Friday, October 15, 2010

It's Been a Long Disjointed Journey

The Bombay saga continues.  My crazy gelding has been causing all kinds of trouble this year.  If he's not shredding tarps and winter blankets, he's trying to commit suicide.  The vets who came out today were a bit taken back by how accident prone this horse can be.

A little background:  Last year I trailered Bombay off the property to ride at least twice a week and never had any problems.  This year I took him on one trail ride and when we returned home, I found that he had bloodied his legs up kicking himself in the trailer.  I treated and wrapped his wounds and as soon as he healed, I loaded him up in the trailer for another trail ride.  I never got to take that ride on him, because when we reached the trail head, his legs were covered in blood again.  This time the cuts were really deep, so I had to get the vet out to assess the damage and put him on antibiotics.

Once those wounds healed I tried to retrain him to trailer, but he exploded and tried to jump over the center divider.  I couldn't afford anymore vet bills, so I opted to give him the year off from trailering and give him some time to heal mentally.

A few weeks later I walked outside and found him limping.  I found a splint on the inside of his left front cannon bone.  Within a few hours he was walking fine, so I didn't call a vet.  A few weeks after that I found him standing still with his left front leg swollen to twice the size of his right front leg.  I wrapped some ice packs in a shipping boot until the swelling went down and he was walking comfortably.  Again, he healed quickly so that I didn't have to call a vet.

Then a little over a week ago we had a series of thunderstorms, so I had to keep the horses in their stalls for several days.  When I brought Bombay out once the sun started shining, I found that he had a hematoma the size of a softball on the side of his belly.  I figured he kicked himself either trying to get flies off his legs or belly, or he laid on that hoof, or he kicked himself while freaking out over the thunder and rainstorm.  The hematoma broke up into smaller ones and started absorbing back into his system, so I didn't have to call a vet.

Then a couple of days ago I walked outside and found Bombay limping again.  Given he can be the Little Boy Who Cried Wolf, I didn't want to overreact and call a vet right away.  He can limp like a lame duck one minute and walk just fine the next like nothing ever happened.  However, the next day he was still limping.  Gabbrielle was pushing him around and trying to chase him off at feeding times, so I put Bombay in his stall for stall rest and for his own protection.

Then yesterday I walked Bombay out of his stall so I could clean it, and he was hobbling and hopping worse than ever.  I had been giving him dosages of Bute, but it didn't seem to be helping with the pain.  I kept examining his leg searching for any indication of an injury, but could find none.  I cleaned out his hoof and saw nothing.  Then I looked up at his belly and saw that he had lumps all over it.  Then I went into his stall and saw that some birds had used his water trough as a toilet!  Things were going from bad to worse, so I asked the clinic to send a vet out in the morning, since it was almost closing time and it was going to be dark out soon.  When I mentioned the lumps on the belly, the lady said, "Oh no," like that wasn't a good thing.

I started researching what would cause both edema and lameness and couldn't find something specific that included both.  My biggest worry was Pigeon Fever because of the bird droppings in the water.  But ultimately, I was baffled.  I really needed the help of a knowledgeable vet.

In the morning, Bombay made a liar out of me again, pulling  his Little Boy Who Cried Wolf stunt.  Most of his lumps had disappeared overnight and once I put him in the back pen he stopped limping and was moving well.  However, I didn't cancel the appointment, because I knew it would only be a matter of time before there was some other complication. 

The vet did say that Pigeon Fever is going around our valley, but since Bombay's lumps appeared and disappeared so fast, she thought is was more likely that he was either having an allergic reaction to bug bites or he had hives.  She did find some sensitivity in his hoof with her hoof testers, and could see the lameness at the trot, so she gave him a nerve block to see if the lameness improved or went away all together.  He did move better, so she suspected a hoof abscess.  She dug into a suspicious spot on his hoof, and sure enough, there was a deep pocket.

