Ringbone

Maintaining Ringbone: Minnow gets new X-rays

Those of you that have followed our ponies’ journey from the beginning may remember that our little Minnow has battled with Ringbone since 2008. Ringbone is essentially a form of equine arthritis, a bone growth in the pastern or coffin joint of a horse. And because in a lot of cases people choose to euthanize a horse with Ringbone (because there is no cure), I have decided to document Minnow’s journey in pain management in the hopes that it might help someone else battling Ringbone in their horse.

Maintaining Ringbone - Minnow injection // Painting Pony

Earlier this year we noticed that he seemed to be more lame on his right front (his initial diagnosis and treatment has always been for his left front), so we decided to have him re-xrayed since it’s been 2 years since we last had him checked.

Minnow Ringbone X-Rays // 2015 // Painting Pony

Here’s the shot of his left front, 2 years after being injected with Ethyl Alcohol to help the joint fuse faster:

Minnow Ringbone X-Rays // 2015 // Painting Pony

Here’s what it looked like the day we had it injected:

Managing Ringbone - Chincoteague Minnow's Trip to New Bolton // Painting Pony

As you can see the joint still is not completely fused, but it’s a lot closer, and it’s actually straightened out some. Which I think has attributed to him being more comfortable on it.

So let’s take a look at the right front, the one that has started to bother him more recently:

Minnow Ringbone X-Rays // 2015 // Painting Pony

Minnow Ringbone X-Rays // 2015 // Painting Pony

It’s hard to tell, but there is some white shading around the pastern joint, and indication that Minnow is at the beginning stages of high ringbone in his right front pastern as well. Our vet consulted with New Bolton Animal Hospital, and determined it’s still too early to inject with Ethyl Alcohol for it to be effective. The fact that he’s also developing this in his other leg further proves that in his particular case it was more genetic than anything. It makes me feel better to know, no matter what I would have done, he would have developed ringbone anyway due to his confirmation.

Chincoteague Pony Minnow trains for Pony Penning 2012

But not to worry, Minnow is still doing well (he’s super Minnow after all)! And here’s how we’re managing pain today for him:

Minnow is currently taking 1/2 a pill of 57mg of Previcox daily as well as a scoop of GLS joint supplement. Once starting the Previcox we noticed an improvement in Minnow’s pain. He seems much more comfortable and we even noticed an improvement in his limp (on both legs).

Chincoteague Pony Minnow trains for Pony Penning 2012

If you’d like to check out our previous attempts to help Minnow with his Ringbone diagnosis, you can read more here:

Maintaining Ringbone: Minnow’s Trip to New Bolton

Maintaining Ringbone: Minnow tries Ground Control Shoes

Maintaining Ringbone: Minnow gets injected with Ethyl Alcohol

Maintaining Ringbone: Minnow tries GLS

If you have a story to share about your horse and Ringbone, we’d love to hear about it! Post a comment on this blog post, or share it on our Facebook wall.

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Maintaining Ringbone: Minnow tries GLS

If you have followed along at all with Minnow’s journey with high ringbone, then you know over the years we have tried many different things to manage his pain. His diagnosis back in 2008 was career ending for him, but he’s gone on to have a full and loved life as a trick pony. He’s very special to me and I would do anything to make sure he’s comfortable and happy for as long as I can.

Painting Pony Minnow at the Ludwigs Corner Horse Show

Painting Pony Minnow at the Ludwigs Corner Horse Show

Our previous attempts to help Minnow can be read about here:

Maintaining Ringbone: Minnow’s Trip to New Bolton

Maintaining Ringbone: Minnow tries Ground Control Shoes

Maintaining Ringbone: Minnow gets injected with Ethyl Alcohol

Managing Ringbone - Chincoteague Minnow's Trip to New Bolton // Painting Pony

Managing Ringbone - Chincoteague Minnow's Trip to New Bolton // Painting Pony

Since it’s been nearly 2 years since Minnow was injected with Ethyl Alcohol to help fuse his joint I thought it was time for a little update on him. Recently we decided to put him on the supplement, GLS Powder.

Maintaining Ringbone: Minnow tries GLS Power // Painting Pony

We had noticed some improvement in a few other horses with arthritis on our farm and decided to give it a try. And after a few weeks of being on it we did notice he was walking much better than he had been.

Here is a few old videos of Minnow before he was injected with the Ethyl Alcohol, and after his injection:

And here he is just a few weeks ago after being on GLS for a few weeks:

It’s a small change, but he does seem to be more comfortable and we’ve even seen him bucking and running more in the pasture. So for now we will continue to keep him on the GLS Powder and hopefully in time his joint will fuse completely and we can only hope he can then be pain free!

P.S. Minnow has turned 20 this year…here’s to another 10 years with him!

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Maintaining Ringbone: Minnow gets Injected with Ethyl Alcohol

Minnow was diagnosed with high ringbone back in 2008, and he’s been retired from all riding and competition since then. He’s lived pretty comfortably for many years, but this year he has been noticeably more sore. So in an effort to make him more comfortable for years to come I’ve been trying lots of options to help him be more pain free.

