While Speedy has been to the vet, we don't know with 100% percent certainty what's wrong, but we have been able to make a very educated guess. It's either an abscess (least likely), a deep bone contusion/bruise (somewhat likely), or a Medial Collateral Ligament injury (most likely). There's an excellent article on MCL injuries here.
Can I just start at the beginning?
About three and half weeks ago (nearly four by now), I had one of the best rides ever on Speedy. He was supple, listening to my aids, etc. I tucked him away for the evening safe and sound. A day or so later, he was so lame he could barely walk.
I called the chiropractor out who did a full body adjustment. Within two or three days, Speedy was 100% sound. I turned him out on Friday evening where he galloped and bucked like a man possessed. The next morning he was so lame again that he could barely walk. I chalked it up to the exuberance of the night before.
Throughout the week he got sounder and sounder. As the weekend approached, I was certain he'd be ready to get back to work. On Saturday, he turned up super lame again. I hauled him up to my farrier's house where his front shoes were pulled and hoof testers were applied generously. On the way home, I stopped by the chiropractor's place and had a follow up adjustment. Neither man could pinpoint the lameness. That was the end of week 2.
By the middle of the week, following lots of hand walking, Speedy was very nearly sound under saddle; I had been hacking lightly at the walk. He was re-shod that Monday and seemed ready yet again to get back to work, but by Friday, he was even more lame than before. That was the end of week 3.
I am not one to over-react, but after three weeks of lame to sound to lame again, I knew this wasn't a chiropractic issue. I had exhausted the expertise of both my farrier and chiropractor which meant that I needed to go up the food chain. While I have great respect for my local vet, I know that they don't have access to all the diagnostic equipment that Speedy might need, so I called Alamo Pintado Equine Medical Center, a premier equine medical center here in California, and scheduled an exam for Monday.
When I called Alamo Pintado, I knew I could get an appointment, but for when was the question. It's nearly a three and a half hour drive with a trailer in tow so I really needed a mid-day appointment. I was also hoping to go on Monday as I had the day off. The staff at Alamo is amazingly friendly and helpful. They were able to schedule us for Monday at 11:30 with Dr. Carter Judy, the same vet I've used before. That meant we could leave at a reasonable time, 8:00 a.m., and still make it home before dark.
We loaded Speedy just before 8:00 and all four of us, Hubby, the dog, Speedy, and me made the trek to Los Olivos. We arrived just after 11:00 which gave us enough time to unload Speedy, check in with the front office, and take a minute to organize.
to be continued ...