Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Manic Monday and Tiring Tuesday

I didn't make it to the Parelli study group. Instead, I spent 45 minutes driving up to my sister's on a blustery wet evening mentally preparing myself to spend either thousands of dollars on my horse's vet bills or potentially putting him down.

I worked late, had dinner, and around 6:00 turned on my cell phone around to find 4 messages. I never go all day without turning my phone on. It was just a really hectic Monday at work and I didn't think of it until I stopped moving nine hours later.

The messages from my sister and her boyfriend said call us now! There is something wrong with your horse! My stomach got that sinking pit feeling. I called my sister. She had gotten home from work and assessed my horse's condition which was: he can barely walk, and it appears to be in his hindquarters. He's eating, pooping normally, there are no apparent wounds or swelling. But he is very unstable.

We imagined the worst. Dislocated hip? Torn stifle? Fractured something? Neurological disorder? The options seemed endless. I couldn't believe this was happening. My sister talked to the on-call vet who determined it was probably not an emergency as he was eating.

When I arrived at my sister's, it was dark but the rain had let up. We took out flashlights and treats and found my horse. If we determined that he was worse, we could call the vet out. However, he looked okay, and my sister said he was actually moving a little better than he had at dinnertime, most likely due to the bute she'd given him.

He came to the gate for his bucket of treats and seemed mentally normal, begging for handouts and attention as usual.

The first thing this morning morning I called and made an appointment for a vet visit. Of course, I thought my horse might be easy to catch because he was in pain and wanted help. You'd think. Instead, he gimped around and gave me chase. I was tentative to have him move, not knowing the injury and if he could do further damage. The vet finally arrived and still, no caught horse. Watching him walk, she guessed a hoof abscess. She told me to muster up everything I had and walk confidently up and halter him. She also said not to worry about him walking or jogging away on his leg, he was doing it to himself. I took a deep breath and walked up determinedly but to no avail, he kept moving away from me. The three of us ended up cornering him down by the gate and he knew he was trapped and she haltered him. How embarrassing I couldn't catch my own horse! Of course, she was confident, meant business and doesn't have the history I do with him.

We took him into the dry turnout shed. She felt his pulses near the coronet band and had me feel as well. The left front was definitely throbbing and warmer than his right. She used the hoof tester and he was tender on the inside of the hoof. She scraped around, but found nothing on the sole. She figured it was under the shoe. After removing it, she began to scrape around and sure enough, a small hole began oozing a brownish liquid. She tried to open it as much as she could.

So, I spent the rest of the day driving to three different farmer co-ops to find a soaker boot. My sister already had epsom salts. He would not let me soak the hoof in the bucket of water, so I followed the vet's instructions to put a paper towel in the footbed of the boot, add epsom salts and a small amount of water, then put it on his hoof and add more water. This worked well. She said to leave it on him and change and repeat it for the next several days until he seemed comfortable again. Then I could keep the boot on dry for a week before having my farrier out to put the shoe back on. Which, interestingly, could be the reason for the abscess, a "hot nail" so to speak. Perhaps all his running on Sunday irritated it. He was fine when I left him on Sunday, but obviously something brewed in there Sunday night.

While I was out and about, I also bought a breakaway halter to use during this treatment. I hate leaving any halter on my horse, breakaway or not, but I can't deal with the catching issue now. It'll make it easier (until he learns to just run away and not let me get near him to clip the leadrope on, oh goodness!) We also moved him to a smaller paddock that is not muddy. He was pretty content as it had a little more grass for him to munch on than in his own pasture. He'll also get to visit with the mares over the fence, which should provide hours of squealing and entertainment.

It's been a long day. I think by the end of the next week I will have a better understanding, on a much lesser scale, of what Victoria over at Teachings of The Horse has been going through with her mare Siete.

I am lucky my horse has such good caretakers. He'd better start being more thankful.

By the way, My Boy wasn't the only one that got a new footwear accessory today. I bought myself a pair of new muck boots. These are the super comfy ones from the the Muck Boot Company with the lug sole. I have been eyeing my sister's since last year and decided that I really needed a steel-toed rubber boot, especially since it seems we wear them about 9 months out of the year around here! Get me into a co-op and who knows what I'll walk out with....Paint Girl got a gift for all of her help, too!


