn’t need stitches. The bad news is that is wasn’t bleeding much making it much more susceptible to infection, especially given the location.

So naturally I cursed myself for not having a coat, thankful at least the barn has hot water and set about cleaning the cut. Gen was annoyed and not repentant at all for hurting himself pretending to be a yearling. I’m sure it stung as I was scrubbing so he kept trying to grab his foot back, which would make me yell at him, which made him more annoyed.

Eventually the cut was clean and I let it dry after putting some antiseptic on it. After staring at Gen for a while debating on if I should bring him in for the night early, I decided to put some sterile gauze on the cut, cover it with vet wrap and turn him out. I want the cut to close up, and I didn’t want Gen to be inside alone if it was going to stress him out. 

I think he looks smashing with his red foot. He seems to think he looks good too. We will see what it looks like tomorrow. 

I went for a walk around his field and found a few things that could have caused the cut, but nothing that made it clear what the real culprit was. Oh Gen, never a dull moment!

What?!?? Gen really was sick??

So I am on vacation right now, I did indeed go away. The barn owners son (who is farm watching) is sick of hearing from me, but I think I have been very good about being away! It was a close call for going away, even the morning of my dear pony didn’t finish his grain. He was acting more like himself and acting like he was hungry, just not eating, so we were all wondering if this was just an attention getter (I.e. if I don’t eat my Mommy spends all day with me).

The vet came out the day I left to draw blood as a precaution, just to put my mind at ease, and I knew rationally that Gen was going to be okay or I wouldn’t have left. I also have the worlds most amazing friends and 4, that’s right, 4 of them volunteered to come be and visit Gen while I was away. I don’t know how I got so lucky, but I felt okay enough to head to the airport.

Since I have been gone Gen has been eating his meals and hamming it up for photos with my friends as the visit. In fact, I thought he was all better.

Well I have been out of the country, and our of the loop for the past two days and turning on my phone again I feel terrible…Gen really was sick. 😦 Don’t know with what, but his white blood count was down enough that he wants to continue on with the SMZs for an additional week. 12 days total.

I feel like such a bad horse owner…here I am off galavanting when my baby is sick. I will be home in a few days though. And Gen will be getting a lot of guilt pears over this one. Gen might be a total boo boo head, but this is the first time he has ever gotten sick on me…I think this was his subtle way of telling me he does indeed need a nanny when I go away. This is proof positive that my horse really does need more attention than most. When he doesn’t get it bad things happen!!


So the vet came out today and we have a diagnosis. Lucky has tendinitis. It is in her right front by her knee. I don’t know the name if the tendon. The good news is that it is very treatable. The bad news it that one of treatments is time. Lucky gets 6 weeks off. That means no riding until Feb 1st. She is also getting confined to the small paddock (she can’t be stalled. Well, I suppose she could be, there just wouldn’t be a stall left) and will be getting cold hosed and buted. All in all there are worse things in the world.

Plus, with no lights or indoor it Is not like this is the most productive time of year anyway.

May 1st, 2007

So four years ago today Gen went in for his first round of Stem Cell Treatment. This is the day that they took out the fat to spin in to stem cells. Back then it was still a very experimental thing to do. I still remember some things so clearly, like how I tried to walk away from Gen when he first got to the vet hospital and he started to cry and rear repeatedly until I came back to him.  So I was looking through some of my old e-mails and I found this gem from that very fateful day. Reading this e-mail brought back so many memories for me. Obviously everything I wrote at the time did not turn out to be true, but it was all I knew at the time. Here is a look back, pre-blog, at what I was thinking the day Gen got his first round of stem cells. This is exactly how the e-mail went out, except of course I took out people’s names. I sent out 7 of these e-mail updates over a several month period and my list went from a few interested friends to over two dozen people who were worried about Gen. These e-mails were one of the reasons I started my blog. Without further ado, here is the e-mail from May 1st, 2007…

Hi Everyone,

Thank you all for you kind thoughts and words. I have good and bad news to report. The good news is that all went well with the procedure today. I was freaking out this morning that I didn’t want to do it because trailering him would be to traumatic. Thank you to all the people who calmed me down from that. Once I was able to load my Goober onto the trailer with help from M, I started to calm down. My mom (who knows NOTHING about horses) knew how worried I was about all this so she came with me for the day. She was actually a big help, go figure!

Gennyral got to hospital in one piece although he only had two legs on the ground the whole time. He hates this car that I bought for him. M went first to check me in. We were able to get him into a temporary stall out back before the procedure was done. Gennyral settled down nicely when I was with him. Two times I tried to leave and both times he worked himself into a tizzy. I think he can tell that my mom is scared of him which freaks him out. He was fine though as long as I was within touching distance. My vet, Dr. P came back before to give me a pep talk and tell me what was going to happen. He stayed with Genny for part of the procedure…he got an emergency call to do some sutchers so he couldn’t stay for the whole thing.

