Sunday, November 24, 2013

Episode 79, In Which Bay Boy Gets a Boo-boo

Sherm was quiet going out Monday morning, which is unusual for him.  He wasn't reluctant or limping, but he also wasn't grabbing at his and Celby's lead ropes, dancing sideways when the wind blew, or tossing his head up and down with eager anticipation of turnout after a long night indoors.  While I should have realized then that something was off, I was (I am ashamed to admit) just glad to get them out quickly, get on with my chores, and get back to grading essays.  Swamped with work this month, I have been on a death march through prepping and grading, and I wasn't paying enough attention to Sherm.

When he was equally quiet coming in at the end of the day, I knew I had to give him a look over.  After dinner, I found this on the inside of his right hind, about halfway between hock and stifle:

He'd been kicked.  Not surprising; he's been rough-housing and posturing for a couple of weeks with a younger gelding who doesn't quite understand Sherm's style of play.  Said gelding tends to take all playful advances as serious threats, and he fires back accordingly.  Sherm's fault, really, for constantly being a pest, and now he is paying for it.

He was very sensitive to palpation, so I couldn't get a good feel, but it felt warm to me.  With his thick winter coat, I couldn't really see the injury without a lot of fussing, which he was not tolerating, and, of course, it's on the inside of the leg, so I have to climb under his belly with a flashlight and poke around at his hind leg, an unhappy hind leg at that.  Given the oncoming dark at that hour of the evening, and the already defensive and painful young gelding, I wasn't brilliantly successful at examining just what we were dealing with.  Sent a quick shot to the vet, who called back and asked for a soundness-at-trot examination, so out we went into the dusk to trot in the lunge ring, and, oh dear, Boy-o may have been walking and bearing weight just fine, but owie, he was stabby and short at the trot.

Vet says, yeah, that could involve the stifle, which just chilled my heart.  Nothing, really, to be done at that hour-- the bleeding had long since stopped, he was weight-bearing, eating, drinking, and pooping normally, so we elected to give him some bute and check again in the morning.

Give him some bute. Yeah.  He hates bute.  Hates it so much I have to dispense the bute onto the top of my tack trunk, scoop it up my fingers, and jam it up into his cheek while I ply him with sweet treats at the front of his lips.  Wormer, gel sedative, and pretty much anything else, he's patient for, but he has developed a sinister aversion to bute, and the tube I have right now is stiff as hell and absolutely a two-handed operation to dispense.

But anyway, he got some bute and got put to bed with the plan that he and Uncle Celby would be turned out in the small paddock they have successfully shared through parts of the summer.

The next morning, the injury site looked like this:

Lots of swelling in the area.  This pic the vet didn't like and pretty much insisted that she come down and look at it, concerned about stifle injury.  She wouldn't have had to insist if I hadn't, again, been trying to get a bunch of stuff done before bugging out for school in the afternoon, but she convinced me it would be worth my while, so I acquiesced, and we scheduled for noon.

I'm glad we did.

She arrived and palpated thoroughly (good boy, Sherm!), eliminating concerns about an arterial  thrombus and damage to the stifle (yay!).  Then she stuck her nose down and sniffed at the wound site, and nodded her head.  Want to smell this?  she says.  I said, oh, infection? She says, just smell it.

Gah! Gag! It was pretty putrid-smelling.  After a couple of expletives, I asked how long it would have been brewing to produce such a stink?  Thinking back to my own inattentiveness on Monday morning, I postulated that he'd been kicked in a fracas at the gate, which I heard, but did not see, on Sunday afternoon.  Now I was wondering if it had been longer ago, and I had missed the signs longer than that.  She did the math in her head and suggested likely Sunday morning, but no longer ago than that.  The wound had just closed itself off and brewed that nasty muck from the other gelding's hoof (hardly a sterile implement) and made a nasty little abscess, which was likely very painful and certainly stinky, but, thanks to dogged perseverance on the part of the vet, not going to be fatal.  A thorough clipping and cleaning (which was exciting at times, thank you, Sherman) and the injury was confirmed to be naught but a flesh wound.

With no other tissue concerns, the Rx was 26 SMZs a day, and topical treatment with AluSpray. Back to regular turnout-- without the gelding who delivered this kick-- and all will be well in 7-10 days.

