I’m pretty sure Drifter’s legs are doing really well. We saw the vet again today. He had an assistant along too which meant there were two of them to see Drifter demonstrate the… slowest… trot … ever on the lunge while completely ignoring everything I asked for. And I didn’t have the energy to care.
The vet agrees he’s sound but can’t really be bothered to do much. [I mean Drifter can’t be bothered, not the vet!] I think Drifter is now so used to being kept to slow paces that he can’t see the point of putting much effort into it. I think the brain is switched off but the legs are doing well. I did notice today that the vet has changed from saying “possible arthritis” to just saying “arthritis” but to be honest that’s what I’ve thought for a while, so it’s nice to be on the same page.
Both vet and I are pleased with how Drifter has managed the change from out-all-night-every-night to only-out-for-a-few-hours-a-day. If Drifter were more interested in trotting, the vet would say start cantering. As it is, I think we’re going to hang around in trot a bit longer. When the day comes that I feel like a have a trot worth cantering from, or D feels like offering a strike off, that’s the day we’ll canter. Again, the vet and I agree on that.
The plan is to keep his
legs attached arthritis managed by continuing the wedge shoeing at the back indefinitely (the soft plastic wedges shouldn’t damage his heels) and by carefully managing his exercise. One of the key points I think is to keep it even. No sudden time off, and no sudden boot-camp stuff, just keep him ticking over.
I’m pretty content with the legs. But …
“While you’re here… can you have a look underneath. There’s a skin reaction just in front of his sheath.”
I did not say the word sarcoid.
But the vet did.
No, we haven’t any prior history of sarcoids.* This new, angry, crusty, suddenly quite large growth is our first joyous experience. It’s a lumpy one and not in a great place for treatment.
I knew a few weeks ago he had what looked like an ordinary fly bite reaction, and I was keeping an eye on it, but he can be quite reactive to bites around his sheath so I just thought it was that. Then when he got clipped just over a week ago they caught it with the clippers and took the top off it and when I saw it after that it looked concerning.
Yes I know that cutting a sarcoid is the worst thing and will make it grow aggressively, but it didn’t cross my mind that they’d be clipping that close to the sheath (different person did the clip this time) and of course I wasn’t really thinking sarcoid until after the clip anyway.
So the vet suggests we start with the least aggressive treatments and work up if needed. We’ll be starting on a relatively mild cream. If the sarcoid’s not gone by January we’ll be on the scary cytotoxic “Liverpool” cream that’s so vicious only vets are allowed to apply it, and even for them it’s carefully controlled. If that fails us we’ll be looking at general anaesthetic and laser surgery.
Why did my horse have to find a new way to break now the legs are doing so much better? Hopefully it will respond to the mild(er) cream but, oh, pony, why are you doing this to me?
*For any of my readers who aren’t well up on diseases of the horse, sarcoids are a kind of skin cancer which is not uncommon in horses. It’s a bit mysterious but thought to be triggered by something carried in fly bites. They can range from completely innocuous flat patches of skin to giant lumpy open-sore growths protruding like something from a horror film. Cutting them off tends to mean you just get a more aggressive one growing on the same site afterwards. Treatment is hard and frequently unsuccessful. The only good news is that they don’t usually spread to other organs, just the skin. Unless you’re really unlucky. They can spread across the skin though and once you have one, there are almost certainly more in your future further down the line. Don’t Google it unless you have a very strong tolerance for truly horrible images.