  1. It must be something in the air. Abscesses are everywhere! I am glad he is going to be okay! I was thinking all sorts of things too as I was reading! I hope he gets better soon.

    And maybe haveing to be haltered all the time will humble the hard to catch pill??? Maybe??

    Glad he will be okay.

  2. Sheez-Had a wreck this evening myself. I thought my bay mare had broken her leg. Think it is just a popped stifle-still that is no small injury. But those thoughts about how much is it going to cost and what if I have to have them put down sure do flood your brain.

    I am glad you found out what it was and can get it doctored up.

  3. That poor puppy... Poor you too. It's very time consuming caring for such wounds.

  4. I agree with Andrea. This is the 4th blog I've read that has a horse with an absess. And there have also been two with horses suffering through bouts of colic(they survived, thank goodness!)

    In fact when I first read the beginning of your post, I felt a sick knot in my chest, thinking 'oh no, not colic!'.

    Not that an absess isn't terrible, too and takes away a few weekends of riding opportunities (especially not fair this late in the season).

    I'm just glad My Boy is going to be ok.

    I'm also really proud of you in rushing over there to check on him, even after a long exhausting day, and then driving everywhere looking for soaker boots and a break-a-away halter.

    I think you did the right thing in My Boy's situation, too. The potential chance of injury with the break-a-away doesn't measure up to the fact that you have to catch him on a regular basis, during these next couple weeks, to give him care and treatment for his absess.

    I'm praying for My Boy's speedy recovery and for some strength, patience and peace for you, too.

    Hang in there, and please keep us updated.


  5. Pg- My farrier gave me some green kind of salts poltice to put on my horses sole, then I layered gobs of cotten on top of that and then lots of duct tape. I was able to leave this contraption on for a day or two before having to cut it off and re wrap. It really worked well, the abcess was gone in a short time. I'll have to find out what the green salt poltice was called and let you know.
    Isn't it just like a horse to hit us in our most vulnerble spot- for you the catching thing. Just like kids- they make us humble.

  6. Glad everything worked out well for you and My Boy. There are always dramas when you own animals, keeps you on your toes!

  7. I love me an abcess--love them love them love them--did I say I loved them?

    Not because they are swell, but because you always think your horse is dying and them kazaam--a little hole and all is good. Like a miracle, I tell you!

    I have a good trick for soaking--get an innertube for a tire--cut it across so that it is not a complete circle. Put horse foot in it about halfway, while holding up end that is not on leg. Pour in warm epsom salt water. Fold up inner tube and wrap with duct tape around the cannon bone.

    Hardy enough to stand up to all the walking he will do, free from the tire store usually, and easy to work with.

    I alternate 12 hours in the epsom salts, then 12 hours with icthammol packed in it with an easy boot over it, and back again, for a few days.

    That will pull the abcess out of one that has not even broken and it has never taken more than a day to get it.

    I LOVE me an abcess

    Do you feel so relieved you could cry now?

  8. Its always bad when something happens to your horse, but as a fellow boarder I feel sympathy.
    There's just an extra layer of uncertainty when you're not the "primary caretaker" and have to rely on the people who live on your horse's property.
    Thank goodness your sis and her sweetie are so vigilant.

  9. So fortunate it is just an abscess...it reminds me to get one of the soaker boots "just in case." I know you mentioned a Parelli study group...have you ever tried their technique for catching your horse? It worked wonders for me.

  10. BEC~ I hope your mare is okay!! That is the kind of thing I'd worried had happened to My Boy.

    Paige~ that is so funny you mentioned the tire! The vet suggested the same thing. I kind of looked at her like she was crazy only because I did not have such a thing lying around, LOL! :) She also mentioned baby diapers and duct tape. I think she was pretty down to earth in her methods. I stuck to the boot because my sister had used one with success and it seemed like it had potential to hold up fairly well. But yes, it was quite a relief, as it is hard to see a horse in so much pain and unable to move....I had read once that a horse with a bad abscess can act like it has a broken leg. So it can be quite shocking to see, but ends up being a relatively non-threatening situation if cared for properly, it's just time consuming and a hassle.

