Friday, September 17, 2010

Serious Heat

I thought about not even posting today, thinking that if I can somehow sit quiet for a day or two, it might magically help, but eh, screw it.  Whether this turns out to be a real situation, or simply a stupid horse self inflicted smack, no reason not to get a record of my thoughts and observations down..


Yesterday...  Yesterday I was thrilled to get to the barn for our third lesson in a row and to keep moving forward on our balance exercises, particularly our counter canter.  After our ride on Tuesday, I threw standing wraps on P's hind legs since she's been working pretty hard and they had just a hint of some fill in them when I had gotten there to tack up.  I must say that she looked fantastically adorable in her navy wraps and cute new navy snuggly blanket... I definitely made a mental note for any early spring shows that might require a dress sheet on the grounds... (not that I'm getting ahead of myself..).

Anyway, I asked the BO to pull her wraps in the morning and let me know how the legs looked.  She did, they were cool and tight. (Perfect).  P had her normal day of full turnout and came back in a bit before I made it to the barn to start getting her geared up for our lesson.  That is, until I pulled her into the cross ties and she refused to step forward.  At All. Whatsoever. 

A quick glance let me see her obviously swollen left front fetlock (no, no, no), and since P is always one to lean towards the dramtic, she sat there, refusing to bear weight, choosing instead to stand about 4 feet back in the crossties so that they pulled her halter forward... brilliant.

Just as I started looking down to assess the situation, BO came into the barn and did a double take.  I walked her up and down the barn aisle twice... and she seemed fine.  I tried to jog (with limited success), but she seemed fine.  We went out into the pouring rain for an actual jog on the gravel, she seemed fine, although irritated by the rain... what a princess.

I took her back to the barn and started poking and prodding.  P's legs are definitely "warmer" than most horses, so a teensy bit of warmth is normal for her.  she's never had ice cold legs, but that makes me all the more paranoid when I start feeling around and my brain starts racing.  It only takes a moment for me to go from "she probably whacked it in her stall or turnout" to a full blown panic of "holy crap, I tore every single ligament yesterday, every leg is hot, I broke my horse."

It's not helpful, its not even accurate, but it's hard to stop the panic train once it starts.  I decided since she was walking mostly sound, that I would  poke and prod her, then walk for a few minutes to see if that reduced the swelling before icing and wrapping and buting her up for the night.

After a not very professional examination, here's the story:

Left fetlock very swollen, right fetlock is tight.
The left has some serious heat, mostly to the outside of the joint
Pia is ginger on it. as soon as you touch the joint she picks it up and wants it away from you.
She's about the same sensitivity on the inside/outside/front/back of the joint.  No intense localized response.
She's walking mostly sound, and jogged out without looking 3-legged-lame.

This made me think that a hand walk wasn't going to cripple her, so I threw the bridle on, took her to the ring and stuck her on the lunge.  Thank god she was calm, though I think she was ouchy enough to stay pretty chill...

She walked FINE. She tracked up, she seemed even to the left and the right, her neck was loose and stretchy, she willingly stuck her nose on the ground, etc.  When I asked her to trot, it was a different story.  She sort of shuffled up into the trot, took a few mincing steps then skipped into a baby little hopping canter - which made my heart sink a little.  I dropped her back to the walk and let her amble around for about 10 minutes before rechecking the joint. 

Much of the swelling had gone down, and I could see the shape of the joint again, which was nice, and she certainly wasn't getting more sore on it with the ten minutes of movement (also a plus).  BUT, the reluctance to trot had me pretty concerned.   We went back to the barn, iced for 20 mintues, then I started wrapping all her legs up.  Standing in the cross ties she was doing an excellent job of keep that left front totally weight free, which continued to freak me out quite a bit.  We shoved some bute in her mouth and I kept staring at the joint.  I'm hoping that she just smacked the crap out of it in her stall or out in turnout, but who knows.  My major condolence is that the BO did a fairly thorough leg check in the am when she pulled wraps, and didn't notice anything off at that point.  I'd like to think that if it was related to our rides on Monday or Tuesday that the swelling would have surfaced by then, right??

Regardless, I wrapped her left front last and she was having NONE of it.  Finally, I had to ask another boarder to hold her right front up just to keep her left front on the ground long enough.  I could tell that P was leaning HARD on her, and really wasn't interested in standing on her left at all. 

She always walks funny with wraps on, but this was epic.  Thankfully I had wrapped her about 3 feet from her stall, because when I started to lead her back in to her dinner, she basically hopped back on three legs.  What the cuss, mare!? what did you do!?

I stuck around and watched her in her stall.  She was resting it, but not exclusively.  She was comfy enough to stick her head down and scarf her dinner down.. so that's a plus, but I'm still concerned. 

One mare in the barn has massive hole in her suspensory, one gelding is about to have check ligament surgery, another guy just got IRAP, and the list goes on and on.  It's hard not to think that this could be something in that category...

Oh, did I mention that the other Wobbler in the barn is constantly straining tendons and ligaments because he's so "loose" in his movement? Well he is, in fact he's just starting back under saddle after a few months off on his latest sabbatical..

The BO let me know that as of this morning, P was still ginger on the left front (all other legs look cool, well cool for her.., and tight).  I'm headed out there for lunch to see how badly the swelling comes back, to cold hose, and to re-wrap the beast if necessary. 

I'm sad.  But I'm trying not to get ahead of myself, and only time will tell if she just bonked herself hard on a fence or something, or if there was a serious slip in the ring.. It's hard for me not to think of Andrea and Gogo.. and how slight the trigger for all her woes were, but I'm not going there yet.  Not until this thing stays around for a few more days. 

Poor mare.  This is a crappy way to ask for a few days off....


  1. The definitive thing would be to have the vet look at it and possibly do an ultrasound - don't know if your vet can do it with a portable, but my vet does - don't think the cost is outrageous. May or may not require sedation depending on how she is. It will tell you a lot and will definitely tell you what your course of action should be in terms of rest/turnout/riding. And then sometimes it tells you stuff you'd perhaps not know . . .

  2. Crossing my fingers for you and P...


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