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Tuesday, 17 March 2015

The return to vet hospital 16/3/15

Finally the day arrived when I could return with Jack to Oakham vet hospital for him to be re xrayed and then hopefully be turned out, it was a day Jack and I had been waiting for 6 long weeks!

Our appointment wasn't until 1pm so I was able to take my time and not rush too much as we wouldn't need to set off until about 11.30am.

I dropped off my son at nursery and headed down to the farm at about 9.30am with the aim of giving Jacks stable a good clean out and leaving the bed up to dry out while we were gone. 

When I arrived at the farm I decided to get the trailer out first before starting mucking out and thank heavens I did because as I pulled it forward out of the space one of the wheels wasn't turning, the brake has locked on!  I tried to shuffle it forwards and back a couple of times but it was stuck fast and wouldn't budge!  I started to panic a bit at this point as I had no idea what to do!  This had only happened to me once before (when someone had mistakenly put the hand brake on thinking they were doing me a favour!) and my OH and his Dad had to take the wheels off to free them up!  I couldn't understand why it had happened this time as the handbrake was not on and I only used it a week ago.  The only thing I can think is that when I washed it the brakes must have still been wet when I put it away and they had rusted as it sat there for the week.  Anyway queue a panicked phone call to OH's dad who didn't answer.  I left him a message and then rang my friend who was coming with me to the vets, she has a little 3.5t box and I asked if I had to could we take that instead.  She was a little worried Jack might kick and damage the box and to be honest I was too but I had already decided to give him a decent dose of sedalin and promised to repair any damage that occurred!  Luckily it didn't come to that as OH's dad rang me back and left work to come and sort it out for me.
I was still feeling pretty stressed!  When I walked into the barn to start mucking out Jacks stable I was faced with him rearing vertically in his stable and double barrelling the walls.  So with a broken trailer in the car park and a loony horse in the stable could today get any better! 

I sprayed Jack with Instamag and then when he had calmed down a bit I gave him his breakfast with a healthy dose of sedalin mixed in for good measure!  While he ate I sorted his stable until international rescue arrived to sort the trailer, he jacked it up took the wheel off whacked the brakes with a hammer and job done!  Put the wheel back on and I drove it round the car park to check but it was fine - simple!!

By now the sedalin had kicked in and Jack was a nice calm sane horse again so when my friend arrived we loaded him up with only a slight hesitation on the ramp and off we went.
The journey was straight forward and we arrived just in time for our appointment.

I was pleased that Jack had travelled well and arrived calm and happy.

We went into one of the waiting/assessment boxes and waited for the surgeon to arrive.  Jack was on his best behaviour thanks to the sedalin and stood good as gold while we waited.  

The vet arrived, asked how things had gone and checked all Jacks wounds.  He was happy with how he was healing on the surface and wanted to see him walked and trotted up and on the lunge.

I prayed the sedalin would keep working so I didn't get dragged round the yard but I didn't need to worry Jack walked and trotted next to me without putting and hoof wrong.  I then lunged him in walk trot and canter in their ménage.  This was the first time he had done anything other than walk a few strides in weeks and I'm sure if it wasn't for the ACP in his system it would have been far more exciting but as it was he happily walked, trotted and cantered round with no fireworks just a bit of head throwing.  He was still protecting his back (not that I was surprised) but I was thrilled to see a huge improvement in his length of stride in canter in particular.

Then we went on to xray his back and he was so chilled the vet said he wouldn't sedate him any further, Jack stood like a rock while they took some images and then we left him tied up while we had a look at the pics and had a chat about the results.

It was really interesting seeing the after xrays at last, 4 processes and 6 ligaments had been cut and the difference is clear to see.

The surgeon Neil went into great detail explaining what he had done and why, showing us several other cases to help explain everything clearly.  He showed me 2 spines from advanced eventers and gave me so much confidence that Jack can come back and event successfully from the operation.  One of the spines he explained was from a 4* horse called Ashdale Cruise Master.  I was a bit star struck as I immediately recognised the name as a horse ridden by Oliver Townend at the top level!  I hadn't realised Jack was in the hands of such high profile vets as they don't blow their own trumpet about it but when we started talking more about eventing I found that he had travelled with Oliver and team GB eventing to Kentucky, Pau, WEG etc. 

We discussed the rehab and why they have a slightly different approach to some other vets doing the surgery.  They use the latest techniques and are yielding the best results using the methods used on Jack so I am so glad I trusted them and listened to and followed their advice not turning out or exercising him earlier then them seeing him.  It was hard work doing solid box rest for 6weeks and I found it a little unsettling to read others stories of ks surgery with much less box rest and earlier exercise so it is comforting to now have a clear understanding on why we had to wait and the benefit of that.  I wish I had spoken to the surgeon in person sooner to ease my concerns instead of just worrying about it!  He said I should have called him anytime if I was worried about anything and I do wish that I had!  If I had been able to pick up jack from his surgery on a week day I would have spoken to him to be discharged but as I could only pick him up on a weekend due to work I was discharged by a vet nurse who didnt go into as much detail.  Lesson learnt - if in doubt ask!!!

So he can now be turned out for 10-14 days in a small paddock to begin with, followed by lunging in a pessoa for a 4 weeks building up from walk and trot to cantering and raised poles by the end of the 4 weeks.  Ideally they would also like him to do a couple of water treadmill sessions a week too.

After 6 weeks I will get his saddle checked and then if all has gone well with the lunging and treadmill rehab I can start ridden work with him :) amazing, I'm so excited!!

So after lots of questions and talking they gave Jack his flu jab for me which was due next week and then we were ready to load him back up and come home.

He loaded well again and the journey home was uneventful arriving back still calm and chilled.

I decided to turn him straight out from the trailer into his little 20x40m paddock, he walked quickly but calmly into the field and just trotted off and got down to roll and roll and roll before getting his head down and eating grass!  It was all very unexciting but the best way as no risk of him injuring himself!  He was a happy pony!

I left him too it and went back later to pop him a rug on, give him his tea and a hay net as he has so little grass.  He was quite happy to be caught and have his rug on, I wasn't sure he would come near me after being stuck in for so long!

I get to increase the size of his turn out a little bit everyday for the next few days and at the weekend he can go back in with the other horses in the big field which I know he will love as there is lots of grass and all his mates to play with!

I have to admit I had a little cry with happiness yesterday, I didn't dare hope for such a good outcome.  There is still a long way to go and I am fully aware there could be bumps in the road as he is brought back into full work but we are well on the road to recovery and all signs are pointing to a full and successful recovery if I follow the rehab plan.

Next job is to find an aqua treadmill to take him to!


  1. Great news, really interesting to see the x-rays, too.
    You were blessed that he was so calm when he was turned out, we turned a horse out after 3 months box rest for a tendon injury and even with half a tube of sedalin in her she galloped around like a loon! But didn't injure herself, tg!

    1. I was rather concerned about it all especially after seeing him going loony in his stable in the morning but he was so good all day after a big dose of sedalin! Thank the lord I had plenty! They are such a worry!