Well that long holiday weekend where I had envisioned lots of riding didn’t quite go to plan.
Really it started on the 30th. It rained for a solid 24 hours, and while we definitely needed it, it did mean that everything was too wet to ride for a couple days. Presto was absolutely climbing the walls from being stuck inside for a day, and when I turned them back out he was BANANAS. Henry made the mistake of trying to keep up with him which lasted about 5 minutes before Henry wrenched a shoe off and flung it into the next county. One of the front ones, of course. Luckily I have a deep collection of boots, so I texted the farrier (Happy New Year…. my horse lost a shoe…) and slapped a boot on it. On Saturday when the ring was dry enough I did hop on him for a few minutes with the boot, mostly just to stretch him out a bit. I thought about riding Presto on Saturday too, but given that he’d spent all morning galloping and bucking and spinning and squealing and leaping I thought maybe he needed another day to get all of his sillies out, and planned on riding them both on Sunday instead.
Instead I spent 8 hours at the small animal emergency vet clinic on Sunday.
On Saturday Stewie had a few brief moments where he kinda curled up into a ball and whined for a few minutes. He’s coming up on 16 years old, and he’s a mega anxious dog (he whines a lot), so behaviors like that aren’t necessarily super unusual for him. Aside from those brief moments he was still acting normal, still eating and drinking, and still happily trotting around the barn. But throughout the night it happened a few more times, and by lunchtime on Sunday he was pretty much just staying curled up in a ball. He also was having trouble lifting his head. Something definitely wasn’t right. I hopped online to find whatever emergency vets might be open, mapped the closest one, filled out their online request form, then called to get their official covid procedure speech. I loaded Stewie up, drove down there, called to let them know we’d arrived and what parking spot we were in, and proceeded to wait. And wait. And wait. An emergency vet in a big city on a holiday weekend is a busy place. It took almost two hours for them to come out and get him. Stewie hates car rides, he hates the vet, and he hates being separated from me, so poor dude was absolutely beside himself when they took him away.
After about another hour the vet called and said that she thought he had herniated a disc in his neck, and ran through all the diagnostics she recommended and how much they cost. I approved all of them (yes to the full blood panel before we prescribe him any meds, yes to whatever x-rays you want to do, and yes to any and all meds you think he needs) and she said she’d go ahead and do everything and get back to me in about an hour. By this point it was getting close to feeding time so I drove back out to the farm, brought the horses in, fed them, and drove back to the vet. She called me when I was about halfway back there and said that she didn’t see any evidence of tumors or anything in the neck/spine, but he did have reduced disc space and some beginning signs of Intervertebral Disk Disease in his neck, not super surprising since he’s got a little dachshund in him. It’s not particularly severe yet but it does make him prone to things like this. We’ll circle back to that with our regular vet once we get this herniated disc healed up a bit. His bloodwork looked good – very slightly elevated liver enzymes but nothing outside of the realm of normal for his age. She recommended an additional medication to help protect his liver from the other meds, which of course I also approved (can I just say that I think it’s fun how the small animal vets get permission even for all this little stuff – $30 – and quote prices up front? Horse vets are like beepbopboopwavemagicwandforfiveminutes “okay here’s your $2500 bill, want me to just use the card we have on file?” LOL).
She’d gone ahead and given him a dose of gaba as soon as I approved it, because apparently he was in full-on meltdown mode in the clinic by that point. That seemed to help chill him out and by the time they finished all his diagnostics he was much less anxious. She said he was ready to go home, so I got back to the clinic, parked, and called to let them know I was there for pick-up. The receptionist said that two very critical patients had just come in so it might be a little while before a tech was available, which was no problem. So I waited. And waited. And waited. It was two full hours before I saw a single person emerge from the building at all, and that was just to come grab another new arrival. It ended up being 3 1/2 hours before anyone was able to get to me, at which point it was well past my bedtime and I was almost asleep in my car. But finally Stewie did come out, and he definitely seemed much better than he had when I’d dropped him off. Of course, he trembled the entire way home anyway because he hates car rides, but once we got home he pretty much went straight to sleep.
The instructions are to keep him as immobile as possible, which is a sick joke with a JRT mix, no matter how old. If I crate him he goes absolutely ballistic, so I’ve mostly just barricaded a small area around his bed so that he doesn’t feel trapped but also can’t really go anywhere. The gaba is keeping him pretty quiet. I carry him in and out to go to the bathroom, and he’s not allowed back at the barn for a few weeks. He’s not thrilled. The meds are helping though, he feels better already, so hopefully he can get back to “normal” before too long.
Off to a good start, 2021. (insert heavy sarcasm here)
The farrier was able to come put Henry’s shoe back on yesterday morning, and yesterday afternoon I was able to sneak out long enough to get Presto ridden. It’s been over a month since I rode him in the arena, so we went in there to check in on how he’s feeling in a more proper environment.
I think the time out on the hills and in the fields is starting to help, he’s getting a bit steadier and stronger. Still a long way to go for sure, but there’s solid improvement. He’s really growthy again right now (stooooooppppp ittttttt) which always makes his parts a little less coordinated, but I’m pleased with how much more “broke” he feels in the ring. Like you can actually ride him a bit more. We’ll continue working mostly in the hills and fields for now, and add in some pole work days. I keep having every intention of riding him 3 days of week but I think that has yet to actually happen, for various reasons. In the past two weeks he’s only been ridden twice. I’d really like to up that so we can focus on building his hind end a bit more; I want him to be stronger by the time we start his jump training in a couple months. If life could stop getting in the way of me riding my horses, that would be great. It doesn’t help that this is our busiest time of year at work.
Today it’s Henry’s turn to get back to work. I dunno why he keeps insisting that he’s retired. He might look like a fat old broodmare but I swear he isn’t. Definitely has the right amount of sass for that job title though. Hopefully the first few days of 2021 weren’t foreshadowing of what’s to come…