Stories of life on our farm in Northwest Georgia where every day is an adventure in this beautiful spot that God has entrusted to our stewardship.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Medial Patellar Ligament Splitting: Post-Op Day 1

Brandy obviously didn't want to move this morning.  I had to lead her into her stall for breakfast, and then she wanted to stay when Herb went to let her out.  Then she planted herself by the hay and didn't look like moving at all.  About 10 a.m. when it warmed up enough for me to face going out to work her, she was standing by the gate tossing her head up and down over and over again.  I'm sure she was in pain.  So I gave her a dose of Bute before I started getting her ready.
First I warmed her up in the round pen at a slow walk.  After about five minutes she was willing to walk a little faster.  Then I took her lead rope off and used the "carrot stick" to work her briskly in both directions for 15 minutes, until Herb came out.  He kindly consented to take pictures from Angel's back so I could document Brandy's movement.  You can probably see from this photo that she's reluctant to pick up her hind legs, leaving the left one on the ground till the last possible minute.
In this photo it's also easy to see how little she's picking up her right hind foot in relation to how far out she's moving her front feet.  In a normal Walking Horse, that hind foot would reach forward very close to the heel of her front foot.

That being said, it was astonishing to me that although Brandy is moving stiffly and slowly due to pain, her stifles are not locking.  When I had her working off the longe line, she even gaited quite well--something she had a hard time doing before.  I have no illusions that she is "cured" at this point.  Dr. White and I guess that the post-op inflammation is producing tightness which mimics the result we're looking for permanently.  However, it encourages me to think that this might be possible.
Herb and I rode Angel outside the round pen for 50 minutes, down the big hill and out to the Back Pasture where I made Brandy climb the steep hill twice, walk down the more gradual slope and gait across the bottom of the hill.  Her stifles didn't stick once--but she sure didn't want to climb hills!  She balked several times going up the first time, so Herb led her up the second time!  We left the pasture and did some straight work on the road as well as two more steep hills and a long gradual one.  By the last hill back to the barn, I was getting more of a workout than Brandy was, practically flailing my legs to kick her at the same time I flapped the end of her reins (really her halter lead rope looped around as you see in this photo) back and forth across her neck while jiggling in the saddle and clucking to her!

Whew!  I think tomorrow some dull spurs and a crop are in order!  Here Brandy is finished with her workout, over an hour altogether.  After we unsaddled the horses, I led her and Angel back down the hill (Brandy reluctant again!) to the Back Pasture, figuring it will do her good to have to move around to graze instead of standing in one place to eat hay.  Poor thing, I know she doesn't understand.  I wish I could explain that I'm not doing this to be mean, but for her own good.  Hmmm . . . sounds like what parents say when they spank their kids!  But it really isn't punishment--it's therapy!

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