Anyway… Genny went in at 10:30 and my mom and I hung out in the couch up front waiting. The whole shabang took about…an hour and 45 minutes. During that time I had a number of people (vets and vet techs) come up to me and tell me he was doing okay and to say how impressed they were at how ugly his leg was, words to make a mother proud :P. One of the founders of the hospital came up and said “That is one bad looking leg, we are all impressed. We have taken lots of pictures” to which I responded with “I have also…I am hoping this works and I can be one of those happy horse owners that gives a testimonial to vets stem” to which he replies “If vet stem makes his leg perfect again I will personally buy the company”. Not exactly the words of comfort I wanted to hear.

Since the hospital is a teaching hospital I had an intern come out and talk to me after the procedure was done. This is where the bad news part comes in. I asked her point blank if I was wasting my time doing this. I don’t want to spend thousands of dollars treating a horse that is only going to get better with time. To this she said, “No, it is a really good thing you are doing this. I have never seen a tendon this bad and neither had most of the people that are in there. At one point in his leg there is NO connective tissue in his tendon that we can see. It is really good that you are doing this because it would not be a matter of if he would be able to be ridden again but rather how long could he live”.

That was a scary moment. I didn’t realize how bad this injury is! Apparently, really bad. I do know that horses on the track that tear a tendon while running are put down immediately because they wont be able to walk. Apparently the “lack of connective tissue” is better because it was not a trauma situation. Right now the vet is saying best case scenario my baby will be allowed to come back to the clinic on Thursday and go home again and after that he must spend 2 weeks in his stall without even being allowed out when we muck it. Gone are the days of hand grazing. If and only if it looks better at the two week point will he be allowed out for…5 minutes…once a day.

Poor bugger is going to go crazy. It is also recommended that he goes on a constant sedative. My little bugger is so calm all the time I just hate to do that to him. I will talk to them about that again on Thursday and see if they can at least back off to only when he gets upset or something. Best case secnerio is he will be allowed to go outside by himself on limited turnout in 6 months. Now since Dr P is my new favorite vet ever he and I have been calling back and forth all day. He talked to the tendon specialist (Did I mention that whatever was wrong with her eye was able to be fixed last week? Well it was and she was back and she is a close 2nd place for favorite vet) after everything was done and since he had to leave he wanted to know the full story.

What the tendon guru says is…One time she either saw a presentation on or was talking to some guy who specialized in geriatric horse tendons. What he found in his study of aged horses was that instead of the tissue healing like it does in younger horses, when to much pressure gets placed on the tissue in older horses it actually disintegrates. She thinks that this is what is happening to Genny. It sounds logical to me because the more swollen he leg is getting the more rapidly it is declining.

I said all along that I just wanted to know what was wrong with him and now I at least have a credible hypothesis as to what it is. Dr. P is going to find the article that this geriatric tendon specialist wrote to find out more. What I am not sure of is why my 15 year old horse is acting like a 28 year old horse when it comes to healing. The result of this discovery though is going to end up costing me another grand though because now is he not only getting stem cells, but also the blood spining treatment. Gennyral is very lucky to have suck a good mom :P.

So I am sure half of you got bored reading this and just skimmed to the end. I know I have gotten bored typing it. I was at the barn all day though and have so much new information to share. So the moral of the story is that although I do not want to count my chickens before they are hatched it looks as though Mexican General’s show career was short lived. At least he went out on top right? I am optimistic though that he can at least come back as a trail horse (although with his fear of trees I am going to have to work on finding tree-free trails in the area). I am pretty rattled that my horse was so injured and was declining at such a rapid, and possibly lethal rate, but I am also optimistic that this is an injury that can be healed. I am not going to put him down dammit…he has to get better.
Sorry for the novel! I will update you all on Thursday.

I sound like such a mess in that e-mail…but is because four years ago today I WAS a total mess! Here are some pictures of Gen’s leg from four years ago to give you a better picture of why I was so worried…

Where they took the fat out...

I spent a lot of time sitting on a bucket cold hosing Gen that summer!

Really Good Courtney King Update and March 18th, 2007

*I just had to share these facebook updates about Courtney!
Lendon Gray:A good day today. Courtney followed with her eyes pictures of Idocus and Viva (her mini daschund) and even turned her head to look at it. With her left hand she has reached for something both up and for the first time across her body. The feeding tube was replaced by one directly to her stomach.
Lendon Gray: Within a couple of days we expect her to be moved to a less intensive ICU — they call it stepdown. The coma specialist who has been watching and analyzing her says she is at the stage to be expected and that there will be improving days and then plateaus. Today was an improving day. We are all feeling a bit more encouraged tonight.*

Three years ago today was the first indication that my horse was not healing. For about 4 days after Gennyral bowed his tendon it all seemed normal. I was still devastated, especially on the day of the show that we had to scratch, but me being me I had already planned my show season to start in August giving Gen 3 months to heal and 2 months to rehab back. It was tough going twice a day to cold horse and wrap him, but there was a time limit on it. If I suffered along for 3 months and did the best that I could my horse would be fine. It was still a devastating blow, but it was a manageable devastating blow.

