Yesterday I brought Nazir to the clinic where he is undergoing surgery today, actually right now, as I am writing this.
As you might already know, Nazir developed an arthritis in his right stifle. In December, the vet said that an old injury probably caused an inflammation in the joint. His treatment was quite successful, but I wasn’t quite satisfied yet. I had a gut feeing that something else was going on in this joint.
Last week’s x-rays, done by another vet, clearly revealed two big chips. There are hard to miss.
So I drove Nazir to the clinic yesterday for more x-rays and an ultrasound. The surgeon said that the chips are deeply embedded in tissue and might be hard to find and remove. Since Nazir is not lame right now, thanks to all the supplements and exercises he’s getting, the surgeon’s first advise was to take the horse home and wait for the inflammation to come up again. I didn’t think that was a good solution, since more inflammation means more damage to the joint. I’m not really training right now, that’s probably one reason why the joint is silent for now. These chips could cause a lot more damage. Every time Nazir has a good time in the field or I’m trotting/cantering a bit more, his leg gets worse. I asked the surgeon what he would do if it would be his horse. He said he would operate. So we scheduled the arthroscopy for the next day (today). I appreciated that he didn’t press the matter and simply gave me the options so I could make a decision though.
I didn’t make the decision light-heartedly, for I know that a long recovery period will follow, in which he will be confined to his box and a small paddock the size of his box. The weather is so nice right now, and grass season is still on. It will be a while until he can run free in the field again (about three months). Yet, this operations gives him a chance for a better, pain free life. The surgeon has a good reputation, so I think it’s the right decision.
I was so proud of Nazir at the clinic yesterday, he was cool as a cucumber the whole time and showed unending patience. When we arrived, he was curious about the surroundings and not one bit afraid. The staff recommended I should use a stallion bit (!) for flexion test and trotting/ lunging as the clinic is at the race track in Warsaw and race horses constantly walk by and there’s lot going on (cars, motorbikes, dogs, trailers…). I politely refused, and earned a “As you wish, but it would be safer if you would use it!” in return. I could only think of the trust I would risk lose if I used this kind of equipment. I know my horse. He’s not the running type when he gets scared. It all came as I expected, Nazir didn’t care about the other horses, stayed glued to my side all the time, and someone even had to run behind us with a whip to get a faster trot out of him. I could feel the bond of trust that had developed between me and my horse during the last months and was so proud of him.
In the exam room, they wanted to sedate him for the x-rays. I refused again, knowing that he doesn’t mind x-rays a bit. He stood like a statue the whole time, while the young assistant made x-rays of all joints, just to be sure there are not more problems (we found two minor problems in two other joints, but it’s nothing he can’t get old with). She wasn’t so experienced yet and had to repeat lots of shots. Took nearly 45min. Nazir was friendly to everyone, snoozed a bit, and longingly looked at a small puddle of water on the ground.
After I had filled up some paper work, a family came in to say goodbye to their horse that had come in with a broken leg, same age as my Nazir. The horse had stumbled in training. The damage was too severe to fix it and the horse was in great pain. Shedding lots of tears, they took last photos with their phones. It was heartbreaking. Suddenly I was glad that Nazir has a problem we can try to fix. I was very impressed by the young girl that shared the horse with the owner. Although it was very hard on her, she insisted to see the dead horse after it was done. Said she needs to see him dead so she can believe it. I thought that was very brave of her.
Well, I’m sitting here now, waiting for the surgeon to call after he’s done with the arthroscopy. I can probably visit Nazir later today, see how he is holding up. Nazir is such an awesome horse. He deserves a change for a better life. Please keep your fingers crossed for him 🙂