Nate is still with us and still improving, although we had a week or so of "two steps forward, one step back." The first step back was two weekends ago. Friday night (July 11,) Nate decided he felt well enough to lay down and rest. The trouble was, he chose his nap location very poorly. When we looked out the window first thing Saturday morning, there was Nate, laying frighteningly still, next to the barn with his feet pointed toward the wall. Let's just say, some normally unacceptable language spewed forth as we ran for the quiet shape on the ground.
As we approached, we could see that Nate was breathing, and that there were no signs of a struggle. The ground around his feet was not churned up, indicating he had not been struggling to get his feet under him in an effort to rise. Just as we got to him, the big goof raised his head and very clearly said "OK, I'm done napping, but need a little help here.............where have you BEEN?" Nate then demonstrated his predicament. His proximity to the barn wall meant he could not position his feet properly to get up. In addition, he was laying on his weaker side.
The best option seemed to be to "flip" Nate over onto his right side, so #1, his feet would be pointed away from the wall and #2, he would have his stronger side under him, allowing him to push off the ground more easily. The big man's behavior during the next few minutes makes me wonder if he hasn't cast himself before. As we put ropes around his legs, he laid perfectly still. As we began to pull him over, he resisted only a moment just as he came "up and over" his withers. (Bless him for that, since his two helpers were average-size, middle-aged, people armed only with adrenaline. Whew. OK.......now breathe. )
After his "flip," Nate lay sternal and began nibbling on some handy grass. Thinking he would need a few minutes to rest before we asked him to stand, I went to the house to grab the cup of tea I had been sipping earlier and by the time I returned, there was Nate, on his feet, looking like nothing out of the ordinary had occurred. This incredible horse continues to amaze me on a daily basis.
July 25, 2009
That amazement, however, is not necessarily due to his decision-making skills. The very next morning, we got up to find............yes, Nate napping again, this time with his feet pointed at the fence panels. His hind feet were right against the "legs" where two panels hinge together, again meaning he didn't have room to maneuver. Fortunately, since these were portable corral panels, all we needed to do was unhook the joint, move the panels slightly and up he popped.
Now for the one step back. Getting down and up temporarily took a toll on Nate's comfort level. Bad timing meant he decided to try something new just as he was being weaned off of the anti-inflammatory medications he'd been on. He went back to leaning on the walls while resting and we had to forgo his evening walks for a few days.
Now, Nate seems to be back on track with his muscle and joint rehab, but his feet still present a big problem. The foot that was infested with maggots is very unstable. When simply cleaning out his foot, we can see and feel the hoof wall "give" in the heel area where the other structures of the foot are virtually non-existent. We have both the farrier and vet scheduled to be here at the same time this Thursday to formulate a plan and, hopefully, begin rehabbing all four of Nate's feet, now that he is stronger. Nate's heels are extremely long on all four hooves but, given how long he's been walking in an abnormal fashion, we don't want to make any extreme changes. This hoof rehab will be a gradual process, probably done over many months, allowing Nate's muscles, ligaments and tendons time to adjust to each change.
Meanwhile, Nate's enjoying short turnout periods in a small, private paddock. We don't want him to overdo in either the exercise or grazing departments. For the time being, 15 or 20 minutes at a time seems to suit everyone involved, even Nate.
July 19, 2009
We'd like to again thank everyone concerned with Nate's well-being. He seems to thrive on visitors and attention, giving "neck hugs" to all who stop by. Thank you, all: visitors, equine care professionals, complementary therapy practitioners, contributors, and all who email for updates. Neck hugs to everyone.