A few weeks ago, Terry was showing Emmy to some potential adopters. She looked fine at liberty and on the lunge line, but when Terry got on her to ride, Emmy pinned her ears and kicked out at her leg…behaving in a way that was very non-Emmy like! Terry got off and checked the saddle fit, watched her on the lunge again, and got back on. Again Emmy made it very clear that something was not right, so Terry called an end to the showing and put her away.

Emmy's stifle x-ray

Emmy’s stifle x‑ray

Over the next few days, Emmy began to look progressively worse on the right hind. She was hand-walked and kept quiet for several days to see that would help, but by the end of the week, she was no better. We made an appointment for Dr Krauter from Pilchuck Veterinary Hospital to come take a look at her. After evaluating Emmy, Dr Krauter felt the first thing she wanted to look at was an x‑ray of her right stifle. Looking at the x‑ray (right), the bone chip is pretty easy to spot. Based on this x‑ray, Dr Krater diagnosed Emmy with Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD) of the Femoropatellar (Stifle) joint.

Before we can arrive at a plan for treating this, we have more diagnostic work that needs to be done. First we have to confirm that the bone chip is really what’s causing Emmy’s lameness, so Emmy will be taken over to Rainland Equine later this week for a more thorough examination. First, Dr McCracken will block the stifle joint by injecting it with a local anesthetic to rule out the possibility that the pain causing the lameness is coming from somewhere else. If blocking indicates that the stifle joint is indeed the source of the lameness, then the next step is check Emmy’s other large joints with x‑ray (starting with her left stifle, and moving on to her hocks) to see if those have also been affected by OCD. If it turns out that Emmy has OCD in more than just the right stifle, then we most likely have to find a non-riding home where she can be a companion horse.

If it turns out the the OCD is isolated to just her right stifle, then surgery to remove the bone chip might be a good option for Emmy. Right now we’re talking to several vets about that possibility. If we chose to go that route, we will likely be asking our supporters to contribute to the cost of the procedure, since elective surgery such as this is outside the parameters of SAFE’s annual veterinary budget.

emmy_02_16_2015In the meantime, Terry and the volunteers at Safe Harbor Stables are working hard to keep Emmy quiet to avoid making her lameness worse…and that’s not an easy task with a horse as young and spirited as Emmy! She hates being cooped up in her small paddock all day. She gets hand walked every day, which helps a bit, but she tends to have a lot of pent up energy, so we’re having to lightly sedate her so that she can be safely handled when she’s being walked. It’s not an easy situation for anyone.

To help keep her entertained while she’s on rest, we hung a donated “Uncle Jimmy’s Hangin’ Ball” in her stall. Here’s a (slightly blurry) look at what happened the first time she encountered the ball, it’s pretty funny! Judging from the amount of sticky stuff on her face today, she seems to have mastered whatever technique is necessary to at least make a mess…

We’ll have an update on Emmy’s situation very soon. In the meantime, we’re going to place her on Medical Hold for her adoption status.