Wart's Journey - Raising a Cleveland Bay Colt

Edelweiss Farm has just become the proud owners of OldDominion Artorius, bred by Old Dominion Stud. We decided to call him "Wart" in reference to the old Disney cartoon "The Sword in the Stone" where the child King Arthur was nicknamed Wart. This blog is created to document Wart's journey from young, whippersnapper colt to (hopefully) a mature, breeding stallion and excellent ambassador of the rare, Cleveland Bay horse!

Location: Georgia, Vermont, United States

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Cleveland Bay enthusiasts.....

.....you find them in the most interesting places! Yesterday, my daughter Susan attended her first Pony Club (Quiz) rally that was held here in Middlebury, Vermont. I chaperoned the Junior D team...much to the chagrin of the Junior D team captain accusing me of following 'too close'! :-) The team captain (going through my daughter as designated interpreter) wanted me to know that I should go about my business and only check on them once in a while. I told them I was following 'Maryland Rules', which means that Chaperones actually CHAPERONE the team! :-)

Anyway, after being chastised for perceived chaperone-overenthusiasm, I continued to follow them at a 'safe' distance. But in the meantime, I was having a BLAST speaking to the other Moms and sponsors also there! I met so many new, great people.

One lady I met was a sponsor for the Adirondack Lakes Pony Club, from Plattsburg, New York. Plattsburg is (roughly) directly across Lake Champlain from where we live and a very easy ferry ride. She was a race horse trainer for years and was very well versed in the Thoroughbred world, and had only recently moved to Plattsburg. I chatted with her for quite a while and told her that in another year or so I will be looking for a couple of nice, TB mares for breeding. She then asked me what I wanted to breed them to, another TB, or warmblood? I told her about Wart, and her eyes absolutely LIT up! "YOU have a CLEVELAND BAY???"

"Yup" I replied, (acting all modest-like but secretly brimming with pride!)

"Oh, I LOVE them!" she states. "Who's his sire?"

I tell her that his sire is Idlehour Yorktown, who is by Rambler's Renown. She then states that a few years ago she tried to breed to Rambler's Renown but the mare didn't take, and then she quickly stated that it wasn't RR's fault, but it was very late in the year and they didn't want to try again that late. She then asked if he was still alive, and I told her yes, he was and I thought he was still doing limited breeding. So she says that she may try to contact Marilyn about him.

I told her about Wart's injuries, figuring as a racehorse trainer she would be very familiar with the type of injuries that Wart had. She also confirmed that the chip in the back of the knee (after quizing me about particulars....where, etc.) was extremely rare.

We exchanged phone numbers and at the end of the day, she came up to me and said goodbye and added that she really wants to see Wart! I told her that I would really like that too.

So even in the far reaches of New England, Cleveland Bays are being talked about!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Surgery scheduled

Good News! Yesterday, Dr. Kaneps from the New England Equine Medical and Surgical Center was up at the Vermont Large Animal Clinic for a surgery, and spent quite a bit of time discussing Wart's case with Drs. Phil and Jen. He was much more optimistic about Wart's back knee chip, and felt comfortable with removing both of them. He thought that the chip may not actually be within the carpal canal, which would be really good news! He gave them a quote of between $2,000 and $2,500 for the surgery, depending upon what they actually find when they open his knee up. This morning I called and scheduled the surgery for Wednesday, March 15th. I need to get Wart down there between 8 am and 3 pm on March 14th, and he will need to stay down there through the weekend in order to receive IV antibiotics.

There is still a concern that the rear chip has created an 'evulsion', which means that it is attached to a piece of ligament or tendon. If it is, I am unsure what the prognosis would be but I have left a message with Dr. Kaneps to call me to discuss Wart's options before the surgery. In addition, once they get into the knee, they can better assess what soft-tissue injury has occured. There is nothing (surgically) that can really be done about that, but time and healing will eventually tell what happens there.

In the meantime, Wart is getting around much better. He appears to be only slightly lame, but it is hard to tell how lame without taking him out of his stall and we just don't want to do that with the chips still in his knee.

