From Endurance to Dressage
Back in January, Yellow Dog suffered from a patellar luxation, a condition where the kneecap slides out of position. You can read about it here. We medicated her as recommended by the vet, and the issue was resolved. Or so we thought.
Last week, out of nowhere, Yellow dog started to limp, hard, on the same leg. Her left hind was nearly nonfunctioning. She can sort of bear weight on it, but not for long. She started compensating, which we know is a bad thing, by pogo-sticking off her other hind leg. She doesn't appear to be in pain per se - she runs and plays, although we're trying to keep that to a minimum, but it's obviously uncomfortable to bear weight on it.
We took her to see the vet on Monday morning. That deserves its own post, but here's a quick explanation of what that looks like. California is still on a pretty tight lockdown which means pet owners can't go into the office. A technician comes to your vehicle, takes down your information, and then the animal is taken into the clinic. Later, as you wait in the parking lot, the doctor calls and discusses what might be wrong.
Dr. Thurman has been our vet for more than eight years, since Tobias was just a baby. When we brought Tobias home, we didn't know it, but Parvo was in his future. With Dr. Thurman's help, Tobias recovered, not a usual outcome with Parvo, and Dr. Thurman has been our vet ever since.
We've built a good relationship with Dr. Thurman. He knows us well, and we trust his diagnoses. After examining Yellow Dog, he reported that her ACL has a small tear. Without x-rays, he couldn't say how severe it was, but in his opinion, surgery is most likely in order. He said that he could do x-rays, but he didn't want to waste our money if we were taking her to a surgeon because the surgeon would need to do his own x-rays.
I really appreciated Dr. Thurman's honesty and desire to spare us any added expense. He gave us a referral to Vetsurg, a facility that specializes in orthopedic surgery for pets. They're in Ventura however, which is a two-hour drive. It's doable though. I was able to make an appointment for June 1, their first available appointment, which is just two weeks away.
Since we were already going to the vet, I took Tobias as well as both dogs were nearly due for their regular vaccines anyway. Since it's a 30 - 40 minute drive to Thurman Veterinary Center, they understood why I didn't want to go back the following week for just for a shot; they went ahead and did all the vaccines.
While we were there, we discussed all of the little things we were also dealing with. Tobias had hot spots under his neck so he needed more spray and medicated shampoo (I was running really low). And since one of the spots was still pretty active, Dr. Thurman prescribed a round of antibiotics.
To help Yellow Dog feel more comfortable, Dr. Thurman prescribed a painkiller/anti-inflammatory. Both dogs are also on a daily MovoFlex chew, which Dr. Thurman was happy to hear about. And finally, since both dogs have the most delicate stomaches I've ever seen, someone is barfing at least once a week, we put them both on Omeprazole about six weeks ago. We've only had one barfing incident since, and it was when we brought Yellow Dog home from the vet and fed her dinner. She was pretty stressed by the visit, so I wasn't too terribly surprised.
Dr. Thurman agreed that omeprazole was a good option, but we could also switch to the cheaper Pepcid, especially if they were feeling fine. Pepcid reduces the amount of acid in the stomach while Omeprazole does that while also helping to heal damage to the stomach and prevents ulcers. Since both dogs are on medication, we'll stick with the omeprazole. Dr. Thurman agreed.
So now, we try to keep a wildly energetic four-year old lab quiet for the next few weeks. The worst case scenario is that she needs one of the more costly and invasive surgeries; there are least three different kinds ranging from $1500 to upwards of $4500. Given that she weighs a lot, around 65 pounds, and is young and active, we're probably looking at the most costly surgery.
This is a very difficult conversation to have, but my husband and I considered all of the factors: her age, her quality of life, her prognosis, and of course, the cost. It helps that our vacation for this summer has been cancelled due to COVID-19, so what we would have spent traveling is now available for surgery.
For now, we'll try to keep Yellow dog quiet as we wait for the appointment. There isn't much else we can do until we find out how damaged the cruciate ligament is. Once the surgeon has a chance to examine her and do a full work up, we'll know what our options are.
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: