Rafiq - Update (improvement!) plus Questions


I totally sense your concern for Rafiq. Those darn four legged animals worm their way into our hearts and we do everything and anything to help them. <
Amen to that, Judy! And I actually bring good news with this post!

Rafiq's feet were nice and cool, and his digital pulse was near-normal when I went out to visit him (Saturday evening). The "modified ultima" boots have not yet arrived, so I have had the vet clinic stuffing bags of crushed ice into Rafiq's soft-ride boots so he could benefit from the support of the therapeutic sole inserts while still keeping up with the ice. It seems to have paid off! I am continuing with the ice until the vet can re-evaluate in the morning, but I believe at this point the inflammation is finally under control. Xrays to come will show what the last several days may have cost us, but he is able to place full weight on each foot (barefoot) without any need to shift or even hesitate. He walks circles in the 16x16 stall in both directions without any appearance of discomfort.

As many if not most of you know, when we develop a strong bond with a horse, we can sense something is wrong even if it is completely unseen by anyone else. Rafiq was alert and interested in everything even while in the acute stage, but I could see and/or sense an underlying anxiety and pain. We've been together for his entire life and my entire adult life, so we read each other very well. Some folks think its crazy, but its undeniable. Tonight he seemed just happy-go-lucky and he was having fun playing the "remove Shannon's hat and bob head up and down to show off" game with his usual comedic manner. We were both so relieved. (Keep up those prayers and warm healing vibes, Rafiq is definitely picking up on them!)

I wanted to ask about a few of the comments that have been made in responses. While I was in "intense worried" mode, I couldn't really put any further energy into over-thinking more than I already was.

(1) A couple of people brought up concerns that I might be advised to actually cut the deep flexor tendon, which is something I cannot even imagine as a smart move, and I was wondering if this is actually something that is practiced currently as a means to release pressure.

(2) There were also concerns regarding the "modified ultima" boots (that should have arrived but haven't yet) as they significantly raise the heel to release some of the pull by the DFT on the coffin bone. I know that raising heels has several significant drawbacks, including changing the entire muscle-bone-joint-tendon angles dramatically, which can lead to a host of new problems and basically is asking for trouble. Also, when you loosen the pull of the deep flexor tendon in a manner for more than a very short-term period, the horse's body will often adapt by taking up the slack in the tendon, creating a huge problem if you try to lower it later. The use of this method has been something only brought up as a short-term emergency intervention to release some of the pull on the coffin bone.

I *mostly* understand the trim described in the DDT files - the lowered heel and shorter toe - and the healthier foot that results from this type of trim. However, in the short term of an acute rotation that needs to be stopped, is there harm in the lifted heel?

(3) Many folks here have suggested the capsule as the best way to give pergolide. Last week I ordered a 2mth supply of the powder as it can be fed in a mix with his feed (Purina Wellsolve L/S) once we start him back on feed. Right now Rafiq is getting his pergolide (.5 dose) mixed with water in a syringe. It seems to be the best scenario at the moment. I have major surgery coming up within the next month. I actually postponed when Rafiq foundered and I have not yet set a date because it is going to require a rather lengthy recovery time. I'm not even supposed to drive a vehicle for the first 3 wks, and I'm not allowed to lift, pull or push anything for a minimum of 6-8 wks. So, obviously, the timing isn't the best to plan on daily handfeeding his pergolide. With the powder form, the guys who feed Rafiq can add the pergolide to his grain, probably mixed with other supplement(s) suggested here. Rafiq has never been one to sift out his feed from supplements. He licks his feed trough clean. My father is awesome and will be going out as often as possible to make sure both Rafiq and Majik are in good condition. Has anyone had a problem with the powder-form of pergolide?

(4) Rafiq has a bone spur inside his right front hoof that hurts enough that he limps when trotting. Its in a spot where corticosteroid shots can't access, and I have yet to find a way by trimming, special shoeing, supplements, shockwave therapy, etc. to put any kind of dent into the pain he feels when he does more than walk. I've been through the files on pain management alternatives, and I am on information overload at his point. This bone spur is not degenerative in nature, it won't get worse and it has shown no sign of going away. Once Rafiq is totally stabilized and back to regular living, I need to address this issue. I'm very confused on how the J-herb helps with pain, and Devil's Claw has not been successful in the past. I'm totally open to ideas. One thing that might alleviate some of the discomfort is a small heel lift (like 3 degrees) of a shoe, but that would go against what we are trying to do with the coffin bone angle.

(5) Lastly, I want to re-test Rafiq on IR and Cushing's, and I'm not certain what to tell my vet specifically to test. Timing with so much recent inflammation, and being in the late summer/early fall time period can skew the results a bit. Again, brain overload on reading too much and absorbing.

And, I promise I will get to putting up a case history on Rafiq when I have the time/energy to do so. Pictures too! 18 yrs of his life is a REALLY long string of info, LOL.

Thanks for all the awesome support and advice!
Shannon, Rafiq and Majik
SE Texas
July '09