So who is Dr. Kaneps? That was my first question after speaking with Dr. Jen. I 'googled' him, and this is what I found:
Andris J. Kaneps, DVM, PhD, Diplomat, ACVSPartner
Dr. Andris Kaneps received his DVM degree from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine in 1978, his Masters degree from Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1981 and completed his doctoral work at the University of California, Davis in 1994. He is a Diplomat of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons and has combined extensive teaching with equine surgical practice since 1979. Prior to joining Parrott Equine, Andy held the chair of Assistant Professor of Equine Orthopedic Surgery at Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. He is the author of numerous research articles and has been invited to lecture to audiences throughout the world, often with particular focus on the equine musculoskeletal system. Most recently, Parrott Equine Associates, LLC and Andy co-authored and edited the newly released veterinary medical book, entitled Equine Sports Medicine and Surgery. Equine Sports Medicine and Surgery can be purchased from [www.amazon.com]. or [www.hoofcare.com] His professional interests include sports medicine and lameness. A native of Minnesota, Andy spent his childhood competing hunter/jumpers and enjoying fox hunting, earning his colors with his home hunt. He currently enjoys riding his Oldenburg dressage horse, Rubikon in his free time. Click on the following link view Dr Kaneps [curriculum vitae].

UPDATE: I just got off the phone with Dr. Kaneps. Basically, he calls Wart's prognosis 'guarded', and it is less an issue of the chips, but an issue of what we can't see. He says that due to the type of injury and the fact that there are 2 chips, in the front and the back of the knee, most likely there is significant damage to the cartelage in the upper joint of the carpus. Since the intra-carpal ligaments were most likely stretched beyond their capabilities, they could be damaged to the point that it decreased the stability of the knee. When they do the athroscopic surgery they will be able to see what type of damage there is and give a much better idea of Wart's prognosis.

Regarding the chips, Dr. Kaneps confirmed that the front chip is a routine surgery, and the back chip may prove to be less of an issue than originally thought. If it is an 'evulsion', then removal may not be warrented and eventually the collateral ligament would reattach itself. If it is near the joint, then it will need to be removed, however the radiographs gave conflicting reference to where the chip actually resides. Dr. Kaneps will do an ultrasound when Wart arrives to more accurately locate that chip.

Monday, March 06, 2006

No news yet....

Today Susan's Harp Ensemble was at the TV studio being taped for a St. Patrick's Day special, so I was gone most of the day for that. It is AMAZING how much goes into perhaps 10 or 15 minutes of a program! We did get to see the best of the takes before we left, and it was really interesting to see the difference between what happens 'live' (I was in the background in the studio while they were taping/performing), and what the camaras and microphones record! They really looked great for their first, real 'gig'! That being said, I didn't get to spend much time with Wart today, and there was no message from the Vets. I will call them tomorrow morning just to touch base.

However, tonight I did play with him a little, and one thing I did was tape his height and weight for the first time. Wart turned 9 months old on March 1st, and he is now (about) 13.1 hands, and taped at 525 pounds. I noticed when he was still able to be outside with the others, that he looked darned-close to Pony's height, and Pony is 13.2 hands! He must have grown at least an inch or two since coming to Vermont. Also, Spring must be coming because he (and all the others except old Jake) are starting to shed! More and more fur flies every day when I brush him.

I will try to make it a point to tape him once a month to track his growth. I may post the question on the Cleveland Bay list to see if anyone else has done this previously, and if so, what their measurements were as they grew and what they finished growing at.

Friday, March 03, 2006

More information...

While I was in Washington DC this week, Wart was sadly banned to stall rest. Over the past weekend, Wart was clearly feeling better, so I had been tapering off the pain and anti-inflammatory meds, and on Monday afternoon before I left, I removed Wart's bandages and wraps for the week. The kids (Seth;16, Susan;10 and Sarah;7) were on vacation this week, so they cleaned stalls and played with Wart during the day while I was gone. Dr. Jen came by on Wednesday to check on Wart and was pleased with his progress. Although he is still quite sore on his right, front leg, the swelling and heat was down considerably. Dr. Phil heard from his mentor, Dr. Gaughan from Auburn University's Veterinary School. The rear chip was confirmed to be real problem. However, the greater concern is the fact is that it could mean even more extensive damage to his soft-tissue there, but the only way we can assess that is when the chip is actually removed and they can actually see things. Regardless, the surgery will be very difficult because of the location of the chip within the carpal canal of Wart's knee.

