Change is the Law of Life (and surgery)

Hello all!  It’s been a few months!  A crazy, crazy few months.  In the last three months, I’ve moved farms, started a new job, and Savy had surgery.

The new farm: We landed at Dancing Horse Farm, and we’re both happier.  I love the atmosphere of learning and acceptance at this farm.  There are several apprentice trainers, working students, and riders at all different levels and disciplines.  There’s even a mustang! The facilities are amazing; I love the indoor arena, and there’s a half mile old racing track with good footing that’s super fun to “trail” ride on. Mostly I love the learning revolution Savy and I have experienced since the move. My new trainer teaches using a combination of biomechanics, classical dressage, and natural horsemanship. Books, DVDs, and outside clinicians are all part of the learning process here. Small victories are celebrated. Mostly I love leaving my lessons feeling inspired and like I learned something that I can replicate on my own.


Me watching the surgery.

The surgery: I started noticing Savy’s stifles felt weak. They were “slipping” a little and she wasn’t reaching underneath herself with her back legs. The horse’s stifles are the knee joints in humans, and they’re what allows the horse to sleep standing up. The joints “lock”. What happens when the stifle gets weak, is that it’s harder for the horse to unlock the joint, so it feels like the leg is slipping because it takes an extra second to start moving. I had the vet out and he noticed fluid in the hock joint. The hock joints are the ankles in humans. The vet suggested x-raying the hocks to find out exactly what was going on. He found an OCD Lesion on the left hock. An OCD lesion is basically a piece of bone that has slightly broken off. It rubs against the other joint bones and causes pain and inflammation. The recommended treatment is surgery. Thank god I got that major medical insurance!  Stifle.Hock

Savy had surgery at a wonderful surgical center in Lexington, KY, and was able to leave an hour after the surgery. The surgery was crazy to watch. It was done microscopically so I could see everything playing out on a monitor. It honestly looked like a tooth growing out of her bone. It was gross. There’s a surprisingly little amount of blood in the joint. Basically none. Savy handled it like a champ and was back on her feet, walking like a drunk person to her stall, in less than 10 minutes. The surgery was routine and her prognosis was good. Of course I handled the trauma with my usual grace and poise.

OCD Lesion

This is it! The little piece of bone is the OCD lesion. It looks big here but it was only about the size of a pea. This is a picture from inside her joint.

Bahahaha! I was/am a mess. I spent the entire 4 weeks from diagnosis to recovery stress eating and pouting. Savy, for the most part, stayed in good spirits, although the girls at the barn might say differently. She developed some interesting techniques for getting attention. When she learned to stomp her injured leg and stare at the live-in apprentices’ window, we decided to put her on Ace (a mild sedative) and turn her out in the dry lots. Luckily, the dry lots at our new farm are designed exactly for horses in recovery.


We spent a lot of time just hanging out getting fat.

It’s been 5 weeks since the surgery, and I’m finally starting to feel like things might be ok. She’s amazingly easy to ride now. Which makes me think this has been an issue long before she started showing any outward symptoms. We’re bringing her back to work at a snail’s pace, which is totally fine with me. Better safe than sorry. In the meantime, I’m working on me. Finding muscles in my “back-end” that I didn’t know existed, and finally learning how to properly post.

Now that all the drama seems to have slowed down hopefully I can start posting regular training updates again.


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