Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Another Rainfall Leads to Lameness

This time Rock didn't even wait a couple of days after the rainfall to go lame.  He was lame as soon as it began raining.  This is highly suspicious.  He has no swelling or heat whatsoever on his leg or hoof, but he can't put any weight on it.  Same symptoms as always.  I began entertaining the idea that perhaps he has arthritis from an old injury in his fetlock, and cold weather causes him pain.  But that made no sense because the foot that goes lame keeps changing.  Sometimes it's the RF, sometimes the LF, sometimes the RH, and this time it is the LH.

Then I caught Gabbrielle chasing him into a corner and kicking him in the legs.  He can run when he's under attack, but the rest of the time, all he can do is hop on three legs.  I figured that Gabbrielle must have kicked him during the night, causing the original injury, so I locked her up in a stall where she would remain dry during the duration of the storm.  I was thinking that the reason why Rock always goes lame when it rains is because Gabbrielle gets bitchy when it rains.  But still, that theory didn't make sense because there was no swelling.  A serious kick to a leg would leave a mark and cause swelling.  So, maybe Gabbrielle is just one of these opportunists who beat up on the injured because they can.  Or maybe she has the survival of the fittest philosophy ingrained in her brain, and does not want a useless, unhealthy horse in her herd.

This morning Rock was worse than ever, and I could see that whatever was causing lameness in his LH was now causing lameness in his RH.  So, the poor horse had no hind end available to walk on.  He'd shift his weight from side to side while trying to stand to eat.  Gabbrielle had been locked up away from him for 24 hours, so she couldn't have made him worse.  I decided to tackle the original hoof first, and soaked it in Epsom salts while he ate.  However, he managed to kick the boot off his foot, so I had no idea how long it actually soaked.  The Velcro strap is losing its stickiness, so I need to attach the boot with duct tape in the future.

I decided to apply a poultice, but I knew he couldn't stand on the other ouchy hoof long enough for me to do a proper application of supplies and bandages the way a veterinarian would.  My game plan was to slather some gunk in a diaper, slap it on his hoof, and cover just the diaper with duct tape.  Fast, easy, and to the point.  Right?

I carefully gathered all my supplies in a bucket, picked out and brushed off his hoof, cleaned the hoof with soap and thrush treatment, dug a piece of gauze into the jar of gunk only to find out that the gunk had dried up.  Ugh!  I had to put his foot down in the mud and walk all the way back to the tack room to get a fresh jar of gunk.

I repeated the entire process of cleaning out his hoof a second time, (actually it was a third time, because I had to do it before his soak), dipped the gauze into the gunk jar, and the stuff turned out to be the consistency of those "boogers" you pull off packaging that you can't get stuck to anything other than your finger.  I couldn't wipe the gunk in the diaper, I couldn't keep it on the gauze to stick in the diaper or stick to his hoof before covering with the diaper, and only after trying super hard did I get some into the cracks of his hoof.  Then he kicked out and the gunk went flying.


So, I decided to just cover his hoof to try to keep additional mud and manure from getting on it.  I wrapped the diaper around his hoof only to find out that the sticky tabs were no longer sticky!  There was no way I was going to drop his hoof in the mud again to go solve this problem, so I picked up the duct tape with one hand and spun it around and around looking for the end.  It was invisible.  So, I kept stabbing it with my thumbnail until I felt a flap, then I pulled it with my teeth and began wrapping the duct tape around the diaper only to find out that the duct tape had lost its stickiness too!

Apparently, not even duct tape can stand up to the Arizona heat.  I need all new supplies.  Everything had been destroyed by the heat.  Fortunately, the further I got along in the roll of duct tape, I did find some stickiness left, and called it good enough.  I'm sure my "poultice" won't last more than an hour.  I didn't even try to work on the other hoof yet.  I was just too frustrated with everything going wrong and didn't want to blow a gasket.  Rock was being so sweet about the whole thing.  He's learned to ignore my rants at inanimate objects.  I just find it so ridiculous that a living animal is more cooperative than tools produced to make our lives more convenient.

I've had vets look at him in the past and no one knows why he keeps going lame.  They just tell me to treat it as an abscess.  Sometimes treatment heals him up quickly and other times it doesn't seem to do anything to help.  He also seems to be more susceptible to lameness at the end of his trim cycle, so I'm going to ask my farrier when he comes this week to trim him shorter just to see if that makes any difference.  Then I'll try trimming every four weeks instead of every eight weeks, because my friend's horse also is susceptible to hoof abscesses, but the problem seemed to resolve itself when she got a farrier who kept him trimmed short every four weeks.  It's going to be expensive, but it's also expensive feeding a horse that no one can ride, and I've got two of those right now.