As a result of that consultation, they decided to take digital radiographs in order to more easily consult with other specialists and get as much advice as we can. It is a lot easier to ship electronic FILES than physical x-rays to a variety of consultants! Therefore they came back on Thursday and took several digital radiographs. Wart, as usual, was very cooperative even though I wasn't there to help. By now he has gotten to know Dr. Jen very well and has no problem with her coming in and examining him while loose in his stall.

When I got home today I called the clinic for an update. They told me that they sent the digital files via email to Dr. Mike Davis at the New England Equine Medical and Surgical Center, located in Dover, New Hampshire. Dr. Davis has extensive experience as a surgeon and lameness issues.

I drove over to the clinic to see the radiographs myself. Dr. Phil was in and took time explaining them to me. He then emailed the files to me so that I could post them here.

This first picture shows the front chip. This radiograph shows Wart's right, front leg shot front-to-back (the front of his knee). Those irregular (squiggly) lines that run horizontally across the top of the picture are his growth plates. The chip is clearly visible just below the lower growth plate on the right of the picture (inside of his knee). Relatively speaking, this chip is a 'piece of cake'. Dr. Phil has removed similar chips previously, and feels very comfortable with removing this chip.

This second chip, however, is our 'problem child'. The rounded shadow behind the chip is the accessory carpal bone...that little 'bump' you feel at the back of a horse's knee. All kinds of necessary mechanical soft tissue structures (ligaments, tendons, etc.) run though the carpal canal, which is (sort-of) surrounded by the accessory carpal bone. That chip appears to be within that carpal canal, which makes it a bugaboo for removing! It is in a very, tight spot with lots of very important stuff all around it. As a side note: you can also see the front chip in this picture, directly to the left of the rear chip. In this picture it looks like a wedge-shaped shadow just to the left of the knee joint itself.

The chips were most likely broken off during Wart's wild run, when he hyper-extended his knee. You may have seen examples of this in some Thoroughbred racing photographs. When a horse is galloping all out, his front legs hit the ground and his knee actually looks like it bends backwards. In essence, it is. That creates a "nut-cracker" effect in the front. The bones crunch together and that is the most common form of chips a horse can get in his knee (as in Wart's front chip). However, the back chip most likely occured when the tendon or ligament that attached to that section of the bone stretched too much, and actually caused the bone to break away from the rest of the bone. The question that remains to be answered is HOW MUCH of the tendon or ligament tore away, and although some more diagnostic work could be done with ultrasound, the question really can only be answered with surgery. That is the issue that most determines Wart's future. Yes, there is a very high probablility that he will heal well enough to be a breeding stallion, but the extent of damage behind his knee, and HOW WELL he heals over time will determine what his future athletic capabilities will be. The things that he has going for him is the fact that he is still very young and therefore still has incredible healing capabilities, and the fact that we are doing everything we can to assure the best, possible outcome. If he were an older horse and did this, our prognosis would be much less optimistic.

So we are yet again waiting to hear from specialists. Hopefully early next week we will know our best course of action. Clearly the chips will need to be removed, but the question still remains as to WHO is the best person to do it. I do have to say that throughout this ordeal, the staff of Vermont Large Animal Clinic are working together to do what is best for Wart's future and can not possibly be more helpful or supportive!

Friday, February 24, 2006

Wart's Wild Run....

Over the past couple of months, Wart has really settled in his new home. He respects the fence, now thinks of his stall as his own, safe haven, and likes, and had bonded to his pasture buddies Elvenstar and Winterhawk (“Pony”). He has received his first set of vaccinations, had his feet trimmed, and we have worked out a feeding regimen that includes a 10% protein sweet feed (about a pound and a half a day) with a vitamin E/selenium supplement, and roughly 10 pounds of nice, second cut hay. He is growing like a weed, but we are keeping his weight in line. His ‘hay belly’ is gone, his coat is shiny, he is alert, calm, and very easy going. I had been regularly tying him, grooming him, picking up his feet, and leading him around the place.