This was a recent development, as he just had his hooves trimmed a couple of weeks ago and was fine then.  All those other leg injuries turned out to not even be related to this latest lameness.  The doctor said that colic and hoof abscesses are the two most common horse ailments that she treats, and I'm fortunate to have owned three horses for many years without ever experiencing a hoof abscess.  She opened the abscess with her hoof knife so that it could drain, because it's the pressure from the pus and fluid within the hoof that causes the pain and limping.  Then she scrubbed it clean, filled it with poultice gunk, wrapped a baby diaper around it, then wrapped duct tape around that, and topped it off with Elastikon.  I get to do the same thing every other day in addition to giving him dosages of Bute.

I was relieved that both of his conditions were not related and were treatable.  I also talked with her about the best way to go about treating Gabbrielle's chronic lameness that has gotten worse over time.  She did say it wouldn't be a hoof abscess in her case since she's always been wonky at the trot and can gallop well.  She explained all they would have to do down at the clinic to diagnose the problem and I felt a bit overwhelmed.

Basically, they start at the hoof injecting nerve blocks and work their way up the leg to the shoulder until the lameness goes away.  Then they x-ray whichever part of the leg or shoulder that responded to the nerve block.  She said that equine chiropractors are good for horses that are slightly off every once in a while, but since Gabbrielle has had ongoing issues over many years, I'd be better off bringing her in to the clinic for a full lameness exam.

Of course, what would a visit from the vet be without my obnoxious neighbors interfering?  The people next door board a herd of horses during the wet weather seasons.  Once a year in the fall, a horse trailer comes rolling up my street to drop off the horses, and once a year in the spring it returns to pick up the horses.  Wouldn't you know it?  The horse trailer arrived right when the vet was bent over digging out Bombay's abscess.

When this trailer arrives, all the horses in it start whinnying at my horses, and then my horses stampede in excitement.  One year Bombay got so excited that he cracked his hoof all the way up to the soft spot and it bled.  I had to get the vet out to clean it up, put a round shoe on it to close up the crack, and prescribe antibiotics.  I then spent weeks re-wrapping his hoof in his stall.  One day when I was bent over his hoof, my neighbor drove behind my barn so fast that she kicked up a bunch of rocks into the back of the stall, which spooked Bombay and he knocked me down, then stepped on my foot and broke my toe.  I'm not exaggerating when I say that these neighbors have been the biggest pain in my butt in the world.  Their timing is atrocious.  I've suffered two broken toes and a broken finger in three separate incidents at their hands.

So, I forewarned the vet that the horse trailer was coming and Bombay might get excited.  Fortunately, the driver of the truck saw what was going on and slowed way down.  Lostine and Gabbrielle were more concerned about Bombay than the horses in the trailer, so they didn't stampede this time.  There was a lot of activity next door with cars driving in and out, people wandering around, and people moving large pieces of junk to make room for the horses.

I put Bombay in the back pen with his poultice wrap, paid the vet and started to go inside to mix his Bute powder with water when the neighbors released the horses from the trailer.  That's when the commotion began.  Bombay started galloping back and forth because the nerve block was still in effect and he couldn't feel the pain.  I couldn't stop him to administer the Bute, so I had to catch him and lead him to his stall, then administer it there.  I'm going to have to keep him in there until the neighbor's horses settle down.  They usually spend the first few days standing at the fence calling out to my horses.

I just hope I can safely re-wrap his hoof every other day without receiving any broken bones.  I may have to post my son at the end of the street to stop traffic while I do my vetting.  While all this was going on, tractors and dump trucks were arriving at another neighbor's house.  The vet commented that I live in a really noisy neighborhood.  I'm glad someone besides me has noticed that.  It confirms that I'm not being unreasonable when I get irritated by it all.  This just isn't an ideal location to own horses anymore.  It's turning into an industrial district.


Anonymous said...

Just wondering why bute? The pressure should be relieved so the should not be in that much pain. Pain helps the horse limit his activity. Bute is notorious for causing ulcers. Also if you can get duct tape and a medicine boot on him you could let him move around. Movement will be the best thing for him and help clear out the infection.

