Monday, January 26, 2009

Well, Crap...

Shins. How many times do we hear about a horse that has sore shins? This time, it's one of mine.

Miss Belle Express (Mocha Express-Tonya Belle-Best of Both) has sore shins and now we're faced with a dilemma. Our choices are limited and I'm not sure any of them are good: we can lay her up for 3 - 4 weeks and rest her up; we can try and see if she can work through the tenderness; or we can pin fire and lay her off which could mean she's out for about 3 months.

I threw it out to the partners for input, but the final decision is mine. I have until Thursday or Friday to decide and I'm torn. I can't see firing her. It worked out great for Fizzy, but I just don't think it'll have the same positive affect on her shins as it did on his ankle. Besides, a three month layoff means she may or may not be ready for Canterbury this summer and that's where she can run for some added money as a Minn-bred. So that leaves laying her up or working her through it.

Working her through it has advantages, of course. She stays in training and moves closer to her first start. Maybe. The big disadvantage is that she may very well NOT be able to work through it. Then we've wasted a couple of weeks, maybe have made her worse and STILL have to lay her up. If she can work through it, we're still on track for a March start and the partners can start watching her race - after all, that's what they paid for.

Laying her up is damaging to the psyche of the group: "Damn, I've paid my dough and my horse is at the farm." However it could be the best thing for her. She'll be able to rest up the shins and receive treatment while not taking the pounding on the track surface. She'll lose some training time, but assuming she comes back into training in late February she still may be able to get a couple of starts in at Tampa before coming north. There is a down side, of course. She may take more time than a few weeks to heal up, but all that does is push back her timetable. It may be the best course of treatment as well as saving us a few dollars on the day rate while she's turned out.

Truly an inauspicious beginning for this group. My feelings are mixed, though heavily leaning. On the one hand I know that we all entered this with our eyes open, horses aren't machines and we can never predict how they will run/train. The other hand, and where I'm heavily leaning, is that I feel absolutely horrible that we can't get this promising filly to the track for them. For some it's their first experience owning a piece of a horse and so far it is admittedly not a good one. I do feel responsible, regardless of how well appraised everyone was of the risks. It's more than a little depressing for me, but I'm keeping my spirits up in the hope that when we get her to the track, she'll reward us all.


G. Rarick said...

Depends on how bad it is. If she's really tender, definitely go for the lay-off, which is NEVER the wrong decision (although a frustrating one to make). Forget pin-firing. I know they do it all the time for shins in Ireland, but we don't in France (although we DO love to pin-fire tendons, but that's another problem). If she's not that bad and stays in training, you need to apply a working blister and she'll have to be on the easy list for three to four weeks (though not standing in a box somewhere, so you lose less time). The other thing is how much do you trust your trainer? Shins can often be avoided in the first place, and you've already had two horses with sore shins. Smells a little funny...just my (unsolicited) opinion.

Ted Grevelis said...

Thanks G. I'm with you on the pin-firing. If she doesn't look like she can work through it, she'll get a few weeks over at the farm. As far as the trainer goes, Valid Port's ankle tendon is under a different trainer out in California. Fizzy Pop is in the same stable and was most definintely an ankle as opposed to the shin. He's back and training strong. In addition, Fizzy really raced too much last year looking back on it. He had already logged some miles before we calimed him and we probably went one race too many before we turned him out for the winter.

Thanks for reading and I really appreciate the input!

Steve Zorn said...

I sympathize, Ted. It's never easy telling the partners, especially those new to the game, that the best thing is just to sit around and wait a few more months.

I agree with Gina that pin-firing's probably the least good option. Rest is always good, except for its effect on the timetable.

But, if you want to be cheered up, sore shins are a whole lot better than having to put down a filly, which I did two weeks ago. She developed a massive infection in her deep flexor tendon and even (expensive) surgery didn't get rid of it. She reached the point where she just couldn't stand on the leg any more and was obviously in pain, so we didn't have any other choice. The partners were surprisingly understanding though. That's the first time I've had to make that particular decision. I'll take yours any time.

Ted Grevelis said...

Geez, Steve, I'm terribly sorry. That had to be just awful for everyone involved. You're right - I'd rather be in my position in that particular case.

Katie Konrath said...

One thing you could potentially do to help her maintain condition through a lay-off would be to swim her.

It takes 5x the effort to move through the water than on land, and would take the weight off her legs.

Human runners run in the water regularly to relieve stress on their legs. And I think the harness-racing champ Somebeachsomewhere was exercised in a pond as well.

Might be one way to keep her in shape while letting the legs heal.

ratherrapid said...

Ted,Bill O'Gorman's book is on-line. At the end he has a 30 day shin rehab program that keeps the horse in training. as the others noted, there needs to be diagnosis, x-rays etc. to rule out fracture. if you're without a fracture, careful cause and effect work might allow them to continue training.