Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Latest Twist

On New Year’s Day, the horses were out in the snowy pasture, strolling around just before dinnertime. I went inside for less than a minute to pick up their feed buckets and their hay. When I approached the barn, both of the girls were already waiting eagerly in their stalls. The big problem was that Siete was holding her right front leg up like something was terribly wrong. I had no idea what had happened.

I checked her shoe to see if there was something caught in the snowpad, but couldn’t feel or see anything unusual. I wondered if one of the wood pellets that I had spread in her stall had gotten caught inside her shoe and caused an abscess. I didn’t feel any heat on any of her legs when I touched them. I gave her some Banamine, added extra bedding to her stall so she could lay down and take her weight off for the night. Checking out the corral, I noticed there were some icy ruts that could have caused her to twist her leg.

I was worried, but not panicked. I reminded myself that sometimes these things work themselves out and that if it was an abscess, I could deal with it. We’d have to pull her shoe, which would be a problem in this icy weather, but it was the least bad possiblity of the things that could be causing the lameness. I started to think about other causes, but forced myself to not jump to conclusions.

Saturday, she was still favoring the right leg, but able to stand on it. More Banamine, and I alerted my farrier just in case. We made a tentative date for Monday morning. Sunday, Siete seemed fine, walking normally, so I stopped giving her the meds and cancelled the farrier appointment. Then, Monday afternoon, she began holding her back right foot up as if she had an abscess, and she seemed sore on the front right again. This wasn’t going to magically disappear, so I called the farrier and arranged for him to come Tuesday morning. I soaked the back foot in Epsom salts and warm water and put on a pack with Animalintex for the night.

Next morning, the farrier couldn’t find anything wrong with her hooves. He pulled her front shoe, but there were no abscesses on any of her feet. He used the hoof testers and everything was fine, thank heavens. Siete was really limping on her front right leg, and he did notice some tenderness and a little swelling on the back of that leg. He wondered if she had bowed a tendon or maybe twisted her suspensory ligament. The thought of that sent chills up my spine. I remembered about eight years ago when Silk injured her suspensory ligament and was confined to her stall and only allowed to walk slowly for six months. It was a nightmare. I gave Siete some more Banamine and tried to stay calm.

I headed over to the vet’s office to pick up another tube of Banamine and luckily ran into the vet herself. She told me that lots of horses were injuring themselves in this ice and snow. We agreed to just keep Siete quiet, give her two small doses of Banamine in the morning and at night for a few days and see how she felt on Friday.

I am happy to report that Siete was walking solidly on all four feet by Friday, and getting a bit wound up from all that stall rest. The tenderness and swelling have gone down. So, yesterday, I opened the gate to the pasture and we had some supervised wandering around time. I know I took a chance and fortunately, everything was okay. What I’ve learned is that the horses don’t want to venture out too far in the snow, but they stay calm and happy if they see the gate between the corral and the pasture is open. They know that they have the option to go there, and that it’s their choice. It keeps them from charging around.

So, let’s hope I didn’t jinx anything by telling you that Siete is doing better. Only eleven more weeks until Spring, and it can’t come soon enough!


Kate said...

Those things are scary - Maisie had a suspensory injury too back in 2002 and it took many months, almost a year, before she was back to normal. Sounds like your mare may have just tweaked something playing in the snow - hope all continues to be well.

Breathe said...

Whew. I'm glad it doesn't sound like it's anything too serious. I can only imagine how difficult it is for horses to manage all the ice and snow. It's not like they can just hang out in the laz-boy.

Hope she's feeling better soon.

Debbie said...

One winter we had alot of ice and snow. I remember crawling to the barn because the ice was so treacherous. I put my horses out everyday, even if only for 20 minutes -- they were glad to get back inside! I feel because I risked getting them outside everyday, they never went crazy from being cooped up and were very careful navigating the poor footing. My vet told me he had never put down so many horses that winter due to fractures from horses that had been cooped up for days on end, and the went outside and exploded. Kudos to you for your thinking. And I'm so glad Siete is OK.

Lori Skoog said...

I am so glad that she is doing better.
Actually, the cold is useful when there is swelling etc. Your experience makes a difference in how you handle a situation like this...and you were right on.

Grey Horse Matters said...

I'm glad to hear she is doing better. It's hard to feel safe with them out in the ice, there's always a chance of twisting or slipping.

You were a big part of handling this minor injury correctly so it wouldn't get any worse. Sometimes all it takes is a caring knowledgeable mom to set things right in a short time.

Victoria Cummings said...

Thanks Everyone for your moral support. It's so hard to know if you're doing the right thing or if there's something more that should be done. I do know that if after a couple of days, the girls don't get an opportunity to at least decide for themselves whether they want to venture out, when I do open that gate, they're like two sticks of dynamite. So, I agree with Debbie. Siete was stepping very cautiously today.

deejbrown said...

I was getting more and more worried while reading this and am relieved all is well, for the moment. Would be nice if we could just wrap them all up in bubble wrap, wouldn't it?

Pony Girl said...

I hope Siete is fine. It is strange sometimes, how horses tweak themselves. I think about how I sleep on my neck wrong, or pull a slight muscle or twist a slight ankle, only to feel better in a few days. I'm just glad it wasn't a major injury because the rehab care takes so long. At least if it was an abscess, bless their stinkin' difficult hearts, it is fairly benign and easy to deal with.
I have a question regarding Banimine versus Bute, can you tell me the difference? I thought Banamine was for stomach upset issues such as colic? I think I have some Banamine, but I bet it is expired because I have never used it. I do have Bute and have had to give My Boy that for minor wounds the resulted in lameness and such, I think it is kind of like an anti-inflammatory/horsey aspirin?

Paint Girl said...

So glad that she is doing better!! Suspensory injuries are terrible, we have horses at the barn where I work that are on layup for months, then alot of them just don't seem to recover completely.
I am so glad I haven't had to deal with an injury that severe, knock on wood!

Victoria Cummings said...

Pony Girl - I'm very careful not to give NSAIDS unless the vet knows I'm doing it and agrees that it's a good idea. I have found over the years that both horses tolerate banamine better than bute. They are both anti-inflammatory drugs, but its kind of like Tylonal versus Advil. Bute just seems to be harder on the stomach. I only gave Siete a 500 lb. dose of banamine, and I stopped as soon as I could see that she was standing comfortably on all four legs. I couldn't really hose the leg with cold water because it was insanely cold outside here, so my intent was to try to bring the swelling down with the banamine. At the same time, I didn't want Siete to feel so pain-free that she ran around on the leg like nothing was wrong and injured it more. Sometimes, they need to feel the pain to protect themselves. It's a tricky balance, which is why it's important to talk to the vet.

Merri said...

Don't you hate that? it's one of the worst feelings to walk outside and see a horse doing that.
My first thought was a 'gravel' (not sure of the technical term) where a piece of something works its way up the foot and pops out the coronet band - they can be dead lame until it pops out in a couple of days. hopefully your horse just had a little tweak and she's fine!
- The Equestrian Vagabond