Thursday, August 15, 2013

A Puzzle

My experience with the horses this week has mainly consisted of trying to figure out what was wrong with Gabbrielle.  On Tuesday, P.S. called me out to the horse trailer because Gabbrielle was showing extreme signs of sensitivity under her jaw.  P.S. just lightly brushed her face, and Gabbrielle threw her head up and ran backwards hitting the end of the rope.  She did it again when I reached up to touch her jaw.  She was obviously in pretty intense pain.

My first thought was that Rock kicked her in the face, but I didn't see any cuts on the skin.  It looked like her tongue was swollen in her throat.  We abandoned doing any kind of work with her that day, and just kept an eye on her to look for clues as to what was going on.  I fed her carrots, which she chewed, chomped and swallowed with no problem.  She wasn't having difficulty breathing.  She just was in a lot of pain and had this large swelling under her jaw.

A little while later the swelling moved up to one side of her face.  Then I started thinking along the lines of a tooth abscess.  She wouldn't let me pet her face or open her mouth to look at her teeth.  I was hesitant to call the vet, because she hires someone else to do her equine dentistry, and he's usually booked out months in advance.  I wasn't sure if either of them could handle a dentistry emergency, nor was I sure that this was a dentistry emergency.

A few hours later, Gabbrielle did allow me to pet her face and jaw, but was still resistant to opening her mouth.  By morning, she did open for me, but I couldn't see far enough back to tell what was going on other than that one side of her tongue was swollen more than the other and she had a lot of hay packed in the side of her cheek that had been swollen.  The swelling had gone down considerably, but she was still a little sensitive.

Today the horse trainer came out, examined Gabbrielle's head, and she couldn't see anything other than a slight asymmetry in her cheeks.  A little while later she found a lump just in front of Gabbrielle's throat latch, which I guessed may have been a swollen gland.  The horse trainer wasn't sure what was going on with her either.  We did agree that the lump was not an obstruction in her throat.  The horse trainer suggested allergies, but she didn't see the original swelling and pain that the horse exhibited, and I don't think allergies could cause that level of pain.  She did say that if it were a tooth abscess, the horse would have a nasal discharge and foul smelling breath, which she didn't.

In retrospect, my theory is this:  The other day when I was knocking down hay, I saw a scorpion run under the haystack.  The morning of Gabbrielle's onset, I had scooped up a bunch of freshly fallen hay off the ground right in the spot where I had seen the scorpion.  I suspect I may have scooped up the scorpion with the hay and tossed it into her feed trough.  The scorpion may have stung her tongue and cheek, which would explain all the swelling and pain without any marks on the outside of the skin.  It doesn't necessarily have to be a scorpion.  It could be any kind of poisonous insect.  I doubt it was a stray wire or some kind of garbage that got into the hay, because the hay was so loose that I would have noticed if a heavy object or something metal were trapped in it.  The scorpions around here are almost transparent, so they are hard to see, and they are also as light as hay.

At any rate, she is doing better now, but I'd love to know exactly what happened.  I did research swollen horse tongue on the Internet, and none of the conditions listed by vets seemed to fit.  I'm curious if any other readers local to my area have seen this happen to a horse.

Gabbrielle and a birdie friend.


Kristen said...

So sorry to hear that! It is so frustrating when they are hurting and can't tell you why. I think your assessment of a bug/scorpion sting makes a lot of sense.

Cindy D. said...

Glad she is doing better, I hate those kind of mysteries!

I'm going to agree with your scorpion theory. It sounds completely plausible.

Paint Girl said...

Awww, poor thing. Glad to hear she is doing better. Mysterious things that happen to our horses can be so frustrating. I don't know anything about scorpions, so I can't help you there. Hope you figure it out though so you know in the future!

Marissa Rose said...

It definitely sounds like an allergic reaction to me. One time, I layed out by a friends pool for a few hours, and later when I went inside I noticed that I was beginning to break out in hives. Turns out they had sprayed some sort of a fertilizer around where I was laying a few days earlier, and I was reacting to it. Here's where it makes me think of this situation : the hives moved. I could never actually see them move, but I would have a large one on my arm, and then later it would be gone and higher up on my arm etc. the only thing I could figure was that as it worked its way through my blood stream it moved around my body as well. It was SO bizzare.

Marissa Rose said...

P.s. I wonder if you can give your horse Benadryl. (Or some other antihistamine. Might be worth looking into if they ever mysteriously swell up again (to the point where it could be causing problems)