Saturday, August 01, 2009

A visit to an Equine Vet

Veterinarians who specialize in equines are a bit few and far between. Generally we can call most any of our local vets and get wonderful treatment for our mules, horses, or donkeys.

But Sunshine's case seemed to be turning out a bit different. So we called the Riverdale Vet Clinic in Muscoda, WI and made an appointment for 'Dr. Clay' to see Sunshine and geld Eddie.

Eddie was prepped, drugged with Ketamine and Rompun. He stood quietly ... drooping until Doc laid him down. The surgery went quickly and quietly with the usual jokes men make while an intact male is becoming 'gelded'.

'Is his voice going to be higher now Doc?
I don't know, Rich, can you improve a donkey's bray?
Dang Eddie, you are now going to sing a different tune!
Yep Rich, no turning back now....'
and so forth

Next he examined Sunshine. She was a stellar patient. She is shown here getting prepped for a nerve block at the fetlock. Doc didn't think the problem was in her hoof or ankle and wanted to make double sure. [He'd already tested her foot for a possible abscess.]
She never moved a muscle when he poked a needle into her fetlock. Jeeze, I cringed.

She moved out when asked and gimped swinging her leg as she limped. Doc shook his head and said ~~
'I'm really concerned about her knee. I think the problem is in her knee. I'll need to do some x-rays to she if she has a fracture or slab fracture. I have to rule that out.'[Here Sunshine is going to have x-rays done. No flash so the pic is a bit blurry, but you get the idea.]

Imagine how my heart skipped. A fracture, a slab fracture is very bad news.

The x-rays turned out negative and we took the next step.

The diagnosis was this:
Probable severe tear in the collateral ligament that holds the knee straight for equine. This would be very much like an ACL tear in a human.

Doc was a bit glum about her injury. Her prognosis was not great.
We are treating her with stall rest to limit her movement. In 4 weeks we are to check with Doc and see how she is healing, if at all. He wants her to go 8 weeks in a stall.

If that doesn't work, he said we had the option of going to the University of Wisconsin Madison Vet School and having surgery. No real guarantees on ligament repair for equine, as you cannot immobilize them like you can a human patient.

I spent the last 24 hours agonizing over this. I don't want her to suffer in the pain that she must be in. She can barely walk.
[you may have guessed this already if you follow my blog...I am walking around with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat.]
This is where we get into the touchy field of quality of life. I really don't want to face those choices right now, but I have decided to go with a positive attitude that
Sunshine will get better with stall rest.

So we wait and see.

Oh by the way.
Eddie feels better today.
I am headed out to hand walk him.
He is one of the most willing donkeys I've ever laid hands on.


  1. Mercy Val you have a lot going on in your life with equine also. It is very hard to make decisions about these animals when you put your heart into everything you do with them and you know these mules and donkeys put their hearts into making sure we are safe on the trails. I will keep you, Eddie, and Sunshine in my prayers. God bless you all.

  2. It looks and sounds like you had two very polite and cooperative animals off to see the vet. Eddie will always be the "little man" for behaving like such an angle under those circumstances.
    I'm so very sorry to hear that the diagnosis on Sunshine wasn't more reassuring. I hope that the stall rest will be enough to allow her to heal.
    Many years ago Polly was diagnosed with whiteline disease. She had to have both front outer hoof walls removed and the equine vet put her up on silicone pads reinforced with fiberglass. It was very experimental and she had to be kept in a box stall for two months. The point that I'm trying to get to here is that she learned to except her box stall routine (which really surprised me). She did recover. I hope that Sunshine is as fortunate.
    I totally understand why you are so concerned, but I hope that you will continue to stay positive. It will be good for the both of you. I'm thinking of you and hoping for the best.

  3. Sincerely...thank you very much.

  4. I will pray for Sunshine, Val. I'm so sorry that she hasn't gotten any better. Maybe this stall rest will take care of the problem; I sure hope it does anyway. *HUGS* I know this must be killing you. I'm here if you need to talk.