- Created on Tuesday, 27 March 2012
There are a good many working ranch horses and top-end athletes in our practice, and they oftentimes suffer the consequences of their occupation, or maybe more correctly, the consequences of ownership. Each discipline or horses in a certain part of the country can have injuries and ailments that are consistent with their use. Being able to accurately diagnose and truly make their lives better is a great part of what I am blessed to do. Here are three examples of what I am talking about and why I am glad horses can’t talk.
This X-ray is from a yearling filly that had an olecranon fracture (upper part of the elbow) two days before Christmas this past December. If you or I fracture our elbow, we can have it surgically repaired a number of ways, wear a sling for a few weeks, go through months of rehab, and probably claim workman’s comp. Horses cannot stand in weight-bearing without the use of their elbow to lock their front leg in place; therefore, no elbow – no front leg. This filly had an eight-hole dynamic compression plate and seven screws put in her elbow and was walking with an almost unnoticeable limp later the same day.
This picture is from a 5-year-old catch horse I’ve known for several years. For those of you who don’t know what a “catch horse” is, it’s a horse you go saddle up to “catch” whatever it is you’re chasing: a sick yearling, a fresh mamma cow, a buffalo ... whatever. This horse is one of the best. He developed white line disease last year due in large part to working in hard-packed, dry pastures that were bleached out because of the drought. We used a dremel tool to remove all diseased hoof wall, shod him with an aluminum egg bar and rebuilt his hoof with stainless steel wire, Kevlar patches and acrylic. He went back to work three days later, and pulled the shoe off two weeks after that dragging a 2,000-pound bull in a trailer. We nailed another one back on like it never happened.
I saved the best for last. This is a nice little gelding that is scheduled to show in the NCHA Super Stakes in nine days. He hung his foot in a smooth wire fence last week and tore the inside quarter of his hoof wall off. I couldn’t have done it better with a scalpel blade if I tried. (Notice how he is full weight-bearing in the picture.) It is quite obvious from the picture that is the mother of all hang nails! This poor horse is beyond tough. He is great to work on, stands quietly while we clean and treat it, and did little more than squirm around when we very carefully built and applied a special shoe to protect the damaged foot. We are working everyday to stabilize and protect his foot, and if he doesn’t get to show, it won’t be from a lack of backbone on his part.
For any of us that work with or own horses we know for several reasons it’s probably a good thing horses cannot talk. The next time I think I am tough for putting up with a sore back or slamming my finger in a gate I think I’ll just be quiet because one of the first things they would say is, “Yall are wimps!”