First, she put special sensors on the mule: one on the right front leg, one on the head, and on on the croup. This device, called the Equinosis Lameness Locator(the link takes you to the website), has revolutionized veterinary medicine. As a horse or mule trots, the device senses the take off and impact pressures of each leg, as well as irregularities in the gait, helping to diagnose which leg the lameness is on and whether it is likely mild or severe. The vet has a computer screen that instantly shows the results of the test. It's a really awesome tool that can help narrow down the lameness diagnosis to a specific leg, detecting things that the humans eye can't see. Then, the vet can work on that leg. The vet said the being a vet is like being a detective–you have to hunt for clues and solve the mystery. The Locator helps with that.
Laura led the mule on flat ground at the trot while the device tracked the mules steps. The prognosis was that the mule right hind lameness. The vet then decided to block some of the nerves in the leg, making that part of the leg numb and thus pinpointing where the lameness is. As she worked, she explained what she was doing, showing me how the nerves look like in a book that she has. She first started by blocking everything below the fetlock, which would eliminate lameness in the ankle in the device still showed the mule to be lame. She let me be her assistant by holding the needles until she was ready and operating the Lameness Locator.
After letting the mule adjust to having the numb leg, Laura once more led the mule at the trot. The device still showed right hind lameness. The vet suspected that the stifle may have a problem, so she decided to numb it as well. A stifle injection is a joint injection is a joint injection not a nerve injection like the other one, and is similar to the knee joint in people. When injecting the stifle, the vet injects the two cushions between the joints in that area. She feels for the three tendons running down the leg to help locate these areas.
Again the numbing didn't help, so the vet recommended doing an ultrasound rather than continuing to guess and give more injections. Nobody likes having lots of shots put in them, mules and horses included. I don't know the result yet, but hopeful it's nothing too serious! It was a great experience to talk and learn from the vet; she was great at explaining and teaching. Now I won't be completely clueless when I go to vet school!