We got Sherm his first shot of AluSpray on the fly, and turned him back out with Celby. When I said I wouldn't be able to deliver his first set of SMZs until after I got back from school at 9pm, the vet said, oh, let's get them in him now, so we went back out to get Sherm.  We found this:

Sherm, who had wriggled and wrestled and menaced all approaches to his hind leg through the cleaning and shaving, was allowing Uncle  Doctor Celby to lick off all the AluSpray and inspect the wound for himself.  When asked what he was doing, Dr. Celby said:

Do you mind? I'm with a patient.
So much for the topical antibiotic.  Sherm would have to settle for horse spit. Oh, and meds.  Here's what he did with the first day's pain pill, carefully hidden in his dinner dish:

Pill about the size of 1/4 of a standard aspirin.  Nope, not eating it.

So, 13 SMZs twice daily? This will require lots of treats.

One SMZ, one cookie.  Repeat 12x.

Cleaning the wound out on Friday night, I had help from The Doctor, who would bang on his door every five minutes, insisting on inspecting the cloths with which I was softening and cleaning the goo from the wound.  He would sniff them, and then set to licking the cloth clean.  Weird, but sweet.  Sort of.

Take good care of my boy.
By last night, the wound is looking like this:

Clean, healthy tissue, working on closing the wound.

Sherm's demeanor and patience with treatment has increased every day.  He's clearly not in pain any longer, just waiting for the wound to close and for all this tedious attention to be over. Here he is, looking for something fun to do today, while Dr. Celby wanders around in the background:

Friday, November 15, 2013

Not a Lymey Fish

On a little bit more than what I'd call "a whim," I had a Lyme titre pulled on Sherm this week.  I haven't seen significant signs that would suggest to me that he has it, but he has certainly had opportunity to be exposed-- I've pulled about a dozen ticks out of him this year, and have no idea how many last year, so it's possible he could have contracted it.

I was chatting with the vet last week when we were out on calls together, and she's just gone through the first week of treatment of her big, fancy warmblood after his Lyme titre came back higher than she'd ever seen one.  She said that she'd exhausted all the other items on her list and surprised herself to find such a high number in his results.  Though she'd been skeptical of the Lyme diagnosis, after 4 days of treatment, he appeared free of the nagging imbalance and stiffness she has been trying to suss out for six weeks.  He was like butter, all of a sudden.  So she confesses she's drinking the Lyme Kool-aid this week.

She has mentioned testing the BBW in the past due to his hyperesthesia.  He's looky, but not spooky.  Excitable, but brave.  Fancy, but twitchy.  Grooming him is an exercise in herding cats-- he wiggles around so much you would think the tools are electrified. In summer, I can only use a dandy brush on his thin coat.  He is so sensitive that even in deepest winter with 2" wooly-bully haircoat, I can only use a soft brush on him.  He cannot tolerate currying, and god forbid you think of pulling his mane or working a snarl out of it. (He so hates snarls and distracting irritation that he has come to relish the days I scissor off his mane and his forelock above the eyes.)

He loves his Moe haircut.

All of this don't touch me behavior from a horse who would hang out in the livingroom with you if he could, one who loves to have his ears rubbed, his nose tapped on-- he definitely likes loving and being in your space, but virtually comes out of his skin if you stimulate it. At all.

So maybe that's Lyme-related?

Hours after that conversation, my good friend Amy reports on her blog that she's just gotten a positive Lyme titre back on her big paint pony. So, okay, I guess I'll have the blood drawn and find out for sure.

Vet calls it "vampiring your horse," so I'm sure she's not offended.

Well, the test result came back today, and the Boy is negative across the board.  So, no Lymey fish here.  Doesn't surprise me.  This is the horse who loves to wear hats, but not to be groomed.  Everyone deserves his own idiosyncrasies...

I'm not Lymey, now give me that carrot!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Absent Friends

It had been over a week since I'd gotten the chance to take the BBW out for a ride, due in part to weather, some to a massive barn repair project, and mostly the fall semester teaching schedule. I'd almost talked myself out of it today, citing 75 essays needing to be graded, but when I read the news of the passing of the great Erin Go Bragh, I had to get out and ride, if only for a little while. Sherman made it worth it, and I am grateful for his wonderfulness today.  Godspeed, Go Bragh, you will always be an inspiration