Hudson developed a slight problem.
His right knee got a bit bigger, with arthritic changes normal for an older horse. His soundness level didn’t change.
I’m seriously over qualified for two careers:
- Master Obsesser
- Professional Annoyer
If I had either of these careers, we’d all be boarding at Jane’s Fabulous Barn of Many Horse Wonders, for $50 a month. Because I could afford the tax write off, and I would love to see you all every day.
Hudson tried to launch my new careers. He banged the arthritic knee on the one lonely 6′ section of pipe fencing, while messing around with his pasture mate.
No heat, no swelling, not lame. Slightly bruised. Fine to the touch in three days. The bump on the knee began to grow, in a “Hey. Is that bigger today? Nah.” sort of way. He’s still sound.
Exhibit A: The problem knee. Attached to the problem leg he likes to stick through fences. Because the dirt on the other side is softer.
Weird, huh. He looks like his normal, big-boned self.
Then his knee went all Pinocchio on me.
How can he be SOUND?!?
Two things happened:
- I couldn’t handle the stress I was creating. I was annoying myself.
- Hudson’s chiropractor, a competitive roper and fantastic chiro, sighed compassionately at my anxiety, picked up Hudson’s leg and bent that knee to full flexion. Hudson didn’t blink. It didn’t hurt.
The joint is that mobile?? I instantly saw the possibility of an obsessionless future. One in which I wouldn’t be afraid to hand walk, ride, pony or touch Hudson.
I called our vet, Jamie Kerr, and made an appointment for lameness exam and possible x-rays. (If you’re going to do it, use the best, right?) Jamie spent most of his life preparing and riding in the Tevis, or vetting the Tevis. He’s seen every possible lameness on the planet. Hopefully even non-lame lameness.
I worried (surprise!) that it would be a little tricky to explain why I wanted a lameness exam on a sound horse. Meghan, the clinic’s office manager, was also wonderfully compassionate.
Oh good. They’re familiar with nut cases.
If it looks like an arthritic calcium deposit, walks like an arthritic calcium deposit, and creaks like an arthritic calcium deposit, it should BE an arthritic calcium deposit, even if we don’t want one, right?
This is the good part of finding oneself in the middle of Chaos Theory.
It didn’t walk or creak properly. He DID have Pinocchio Knee.
Jimminey Cricket. The knee was lying.
Jamie has to be the kindest vet in existence. Before the physical exam, he asked me Hudson’s age and history, explained it looked like an injury common in older race horses, cow horses, and over-used brood mares. I think he expected what we all expected: calcification of an arthritic joint.
After the physical exam, it seemed to me that Jamie was cautiously excited. He had me press my finger on the point. I’d been afraid to press it hard. Hudson had no pain reaction, and my finger went in about half an inch.
Bone doesn’t give.
Jamie x-rayed. I don’t think either of us could believe the image that came up on the laptop. A nearly perfect knee-joint, with tons of fluid padding between the bones, and only very minor arthritic changes that Jamie had to point out to me.
No flashing arrow that said “Your Horse Has Arthritis, Stupid”.
The Pinocchio Protrusion didn’t show up on any of the x-rays.
It’s chronic soft tissue inflammation. With no heat.
My older horse, who spent all his life in hard work, has the joints of a nine-year-old.
Jamie said, “How old did you say he was, again?”
Hudson is going to be 24 in seventeen days.
I had to break the bad news to Hudson: “Jamie says no more galloping, no fast starts or stops, and no dressage circles. Nothing with sharp turns. You get to do trail rides, walk, trot and lope. But only in big arcs or straight aways”
I think all he heard was “no circles”, as he raced off into his paddock, bucking and joyful.