I've been damming up the barn from flood waters, but this particular storm had such high winds that the rain came in at an angle and soaked the stalls anyway.  I have plans to bring in several more loads of decomposed granite to fill in a low spot in front of the horse paddock that always floods, but I don't want to do it until the ground is dry.  You pay by the ton, and wet D.G. weighs a lot more than dry D.G.

We've been having a similar problem disposing of our manure at the dump.  You pay by the pound, and wet manure weighs a lot more than dry manure.  However, even since we ran out of dumping space for our manure and had to take it to the public facility, storms keep moving in before the manure can dry out.  So, we're just doing the best we can.

We usually don't have such cold, wet winters here, but I sure could have used an enclosed barn with no windows this season.  My open air stick barn is perfect for the rest of the year.  It rains and floods in the summer, but the heat dries everything up quickly.  Sometimes it's just a matter of working with what you've got, accepting those things you can't control, and leaving the rest up to the powers that be.

On a happier note, the rain put me in a position were I was stuck indoors, so I worked 7 hours straight on my latest novel.  It's hard to believe that I didn't even complete one chapter in that time, but I really was working hard and fast.  It felt good to make some progress in the writing department.  I think it's funny that whenever people who know me ask me what I've been doing, they misinterpret "writing" as "riding" and vice versa.  So, I've been completing my sentences by saying either "writing my novel" or "riding my horses".

UPDATE:  The ridiculousness has continued much to my dismay.  Since the sun came out today, I wanted to put Gabbrielle in the round pen by herself so that she won't be cooped up in a stall, but also cannot hurt Rock.  The first thing I had to do was get water into a trough in the round pen.  I had been keeping the trough upside down in the middle of the pen and using it as a table to set down my tools.

I flipped it over, and there was this huge black widow with a web covering the entire expanse of the trough.  I hunted down some poison, sprayed the spider, and then uncoiled the hoses and attached several lengths of hose together to wash out the webs and poison.  The back door at my neighbor's house slammed right next to me and I jumped out of my skin.

My neighbor is usually very quiet and peaceful.  I will often be out doing chores and realize that I walked past him several times while he was doing his chores, and I didn't even notice him.  He's my perfect neighbor.  However, I knew something was amiss early this morning when I saw someone walking around outdoors with a flashlight before sunrise, and saw all the shades on the house pulled way up as soon as daylight broke.  None of that fit my neighbor's usual behaviors.

Every winter into spring his parents come and live with him, and his father is a door slammer.  He has spooked my horses so many times by running out of the house and slamming the door right when I was riding up or down the driveway past their house.  He seems to be tuned into me, because he runs outside every time I go near or past his son's house.  I don't know if he's bored and looking for entertainment, nosy, hyperactive, or acting like a guard dog, but his behavior is weird and annoying.  It makes me feel uncomfortable, because I know he's watching me.

I went about my business, sprayed out the trough, began filling it, and then led Gabbrielle to the round pen.  Sometimes the horses can figure out latches, so I needed to wrap a chain around the gate posts for added security.  However, the chain had been buried in the ground for so long that its moving parts were caked in mud.  I had to wash the chain and hook, then hunt down some WD-40 to get the mechanism working again.

By this point I was like, "Why does every little thing I do turn into a bunch of other things to do?"

Then my right hip just randomly stopped working.  I had to complete the rest of my tasks with one good leg.  When it was time to coil the hoses back up, I'd swear that the man waited until I got right next to his house to slam the door again.  I could feel him watching me, so I quickly finished up putting things away.

Just for kicks and giggles I limped over to the place where I was coiling the hose one more time, and sure enough, the door slammed again.  I can't see the guy, because he comes out onto a screened in porch that is tinted dark and reflective at the same time, so people can see out, but no one can see in.

In the meantime, Rock, Bombay and Lostine are getting along just fine together in the barn and main arena while Gabbrielle is alternating between throwing a tantrum and going into a catatonic state on Exile Island.  I hope my neighbor's guests enjoy the show, because an angry gray mare is going to be their view for the next few days until either Rock can heal or she can come to her senses.


Linda said...

I have wondered many times in my own herd if lamenesses aren't caused by some war--either running each other around dangerously or kicking. And, like you, I don't find obvious signs of trauma, but there are obvious signs of personality conflicts. That is funny about the duct tape. It has to be pretty bad for it to lose its stickiness. I was given a poultice for Beautiful's hoof--a premade one that fits right up into the frog--soaked it in warm water and then duct tape around it. It lasted two days. I love duct tape.

Mrs Shoes said...

Every time I read about how difficult it can be living close to other people (not to mention your seasonal population explosion), I feel grateful for our (relative) isolation.