5 days after the injury I went to take off the wrap and Gen’s leg and suddenly it didn’t look like my horses leg anymore. In the place where my horses leg once was there was there a giant balloon covered by white and black hair. It was at that moment that my heart dropped down to my toes and pretty much stayed there for a long time. I tried to be rational, or at least as rational as my irrational self could possibly be. It was only the morning. Maybe he banged it in the night. Maybe my wraps were not tight enough. Maybe they were too tight. It was only one morning. I was trying not to freak out. It was only one morning. I wrapped him back up, put him in his new front stall and went home for a few hours.

I cannot even put into words the fear that gripped me on that drive home. It was a terror as though a serial killer was after me, but worse. It was the fear of the unknown coupled with the stress of dealing with the injury I already knew about was getting the better of me. That afternoon when I came back I was slightly calmer. I had convinced myself that the swelling that morning was a total fluke. I had done more online research and figured that maybe my lack of hand walking Gen and letting him move at all was what had caused the swelling. I figured I would walk him for 2-3 minutes before I took off the wraps.

Gen was a little fresh when I walked him, but we didn’t go very far and it wasn’t for very long so he didn’t really do anything stupid. When I walked him into the wash stall I was convinced that things would better this time. That when I pulled off the wrap things would be different. I could feel the hope rising as I slowly took off the wrap. I just knew things would be better.

When I took the last bit or wrap off only to find that the ballon was still there a little piece of me died right there. I was beside myself. Not only did Gen not get better, it was worse. I called my vet who told me that if it was stall large in the morning to call him so he could come out and re-ultrasound it. I don’t think I slept at all that night.

In the morning I was dreading taking off his wraps. The skin was just stretched to tightly that it was paiful to even look at. I called my vet and he came out right away. The look of shock on his face as he entered the barn and saw the giant swelling leg confirmed that it was not all in my imagination. My vet gave Gen a good once over to see if there was any obvious reason for the swelling. There was not.

He told me that clearly the leg was just agervated about something. He told me that the swelling would go down soon and it was nothing to panic about. He asked if I wanted to re-ultrasound. At about $200 a pop I figued that if my vet was confident it would go away I should be too. I tooked at his vet tech who just smiled and told me that some times things get worse before they get better. If only she knew how true those words would be.

I went to cold hose Gen and the vet and I talked about reasons for the swelling and things we could do for it. I gave him a print out I had found on line about hand walking tendon injued horses. It was like a day by day rehab scheduale. He agreed that 5 minutes of movement might be a good thing at this point. He also recomded uping Gens bute. He got on Bute the day he hurt himself, but cleary he needed more to stop the swelling.

I just remeber feeling totally helpless standing in the washstall with my horse, cold hoseing him while hugging his leg watching my vet drive away. The game plan was to have him come back in a few weeks as long as things kept getting better. I can still remeber the sound of the water splashing around as I had my check on Gens warm shoulder with his newly minted summer coat. I closed my eyes and told Gen that he had to get better and soon. I had so many dreams for the two of us and being hurt wasn’t one of them.

I am so not abusive! Mean yes, abusive, not a chance!

So as I mentioned before the boys are getting their spring shots today. Me being me I had to call my vet a half a dozen times to remind him to do this or that, and not to forget to put the right name on Phoenix’s Coggins. My last call was just after he finished with Phoenix (who just got his teeth done and was still high on drugs). My vet picks up with the line…

Vet: “We need to have a talk about animal abuse”

Me: “What has  Phoenix been telling you?”

Vet: “He doesn’t need to say a word. You just have to look in his eyes as he looks at his blanket and you can see the pain and suffering”

Me: “What? It’s cute! Plus it was dirt cheap. Who doesn’t love purple camo? I hope you didn’t make fun of him for it. He cannot help what his mother put him in”

Vet: “I could see a solid colored rescued Standardbred, but an Appy?”

Me: “Isn’t whole point of having a second horse so you can torture one because the other wont let you?”

Vet: “Lucky Gen”

Me: “Yup. And Poor Phoenix”

I rode!!!

It is currently pouring rain outside. So loud that my cell phone rang before and I didn’t even hear it. I was dying to get on Phoenix though. He has been sound for almost a week already and been going out, but I have been so busy I have not had the time to get on him and see how he is doing. Today, rain or not, I was getting a leg over. The weather said that it wouldn’t be bad rain until noon, so at 10 I left to go to the barn thinking it would give me plenty of time. I just wanted to walk and maybe trot a few times around. As I was driving to the barn it started to pour…and kept raining. Not to be deterred I got Phoenix and tacked up anyway. As soon as I got his bridle on him it stopped raining. I even saw sun! I was so excited! I walked him to the upper ring and closed the gate so we were locked in. I wasn’t expecting my baby horse to be bad after 3 weeks off, but you just never know. The footing was horrible so I decided that caution was the word of the day. I walked Phoenix a few times around the ring in each direction and he felt fantastic!!!! I decided to trot once around in each direction to see where his soundness level was at. HE WAS SOUND!!! YAY!!! I know it was only 10 minutes, and that 9 of that was at the walk, but I rode so I am very happy!