"And, when you want something, the entire Universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." -The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Stall Rest Sucks

This morning I returned to the barn.  Lily was in her stall having a fit-she was pacing and weaving, calling every time a horse went by. *Sigh*

I put her on the cross-ties, picked her feet and inspected them again. No change. I inspected her legs. No swelling. But the LEFT front was significantly warmer than the left. Her right was ice cold, all the way down to the hoof. Her left, however, was HOT. Hot at the fetlock and all the way down to the hoof. Hmm... I checked her hinds. Both pasterns and hooves felt warm, but not like that left front. Her hinds have always run warm-it's freaked me out in the past. And if you pick up either hind leg and pinch her tendons, she will always have an initial reaction-she doesn't like it. But if you continue to alternately squeeze down the length of her tendons, she stops wiggling the lifted leg. No reaction if palpated while her hooves are on the ground.

I went around again and felt all 4 fetlocks. Warm left hind, warm right hind, cold right front, HOT left front. This time, I caught the digital pulse in her left front. She had a whopping pulse there. Ok-maybe she does have an abscess brewing.

Our resident trainer, Anne, is one of those very rare breeds of horsewoman who combines natural horsemanship and dressage. She owns 2 pretty awesome horses that she boards at our barn (you should see her gelding run around the indoor doing tricks! He's better than most dogs!), and is well-respected by everyone. She keeps to herself, but is happy to give an opinion or help out if asked. Alex, my favorite stable hand, had mentioned the day before that she is really good at pinpointing lameness.

I was thinking about this (I'm starting to think I have psychic powers...), and as if on cue, Anne popped out of the tack room and came over to say hi to Lily (my mare has a pretty significant fan club at the barn) and asked me why was she in her stall. So I explained everything that had happened, mentioned the bounding pulse on the left front. She felt, too, and confirmed the same thing. I asked her if she wouldn't mind taking a look, as I was stumped-the previous day it had seemed like every other leg EXCEPT the left front. Anne seemed surprised but pleased at my request. Our interactions are usually limited to "How are you doing?s" but I love watching her work with her horses, and have been a spectator several times. She teaches natural horsemanship, and at some point I'd love to take lessons with her, too, but Charles's and my joint wallet can barely afford lessons with one trainer (Blaine O, who gave the clinic at our barn a couple of months ago; he just moved with Dr. O to PA, but he will be coming back to MD twice a month to give lessons.)

Anne had me trot Lily out, and she was head bobbing a little on straight lines. She quickly said, "Left front". She trotted her out for me so I could see. Yup, left front all right, specifically in the push-off phase of the stride. Anne said she thinks it's her medial (inside) portion of that foot, too-she had her trot on the lunge to the left, and she was slightly lame, just like she is going straight. She explained that if it's the inside of the foot, she'll be MORE sore going to the right, because she has to push off specifically with that part of her left hoof. Which she was. Anne thinks it might be a stone bruise near her heel, or maybe an abscess about to rupture. If it's a bruise, she'll be like this for a week or so, but if the horse is very whimpy about pain, it can be longer. If it's an abscess, it will get worse before it ruptures.

This made me feel so much better. I thanked Anne profusely for her time and opinion, and took Lily up the driveway to let her graze.

Looking longingly at the herd in the big field
After about 20 minutes, I took her over to the round pen and let her loose. Jazzy, the mare in the adjoining turnout, eats other mares for dinner. She used to be turned out with Leo, the ancient miniature donkey, and would be extremely aggressive if any other horses, especially mares, came in close proximity. I think she was protective of Leo. Leo passed away about 2 months ago, and Jazzy is currently turned out by herself. I had a feeling she would not react this time to Lily being in the round pen, and I was right-she stayed at the far end of the turnout, munching on her hay, and never even came over to investigate. I watched for about 15 minutes, then went into the barn to set up to soak Lily's foot, stopping every once in awhile to poke my head out to make sure Jazzy was staying far away. She did.

Staring at the other horses in the turnouts across the way

Staring at the driveway. She really didn't eat much grass while she was out here, but at least she got to be out of her stall for a bit.

After almost half an hour, I brought Lily back in, and soaked her front left hoof. The foot is certainly ouchy-she didn't like the warm water on it,  and tried unsuccessfully to get the soaking boot off. Eventually she settled.

For good measure, I put Surpass on her hind fetlocks, and put standing wraps on. Just because I'm paranoid, and it can't hurt. After soaking Lily's hoof for 20 minutes, I dried it off and packed that and both hinds with Magic Cushion. Cody is currently splitting the medical paddock with Finnigan, the gorgeous new OTTB, and Cody was inside while Finn had his turn, so BQ had suggested I put Lily in the uninhabited stall across the way, so she'd at least feel like she had some company.

No such luck. The minute she went in the stall, she became very restless, pacing and calling. *sigh* I'll be back later this afternoon to take her out and check her again.


  1. My horse Jackson just recovered from an abcess in the sulcus of his frog! My DAEP said that this is the most painful place to have an abcess. Usually he is stoic and you never would know, except for the telltale hole, that he had blown an abcess! Not this time! He was never lame, but he was lying down a LOT, (front foot which as you know, bears 70% of their body weight) and we were giving him Ace even, as when my boy is in pain he tries to colic! Even blanketed him for two nights, as I like to keep him in a paddock about twice the size of an arena to keep the blood actively circulating to the foot. He never has benefited from stall rest for this kind of thing, but then again, I have the best barn owner in the world, she looks after my boy like her own! Even started abx. over this one, and found out that he has developed an allergy to sulfa (Bactrim)! Doh! Good luck with Miss Lilly, I'm glad it was just an abcess, and not something much more serious needing rehab., no riding for months, etc!! :D

  2. Oh wow...that's awful! Poor boy! Yes, with Lily and her puncture wound in the frog, she was sore on that foot for months and months, and she's pretty stoic too-that's why I freaked out with this one. She was all better yesterday, thankfully, and is scheduled to go back out in the big field today. Vets generally do recommend movement with abscesses to help keep blood flowing & speed healing-I was handwalking her 30 min/day, & we were keeping her in a small paddock so she wouldn't run around like lunatic on 3 legs and hurt herself elsewhere. Silly girl. I hope Jackson heals from his frog abscess super-fast! Sounds like he's getting the best care possible. :)