I wanted to slowly start building up Wart’s stamina, so about 3 weeks ago, we began ponying him while I rode his buddy Elven. The first time we did this, Susan rode Pony and led the way, while I followed with Elven and led Wart from the right (away from traffic). The first couple of cars passing concerned him, but since Elven and Pony showed no concern, Wart soon thought nothing of passing vehicles too. We only walked about a mile down the dirt road, turned and returned home. Wart seemed to enjoy his little outing. We stopped and checked out all sorts of scary things like mailboxes and a parked schoolbus. It was warm that day, so Wart actually got a little sweaty! We cooled him down, gave him lots of praise, and turned them all out together. The second time we went out was about a week later, and Elven and I took Wart alone. We walked the exact same route with no issues. Wart took it all in stride.

On Valentines Day, Elven and I took Wart on the same route again, however this time was not uneventful. On our way back, Elven caught an eye on a flapping plastic garbage bag just as we were passing. He shied and wheeled, and right at the time I pulled up on his reins I inadvertently dropped Wart’s lead. Well, between Elven’s wheeling-shy, me grabbing everything up, and dropping the lead, Wart responded by wheeling and TAKING OFF at a dead gallop, going away from home. We were at the top of a hill, and I fully expected Wart to run to the bottom of the hill and stop. Nope, he kept going at a full gallop down the road. I knew that he had a good mile and a half of very quiet dirt road so I felt confident that he would stop soon because this would have been unfamiliar territory for him. So I follow at a quick pace with Elven (not a dead gallop though). Wart was soon out of sight.

As I keep going and follow Wart’s tracks on the dirt road, the farther along I go, the more worried I became. A mile further I see by his tracks that he is still running HARD. This is not a good sign, he should certainly have gotten his wits about him by then if he was going to. I then hear a siren and a chill runs down my spine. Did Wart make it to the main road? If so, did he meet a car? I hurry Elven along.

I make it to the end of the dirt road to Lake Road and I don’t know what to do. Lake Road is paved and Wart is nowhere to be seen. I don’t know whether he went left or right! Just then a white SUV comes down the road and stops. It is the Milton Animal Control Officer. He tells me that the Milton Ambulance saw a colt running down the road and called the police (that must have been the siren I heard). He was monitoring the scanner and headed towards were Wart was last seen. He told me where that was and said that he would head down there. I told him I would hurry as quick as I could.

About a mile further down the road I see the Animal Control Officer leading Wart out of a pasture with 4 horses and I heave a sigh of relief. Wart looks EXHAUSTED, as he well should be! He was covered in sweat, was panting and quivering. He tore down a section of the fence and the Officer holds Wart and Elven while I help a neighbor fix the fence as best we can. Then I begin the very slow process of leading Wart home. The Animal Control Officer follows us with his SUV until we get back to the dirt road.

It took us a VERY LONG time to walk the roughly 5 miles home. Wart got slower and slower, until I dismounted Elven and hand-walked them both the rest of the way. We got home and I put Wart in his stall and watch him. He doesn’t look very good, but he did poop and pee, and the pee looked normal (I was worried about him tying up!). I go to the house to get some bute. I know he is going to be one, hurting unit! When I come back out a few minutes later with a half-tablet of crushed bute, Wart is lying down and groaning. Shoot, NOT a good sign! So I run back to the house and call the vets. The technician tells me that all the vets are on calls and asks if it is an emergency. I tell her that yes, I really do think it is. She tells me that Dr. Jen can be here in 10 minutes.

True to their words, Dr. Jen comes quickly. She takes one look at Wart and knows that he doesn’t look good! I hook a lead on him and we force him to get up. She quickly gives him a couple of IV shots of banamine and bute to hopefully help ease his discomfort. Then she starts looking him over.

