CSI: Horse Farm Edition

pookatongue12_200It’s that time of year again. Or maybe month. Or week. Or day. There’s a mystery to be solved, involving large hooved herbivores.

Sometimes it’s a crisis. Sometimes it’s “Oh crap, not again.” And always it’s a dilemma. Call the vet? Call the farrier? Call the nice young men in the clean white coats?

So this week we have a trifecta. Or is that a hat trick? Of longest duration: the boarder who has been having breathing problems. Except when he isn’t. Those problems tend to show up most often when he’s being ridden. When he’s not being ridden, he’s just fine. Except, on occasion, when he isn’t.

He has had meds. He has had wetted hay (to settle any dust or mold). He has had blankets to keep him warm in the cold part of the sine wave that has been southern Arizona weather this winter, and hosing off and shade in the hot part (ohgodhot). He looks, for the most part, as if he’s thriving (and he’s getting fat, which is not a good thing for his pathology. Oops. Feed manager on alert, rations about to be reduced).

That’s one’s still unsolved. Teams are working on it. Solutions will be found.

Next up is the boarder who has been lame for almost a week. He was a little bit off (stepping carefully, not quite putting the foot down fully) on one front foot one morning. I dug out a rock. Aha! I said. Mystery solved.

But horses being what they are, and horse feet being constructed the way they are, not to mention this horse’s particular feet, as he has extensive arthritic changes inside there, I didn’t relax. I knew the other shoe would drop. So to speak.

And sure enough. He was OK one day, severely lame the next, then OK the day after that. Classic presentation for a stone bruise brewing into an abscess. Debate with owner ensued. Decision: Call farrier, i.e. foot specialist, as horse was due for new shoes in any case. See if farrier can find and dig out abscess. If none is to be found, then the vet it is, to investigate possible worsening of arthritis.

Farrier called. Arriving this week. Case still under investigation.

Number three is the most recent and probably the most straightforward. All well at the morning barn check, everyone present and accounted for. At lunch, first sign is the gate into the main turnout area pulled all the way out in a quite abnormal way. Someone hooked a leg in it, or otherwise managed to dislodge it.

The usual suspects all appeared innocent. The unusual ones likewise, except for one. She was resting one hindleg, which is normal for a horse just chillin’. But she was doing it consistently. And not moving around much.

Sure enough. Thin trail of blood droplets down the back of the leg. Mostly dry, but still fairly bright red. More troubling: Hock visibly swollen. Uh-oh.

Yep. Cut in the back of the hock. Clean, bled out, and rather deep. Somebody got into a fight (there were a couple of suspects, neither of whom showed any sign of injury) and in the fracas, the unlucky one caught her leg in the gate and cut it pulling free.

Not a vet call–not enough blood, not enough damage. Flush, disinfect, medicate, and bandage–nice little challenge in that very mobile area, but where there’s a will (and a roll of Vetrap) there’s a way. Horse stowed for safety’s sake in a stall out of the way, with hay to keep her busy.

Case not closed. There’s still the possibility of infection, and there will be swelling and unpleasantness for a few days. Plus that is not a horse who likes to stand still. Ever. And she’ll be stuck in durance vile until she’s done with bandages. But she’s the most straightforward of the bunch, and the simplest to treat. At this point, that’s something.

Life on a horse farm. Sometimes there are even murders. The rabbit head in the turnout (body nowhere to be found), the grackle drowned in the water barrel, the cleaned vertebrae laid neatly on the ground (ravens were implicated in that, but no arrests were made)–one never knows what one will find.

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CSI: Horse Farm Edition — 8 Comments

  1. My god, I had no idea that your life was so full of detection (not to mention equine paramedicism). I’m boggled just reading all of this: it’s like CSI without the bad lighting.

  2. Cleaned vertabrae can also be the work of ants – of course, they are criminally removing evidence there.

    Thank you, Judy. Fantastic knowledge, and whenever I need my heroes to run into horsie trouble, I’ll be sure to re-read your blog. You always make it fun, even if the subject isn’t. And all the best for the heroes of your case studies. May it all turn out well.

  3. Thankyouall.

    Mad, sometimes the lighting is awful. Vet stitching by miner’s lamp one midnight after the goat gored the yearling and almost took out his eye, for example.

    Hannah, it was winter. No ants. Vertebrae cleaned in water. And ravens very much in evidence. Therefore, we speculate…

  4. The one with breathing problems. Unless you have established that it is clearly a form of COPD, consider lungworms. You do have horses move on and off the property and one that could have been infected elsewhere could have infected one of yours. Vets tend to immediately dismiss this possibility unless the horses are pastured with mules or burros, however, experience has taught me that all that is needed is an infected water source. This has twice been the answer to “I can’t figure out this breathing problem” for me, so it might be worth a shot. Treatment is simple – a concentrated dose of ivermectim, repeated. Please ask your vet!

    • Thank you! That is on the list of possibles actually, from vet. But it’s only when he’s ridden or longed, never when he’s running around. Rescue horse with known riding/working issues. So, may have some old tapes playing.

      The investigation continues. 🙂