It’s easy to look at May and think of all the maintenance things I don’t have to worry about. Shoes? Nope. Mane pulling? Nah. Honestly, the most she usually gets its some supplements in her handful of grain in an attempt of meeting all her nutritional needs with as few calories as possible.
However, this month ended up being a heavy maintenance month. May is 14 this year (or 15… or 9 or 19… who knows), and I want her to keep going as long as possible. This year, that started with saddle fitting. While the county I had fit her well, it was in desperate need of a full reflock and new billets ($$$). I had my Dressage saddle looked at to because its flocking was getting lumpy (turns out this is related to the kind of flocking Stubben uses). Turns out, it ALSO needed a full reflock. UGH.
Do I regret spending this money? Not at all. My county feels incredible and May feels great in both saddles now. While she never seemed back sore, I can definitely see her comfort is improved, and to me, it’s definitely worth spending the money to maintain them, given the cost of both saddles new. (I bought both used but the total replacement value of both saddles would be about $10K new.)
Then, on Saturday, I had May’s annual vet/lameness check up. Let me just say… I hate these things. I am always convinced the night before that May will be deemed 100% lame and in need of being retired (no matter how well she flew over XC jumps this 2 days earlier).
In 2018, I got into the habit of having a vet look at May once a year to establish soundness (or not) and to do any preventative maintenance necessary. I usually do this earlier in the year to get ahead of show season but… yeah 2020 happened. You can read the past year visits here and here. The shortest recap ever: in 2018, we injected hocks and stifles. In 2019, we just injected hocks. (Side note, but these blog entries are the MOST helpful in keeping a record of maintenance.)
Last time, we had talked about doing pentosan to elongate the times between injections, but I hadn’t pulled the trigger. This time, we did a lameness eval, flexions, jogs, etc etc. And… May seemed fine. The vet pointed out that she didn’t move as fluid and free as the big fancy warmbloods and thoroughbreds… but that she didn’t expect her to. Let’s face it. May is a draft/QH cross… she moves like a draft/QH cross haha.
This is the benefit of working with a vet for 3 years. She is used to seeing May and was VERY impressed with how much more comfortable May looked compared to 2018 and even 2019. (When you work on thoroughbreds all day, you tend to remember the short, yellow mare.) May showed 0 response to flexions, jogged great, and turned on a tight circle without issues. WHEW. I think part of this is just better fitness than we usually have in February/March, when we’ve traditionally done this.
Vet asked how much work she’s been in. Full work… and I showed her a video. My vet’s response, “Wow she is so different when she is going! Just PINGS over those fences!” Cracked me up. How much work this week? Uhhhh full jump lesson on Tuesday and full XC schooling on Thursday… so a lot. My vet shrugged and said “honestly, I don’t see anything to do here. She seems really comfortable and sound in work, and I don’t like doing injections just to do them.”
And… I completely agree. Injecting joints is invasive and not without risk. I am 100% willing to do them, if necessary, but I am super hesitant to just go there for the sake of checking a box. However, it has been 15 months and we’re starting to enter shows again (HOPEFULLY)… so I brought up the pentosan that we had discussed the year before.
We discussed how the vet had other clients who did a round of it and were SUPER happy (Sporthorses and racehorses). She said she didn’t think it was clinically necessary, since May seemed comfortable, but that the increased joint fluid could help her maintain that comfort and even improve on things a bit. She is incredibly stoic and will really hide low levels of pain.
Ultimately, I weighed the cost (less than I was expecting to spend on injections), coupled with the risks (not many), against the benefits (could be significant)… and I decided to just go ahead and get it done. It’s a muscle injection, but since my vet is literally down the street every Saturday for racehorses, she offered to just swing by and do May each week for the month. Works for me!
She said the results should be apparent pretty quickly, so hoping that it helps us out this weekend at our first horse trial of 2020!