All of his joints and his feet are hot, he has a scrape down most of the length of the inside of his left, hind leg but thankfully that is just hide. However his right front leg appears to be the worst. His fetlock was swelling and he clearly didn’t want anyone to touch it. So we decide to xray that ankle. Dr. Jen takes several xrays of his ankle, and we wrap that leg with cotton and bandages. She leaves me with sulfamethoxazole (we were worried that his scrape could cause cellulitus), and pentoxifylline, which is a blood thinner that helps detoxify his blood and increases blood flow to his feet and hopefully prevent or reduce any road founder he may be experiencing, and promises to come back out later that evening to check on him. She advises that we may want to put a catheter in him and pump fluids into him tonight, depending upon how he looks.

I check on him several times that afternoon, and he spends most of his time lying down, but looks relatively comfortable. I go out to feed them that night, Wart gets up and I syringe his meds into him and give him a tiny amount of grain (just to get that awful taste out of his mouth), and a haynet of hay. He cleans up his handful of grain and goes to work on his haynet. Thankfully he is willing to eat!

Later that evening Dr. Jen swings by and takes a look at him, and tells me that the xrays look clean. Wart really didn’t drink any water since he got back, so she advises that we put a catheter in him and give him fluids. So we rig up a hook in the middle of his stall, she inserts the catheter, gives him some more bute and banamine, and we put 10 liters of ringers down him. Dr. Jen shows me how to flush his catheter (which has to be done at least 2 times a day) and how to hook up the ringers saline, and how to disconnect it when it is empty.

Here is a picture of him from that night with his IV bag hooked up.

She also brought some empty IV bags and we cut them in half and put them on Wart’s feet like little booties and filled them with ice cubes and tape them closed. Wart does look a little better after that, and Dr. Jen leaves a little after midnight.

The next day, Wart spends most of his time lying down. He is clearly uncomfortable. Dr. Jen and Dr. Emilie stop by again and gives him another bute and banamine injection in his catheter, and we run another 8 liters of fluids into him. They are concerned about the heat and swelling in his joints so they wrapped a DMSO/Furacin sweat on his front legs. We also ice his feet down again. She promises to come back with more ringers saline (Wart used up her supply in her truck).

On Thursday, Wart was clearly going downhill, and I was near tears. I took off his leg sweats, washed his legs down and re-wrapped them and gave him his meds. I didn’t know what else we could do! I call the vets out three times, and they clearly were at their wits end too. He wouldn’t put any weight on his right, front leg. They had pumped as much pain killer as they could into him. We ran another 10 liters of fluid into him throughout the day. We ice his feet again. He was down, panting and quivering and in obvious pain. My friend Pat stops by and looks very worried by what she sees (she confides in me later that she didn’t think he would make it). We discussed moving him the couple of miles to the clinic but then we decided that even if he would be willing to move to the end of the barn (the closest I could get the horse trailer to him) that the short trailer ride may cause even more trauma and anxiety and they really didn’t think they could do any more than I was already doing. Plus they were so close anyway and could respond quickly if need be. That night I put the leg sweats back on him. At this point we had done all that we could do and now only time could help us.

Thankfully, when I went out to the barn on Friday morning, Wart looked a little better. He had cleaned up all his hay and was hanging his head over his stall door with his ears forward looking for breakfast. It appeared as if he had weathered his worst day. I gave him his last 5 liters of fluid (I had become a pro by this time!). Earlier I had taken his leg sweats off, washed his legs and re-wrapped them. His joint swelling was going down and his hooves were much cooler. Dr Jen stops by to check him and is encouraged, but warns me that we still have a long road to go before knowing how he will come out of this. Although he looks better we decide to leave his catheter in through the weekend just to be safe. I promise to provide weekend updates. I swing up to St. Albans Coop and get a couple of bales of straw to make his stall more ‘cushy’.

Wart shows slight improvement each day over the weekend. He doesn’t seem as muscle sore, although he is still clearly sore on his right front. I continue with his meds, re-wrap his legs daily, and flush his catheter twice a day. By now he is so used to the routine that I no longer have to halter and tie him to wrap his legs. He just calmly eats hay from his haynet and snuffles my head every once in a while as I work on him.