    Photogchic~ The woman hosting the Parelli study group (they mostly watch videos and talk, kind of like a book club) has borrowed the Parelli DVD on catching your horse, for me to borrow. I will hopefully get it at the next meeting I attend. I am curious to see what it suggests, but I feel like most ideas won't work for me because my horse is not in my backyard nor can I visit him every day, which makes consistancy of training techniques difficult.

  11. hoo wow..I was also thinking all sorts of things till I got to the
    end of the matter.
    Right now, around here, there is Fall Founder happening, as it has been so unusually warm here with low overnight temps/ the sugars are on the rise.
    So glad my Boy is going to be okay!

    Hay, have you ever thought of learning how to Lasso??
    I bet you'd have fun trying and he'd most likely start coming to you for releif of getting pounded with the lasso..not making it's mark.
    And the best result would be...you'd get so good at it...he'd just come to you when he heard your voice/saw your smiling face... and put his head down-ON THE SPOT!

  12. Glad he's OK, but what a stinker for evading you like that!! They are ungrateful beasts, eh?

  13. It is never fun getting those phone messages - all sorts of nasty thoughts go through your head quickly. Like Cdn said, it is especially hard when you aren't the primary caregiver...

    Glad it was just an abcess - and I hope it heals up quickly. That boy of yours is quite a stinker when it comes to being caught!

  14. Wow ! You scared me with that first paragraph! Sorry your boy is sore - my girl has lameness issues at least a couple of times a year. I've finally resolved that she has to wear boots whenever we trail ride. We went barefoot 2 years ago, use a natural trimmer and her soles are still tender. (of course she lives on sand - so kind of tough to toughen her up)

  15. WOW! How frightening. I am glad he is ok. Such a good sister. It would be so nice if you could live there on the same land as she. Then you could see My Boy every day.

  16. I'm glad to hear he's OK! They can be awfully dramatic sometimes when things hurt, can't they? Not that it doesn't hurt, but sometimes they make it look way worse than it is. Not that abscesses are fun, but they are run of the mill and easier to fix with good care than a lot of other things it could have been. I'm dreading the day when I finally have a medical emergency with my new boy. I know it's going to come eventually though.

  17. Best wishes for a speedy recovery. Huey got an abscess in his cheek from a sharp stick earlier this summer. So I know how much fun they are to soak.

  18. Hope he gets better real soon! Abscesses are never fun to deal with and neither is all the soakign involved. On a side note, I found my mare will willingly let me soak her foot in a shallow feed pan (the black rubber kind) rather than a bucket. The deeper ones get you the coverage you want for the soak but gives them more "wiggle" room and she seemed to tolerate that better.

    As for the catching issues... ah. I know them all too well, can't count the number of times the farrier and the vet have had to help me catch her. It is embarassing but fortunately they are tolerant of her antics.

  19. Jiminy Crickets, Pony Girl!

    Glad it was nothing more serious...

    Epsom salts & ichthammol are my friends during an abscess.

  20. Man alive! Glad he is okay! Little stinker! Abscesses can be a pain. Talk with your farrier about what needs to be done. My mare had a abscess a couple of years ago. She always goes barefoot, but she got a abscess on her left front. We treated and put shoes on her fronts only for almost a year. It finally healed, it was a long process, but my farrier is just awesome and we made it through! Keep your eye on it and if you are concerned about it don't wait call! Good luck!

  21. I'm so glad it's just an abscess. Poor boy though, those hurt. I bet he felt a lot better when the vet helped it drain. My horse has one right now too.

    A thought about haltering. Can you practice haltering him over the breakaway halter while you're treating him? That way you can get it done without risk of him getting away. That's how we teach the mustangs to be haltered.

  22. Whew! Glad it was just an abscess! Not fun, but much better than all of the nasty stuff that ran through my mind at the beginning of your post!

