Coronavirus Stall Rest Champions

Coronavirus Stall Rest Champion t-shirt
This was not what I meant when I decided to make this shirt! :(
(get yours here)


Still hunting for what could be causing JJ’s mystery lameness (since late February, and it’s almost May now – ugh!) I kept going.

This is where I start to get a little upset… please remember that there are always two sides to every story – and I’m sure the vet sees things from a different perspective than I do – but this is my take on what’s transpired. Please also notice that I am intentionally NOT mentioning the vet’s name or practice, to be fair.

The vet eventually decided it was navicular, and I respectfully disagreed. I had asked if she wanted to compare the new X-rays she had taken to his old PPE exam X-rays from 2016 to compare for changes, but she declined at the time. Additional blocks failed to provide any answers, but “navicular” was her best guess.

Next, my awesome coach Lauren New of River Birch Farm voluntold her equally-awesome farrier husband to come take a look at my horse. He saw a few things he didn’t like and found that JJ reacted positively on hoof testers on *both* feet, in the toe, and especially on the right front – which is weird, because when this all started, the left front was the issue.

He’s assuming either the last shoeing was too short and caused JJ to be sore/bruised, or that he has a touch of laminitis. He reset him with some pads and recommended I let JJ chill (pun intended) in a bucket of ice for 20 minutes for a few days. If that helped, laminitis was likely.

Trying to convince a 1,200lb animal with the intelligence of a 4 year old child to stand perfectly still with his foot in a bucket of ice for 20 minutes while all the other horses eat dinner.
Challenge Level: Expert

The ice DID help, but I don’t know if that’s because A) it’s actually laminitis B) he had pads on in the front now C) we finally pulled the hind shoes that had gone on during the first shoeing back in February when the problem popped up that I’ve been suspecting caused a problem elsewhere D) all of the above.

Meanwhile, it took the vet *five weeks* to send me the new scans she had taken (and she only sent them after I had to ask for them, which annoyed me considering it’s my horse and I paid for them). I had a couple friends take a look at the X-rays, just to do my due diligence in case something had been missed, and immediately we discovered what looked to be a pretty obvious fracture.

I sent the pictures to the head vet at the practice, and he asked to come see JJ immediately. New scans showed only slight evidence (since it was now 5 weeks later and if there was something, it would have mostly healed by then) and I was upset that it had never been mentioned to me in the first place. The first vet sent me a text message saying “I noticed it at the time, but did not emphasize it because JJ blocked to a very low PD block.” Okay, well, regardless – if you notice something that’s likely *a fracture* don’t you think you should say something to the owner and maybe not wait five weeks to send the X-rays?? Ugh. Not happy.

Anyway. The head vet then told me he still believed it was navicular and asked me to “let him try to block the navicular bursa.” I agreed to the procedure, even though I didn’t think it would do any good, because I really hoped they would prove me wrong and because I was so upset with how things had gone over the past 7 weeks that I assumed this would be “on the house” troubleshooting – it wasn’t. And, guess what? The block didn’t help – it’s not navicular.

At this point, they gave up. Short of me doing a $3,000 MRI (and I really don’t like the idea of putting JJ under general anesthesia and dropping him on a table for a non-emergency, especially since he turned 17 on April 23…) they are out of answers.

From the moment I first saw the “maybe fracture” X-rays, I made the decision to put JJ on stall rest. He’ll spend 30 days incarcerated and I’ll reevaluate when he’s served his sentence.

World’s. Slowest. Lawnmower.
It’s a good thing he’s cute…

Is it laminitis? Stall rest.
Is it navicular? Stall rest.
Is it a fracture? Stall rest.
Is it soft tissue? Stall rest.
Is it bruised coffins? Stall rest.

Whatever it is, stall rest wins.

In the meantime, I’m actually spending MORE time at the barn since I have to take him out to hand graze 6 days a week (instead of my usual 3-4 days a week of ride time) which isn’t bad, because he’s a pretty dang good quarantine buddy. :)

While he’s still not 100% sound, the rest seems to be doing his body a load of good. His legs look cleaner than ever and he’s got a spring in his walk that wasn’t there before. So, I guess that’s good?

But… yeah. $1,500 later and my only answer is “it’s not navicular” which I already knew. Everything’s inconclusive and it’s killing me not to know what’s wrong while he’s hurting and miserable on stall rest.

He also hasn’t been shod (other than the resets) in over 8 weeks and his feet are just now getting to the point where they’re long enough to be done again. He’s usually on a 5-week shoeing cycle, so I’m hoping maybe it really was just a simple case of him being too short. Fingers crossed.

Either way, I’m choosing to trust my gut, follow the clues, and listen to my horse. I just hope that I’m making the right decision for JJ’s future and not some stupid epic mistake.

But, that leads me to my next problem… How will I rehab him (eventually) when I don’t even know what the actual injury was?

Slowly. Very slowly…

I just hope I get the chance.


Sometimes rest can be a good thing, both mentally and physically. *IF* we are able to get back to competing like we used to, I’m going to give JJ off 2-4 weeks each year as a part of his regular routine to rest, relax, and reset.