In 2008 Minnow was diagnosed with Ringbone, essentially a form of equine arthritis, it is a bone growth in the pastern or coffin joint of a horse. 5 years ago I took Minnow to New Bolton Center, an internationally renowned large animal hospital, after initial x-rays and visits from my vet could not determine why Minnow had suddenly gone lame.
When I discovered he had High Ringbone, I was in shock, and saddened that his riding and competition carrier with me was over at the age of 15. Initially I tested out joint injections with Minnow, which didn’t help much – you can read more about that journey HERE. So that left me maintaining the pain he had with bute on the occasions he performed or was a little extra sore. He was retired from any strenuous activity, including riding.
Over the years we tried various supplements, with little to no improvement, in the hopes to make him a bit more comfortable. So when Minnow turned 20 this year I decided to take him back to New Bolton in the hopes of finding some better options in managing his pain in the coming years.
I wanted to write this post to document the findings of our visit, mostly for my own records, but also to help anyone else struggling to help a horse with severe high ringbone.
Our trip to New Bolton started off with a lameness examination, which it was determined Minnow is 3 out of 5 degrees lame on his left front. On that left front he has bony enlargements that you can both see and feel on his pastern region. Neither of his feet are sensitive to hoof testers though.
Minnow gets around fairly well on the farm, and he will run and buck with his brothers on occasion – it’s just hard to see him limp knowing that he has some degree of pain. After his lameness examination we decided to get him radiographs – because there wasn’t much the vet’s could recommend without seeing how much his ringbone has progressed.
Once the radiographs were up we were able to compare them to the ones we had taken in 2008. It was immediately noticed that Minnow had a loss of joint space on the inside of his left pastern joint as well as bony growth. The vet told us that Minnow’s body is trying to fuse the joint in order to stop movement which is causing pain. This can take years, maybe 10 or more, and is a very slow process.
Sadly with this significant arthritis in the pastern joint, there are not many options for Minnow’s reduced pain. They could surgically fuse the joint, but this would require several months of post-operative care (and the need for a cast) and may not make him pain free – just more comfortable. At 20 years old I just didn’t think this was a good option for Minnow and likely would cause him more distress and pain in the long run.
The vet recommended we give him 1 gram of bute leading up to any performances or if he seems exceptionally sore, and to limit his movement by maybe turning him out in a smaller space. She said any supplements likely won’t improve him much and any effects would be short lived. She also said we could experiment with different types of shoeing or boots, but that is a whole trial and error process and there may be nothing out there that would help him.
I asked if his pain would continue to get worse as he gets older, but she said that most horses with high ringbone have higher and lower degrees of pain throughout their life and some just have their pain stay about even.
It was a bit disheartening to learn that there wasn’t some magical solution that could make Minnow more comfortable, but I sort of expected this outcome.
I’ve decided to look into different types of shoeing/pads for him – to see if there is anything that just might make him feel a little bit better. I’m hoping to document the process on the blog by video taping him before and again with each shoeing option. I’m going to try Ground Control Shoes from the Natural Farrier first – although I’m not entirely hopeful, I figure it can’t hurt to try!
I know that someday the time will come that Minnow may be too sore to perform and train with me (something that he loves more than anything), but I also know that he will let me know when that time is here.
On a side note I noticed this framed picture hanging on the wall in the billing department on my way out. The note reads:
Because I knew and loved Stormy, and still do, I’d like to help pay her hospital bill. My best wishes to Stormy’s owner, Mike Pryor, as well.
Please relay my gratitude to Stormy’s surgeons for their skills and generosity.
July 24, 1993
Stormy developed a tumor on her udder in the early part of 1993 and had surgery done at New Bolton. She recovered and was able to make her last Pony Penning appearance that summer. Stormy passed away in Pennsylvania, far from her Chincoteague home, on November 24th, 1993. (From Misty’s Heaven)
We’re back from the 87th Annual Chincoteague Pony Penning, and boy did we have fun!
