Where we last left off, Amber was still battling a mystery fungus with balloon legs.
Turned out, she HAD gotten into fireants, and she developed cellulitis. It got pretty nasty. After several daily betadine scrubs, SMZs, Surpass cream and stall rest with wraps, she's doing well. Unfortunately because she stocked up so much with the cellulitis, she's now prone to stocking up in her pasterns in her stall.
We got the cellulitis under control in a couple of weeks. I got the OK to start working her again lightly from Dr.Wheeler. After discussing the stocking up with her she also approved that I let Amber be on 24/7, since she only stocked up in her stall.
Well, Amber disapproved. I thought she enjoyed 24/7, but the heat has become so miserable she just wants to come into her stall in the day - this, I am 100% sure of, and this is why: I was opening the gate for a little girl to put her pony away (Amber now stays with all the ponies in a dry lot during the day), and as I was closing the gate, Amber BARGED right out. And ran straight to her stall. So if that isn't a clear message of what she prefers, I don't know what is. It's so muggy and hot they sweat just standing around, and even though she has a shelter in the dry lot, it's still much cooler in her stall with the fan circulating the air.
So that is settled. Hopefully the exercise she's been getting will help curb the stocking up - Dr. Wheeler was hoping that would be the case.
After thought, observation and getting an opinion from Casey, we agree that Amber looks the same as when we started our quest for "soundness". I think improvement we were seeing was wishful thinking, point blank.
Here is what I think. I don't think the root problem has a damn thing to do with hocks or stifles. Being that I can FEEL the difference in her pelvis, I will say that was something that needed to be fixed, but again - I don't think it was the source of the problem.
The bullnosed back hooves are now more of a concern for everyone. They have been bullnosed since the first day I met her. No farrier or vet ever said a word about it, so I assumed that if it was a problem, they would have informed me and make an effort to correct it. Feeling a bit foolish at my ignorance, I now know that Amber has a negative coffin bone angle.
With this bit of information, I'm starting to think about the possibility of navicular in the hinds.
It's a bit of a long shot. It seems to me that what's probably caused her "higher up" problems is from the lack of heel-first landing on her hinds. That's not something I'm too worried about right now, but something I want to keep in mind. Being heel-sore, for whatever reason, is also a possibility.
Dr. Wheeler was suggesting wedge shoes for the hinds. I'm on the fence about it. The Stallings were suggesting eggbars...again, not so sure about it. Talked to the other farrier today, Roger, and he is pretty much in agreement with me that the toe dragging may very well just be something Amber does due to conformation, or even just having sore/poor heels.
Pretty much all the professionals working with us right now are like...well, if she drags despite doing everything possible, it's most important to minimize wear on the toe as much as possible and be adamant to watch for signs of discomfort, or when she's reaching her personal limits of physical ability.
Which brings me to the point of just throwing shoes on the back. She came to Casey a couple of months before I bought her with shoes - I bet there was a reason. I wish I could get into contact with her previous owners. While I still believe that barefoot is better, my opinion on whether or not horses "need" shoes is changing. We will see what it does for Amber. We've tried everything BUT shoes. Maybe it will provide support she needs to do better. Who knows? But whether or not it improves her dragging is semi-irrelevant. Shoes are going on regardless to minimize toe drag. With Dr. Wheelers approval, still pending (I need to call her), I want to try a plain, flat, steel shoe only on the hinds the first time. Even if she goes to the wedges, I'd feel more comfortable giving her time to adjust to the shoes before we use shoes that will pretty significantly change the angle at which her hoof sits.
I really liked my barefoot trimmer's trims. But I don't agree with what she's doing to treat the bullnose (rasping it), and while I'm more than willing to work with her on that, she doesn't offer shoes, and at this point, I simply feel that shoes are one of my last-ditch efforts. I've got that list in my head - try the shoes, if need be, go to wedges. At least it will curb the dragging (which, due to her lack of activity, is nearly gone all together now - but she needs to start working again and building muscle). Another one of my last ditch efforts is an animal communicator. Do I dare mention this plan to the farriers, vets or Casey? No. I feel that any "leads" I get would be stuck down pretty quick. It's pretty far fetched. But right now, I feel my money is best saved for emergency. After the communicator, my very last attempt to figure this out would be X-rays and nerve blocking. This is the last attempt because the cost will be hefty and it will be some time before I can afford it. The communicator cost will be miniscule in comparison, so spending money on that while I save will probably not make a huge impact, and who knows - it could change the whole ballgame.
So that's our plan for now. She's just as awesome as she ever was under saddle. Her manners on the lunge are a lot better. She understands what I'm asking for better. Walk to canter still frustrates her a bit but she does it nicely. Will still soften and collect and round her back like a champ. After she warms up, she will also drag her nose in the dirt like the little hunter I try to make her be occasionally. She drags like nobody's business at the walk and trot, but she doesn't drag at all at the canter.
I feel pretty confident about Roger's suggestion of flat steel shoes. Let's face it - I'm willing to pay for alum. wedges - he has an opportunity to make more money that way. Suggesting the cheaper option because he thinks it will be better is a good sign. I hope we are able to stick with him - I'm stick of trying to find the perfect match for her feet, and it does her NO good to have to get used to a different trim every time she gets done.