Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Limerick may have a mild case of laminitis. I am hoping it's an abscess but my gut knows better. The vet is coming out at around 5pm today.

On Monday, when I rode, Limerick took longer to warm up than usual but once she did, she seemed fine.

Yesterday, she wouldn't warm up at all. She felt great at the walk but she was very slow and a little off at the trot. I got off her and lunged her to see if I could find the problem. She was off on her left side somewhere, that much was obvious, but I couldn't pinpoint where.

I kept going back and forth between her foundered foot (the left fore) and her left stifle. However, the stifle joint was injected in March, along with her hocks, and the injection is supposed to be good for a year.

Back at her stall, I felt her legs and feet all over. I tried to take her digital pulse but my own pulse was so strong that I couldn't tell the difference between the two. I had a fellow boarder, who also happens to be an assistant for my vet, look for a digital pulse and she verified that Limerick had one. She had a laser thermometer and checked Lim's foot temperature--the left fore was four degrees warmer. With a hoof tester, we checked Limerick's hoof but she did not react.

So if she has laminitis, we caught it early.

I'm so disappointed and frustrated. I've been doing all I can to ensure that this doesn't happen again but somehow, somewhere, I failed.

I've been racking my brain, trying to determine what went wrong. It's very possible that Limerick is indeed insulin resistant (for the non-horsey folks, think of it as pre-diabetes) despite her clear blood tests last fall. However, some say that insulin resistance may be seasonal. I was already planning to get Limerick's blood tested sometime this week or next, but now it'll be done today.

She can't have any grain or treats today, just grass hay. The other stuff may give a false reading on the blood work. That's okay though, I still have a whole bale of grass hay in my car.

(No, the barn did not get hay delivered yesterday, as promised. Unless they delivered at 7pm or later!)

The only things "off" that I can think of are:

The barn running out of hay. Perhaps the abrupt change in forage threw off her metabolism, which in turn affected (possible?) insulin resistance?

The rice bran oil I started her on last week. I have been starting her on it gradually, but you never know.

Being turned out on pasture. Sure, she's only out on the grass for 1.5-1 hour a day, and with a grazing muzzle, but it's possible she is that sensitive to it (which, again, will point to insulin resistance).

Or a combination of all three.

When the woman that helped with me Limerick yesterday verified that Lim had a digital pulse, I wanted to burst into tears. Laminitis is a nightmare that I never wish to repeat, and as I said, I feel like I have failed Limerick. I could have started her on hay cubes instead of letting her eat regular hay. I should have researched the rice bran oil a lot more. I should have never let her go on the pasture, at all. I should have paid more attention to the fact she had not licked her feed tub clean yesterday, even though I had no idea at the time why she didn't.

We have come so long since November, since moving to a new barn, since 30-minute hand-walks a day, since endless worrying that her arthritis will end her career as a riding horse, since vet bills totaling almost $2,500 a few short months.

I was looking to the future, to riding in a schooling dressage show, to taking more lessons, and now we have another setback.

The gray Arabian mare in the stall across the aisle from Limerick is foundering badly. She has been laying down more and more. She is losing weight at an alarming rate. Her owner was there yesterday, kneeling in her stall, trying to get her to consume her Cushing's medications. The Arabian mare wouldn't get up, wouldn't eat. The pain was clear in the mare's big dark eyes.

As I fussed over Limerick, I watched the Arabian mare and her owner out of the side of my eye. The pain of realizing Limerick may be laminitic, combined with the sorrow of the sight before me, was almost too much to bear. My heart was so heavy, I felt closer to the ground.

I really hope this is an abscess. We'll find out this evening. In the meantime, I'll visit Limerick periodically and make sure she is happy. I am so glad she is a mile away from me.

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