Monday, January 30, 2012

Gwen's first abscess

Gwen tried to kill me this weekend. Seriously, I'm still trying to put my heart back together.

The footing here in NY has been awful this winter. We've gotten quite a bit of rain which turns the pasture to mud, which the horses then slog through and rut up. Then we get a hard, hard freeze and all those ruts get frozen solid, making it very difficult for the horses to get around. There were days when Butch, the belgian boss-hoss would just stand in the run-in all day waiting for me to bring hay to him because the ground was simply too difficult for him to walk on.

This brings me to last Saturday, I'd just spent the morning struggling with a draft horse who really didn't want her feet done, when I went out to spend a pleasant afternoon riding my two lovely horses. Unfortunately Gwen came up to the gate hobbling on three legs and acting like her left hind was broken (Kristen, I'm feeling ya right now). She stood around without any weight on it and when she walked she just stabbed her tippy-toe into the ground, holding as little weight as possible.

I immediately picked her foot up to see if something was horribly wrong with it, there was a small flap on her frog sticking out, it wasn't enough to cause her so much pain, but I cut it off anyway and stepped back to see her reaction. Just the same. Then she very carefully lifted her hind leg up and to the side, took her little muzzle and pointed to her hoof, "it hurts there, fix it please," she said.

My heart promptly broke and fell all over the ground.

I put some bute in her feed and went to text my vet. Vet said check her for scratches, put her in a stall, cold hose, feed her bute, and check her temperature, call back in two days if she hasn't improved.
  • Check for scratches: check, no scratches.
  • Put her in a stall: anti-check, not going to happen
  • Cold hose: anti-check, hose has been put away due to freezing winter temps
  • Feed her bute: check, already done
  • Check her temperature: anti-check, I don't have a thermometer- add buy a thermometer to my mental wishlist
  • Call back in two days if she hasn't improved: enthusiastic check!
Well guess what? On Sunday morning that darn mare was 70% better! At first sight, she was weighting the foot with only a slight limp. Upon hoof inspection I found the smallest drop of draining fluid coming from the tiniest hole in her medial heel bulb. All that drama over the most miniscule abscess ever?

Seriously, it's like she's taking up scaring me to death as a winter hobby...

25 comments:

  1. So glad it worked out and it wasn't anything too big! In this case- yay that she's a just drama queen!!

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    1. Seems like a really funny thing to be happy for but I totally agree!

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  2. Scary! I am right there with you! I would have been freaking out, too. Good think it was only a small abscess. Whew.

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    1. I was definitely freaking out. She's my baby girl and she's not supposed to be in pain!

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  3. Glad to hear it was only a small abscess. I didn't realize Gwen was such a drama queen. But at least she told you where it hurt. They're amazing aren't they.

    Over the weekend Donnie did the same thing. Came out of the stall in the morning and limped down the aisle. After a thorough check and cleaning of his left hind he lifted his right hind and pointing with his nose showed my daughter which foot hurt. Luckily, there was only a stone in there to be removed. Glad he told her where it hurt but she was getting to the hoof in a minute. They must think we're pretty stupid sometimes.

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    1. Given Donnie's past he probably did deal with some pretty stupid humans. At least he knows that you'll both listen to him.

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  4. I just changed browsers from Explorer to Google Chrome, and now I can finally comment on your blog.

    This time of year seems like the worst for abscesses and other injuries. The mud unearths all kinds of things and they're slipping around out there...grumpy....wet and hungry. Ugh!

    Glad she's okay!

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    1. Welcome back :)

      This footing is awful! Poor Coriander was lame for a few days earlier after slipping on some ice. Fortunately I saw him do it so I knew exactly where that lameness came from.

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  5. Gosh, my heart started to race a bit when I read the title of your post and your first line. We are dealing with similar weather here; lots of bumpy ice. We have the added challenge of having a nice crispy layer of snow about a foot deep covering the bumpy ice. Poor Gwen. How adorable is she for pointing out her sore foot? She is a drama queen, but that's what makes her special. :-)

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    1. We're both drama queens, two of a kind ;)

      I think the snow over the horrid footing is a good thing, provides a bit of cushion. At least that's what it did last year.

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  6. Oh I know that sudden thud of the heart when your horse comes limping up with a "broken leg" so well! Lucky the abscess broke so quickly. I think chestnut mares feel more pain than anyone else!

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  7. I really do hate abscesses... such a "little" thing can bring our horses to their knees. Honestly, I think I'd rather have a drama queen as opposed to a stoic horse that hides everything... it might give you a heart attack, but at least you'll know when something is wrong. I'm glad she's feeling better!

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    1. That's a good point, I should be happy that she's quick to tell me when something is wrong.

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  8. Gwen is a very smart horse. Abscesses are nasty, but at least they are usually short lived.

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  9. Glad to hear you found the source of the drama - what a relief! So sweet when they "tell" us where it hurts. ;)

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    1. I was seriously freaking out for a moment there, it was a relief to have the source come to light so quickly.

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  10. OMG "it hurts here" is totally adorable.

    When my Percheron blew his first (and my first) abscess, he came out of the pasture three-legged lame. I was absolutely sure he'd broken something. I showed him to the barn know-it-all and she agreed - he'd broken something in his fetlock. I borrowed a trailer, loaded him up, and hauled him to the vet. (Got pulled over on the way for not having big enough mirrors, but my tears and panic got me off with a warning.) He came out of the trailer at the vet's TOTALLY SOUND, with a tiny exit wound at the coronary band. Since I was already there, I got them to examine him - yup, abscess.

    At least you didn't panic and haul her in?

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    1. The only reason I didn't was because I don't have a trailer...

      I can totally relate with your story, thanks for sharing :)

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  11. OH!!
    I am so happy it was over- almost as quick- as it came on! Scarey.
    I still, to my knowlege have not had an abscess with my mare...that caused her to be lame.I have seen little fizzure type stuff at the top of her hooves sometimes.
    AND-
    What it it with the LEFT REAR hoof...over the weekend, I too had a heart attack when the barn help called me frantic- with tales of Blood from the left rear! I rushed out to find a terrible cut into her frog-tons of blood, and an edema on her right peck.
    CRAP!

    I am glad too, that you did not haul her in...I'm TTouching, Epsom salt soaking, and wrapping the 2 hinds with standing wraps.

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    1. EEEEK! Sending good thoughts your way.

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  12. I think they are much smarter than we know - telling us where it hurts. I remember our draft cross tripped and fell to her knees one day when my husband was riding and she limped afterward. He put her in her stall and when I came in she held her sore leg out to me with the saddest expression. With cuddles and treats she was fine in minutes, but I'll always remember how she wanted to show me where it hurt.
    I'm so glad it was quickly resolved. What a worry it must have been until you found the abcess.

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  13. That's a great story of lovely communication.

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  14. Whew, but at least you found SOMETHING. I never found an abscess on Laz, just sore feet. Same as Gwen, it went away, I think his easy boots gave him 24 hr relief. I love the anti check STALL, um NO. I hate hate hate stalling now, like crazy hate. God forbid, I ever have to do it, I'll cry and move in with him lol! This footing has been rough on them; soft, muddy, then rock solid frozen uneven.

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