Well, with all the changes in my life at the moment I haven’t yet figured out what to do with my horses yet. I have 2 horses, Kira, who is a beautiful Irish Sport Horse which I bred and I’m hoping I can keep and Scooter who is an unbroken 3 yo gelding. I bred Scooter aswell, but he has turned out to be quite small for me, so I’d like to sell him, but with all the droughts and the expensive feed now it’s difficult to sell horses.
However, two days ago on Wednesday when I went out to feed them Kira was limping quite bad, bad enough that she could hardly walk. It took me by surprise, because although it’s the first time Kira and Scooter have been in the same paddock together (cuz Scooter was only just gelded 6 weeks ago) they have been pretty much ok together. I was dismayed to see her limping so bad. I couldn’t see any blemishes or swelling on her, so not sure if she’d injured a tendon or something, I put her in the stable, hosed her leg for 10 mins and then put a support bandage on her leg.
The next morning she was possibly slightly better. Still no swelling although possible sign of a tiny amount of swelling high up just underneath the knee. But it was so marginal that I could have been just imagining it. I thought I’d keep an eye on her and left her in the round yard over night so she could pick on the grass and see how she was the next morning.
So this morning she was definitely bad and absolutely no improvement, but now her tendon was swollen aswell to my dismay. In horses, tendon injuries seriously devalues a horse (and Kira is much more valuable than Scooter) and possibly affects their performance career permanently. It’s a bit like a football playing snapping an achilles tendon…….out for a long time, lots of recovery and possibly never quite the same again. Tendon injuries are quite common in horses, and having a horse without tendon damage is a requirement in any performance horse. I had always had a future planned out for Kira as an excellent eventing horse and so I was devasted when I saw the swelling on her leg this morning!
So I called the vet out, because I’d probably need some bute (anti-inflammatories) and needed to be sure that it was her tendon we were dealing with. She was so badly lame that I wasn’t sure if maybe there was a fracture, although that seemed unlikely. The vet came out, took one look at her, examined her tendon and then looked at me and said “did you have any plans to do anything with her the next 12 months?” So, that looked like it was confirming my worst fears. I asked her if we could check the extent of the damage to see if it was indeed a bad tear.
She had to go get her ultrasound unit and then she returned to do the scan. This is when things got puzzling. She carefully checked and rechecked and couldn’t find any tears in the tendon. So now we started to think maybe it was just a strain and this is awesome news since the recovery would be much shorter! So basically the treatment would be ice/water therapy (hosing), bute (anti-inflammatories) and support bandages. It was confusing though cuz the amount of pain she was in didn’t seem consistent with the injury.
But then, while we were standing discussing her and looking at her the vet suddenly said spontaneously “you know what? let’s check her feet”. So she got her pincers and used them on the soles of her feet to detect any soreness to which she got an immediate pain reaction from Kira! Ok, so now that changes things a bit meaning she could just have an abcess. So a litle bit of cutting out some pus revealed an abcess………the vet treated it, put on a poultice and so yay, we’re onto something!
So, to explain, abcesses in a horses hoof are excruitiatingly painful, because the hoof wall cannot expand to allow for swelling. This explains why she was so lame on that leg. We have no idea if there may also be a minor tendon strain aswell, so we have to wait a few days for the abcess to heal first to then see how the tendon is going as we have no idea whether the swelling is being caused by the abcess or not. So the plan is to still treat the tendon as if there is a strain.
So after all these fears I’m so happy that she has an abcess! I can’t believe I didn’t even think of it as an option. The thing is an abcess is so easily treatable and she could be ridden next week, as opposed to being out for 12 months and permanently affecting her for life. It’s kinda like to a football player, the difference between snapping an achilles vs getting a bruised foot! So this news came as a HUGE relief.