Minnow spent all week painting and performing at the Chincoteague Pony Centre – something that we have done for the past 5 years in a row.
Minnow did not disappoint this year yet again – as he painted and sold 9 new canvases during our week long stay.
I say this every year, but Minnow really does do his best work while we are down on the island!
Not only did Minnow paint during the nightly shows at the Pony Centre, but he also performed our new skit – Super Hero Bootcamp.
Arguably one of our best performances to date, Minnow really showed his stuff!
Minnow was on fire all week – and practically drug me into the arena each night to perform. He truly loves it, and really kept the performance alive with his energy.
I was very proud of him, especially since I came down with a nasty cold the day we left for Chincoteague. I struggled to keep my energy up (something needed for this type of performance) – but Minnow proved he had more than enough for the both of us and really helped me keep going all week.
Even though I was fighting my cold all week, I still managed to attend the main festivities! The pony swim and auction!
Yes, I have seen it 5 years in a row now….but it never gets old.
It’s just so fascinating, and I love seeing the new foals that are born each year.
This year I timed the swim perfectly. I woke up at my normal time, headed to pony swim lane, hiked through the swamp, and only had to wait about 1/2 hour before the swim started.
The weather this year was perfect too – not too hot, with just the right amount of breeze….probably why a lot of the stallions were extra feisty this year.
On Thursday I watched the auction – but this year I didn’t get up early enough to make the very start of it (mostly because a few days of not enough rest and a bad cold had caught up with me – so I decided to sleep in a bit).
With cute babies like these I have no idea how I come back without one every year!
Sadly our time on Chincoteague had to come to an end – and now I’ll have to wait another whole year before we can return to see the swim and auction. Sigh, it’s going to be a long year….
If you would like to see all of the photos from the pony swim and auction click HERE. You can also purchase prints here as well.
Check out our online SHOP to see more original paintings by Minnow and his brothers.
July is a busy busy month for us, and for the past several weeks we’ve been getting ready for Pony Penning 2012!
For the past 4 years Minnow has learned a new performance to perform at the Chincoteague Pony Centre during their evening shows. Learning a new performance every year is quite difficult – not only does Minnow have to learn new tricks, but he also has to learn the order in which they are performed – and retain it!
But Minnow is my super pony and every year he amazes me at how quickly he’s able to learn new tricks and performances.
This year Minnow is going to Super Hero Boot Camp, he’s been training really hard and we can’t wait to debut his new skit at the Chincoteague Pony Centre.
If you want to see our new performance you’ll have to come visit us during Pony Penning, but for those of you that just aren’t able to make it this year – have no fear! We’re currently filming at the farm with Depthink Productions for two brand-new DVDs that will also feature Minnow’s new skit. We hope to have it available for purchase sometime next month.
You can also check out our current DVD HERE, which features all of the ponies painting and doing tricks as well as one of Minnow’s skits and some tricks by Ammo the Dachshund.
We can hardly wait to make the trek to Chincoteague Island once again!
Minnow’s favorite furry sidekick Ammo the Dachshund won’t be making the trip with us this time, but we couldn’t leave him out during our Super Hero Photoshoot.
Check out more fun photos of Super Dog Ammo and Super Pony Minnow on Ammo’s Blog.
These two tomato sauce jars filled with sand might not look like much to you, but to me they hold much significance. See back when I visited Assateague Island at the end of October (2011) with all three of my Chincoteague Ponies – I took a little piece of the island with me. I collected these jars of sand from the beach – as a way to always keep a little part of the island with me.
My little jars of sand weren’t much to look at these past few months, but a little visit to the antique shop, and $5 later they had a pretty (beach worthy) glass jar to call home.
Now my Assateague sand sits happily on my shelf at home with my jars of sand from Belize and Nicaragua and everytime I look at it I’m reminded of the special trip I took with all three of my boys!