    Do let us know how you like the soaker boot - I've never used one (or the tire remedy suggested above), but have often thought it would be a good thing to have handy. Luckily, so far the two who've abscessed have been cooperative about bucket-soaking.

  23. So sorry you're having to go through this - that feeling you get in your gut when something is wrong with one of your animals is the pits. Here's to a speedy recovery.

  24. SquirrelGurl~ Great idea with the feed pan, I have a rubber one I will try that tomorrow when I pull the boot off and redo it. He definitely did not like the bucket.
    Luckily, he doesn't mind too much water in the boot, which is good.

    Andrea~ interesting you mentioned haltering over the breakaway. Yes, I did that last night to get the breakaway on (he'd had his regular one on after the vet apt.) I made the breakaway big and loose so I could put it on over the other. He did resist and pull back, my sister's boyfriend held the leadrope though and I think My Boy was surprised he was already "caught", even though he was resisting the second halter. I was able to unbuckle the regular halter and slip it out under the the breakaway then tightened that one up. My fear is that if he pulls too hard while on the lead, the breakaway halter will break and then he's like aha-freedom! It's not a leather crownpiece breakaway, it has a thin connection tab on the side jaw I'm not sure how strong it would be and I would not use it for every day use or tying, of course. But I like this idea and plan to take advantage of him being in a smaller paddock to really get him over this. I also plan to take him to the arena, and while he is "double haltered", halter him over and over until he's just over it! At this point, I know he can get over it because for the past year it wasn't a problem.

  25. I am so glad that it is only an abscess!!! Aren't they nasty little things though? Hopefully he will have a speedy recovery, and maybe learn to not be such a stinker in the process.

  26. Hi PonyGirl - I am relieved that there was nothing more seriously wrong with My Boy. I second the shallow black feed tub idea - my own boys will cooperate with that, but will repeatedly spill a deeper bucket. Too confining, I guess. Along with your epsom salts in warm water, it is helpful to add enough Betadine solution to the water to resemble a strong cup of tea. This adds some antiseptic benefits to your soaks. In between the soakings, you can either use the black Icthamol goop, or plain old sugar and betadine solution to form a thick paste. Slather it on the entire sole and cover with a piece of aluminum foil followed by a sanitary napkin and wrap the entire foot in vetrap, then duct tape. This can be left on for a day or two if necessary. Remember to be thankful it was nothing more serious, even though abscesses are truly a pain in the butt for you. Life is all about lessons learned. If this happens again, you'll be more educated and know exactly what to do. Hopefully, you can use this extra time spent with "the pill" to teach him a thing or two about haltering/catching as well. Good luck!

  27. I am soooooo happy the vet found out what it is and it can be treated. I was really afraid that it was going to be something that would require.....well, who knows what.


  28. EeeeGads! What's with all these abscesses! Yikes! Glad he'll be ok! Catching? I don't know what to do to help you there. I know if mine start acting up about catching, the halter goes on for days and then off and then there is an attitude adjustment. Also I've used a lead and tossed it over a neck and caught them that way as well.

  29. Good news Pony Girl! You've been tagged at my blog!


  30. Oh we had a horse with the same issue! We soaked it in a bucket of hot water and epsom salt everyday for a week. And booted her up. She is fine now, no problems or after effects. I hope all goes well with your boy!

  31. Sorry to hear about the abscess. Bummer! I am glad he is doing better :)

  32. Oh PG - I feel your pain! So, go on-line to Smart Pak and order some Animalintex right away. It costs less than ten dollars - Use the long rolls, not the hoof shaped pads - Wet slightly with warm water, stick it in the bottom of the hoof boot and you will be amazed how fast it clears up the abscess. Trust me. I know. And after it's done, fill the hole with ichthamol and then, get some of this stuff called "the Sauce" by Sore No More and put that on all of his hooves on a regular basis so the soles harden. And yes, the low feed bucket is the answer if you have to soak, but the Animalintex does a better job. Boy, do I know. Good luck- glad it was just an abscess!


I love hearing from my readers!! I truly enjoy all of your feedback, advice, helpful tips, and stories. You all make me laugh and I learn so much from you, too. I will try to post replies to your comments as often as I can.

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