Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Fergus Visits the Vet, Following His Lameness Pull

Fergus' Lameness

To recap, back in February at 20 Mule Team 100 – after letting Fergus go a little too fast on the first section – the vet spotted "something" at the first vet check. After that, we rode a much saner pace, and nothing more was noticed for the rest of the 100 miles.

Then at the beginning of April we did NV Derby 50 and I let him move out - and again, at the finish, the vet saw "something" on the left front.

So why would May be any different? Sure enough, 60 miles into NASTR 75, we were pulled for left front lameness. Slap that girl.

By Tuesday following the ride we were in Auburn being looked at by Dr Larry Goss DVM of Auburn Animal Medical Center. Larry's been vetting for over 35 years, is a regular Tevis vet, and was the vet who did Roo's initial check in at Tevis in 2009. That year he watched Roo trot out and said "I see something in the back end". Not what you want to hear, but we chatted about it for a bit and concluded it might be Roo moving funny because we'd only glued his boots on 30 minutes prior.

65 miles later, Roo got pulled for rear-end lameness at Chicken Hawk.

In short, I trust Larry to spot what's going on.

And spot it he did. He barely had us trot (not that Fergus had much intention of trotting anyway), felt his digital pulses (which were pulsing away)(and gave me a quick education on digital pulses and what they should and shouldn't be doing), and got out his hoof testers.

Fergus was reactive on both feet - slightly more on the left (not really surprising, since that's my preferred side for posting and I need to be a lot more diligent about switching diagonals) in the areas shown in red on the diagram. <sad face>

(Because of my disbelief that Fergus' lameness could be caused by something so mundane, Larry also checked his tendons, his two pronounced splints, and his joint motion. None of which caused any suspicion whatsoever).

We discussed various ideas at length and Larry's take on it was that the sikaflex padding in the bottom of the glue-ons (that which I always felt helped him, since he moved out so well at Tevis when glued-up) was probably creating too much pressure.

The more I think on this, the less I'm convinced, since the areas he was most reactive on had the least amount of glue under them. Not to mention that, at my direction, pft put a lot more sikaflex in the second boot we glued - the RIGHT front - than the left.

My personal thought is more that he's a heavy, BIG-moving horse and the EZ Boot Gloves/Glue-ons just aren't giving him enough support; enough protection again pokies; or enough protection against concussion when I let him move out BIG. And we certainly moved BIG at NASTR 75 - a ride known for its rocks and crappy footing.

(And frankly, I'm surprised he got through Tevis last summer, given that – yup – we moved BIG then too. Maybe that trail is just more forgiving on the way he moves? )

Overachieving during vet-in at Robie Park, pre-Tevis 2014
(photo: Ashley Wingert)

Overachieving just outside Michigan Bluff when I finally let him go, Tevis 2014
(photo: Dominique Cognée)

Overachieving at NV Derby 50, April 2015
(photo: Rene Baylor)

Overachieving at NASTR 75, May 2015
(photo: Bill Gore)
Overachieving at NASTR 75, May 2015
(photo: Rene Baylor)

Either way, we need to do something more gooder for his feet, and we need to do it NOW.

So on Sunday, Aurora very kindly came over to my place and we spent a happy hour or two grubbing about in the dirt, fitting Fergus for a pair of Renegade boots. I'm hoping that the more rigid sole, and the thickness of the sole will offer the protection and anti-concussion features that Gloves aren't able to provide him on his overachievey front end.

I wasn't super familiar with Renegade's new Viper boots, other than being peripherally aware that it was a slightly different design to the original Renegade boot. The Vipers are a rounder boot - and as it turned out, not the best fit for Fergus' fronts. However the Viper captivator probably is. And you can mix and match. As Aurora and I concluded - the Viper captivator is shaped more like an underwired bra, while the Renegade captivator  is more like a sports bra. And being well-endowed, Fergus appears to fit a Viper captivator better (although hard to tell, since Aurora didn't have one big enough to accommodate his largeness, so awaiting further try-out on that). ;)

But we'll see. A care package of "things to try" should be with us in the next week or so, to figure out what shape/size boot and captivator is going to work best for him. At this point, he appears to be a 2WW in the original Renegade boot.

And he still gets to keep his back Gloves, which are a better option for our local terrain/footing anyway.

Future Plans:

Although I could probably cobble something together for him to get us through Big Horn 100 in a month, I opted to abandon the idea of driving 4000 miles with an iffy horse to go to the ride. Much bummedness abounds, but that's what I get for not paying proper attention to the signs my big horse has been giving me for so long. He deserves better.

And not fair to Fergus anyway - he needs time to heal up properly and be healthy. And I want to get his front feet dialled in properly, not rushed into a half-tried out option.

He's getting the rest of this month off while I fiddle with boot-fit, we'll putz-ride during July. Ashley will be here for Tevis in late July, so she can fiddle with any other fit-niggles he has, and towards the end of August we'll go and do Eastern High Sierra Classic in Bridgeport. It's long been time to go back to EHSC and the timing is perfect. I can make sure his boots are going to work, and then if all goes well, we can aim for Virginia City 100 four weeks later in September.

Most of all, I'm excited at trying something new for him - and I hope that it makes him feel good.


  1. I hope with some rest and new boots that Fergus feels better soon! I love my Renegades (old style) and use glue-ons for competition. Whatever fits! I've also successfully padded them (with yoga mat glued in). You're in good hands with Aurora, it doesn't hurt to try something new when the old isn't working any more.

  2. Exactly. I don't really care what goes on his feet, so long as it works for him (and works for me, as far as being something I can trim and apply myself).

    I'm always excited when I find something that works (new post coming up, re saddle pad inserts), and I have a good feeling about his new footwear.

  3. Exactly. I don't really care what goes on his feet, so long as it works for him (and works for me, as far as being something I can trim and apply myself).

    I'm always excited when I find something that works (new post coming up, re saddle pad inserts), and I have a good feeling about his new footwear.