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!