As some of you may know, I've been having some difficultly with my mare, Ricci. To sum it up, the insides of her front cannon bones along her tendons have been swollen for the majority of the last 5-6 months, but my vet determined the problem was in her feet. From splints to what looked like bowed tendons [strained tendons from standing so underneath herself from having no heel], the last 5-6 months have been touch and go. I have only ridden her maybe half a dozen times since this first came up, but have started lunging in side-reins recently. I pulled her shoes Monday [she's only needed them for trails/rocks/pavement and goes barefoot in the winter anyway], and she seemed just slightly off today, but I could be too skeptical and nervous to push her too hard. Her legs are still slightly swollen, but don't seem to be warm. Ugh.
So the big questions;
1) Should I continue this "touch-and-go" game, or give her the winter off and see how she is in the spring?
2) Should I get a second vet/opinion?
3) Should I keep her barefoot or go back to shoes [natural balance and most recently my vet suggested heel wedges?]?
4) If I continue to touch and go, what can I do to best support her legs? I've been using my no-bow wraps while lunging because it's the most supportive thing I have. Is that a bad idea? Does it do nothing? Should I get something better?
5) I have liniment, should I use that? Before or after exercise?
I only want to work her because she looks like poo. Her topline is vanishing, she's losing all her muscle tone. She's finally starting to look like an 18 year old mare, and I HATE IT. BUT, if having several more months off would be in her best interest, I'll do it. What would you do with her? She's my everything, and her health is of utmost importance to me, I just don't know what would be best...
Cookies for anyone who read this, and then ice cream for the ones who reply. Please. I really need some insight, I'm at a total loss. =|