Last weekend the ponies and Ammo the Dachshund went on a very special trip. We rounded everyone up and made the 4 hour trek down to Assateague Island, Virginia to ride on the beach with our friends from the Chincoteague Pony Centre.
I’ve been waiting my whole life to make this trip and ride on the beach with my ponies, and I was thrilled to be able to share this trip with Minnow, Blitz, Boomerang, Ammo and my mom.
We left behind a freak October snowstorm in PA on Saturday to head to the rainy (but atleast not snowy) island. We were fortunate to have a place for the ponies to stay at a friends farm and on Sunday morning we drove the ponies out to the island for their very first beach ride.
For Minnow it was a sort of homecoming as he was born on the island 18 years ago, but for Blitz and Boomerang it was a completely new experience.
I’ve been to the Assateague beach before, but riding across the dunes on horseback was an entirely new and amazing experience. I can’t even begin to describe how beautiful it was, the sun glistening off the ocean as the huge waves came crashing down all around us. We even witnessed two bald eagles taking flight off the beach.
All the ponies dipped their feet into the ocean and seemed utterly at home on the island, a special place that they are all tied to. My mom and I vowed that this would not be the last time we galloped along the beach with our boys.
After our 2 hour ride I took the opportunity to take as many pictures as possible of the ponies as the waves crashed down behind them. I even broke out their painting easel and Minnow’s super hero ensemble.
As Minnow began to enthusiastically pose along the beach he started to draw a small crowd. People began asking questions until someone in the crowd recognized who he was. I felt like we were being followed by the paparazzi as cameras flashed around us and people exclaimed that they were meeting a celebrity. I’m sure Minnow was feeling very important.
Boomerang also got his turn to shine as I asked him to laydown on the beach – and he happily obliged even as the ocean waves rolled towards him. I even got him to sit, a trick we have only just begun working on. Boomer really is an amazing pony and so willing to do almost anything I ask of him.
Blitz took his turn in front of the camera and showed off what a super model he is. I’ve always said he’s the most gorgeous of our ponies and he definitely did not disappoint. Blitz also had a very special experience as we were down visiting, because his mom was on the island (and also Blitz & Boomer’s sire).
We got to meet Tidewater Fable aka L’Eggs, Blitz’s beautiful solid bay dam. We instantly realized where Blitz got his looks from, and also his timid tenancies. I dreamed of L’Eggs nickering and Blitz calling back with an enthusiastic “MOM!” – although of course none of that happened and I’m pretty sure neither even knew the other was there. I can dream though!
After our beach ride we trailered the ponies over to Pony Pines for their end of the year fun show. By this point the ponies were getting very good at loading and unloading on our new 3 horse step-up trailer. It was great practice for them and by the end of the trip they were pros at trailer loading.
At the fun show my mom and I entered in a handful of the fun classes. We won the ribbon race as well as the hilarious wheelbarrow race (where one rider pushed the other in a wheelbarrow while leading a pony). I also took Boomerang in their version of the Extreme Cowboy Race. Boomer impressed me by doing a water ditch jump, mastering a massive bridge, navigating through brush and even jumping a scary black plastic tube. I was very proud of him as he galloped across the hilly terrain course they had created behind the farm.
Ironically immediately following we entered into the Chincotaegue Pony Pleasure Class – I should have foreseen how amped up Boomer would be after racing through the hills. Lets just say we were done for as soon as they asked us to canter and Boomer went bronco bucking around the arena. I had to laugh.
At the end of the evening Minnow got a chance to shine as he dressed up in his Super Hero Costume with best pal Ammo (aka Rocket Dog) for the costume class. They came home with a blue for the most unique costume and I think both of them were very pleased with themselves.
Before we headed home on Sunday we took one last trip out to Assateague to get some more pictures and enjoy the view. It was such an amazing trip and I hope it won’t be our last!
A special thanks to all of our friends who made it possible for us to visit!
You can check out more photos from our trip on our facebook page. I should be back soon with some more photos and videos to share too!