On Monday Dr. Jen stops again and overall is pleased with his progress, but is still worried about that right front leg. His ankle is still hot and swollen and she is worried about an infection starting in the joint itself. If that is the case, the sulfa-drugs I have been giving him wouldn’t help and we would need to aggressively treat it right away. We decide to tap the fluid and culture it. She gives him some happy juice, does the tap, injects antibiotics directly into the joint and looks at the fluid and is happy with what she sees (it is clear). We conclude that most likely it is just severe soft-tissue trauma and only time can cure that.

On Tuesday (a whole week after the fateful event!), Dr. Emilie stops by and removes Wart’s catheter. She looks him over and checks the right front leg. The swelling has gone down significantly in all of his joints but the inside of his right front knee is still hot and swollen. He now puts some weight on that leg, but is still very lame on it. We still think it is soft-tissue, but she says that if it doesn’t improve significantly by Friday we should xray the knee too. That night Dr. Jen calls and suggests that we have Dr. Phil look at Wart. Dr. Phil will be out on this Thursday and Friday (they are having their second child), so she suggests he come out on Wednesday and check Wart out.

On Wednesday Drs. Phil and Jen come out. He looks Wart over and is impressed with his progress. Dr. Jen had been keeping apprised of Wart’s accident and prognosis. They are worried about that knee though and we decide to go ahead and xray it. They also do a radiograph of his hoof to see if any rotation of the coffin bone occurred. Dr. Phil suggest that Wart is a good candidate for Surpass on his knee and pastern, a relatively new topical anti-inflammatory for treating osteoarthritis in the hock, knee, fetlock or pastern joints, that has less effect on his kidneys than bute does. Dr. Jen shows me how to apply the Surpass and tells me to use it daily. About an hour later, Dr. Jen calls and says that Wart’s hoof looks good (no rotation, hurray!), and there were no breaks in any of the long bones. However, the bad new is that he does have two chips in his knee. They were consulting with a specialist in Auburn University because they have never treated such a young horse with this condition. Usually they see this in two or three year old racing Thoroughbreds! Clearly the chips will need to be removed but the question is how and whether to put a cast on him afterwards. After that, depending upon what (if any) damage to his cartilage occurred (they will be able to assess that when they operate on him), he will be stall bound for somewhere between 3 weeks and 3 months.

So, we won’t know what to do until this coming Monday. Stall rest, continue with the small amount of bute, and Surpass and wrapping his legs. He is now eating and drinking well, and is alert and calm. I spend as much time with him throughout the day as I can so that it hopefully limits his boredom. I’ll keep everyone posted on what happens next!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year....

Not much to report lately as the holidays have kept us all busy. The family took a well-deserved break today and we all went skiing at our favorite ski resort - Jay Peak. Wart has settled in well with his two gelding buddies, Old Jake and Elvenstar. He now understands the routine and nickers with the rest of them when I walk into the barn every morning.

Happy New Year, and Happy Birthday to Wart, who turned 7 months old today!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Shots and toe trims...

Today Wart suffered his seemingly first hoof trim, and then his first vaccinations, and came through the ordeal just fine. Scott Dean came to trim all the beasties, so we saved Wart for last. When I brought him out to the aisle, Wart obligingly gave Scott each foot, much to his amazement. When he was done he said "that wasn't so bad....I was expecting a kick-fest!" Nope, Wart didn't see anything to get excited about and must have just figured that if standing on 3 legs is what we wanted, he might as well stand on 3 legs! Wart's feet look so much better and Scott (who breeds and raises Morgan Horses) really liked his hind end and most of all his disposition. We decide that Scott will come every 6 weeks to check on him.

Then Dr. Jen came out with a Veterinary student who will be joining their practice after she graduates next spring. Dr. Jen gave Wart a shot in each side of his neck, (which he took like a little man,) and he then stood patiently while we talked nutrition. They felt that overall, he was on the right mix of foods, but we decided to add a Vitamin E/Selenium supplement just in case. As Wart stood patiently on the lead, Dr. Jen then mentions (jokingly), "My, he certainly is a hyper one, isn't he?" He had all the look of "Will you guys please quit standing around and talking about me already, and either let me outside, or turn me loose to finish my hay?"