Sometimes things go swimmingly, and sometimes they don’t. This is a story about the latter.
On Friday I blogged about how I was a bit disappointed at Simon’s soundness post injections. My vet said to wait till early next week to check back in so the injections had a full week to take effect. Ok, good plan.
Then Friday afternoon he was worse. Walking heel to toe on his RH, and a solid 3+/4 lame on that leg. Thursday night was his first night of turnout, so I thought that he may have run around like an idiot and just be sore. Still, I was really worried and came home crying to my husband that my horse might be broken forever and he’s not currently sound enough to live in a pasture happily. I sniffled my way into bed and fell asleep depressed without eating dinner.
Saturday morning he looked slightly worse, and I sent my trainer the below video… which WordPress turned upsidown. I’m not sure why, but I don’t have the heart to upload it on Youtube so you can just see how lame my horse is from a creative direction.
Trainer said to wait until Monday to call the vet, so I turned him out in his little individual paddock. He gimped around and ate hay and sniffed poo like he would any other time, so I went home… where I cried a lot because my horse was going to need to be PTS and then contemplated giving up horses forever. After this, I napped and watched enough True Blood to make me forget about him for a little while.
Today on my way to the barn I got a phone call from my trainer, and I knew before I answered it was worse. The farm hand was worried because Simon was more lame and his leg was swollen, was I heading out to the barn? Of course I was, and as soon as I went to get him out of his stall I had my phone in hand to call the vet. He was a solid 5 lame, completely non weight bearing. He also had a 102.8 fever (under 101 is normal for horses) and his leg was extremely swollen on the outside area by his pastern and lower suspensory.
When I went to call the emergency vet, they had a message for the on call that started with “Please leave a message in a clear, relaxed voice” which made me laugh. I started out clear, but guys – I’m really upset over this… and I’m not a good crier. By the time I gave them my phone number (and had to pause in the middle to get out the last 4 digits) I pretty much just squeaked out “So please call me back…” before bursting into tears again.
That pretty much started the pattern while I waited for the trailer to come take Simon to the clinic. I would sit calmly for 10 minutes and small talk with the children who were riding, and then I would burst into tears because my horse was dying. We all thought joint infection, which is a big big deal. I called my former trainer/friend/amazing vet and she talked me through how much to expect it to cost and that it is treatable and the things she would do to treat it. That helped, I only had to dramatically pause/squeak cry through that conversation about 4-5 times. She helped talk me down some, but I kept beating myself up and bursting into tears whenever I thought that I should have called the vet on Friday when I first suspected something was not right. The savior in that situation was my husband, who came out to wait with me at the barn and said that there is no use questioning how much it will cost or past decisions, because we can’t change them. He wins best husband award.
Loading Simon proved to me how much my horse loves and trusts me, and made me feel all warm and fuzzy even through all this drama. Keep in mind he’s 3 legged lame here, even with 2 grams of bute he was only marginally better. When the farm hand took the lead rope to load him, Simon wouldn’t move. When I took it back, he stepped up pretty quickly. Then since the day was just going so smoothly anyway, the farm hand didn’t shut the back quickly enough and Simon stepped back just as I was yelling “Shut the back! Shut the back!” He did shut the back, into my horse… and Simon slammed his head on the trailer getting back out. He was snorting and I was convinced that he would never load again, but after some deep breaths and re-assurances he got right back on like a pro. I love this horse.
When we got to the clinic, the on call vet was not convinced it was an infected joint (I hope this is true, I hope this is true, I hope this is true…). Simon’s hock is cool, not swollen, and he shows no pain when you palpate it. On the other hand, his pastern/lower suspensory area is the opposite. We blocked the hoof just to rule out an abscess, but it didn’t make a difference. We took his temperature again, and it was higher – 103. They did a menthol/salt/poultice wrap to draw the infection, and we discussed the possibilities.
It still could be a joint infection, but that’s not the current thought. It could be a new soft tissue injury around his lower suspensory area, but his high fever doesn’t make sense with that. It could be pigeon fever, which will run a high fever and an abscess that is extremely painful. My former trainer/friend/vet thinks it may be cellulitis. We didn’t talk about that today with the on call vet, but I will talk to his vet about it this morning. Personally, I’m hoping for cellulitis or pigeon fever – probably first choice pigeon fever. It just seems like a weird coincidence that a disease that usually puts abscesses on the neck and chest would put an abscess on the one leg that is continually injured on my horse?
For now he’s tucked in safe and in good hands. I haven’t cried in about 5 hours, so that’s good. Just ready for this roller coaster to end and for him to be out of pain – however that manifests itself at this point.
UPDATE: Giant abscess from hell! Aka, the best news ever. His fever is gone, the swelling in his pastern is gone, and they got an area on his heel that he was extremely touchy for to start rupturing! Going to keep him there one more night for another super amazing vet poultice, and take a culture for Pigeon Fever just in case… but all signs show that he’s going to be a-okay!!!!