Posted by: bizzylizzy262 | June 29, 2014

Trust your gut!

Hello!! It has been so long!

My summer break is in full swing, and I am really loving it. Last summer I was working a TON, and this summer I am only working one job, summer school, which runs Monday through Thursday from 8:15-12:15. It makes for a very nice schedule for Cloud and Lambeau. For those who are wondering, yes, I ‘left’ my job at Main Stay. I had held my farm relief position for 4.5 years, and I truly loved it…which is why I did it for so long. But eventually, I wanted my weekends and holidays back. So I worked for them until they could find my replacement, and now I am a ‘back-up’ for their current farm relief. There are times when I miss the quiet mornings at the farm, feeding the animals and doing chores, but overall it was time. I really love those animals though, so sometimes I miss it! But I look forward to being a substitute.

So I started out the summer with a week completely off. Talk about weird. I am used to working 6-7 days a week, and having a whopping 2 days off of work a month. And suddenly I was faced with an entire week off to do as I please! I got Lambeau back into a routine of being my running dog, and Cloud and I spent lots of time together. He got a much needed bath, good grooming sessions, daily rides, and some Parelli playtime. My tack trunk got organized, brushes got cleaned, etc.

Summer school is heading into its third week now (out of 6) and the schedule has been perfect. It’s so nice to have all this time to split between my dog and my horse (and friends and family too haha). It has been a pretty nice summer as far as weather goes. I know most people don’t welcome the cooler temperatures and cloudy skies, but I’ve never been a huge fan of heat. So far it’s been pretty cool.

This past week was a little rough for Cloudy Boy. On Monday I got a call from the barn owner while I was at summer school. The farmhand, Martin, wanted me to know that Cloud was limping pretty bad. So I hurried out to the barn from summer school. Sure enough, Cloud was very resistant to putting his weight on his right front (his ‘problem leg’…fused fetlock, and the source of most of his trouble).

I grabbed his halter and brought him in. There was another boarder there taking a look at him too. I pulled off his fly leg wraps and bell boots and sprayed him with fly spray so he could stop stomping, because it was making him pretty uncomfortable. I didn’t see anything obviously wrong, so my immediate thought was that Cloud had an abscess working in his hoof. I asked the other boarder if she had any Epsom salt, because I knew I didn’t from cleaning out my tack trunk the other day. She went to grab some for me to borrow.

In the mean time I picked out Cloud’s hooves (again finding nothing obvious wrong) and felt the right front hoof for heat or a pulse and didn’t feel anything, which made me start to doubt the abscess. Then Martin came over to check in with me. He told me that when he saw Cloud limping, his fly wrap was hanging off his leg…that made me start to think maybe Cloud really had injured himself. It was a little slick out from rain, so it made sense. Martin also said he felt heat on Cloud’s leg above the fetlock. So I felt his fetlock, and sure enough there was a little heat above the fetlock. It really wasn’t much heat, and certainly in hindsight it was not enough heat for how bad he was limping, but combined with the fly wrap hanging off his leg, I started to believe Cloud had slipped in the wet grass and tweaked his fused fetlock.

The boarder returned with the Epsom salt and I told her I had changed my mind. There was a part of me that wanted to treat both the fetlock and the hoof, but then I wasn’t sure that I would know what actually was the problem. Plus I didn’t want to soak a hoof if it didn’t need to be soaked.

And so I started the regimen for treating his fetlock. I cold hosed his fetlock and stuck him in a stall (the barn was so nice to put him up!) and ran to the tack shop for some supplies. I came back and cold hosed again, then poulticed him. I decided to wrap all four legs, just cuz I guess. I poulticed the front two, and put linament on the hinds. I figured his legs could use a little pampering from all the stomping, and his three good legs were doing extra work with all the limping.

I took him back to his layup stall, and Cloud planted his feet. Haha even though walking was painful, Cloud wanted to be outside with his friends. Ah, my well-adjusted pasture horse! I gave Cloud his evening grain with a gram of bute, gave him some kisses and cookies, and left for the night.

