The last couple of weeks have been very mixed in life with Charmer. Back at the end of July I celebrated 20 whole years of life with him, making a fuss of him and giving him a few extra treats – enjoying some time with the whole family joining in – his junior groom busy sweeping up around him and the littlest member of the family stretching out her tiny hand to get to know him for the very first time ❤️❤️ – and some of my favourite times, just me and him, too.
As always, I was thinking how very lucky we were still to have him so well and so healthy, loving summertime life and feeling good, but unfortunately just a few days later he was suddenly struggling a bit walking in and out between his field and the barn, and within a day or two was practically refusing to move from his stable at all, which is so unlike him. Called the vet out and they were wonderful as always and were able to say and show that it was definitely his arthritis (it was so acute all of a sudden that I hadn’t even been sure if it might’ve been an injury or if he was ill and just not feeling well enough to move) and that it was below his knees that was causing the problem rather than his knees as last time, and believed coffin joints – which definitely made sense as his last X-rays a year or so ago showed arthritic changes moving that way. The vet said it was hard to tell really whether it could just be a flare or further degeneration that will be the new normal; but either way needed to get on top of it quickly. He’s had his anti inflammatory upped slightly in the short term, but with the caveat I totally understand that we really are at pretty much the maximum he can have long-term at the moment without risking too much damage to his kidneys. He’s also started on a new supplement I really hope might help and was recommended to have front shoes put back on, which he’d had off since last year, with a rolled toe to try to help his movement and reduce any impact on the joints in his front legs.
The first couple of days after the vet visited last Monday were pretty bad, and he actually seemed worse every night and I really thought we were approaching a time of having to make a decision for him – although with his level of discomfort just shooting up so suddenly and him having been so sound and so well just a couple of weeks before I really wanted to give everything a chance to help. Thankfully towards the end of last week he started to improve and had a few good days walking almost like his normal self again.
Spent a lot of time watching him in the field to see he could get around ok, still lie down and get back up and was very relieved to see he could.
The farrier came out on Wednesday to see about putting the shoes on. He was also wonderful – as ever I’m so grateful to have such dedicated people working to help Charmer and do what’s best – but he was reluctant to put shoes on knowing the trauma it would involve to his legs. He did say Charmer’s feet were very even despite his leg tending to turn in a little due to the changes and in very good shape which would already be giving him some good support, so instead as a first try trimmed his feet with a rolled toe trim rather than shoeing with that.
Having seen him since Wednesday I’m very glad we didn’t go for the shoes just now, although it might be they would really have helped in the long run. Even just with holding his feet up for the most careful trim and the least time possible and even with some extra pain relief he was much worse again yesterday which was a shame after a few days’ progress but have to hope it helps longer term.
This morning, visiting him in the field, he seemed comfortable enough and was enjoying grazing with his fieldmate and watching the younger horses over the fence careering around with interest, which is all I really want for him. Obviously we’re off riding at the moment and that may be for good this time, but I know that wouldn’t phase him as long as he can definitely be comfy enough enjoying his field, stable and routine he’ll be happy.
Hopefully he’ll get back on the mend again very quickly, but I have never been more aware that we don’t have all the time in the world and I really want to enjoy every minute. Times in the barn with him quietly companionable, grooming him or reading a pony book while he takes his time with his dinner, or standing side by side out in the field are my most special moments. Last night as we left the lights of the barn and took our slow steady walk to the field there was such an autumn-like wind and it was dark for the first time all summer heading out. I love watching seasons change with him and just enjoying the stillness.
Keeping everything crossed for him over the next few days and weeks, and taking each day as it comes. Wishing you all a lovely weekend x