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of wear and tear due to intense training and competition, mostly noticeable with his arthritic knees.

Early Signs Ruslan and I bonded quickly—it was love at first sight for

me and I think the feeling was mutual. While all that was wonderful, in hindsight I noticed a few things here and there that didn’t seem quite right. For example, at times he seemed to plod along and even stumble, but as a new horse owner, frankly I didn’t heed the subtle hints. If he didn’t move out as I asked, I attributed that to my own lack of ability as a new rider. In November of 2009, I noticed his legs were swollen

from his knees down. He displayed soreness. He’d stumble now and again but that was deceiving because on a lunge line he was animated and pranced around like a youngster. He was on a variety of joint and arthritic supplements I’d rotate every so often. I knew from his history that he had not had any recent blood work so I made arrangements for a physical exam, baseline blood work and test for Lyme disease and a Western blot. On his physical exam arthritic knees were apparent (not surprising for a horse who saw heavy competition and training), also mild clubbiness to his right front foot, but there were no signs of anything neurologic. To my surprise, however, the Lyme/Western blot was 312, which for some veterinarians put him in a gray area on whether or not to treat. While the most common drug choice is Doxycycline, the frequency, dosage and length of duration on the antibiotic is the subject of much debate. Most horses, especially a 20-year-old, would probably

have been exposed at some time to Lyme disease. Even though 312 was in the ‘equivocal’ range (13–379), the test result meant that Ruslan had been exposed to the disease and that his body was making antibodies against it. Adding to the complexity of the decision, this disease is deceptive; symptoms are almost never clear cut and often mask themselves. Often they appear as general malaise, soreness and lack of willingness. After receiving differing advice from several veter-

inarians, I opted not to treat. As time went on, the soreness worsened in front. I sought the opinions of others and turned my attention to his shoes. Maybe we should try natural hoof care, I thought, so I enlisted the aid of a

natural hoof care trimmer and removed his shoes. For a time that helped but soon the soreness returned, and so I put his shoes back on. In the spring of 2010, we moved him to a new barn. Having more room in his turnout seemed to make a difference at first, but then it was back to the soreness again and this time it returned with a vengeance. I switched to a new farrier who worked closely with New England Equine in Dover, New Hampshire. The farrier, Frank Leone, recommended x-rays before

putting new shoes on him, wanting to make sure there was nothing structurally wrong with his hooves. Fortunately, there was not. With his feet properly measured and balanced and shod, Ruslan appeared better. But after a while I noticed the exaggerated head bobbing again. I ruled out shoeing as the culprit to his discomfort.

Lyme Diagnosis In the fall of 2010, Ruslan’s

Ruslan, Ann’s Russian Warmblood before he contracted Lyme.

situation took a turn for the worse. This once engaging horse, who always responded to me when I called him, now began to look dull and would flat out refuse to move forward from the walk either under saddle or on a lunge line. Then one afternoon I received a call from the barn manager. Ruslan was laying down in his turnout and had been in that position for nearly an hour. Together the barn

manager and barn owner finally got him to his feet and into his stall awaiting the arrival of the veterinarian. When I arrived, he was a sorry sight, leaning heavily against the back wall. My heart sank. This was not good and neither was the expression on

his face. The veterinarian’s first diagnosis was that it was probably Lyme and recommended another Lyme test. When the result came back, it was 303, lower than the first test (312) done the year before but with surprisingly more marked symptoms. This time you didn’t have to ask me twice about treatment. Working together, Dr. Kelly Butterworth of SRH

Veterinary Clinic in Ipswich, Massachusetts, and Dr. Regina Downey of Holistic Animal Healing Clinic in Exeter, New Hampshire, put forth a plan for Ruslan. Instead of the standard treatment in this region, which is three months of Doxycycline, we did 30 days of Doxycycline; fifty 100 mg. tablets twice daily which I carefully crushed using a small coffee grinder. The powder was then mixed with applesauce to make it palatable and administered by

Warmbloods Today 31

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