Tuesday morning I woke up bright and early to head out to the barn and take off his wraps. I fed Cloud his morning grain with a gram of bute, then unwrapped and cold hosed. Cloud was still limping, which was a bummer. You always hope for a quick fix! I talked to Martin about leaving him in a stall to rest for the day, but figured it wouldn’t really work out. I told Martin to turn Cloud out if he freaked when the other horses got turned out. Sure enough, Cloud was not going to tolerate being alone in a stall when he is used to being outside with his friends.

So Tuesday and Wednesday were spent inside/poulticed/wrapped overnight, cold hosing 3 times a day, and outside limping during the day (with extra fly spray to try to help him out), and a gram of bute twice a day. By Wednesday night, Cloud wasn’t getting any better, if anything he was getting worse.

I poulticed Cloud and gave him his grain/bute Wednesday night, but left him outside (instead of wrapping Cloud’s poulticed leg I just put paper on it, so he could stay out). The rest wasn’t doing him any good and I didn’t want to overstay our welcome in a layup stall if it wasn’t helping him. The drive home I contemplated next steps. If it really was his fetlock that was bothering him, the care I had give him for 3 days should have made pretty good impact, and I was getting nothing. Clearly I wasn’t treating the right injury.

I called my vet and left a voicemail. Here’s how I started the voicemail…”Cloud is walking like he has an abscess, but he has heat above his bad fetlock. I’ve been cold hosing 3x a day, giving him 2 grams of bute a day, and poulticing in a stall overnight, and he’s getting worse not better”. Andrea called back pretty quickly…and the gist of her phone call was, “You told me your horse has an abscess and you’re treating his fetlock?!? Call me back after you’ve soaked and wrapped his hoof for 24 hours.” LOL. Gotta love her humor!

Thursday I went out in the morning to remove his poultice. Per doctor’s orders, and because we were now treating an abscess, Cloud was taken off of bute. Bute will actually prevent an abscess from coming to the surface. I didn’t have Epsom salt or an animalintex pad (poultice pad for the hoof…I could have packed it with poultice but I just figured I’d wait till I could get the pad cuz it’s simpler/cleaner), so I just dry wrapped his hoof to at least keep it clean in case it happened to burst on its own.

After school, I made another tack shop run for new supplies, then headed to the barn. I soaked Cloud’s hoof while he ate dinner, which was a spontaneous wonderful discovery of how to keep him busy while his hoof soaked!

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After soaking, I groomed Cloud to give his hoof a little time to dry, then soaked an animalintex pad, and wrapped Cloud’s foot with the poultice pad on the sole and ichthamol on his coronary band.

Came out Thurday, and Cloud was still limping, but it did seem a bit better. Did another soak and poultice wrap, and extra cookies.

Came out Friday, and my horse was sound. No limping at all. Brought him in, soaked his hoof for good measure and to clean it off to check it out. When he was done soaking, I inspected the foot…..

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Oh, hello abscess! What a sight for sore eyes! I was very excited to see the abscess and see that my horse is feeling relief, but I also felt extremely guilty. My gut instinct on Monday was that he had an abscess, but I talked myself into thinking it was something else and wasted treatment time. Poor pony! Abscesses are sneaky little buggers! They bother horses so much that I feel like owners often talk themselves into thinking it’s something worse. I swear if it was someone else’s horse, I would have been standing there telling them it’s probably an abscess, but because it was my own, I worried myself into being fooled! So I am saying this once and for all…if your horse is walking like it has a broken leg, and there’s nothing obvious wrong, it’s an abscess!!!!! BUT, I have no credentials…so call your vet! Haha! Oh and BTW, my theory is that the heat in Cloud’s fetlock was a result of him limping around, which probably put stress on his fused fetlock. I guess it was good that I treated that heat, but I wish I had started treating both!

So for the next few days I will be putting ichthamol on the abscess and wrapping it to keep it clean until it heals over. I am eager to get back to our summer routine! I love taking care of my horse, especially when I make him feel better, but I’ll be happy to get back to playing/riding too!

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