Some background...I'm 22, and I've been riding horses since I was 8. I took lessons for most of my life, and the past 3 years I have been leasing a horse from the woman who has given me lessons for so long. I learned so much from her and the horse I was leasing, and I've always wanted my own horse. Just so happens that her daughter wanted to sell her horse. She's a beautiful 10 year old paint mare (Rain), but she has her problems. The fortunate thing for me is that I have the opportunity to work with her however I want to, for as long as I want to until I decide she's right for me. Well, I'm totally in love, and I want her so bad, but we've had some setbacks. She hadn't been ridden in about a year, but was worked with a LOT before that. Her owner just didn't have time to ride her. Well I started working with her about 2 months ago. The woman I've been leasing from (Pattie) and I go on trail rides often, so we took Rain and one of her greener horses on the trail. We ended up riding for about 5 hours and although it was at a walk, we encountered some pretty rough terrain. Well after our ride, Rain turns up lame...and so the battle begins.
I let her rest for a while, and she improved a little, but not a whole lot. I called a well respected vet to come out for a pre-purchase exam, and she did a flexion test on the leg that was lame. The flexion test came back positive. She said it put her at about a 3 out of 5, 5 being unable to bear weight. She said Rain probably has arthritis, and to give her a week off, and see if she gets any better. She said the thing with arthritis is that it can be expensive. She said she has arthritic horses and finds the one that is the least lame, gives them bute and injects their joints before she rides...well...that's not possible for me, and it is not something I want. She said since I mostly want to trail ride, and possibly endurance ride, I should probably look for a more capable horse.
Well, I don't like giving up. I had worked with Rain for about 3 weeks before the vet came (lightly) doing ground work and working on cues and such. I'm in love with her and we have a bond that I've never had with a horse. She's super smart and I don't want to give up. I talked to Pattie who has had horses for 40+ years. She birthed, broke, and trained Rain and all the other horses she has and I trust her knowledge. Her and I both are very much into holistic remedies, and so we started exploring different holistic (inexpensive) remedies for arthritis and general joint pain.
Pattie said she had an arthritic pony who she thought she was going to have to put down, and she started feeding her apple cider vinegar every day, along with MSM, and the pony ended up fine. This was really encouraging to me because Rain is only slightly lame (a 1 before the flexion test) and only in 1 leg. She also had a really bad infection and lesion on that leg about 4 years ago which has created some pretty severe scar tissue.
SO...for the past month or so, she's been getting apple cider vinegar in her grain every day, and Pattie and I have been doing massage on her. The farrier came out and trimmed her hooves yesterday, and after the trim we turned her out with another horse and they cantered and trotted all around, playing freely for about 15 minutes or so. She showed no signs of lameness. I have MSM coming in the mail, and it should be here within the next 3 days, which we're going to start as soon as we get it. I have a chiropractor coming out as well (Patties daughter is splitting the cost with me) to look at her, and make an adjustment. Her hips seem to be out of alignment, because she's always docking one side.
My feelings about the situation are, people have worse off horses that showed improvements with MSM (there's a lot of debate about apple cider vinegar, but she likes the taste, and it is making her coat shiny even if it isn't helping with the joints). Rain isn't that bad, and she has been having more days of soundness than not. She will start off fine, and start to show signs of pain after about 30-40 minutes of exercise. She is improving each time I see her, between massage and light work. I've even started riding her again, because I was just doing ground work to avoid the extra weight. (I only weight 110 pounds and I'm 5'0'' so it's not like I put a huge amount of strain on her), but extra weight is extra weight, and her back has been very sore (which I think is due to misalignment and being out of shape)
My goals/plan of action is:
-Continue light work on days she is sound
-Continue apple cider vinegar in her grain
-Start MSM as soon as it gets here
-Have the chiropractor come out (another well-respected vet who also does acupuncture and is recommended by the farrier and other vets)
-Ultimately get her to the point that pain and lameness are not present
-Buy her and make her mine
Thank you to whoever read this gigantic novel of a post. Any and all (kind and constructive) feedback is welcome. I'm new on this forum, but I'm getting the hang of things. I plan on updating this each time I see her and will start to go more in depth about her soundness, and the exercises we do, what the chiropractor says, and all that stuff.