- Articular Cartilage Defects in the Coffin Joint. Treatment: Surgery or Stem Cell. Result: Potentially rideable (i.e. not for sport). Bottom Line: Neither of these treatments are going to entirely reverse the cartilage damage. Because of his age and current ability we are not going to pursue treatment for the existing defects.
- Synovitis- a thinning of the joint fluid which causes inflammation and continued degradation of the cartilage damage (the painful aspect). Treatment: Injections in the coffin joint every 3-6 months or IRAP (spinning his blood down to just the anti inflammatory proteins and re injecting into joint) monthly for a period of time then moving into 3-6 month periods. Result: prevention of continued cartilage damage caused by inflammation in joint fluids. Bottom Line: unless we attempt to reverse the existing damage there is no reason to begin injections until he becomes uncomfortable.
- Flattening of the Contylar Metacarpal fetlock bone. I have no real concept of what this means however it is not seen as significant. Treatment: injections once a year. Bottom Line: we're not moving forward with treatment.
- Medial Collateral Ligament Injury (soft tissue) and Cystic Lesion on Coffin Joint. Treatment: Shock Wave therapy (3 sessions 2 weeks apart). Result: likely the same level of healing as if he was just given time off. Bottom Line: While he is lame in the left front he may heal from time off- we are not going to persue treatment.
- Soft tissue thickening in the abaxial ligaments. I don't even know. Not significant.
Yikes right? Luckily I had the opportunity to sit down with my vet and review all of findings, all of the treatment options, and all of the potential recovery scenarios. At the end of the day we have a very young, green horse with a chronic condition. He will not be fit for use as a sport horse and is best suited as a pasture pet with the occasional trail ride.
Perhaps the situation would be different if he was a seasoned jumping veteran that we were trying to keep going. I don't think it's fair to Wilbur to put him through the ordeal of treating this to do a job that all indications show he may not be best suited for. And although it's selfish, it's not fair for me to go through the stress and expense involved in maintaining a horse that will only be able to go out on a quiet hack once in awhile.
That being said- he is currently comfortable to stand out in pasture and my financials are such that I can continue to support his current arrangement at Marlene's farm (she is such a saint). We've decided to give him a year in pasture- a fair shake to heal up. We'll bring him back to Pioneer in a year to reevaluate- hopefully he is sound enough to be rehomed as a pastured buddy and/ or a light trail horse. If not we'll have to look at some decisions about quality of life in near and long term scenarios. Kelly has some feelers out so we may rehome him sooner than later. It's a hard decision to make knowing that when he leaves my care he's at the mercy of someone else but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.
I'm sad for him and disappointed for us but at the same time, life isn't always roses. Tough choices were tossed around and I'm just glad he gets to go home to his favorite pasture mate, Lulu.