Our previous attempts to help Minnow can be read about here:

Maintaining Ringbone: Minnow’s Trip to New Bolton

Maintaining Ringbone: Minnow tries Ground Control Shoes

Since then we also began giving Minnow Pentosan injections because we had heard great things about this drug from some of our friends, in helping horses with arthritis. There really wasn’t any noticeable difference when Minnow was given Pentosan, so it wasn’t going to be a long term benefit to him.

Managing Ringbone - Chincoteague Minnow's Trip to New Bolton // Painting Pony

We also tried giving Minnow Equioxx, which did help with his pain some, but the most helpful by far was giving Minnow bute along with a Fast track supplement to help protect the lining in his stomach.

While bute did help make Minnow more comfortable I still wanted to do all that I could to help him be more pain free, and bute is never a great long-term pain medication just because of the harm it can do to the intestines. So with the help of our vet we made another appointment for Minnow at New Bolton to have him injected with Ethyl Alcohol into his pastern joint with one of the renowned vet’s there.

Managing Ringbone - Chincoteague Minnow's Trip to New Bolton // Painting Pony

The goal with the injection was to destroy the remaining cartilage in the joint allowing the joint to fuse as it has been trying to do naturally for the past several years. With this injection there is no guarantee it will work, and likely no results would even been seen for many months as it takes time for the joint to fuse. But there really is no down side to this procedure other than the risk of infection due to inserting the needle. Minnow should not be any more painful than he already is. So with fingers crossed we took Minnow back to New Bolton to have him injected.

Maintaining Ringbone - Minnow injection // Painting Pony

Using X-rays, the vet was able to put the needle into the right space in Minnow’s joint to inject the alcohol (which was a bit difficult because his joint is already pretty deteriorated).

Maintaining Ringbone - Minnow injection // Painting Pony

After one day we miraculously already saw improvement in Minnow. For the past 2 weeks he’s been “resting” in his stall and the small turnout paddock attached to his stall.

Here’s a video of Minnow BEFORE the injection:

Minnow a week AFTER the injection:

While Minnow is significantly improved, the hope is that his joint will continue to fuse over time and eventually he could be possibly even be pain free. He is so much more comfortable already that we have taken him off all of the pain meds and this week he gets to go out in the pasture with his buddies again.

While this procedure is never recommended for horses that will be ridden (Minnow will never be ridden again), Minnow met a lot of the criteria to make this procedure successful for him. Time will continue to tell how beneficial it will be to him.

Minnow is very special to me, and I will continue to do everything I can to make him comfortable and happy!

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Maintaining Ringbone: Minnow tries Ground Control Shoes

In January I took Minnow back to New Bolton Center to have his diagnosis of Ringbone reassessed after being treated 5 years earlier. Without too much hope we were left to experiment with different types of shoeing in the hopes of maybe making Minnow a little bit more comfortable in the coming years.

Minnow Gets Ground Control Shoes // Ringbone // Painting Pony

Minnow Gets Ground Control Shoes // Ringbone // Painting Pony

I decided to test out the Ground Control Shoes with Minnow first, to see if they might take away some of his pain. Some of the key points I had read about the Ground Control Shoes are:

Minnow Gets Ground Control Shoes // Ringbone // Painting Pony

Minnow Gets Ground Control Shoes // Ringbone // Painting Pony

Feeling hopeful I made sure to take videos of Minnow prior to having the shoes put on and then again 2 weeks after wearing them.

After having Minnow wear the Ground Control Shoes for almost 4 weeks I’ve decided that they haven’t benefited him significantly – if anything he might be a tad worse than he was when barefoot.

Minnow Gets Ground Control Shoes // Ringbone // Painting Pony

So next shoeing they will be removed and we will try something else – I think a rocker type shoe.

Minnow Gets Ground Control Shoes // Ringbone // Painting Pony

I think the ground control shoes could probably work for some horses – depending on what you need them for, but for Minnow’s situation it’s just not enough of a benefit to warrant spending the money to have them put on every month.

So onto the next shoeing experiment!

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Maintaining Ringbone: Minnow’s Trip to New Bolton

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.

Managing Ringbone - Chincoteague Minnow's Trip to New Bolton // Painting Pony

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.

Managing Ringbone - Chincoteague Minnow's Trip to New Bolton // Painting Pony

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.

Managing Ringbone - Chincoteague Minnow's Trip to New Bolton // Painting Pony

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.

Managing Ringbone - Chincoteague Minnow's Trip to New Bolton // Painting Pony

Managing Ringbone - Chincoteague Minnow's Trip to New Bolton // Painting Pony

Managing Ringbone - Chincoteague Minnow's Trip to New Bolton // Painting Pony

Managing Ringbone - Chincoteague Minnow's Trip to New Bolton // Painting Pony

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.

Managing Ringbone - Chincoteague Minnow's Trip to New Bolton // Painting Pony

Managing Ringbone - Chincoteague Minnow's Trip to New Bolton // Painting Pony

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.

Managing Ringbone - Chincoteague Minnow's Trip to New Bolton // Painting Pony

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.

Minnow the Super Hero Chincoteague Pony

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.

Managing Ringbone - Chincoteague Minnow's Trip to New Bolton // Painting Pony

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.

Marguerite Henry

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)

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