Just remember when you clean to not let the hole block up completely at first...he has to heal from the inside out, otherwise it could reinfect.

Good luck with it all. I've had my horse for years and have not had an abcess since the mid 90s when I rode him barefoot over some rocks. Then I had a 'season' of obcesses and learned tons from it...

fernvalley01 said...

I wondered about an abscess,but long distance diagnosis and all, besides it probable came to mind because I just finished dealing with one here on Phoenix.The good thing about that is once the pocket is brocken the pain is almost completely releived.hope that is the last of the Bombay excitement for a while

Jeni said...

Well at least his lameness is source was discovered. Wil be interested in what's up with Gabrelle

photogchic said...

Poor Bombay...tough year!

Fantastyk Voyager said...

It always amazes me how busy your neighborhood is! Poor you- with Bombay and Gabbrielle both having issues- that just sucks!
I sure hope Bombay heals up fast and completely! Now that you have the time to ride, the horses become unsound. Jeez! And the $$$! I empathize with you. When I was unemployed, it seemed every major appliance in my house went kaputz.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

MysteryTheMorab - That's interesting information. The vets around here use Bute as a staple, but I've also noticed that they've been pushing some ulcer medication too. I wonder if they've made the connection between Bute and ulcers.

Bombay is still obviously in pain this morning even with the Bute, so I suspect it takes a few days for the pain to go away completely. His abscess is very deep and wide. I always thought horses who got a lot of hoof abscesses and leg injuries did so because they were ridden too hard, but all Bombay and Gabbrielle have done all year is hang out in the pasture or the paddock where there are no rocks. The paddock is soft and sandy. It's funny how I stopped trailering Bombay to avoid accidents and vet bills, and he still ended up needing special care.

Mikey said...

Pack it up and move to Arizona! Right now, lol!!

Anonymous said...

You have my sympathies @ Bombay's hoof abscess - how I hate dealing with them!

LOL, I thought about your horses and your noisy neighborhood today when my son was using the chainsaw in the barn to cut a railroad tie for a stall floor repair. Our horses were totally unmoved by the racket!

JanLou said...

Poor Bombay! Hope his hoof is better soon. Reading everyones horse blogs it never ceases to amaze me how many things can go wrong. I am borrowing a horse next week for the winter and praying nothing goes wrong whilst he is with me cos he is normally fit and well so hoping dont have to tell his owners there is a problem whilst I am borrowing him. Never had a horse before so am a bit nervous about all the things that could go wrong.

achieve1dream said...

I'm so happy it was just an abscess. I hope it heals up quickly so he can get back to feeling better. Poor boy.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Oh poo!

I feel your pain. It's so frustrating when a horse is lame, especially mystery lameness that comes and goes.

I feel for you, too, having to decide if you want to start the treatments.
Just the one nerve block for Apache was $30, and if you need to get nerve blocks for the entire leg to diagnose Gabbrielle's mystery lameness, that's going to add up very quickly.

Good idea using the diaper poultices. I've read about them and how useful they are. I found it interesting that diaper sizes coincide with hoof sizes. Have you found that to be true?

I sure hope that life can calm down on the horse front especially. Hopefully Bombay will help up quickly and stay sound and safe for the rest of the year, too.

Hang in there,

Crystal said...

Wow, hope a abcess is all it is, I had a horse with one this spring ans as soon as the vet opened it up, there was no pain, but we kept her stalled mostly to keep it dry and we just duct taped and vet wrapped her foot. seemed to work well. She never got bute after the first day, only an antibiotic. We also put epsom salts in the hole to help draw out infection and it seemed to work (not sure it wouldnt have worked without them wither though.)

Katharine Swan said...

Just wanted to say that Panama has allergic reactions to bug bites sometimes. He also gets large welts from them, and once at the beginning of the summer one swelled up into a huge hematoma. One of the more knowledgeable boarders at the barn said it was because it was on the underside of his belly, so gravity tends to pull the fluid into it faster there. I know it's alarming when you see them for the first time, but I thought it might be comforting to know that your horse isn't the only one. ;o)