Posted by: shannonc | February 16, 2010

Yoga fire breath

Maybe I should learn.  I could have used them this past week. 

I’ve decided that for me, near-complete helplessness in the face of my horses’ pain is right up there as one of life’s top 3 horror shows.  Last Thursday, when the farrier came out, Blue had mostly recovered from the digging the vet did the previous Friday – which is to say, he was still a little lame at the walk.  The farrier found the abscess, opened a drainage point in his hoof, and pronounced (just as the vet had told me earlier) that he would feel markedly better very quickly – that in fact, he should be nearly sound by that afternoon.

I went off to work and returned to a much more lame horse.  Severe limping and inflammation creeping up his leg.  I told myself not to panic.  I thought, at least I understand this – it’s the same reaction he had to the other digging.  Maybe he’s just sensitive and it’ll clear up like it did before.  I conferred with the vet and she reiterated that if the abscess was draining, he should be better almost right away because the pressure’s been relieved.  But she agreed (and I could hear the doubt in her voice) that this could be part of an individual reaction.  Rx:  watch and wait.

So I soaked, and packed and wrapped and waited, and by Friday afternoon when he was still no better, even after bute, I called both the vet and the farrier again.  They both recommended I go digging in the foot myself – maybe the drainage hole closed up, or maybe there is another pocket of abscess.  So I did, very hesitantly, Friday night.

Saturday when I brought him out of his stall he almost fell down.

That was when I hit the wall.  I dialed the vet, got the machine, and barely got through my name before my voice cracked.  I left a one-sentence-long, three-minute message trying to swallow my tears and then I hung up, sat down in the barn aisle and bawled.  I didn’t know what was wrong, but I knew something else must be wrong, and I was scared half to death.  Blue has colicked, he has sliced up his leg to the tune of twenty-odd stitches, but he has never in 12 years been lame – let alone 3-legged, falling-down lame.

Vet called back and tried to calm me down.  Prescribed 2g bute/day and antibiotics.  Maybe 45 minutes later her partner called (I still hadn’t purged the tears) saying she was going to be in the area with her husband later in the day, did I want her to come by and drop off the meds so that I didn’t have to run out for them?  Sure, I said. 

Everyone was telling me to calm down, it’s just an abscess.  I’d started to think I was nuts, but the vet seeing him and then confirming that I am in fact nuts would really clinch it and shut me up.

She watched him try to walk out of his stall and said…maybe IV bute would be better right now. 

The new theory is that the abscess was placed unluckily near very sensitive tissues and it will take time for those tissues to toughen up.  Three to four days, I was told.  Here we are on day four.  He does appear infinitesimally improved – the inflammation is gone, the digital pulse and heat are mostly gone, the limping is the same – which you could explain with the bute, or not.

I think what was ultimately the most difficult for me was the fear that accompanied confronting a reality opposite to my expectation.

Blue’s having a pretty acutely bad experience, but it’s true abscesses are a bitch.  While the vet was out Saturday, she told me a story that helped me:

She’d been called out to a farm to see an abscessed pony on Christmas Eve.  The pony was so lame and in so much discomfort that the family thought he was dying.  The kids were bawling, the parents wanted the pony to be put down.  (None of them know yoga fire breaths either.)  The vet helped the parents understand that although the pony looked to be in terrible shape, with treatment and time he’d be fine – and he was. 

My pony, meantime, clearly did not receive the memo about my fragile mental state, and tried to buck me off Friday.  Which, incidentally, was the second day in a row a horse tried to buck me off – Devon the dressage horse had taken exception to my use of the whip on Thursday.  That actually ended very well, but the pony being naughty is more difficult to take impersonally.  We’d been trying saddles and I don’t know if his brain was fried or if he hated the saddle on his back.  I tend to think it was the saddle, but I still think he should pay more attention to his memos. 

Or maybe I should just get better at yoga.



  1. Oh dear, I’m sorry to hear all that! Hope it all clears up for you soon :( That was awfully sweet of that vet to come out, and at least she confirmed that you weren’t nuts!

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