Most of the time, having horses is a joy. Sometimes it is just one big flaming pile of horse poo.
Such has been this week.
Our shoer, a great guy, is transitioning between here and OK. We are lucky that he is still flying back on a regular basis and doing customers here. Mike had him lined up to do our horses this Tuesday, before Mike departs to NM for his 5-day endurance ride, and I depart next week for Arab/Half Arab region championships with Faxx.
Mike calls farrier to confirm. Farrier says “Oh &%$*. I forgot. I am in OK.”
But farrier has buddy who does good work and buddy is contacted by farrier and will come do our horses as scheduled. I am leery.
I get home Tuesday evening, take one look at Fling’s feet and think to myself “Oh &*$, her feet look short.” I put her on crossties and stare at them for awhile. And then I check for digital pulse, actually almost afraid to do so.
She has a faint digital pulse in left front.
I walk her around. I make her do tight turns. She is fine with this. I think, maybe that is just normal for her. It’s not like I go around looking for digital pulses as a hobby.
I am at work the next day and Mike calls me about 7:30 a.m. and asks, “What leg did you feel that digital pulse on Fling?”In my mind I am going OHCRAP OHCRAP OHCRAP OHCRAP OHCRAP OHCRAP.
“The left,” I say. WHY???
“Because she will not put weight on that foot.”
(Of course, during all this I am in meetings at work, which I rarely have, and have to run out into the hall to talk.)
I am just sure it is the shoeing job – either a hot nail or he quicked her, or SOMETHING.
I asked Mike to call the shoer and have him come out and remove the shoe. Most likely a hot nail. And of course it’s storming like crazy, my regular vet is off today and booked completely tomorrow and I have two very important meetings this a.m. and Mike has dentist appt this a.m. and then teaches. Mike called shoer and he is going to TRY to get over and pull the shoe before Mike goes to dentist, but if he can’t I have to go home and be there for him.
Shoer comes, pulls shoe and looks at each nail, puts hoof testers on Fling and can get no reaction from hoof testers. Shoer says there is some swelling in the leg and he thinks suspensory.
So I call our area lameness specialist to see if we can get her in that day – the clock is ticking for Mike and me.
Thankfully he has a 4 p.m. appointment available. Mike cuts his class to take her and I leave an hour early and meet him there from downtown.
Vet x-rays her and can find nothing in the foot and looks at her. She has no swelling on her leg and not even a tendon tear would make her this lame. (So much for the shoer’s abilities as a wannabe vet.) He says only an abscess or a fracture makes them this lame. Fling was not this lame WITH her coffin bone abscess last year. She was actually sound at the walk with the fracture.And remember, she was SOUND at the walk when she was put in her stall the night before, and came out of the stall non-weight bearing on front left.
Now, the cavet is that fractures take about ten days from the time they happen til they show up on x-ray. Just an odd thing. But I could see NO way she could have fractured her foot while standing in her stall that’s solid walls and absolutely NO sign on her that she got her foot hung up somewhere.
So, I am relieved and I drive her home, feeling really badly for her having to balance in the trailer on 3 legs for the second leg of the trip (so to speak!)
I get home, put a boot on her to protect her bandage and packing from getting wet (it has poured AGAIN today) and put her in small grassy area in front of barn while I clean her stall. She is there MAYBE 15 minutes. I go out to get her and her back leg – not the abscessed one – is covered in blood from her ankle down.
I think I broke the cursing world record.
I take her to wash rack and hose blood off – it is still bleeding profusely. I run over my options in my head. My vet is not on call. I could take her to Waller where there is a 24-hour clinic but I sure hate like h*ll to have to put her BACK in the trailer and drive ANOTHER 1.5 hours with her balancing on three legs. Mike remembers there is a new mobile-only vet who services our area. I finally get the bleeding stopped and can look at the wound – it has very smooth cut edges and I can see that it is deep enough for stitches. I waffle about just cleaning it out good and hoping for the best. I finally decide to call the mobile vet who says she is busy but can make it out around 10 p.m.
She shows up at 10:30, we have to tranquilize Fling who really does not like her, and I have to hold her foot up for the vet. She probes around – it is not a cut but a puncture wound and she thinks it is deep enough that it may involve the joint. More world-record cursing. She says she should run a probe deep within the wound and flush the joint. Now, messing around with a joint is not something to be taken lightly. If you introduce foreign stuff you will cause an infection, which, at the very best, will cause your horse to be permanently lame, and at worse, you will lose the horse altogether. I have had one horse with a joint infection and I was very lucky and neither happened. But this is a vet I know nothing about, we are standing in my BARN at 11 p.m. with marginal lighting and billions of germs all around. I am not comfortable with this. So I suggest taking her to Waller in the a.m. and just bandaging. She says we should at least thoroughly cleanse the wound and start her on antibiotics. I call the Waller clinic and have vet talk to vet on call and they discuss, and he make notes that she will be arriving in the a.m.
Mike graciously puts off going to New Mexico so he can take Fling to the vet, 1.5 hours away and I don’t have to take a vacation day. Fling is quite awful for the vet. It is not the usual vet she’s seen her, but a new guy. And Fling has had quite ENOUGH at this point. She is so bad they actually have to put her under a general anesthetic and lay her down to look at her leg.
It is all good news, if you can can consider any situation needing a vet is good news. No involvement of any joint at all. It’s a clean wound and they decide to not even suture it at its center but leave it open to drain. While she is there, they take off the bandage from her front suspected abscess and the vet thinks he can see SOMETHING trying to break through, but he cannot punch through to it yet.
Total bill for the “3 vets in 24 hours?” $800.
Now, I have a large problem. Fling is difficult and not a horse I can leave in someone else’s care unless she can just be left in a paddock and fed over the fence. And now she has two bandages that have to be changed. And Mike is leaving for New Mexico the next day.
I have several options, none of them ideal, and instead of a much-anticipated trip, Regionals is starting to look like just a lot of hard work. Hard work that I’ve paid $1,000 in entry fees to participate in. Which is completely non-refundable.
Meanwhile, Fling is in the round pen, still 3-legged lame, but getting around better and even trying to trot.