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

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

It's Back

My farrier was scheduled to come out yesterday at 1:00 pm.

Originally she was supposed to come last Monday 4/8, but I had asked if we could reschedule for another time when I could be at the barn. There were some little things I had noticed in Lily that I wanted to ask her about and see what she thought while looking at my mare in the moment.

Charles likes to think I'm a giant humungo worrywart-he says I wouldn't know what to do with myself if I wasn't always worrying about something. This isn't really true, but I do worry a lot about my animals because I was trained to notice a lot more than the average person. This is great in the veterinary field but it is a nightmare when you're a pet owner. I joke around that I have Munchausen by proxy only in the sense of being an owner that worries excessively about her pets. I've seen this condition for real, applied to pets - I don't have it. Back at the FL hospital, we had one internal medicine client spend her entire day at the clinic having bloodwork run repeatedly on her dog to see if her liver enzymes would go down. First, liver enzyme levels don't go down in a matter of hours, especially if the animal is not on some sort of therapy. Second, every time we drew blood for these unnecessary tests, it involved poking the poor animal with a needle. Multiple times. When there's no good reason for it, that's just torture. Third, this dog's liver values were NORMAL. The client just wanted them to be LOW normal. Actually, this dog was PERFECTLY HEALTHY...there was no reason whatsoever why she had to be an internal medicine patient! (The real problem here was the vet that was catering to this nonsense...and that the client was in dire need of some psychological attention herself!)

Personally, I think I was much happier as a pet owner when I knew less. I knew more than the average person because I did full research on what I was getting into before choosing my pets, but I still didn't know half of what I know now.

Once again, my gut feeling was correct.

Lily came in from the paddock fine. P, the farrier, asked how she was doing. I had sent her a ridiculously long e-mail with all of my questions 2 weeks ago when I rescheduled, and she wanted to know if anything had changed. I told her about the desensitizing session and pointed out the wear on Lily's left hind, and mentioned she had been a little sore afterwards. I had noticed, however, that she's been resting her right hind more than the left recently, and that she seems to be stepping a little short on both hinds on the lunge. I did admit that I might just be seeing things. I also brought up the fact that whenever I pick up Lily's right front, she automatically rests her left hind. P said that a lot of horses do that, and it can be a conformation thing where they are compensating for imbalances in their body. I told P I still freak out because the left hind is where Lily had her puncture wound back in FL, and I can't remember if she used to do that before the wound, but I wasn't paying that much attention before then. P assured me that it was probably nothing to worry about.

Lily was fine to have her right hind trimmed, but when it came time to do her left hind, she flinched and wiggled the leg. Her head came up, ears went back, and she tensed all over while P worked on that hoof. P mentioned that she was definitely sensitive on that hoof. Lily had not reacted to having her left hind frog worked on in 7 months. I felt my heart sink.

P pared away some necrotic frog, and I had Charles, who had come with me, hold Lily so I could go around to see.

"The hole is still here." P said. It was. A tiny little hole that looked almost like an incision, right smack in the center of Lily's frog. It was the same size and in the same spot as before, and it was really ouchy. P took a probe to see how deep it was. She was able to insert it about 1/2" into the hole; she said it was deeper than that but she wasn't comfortable inserting it any further.

I almost cried. This means many, many things:

1. I need to get that hoof radiographed again, to make sure Lily's coffin bone isn't infected.

2. If the bone is ok, this certainly means we will need to go in surgically and see how deep the infection goes. This will probably involve a lot of cutting out of her hoof, and most likely a hospital plate on her hoof to keep the hole clean, plus a culture and antibiotics. Hopefully some run-of-the-mill antibiotics, not something uber powerful that can destroy a horse's stomach. Of course, this will mean stall rest for a mare that has just gotten used to 24 hour turnout.

3. If the bone is not ok, it would mean taking her to the big equine specialty hospital to have her coffin bone debrided under general anesthesia = $$$$$$ that we absolutely do NOT have. We have no where to get this money from-I don't really want to go into detail on the state of our finances; I've mentioned our student-loan-poor situation here before. I could get a second job, but it would take months to get thousands of dollars together. The only way we were able to save up for our move here was with me working a second full time job and Charles picking up extra shifts every week at his hospital. I am more than willing to take on the second job if I need to, but Charles has had a really hard time getting overtime at his current job because his hospital is overstaffed-OT just hasn't been available, and it's been 7 months since he started at that hospital-it would take us longer to get the money together for a big equine surgery under general anesthesia. I'm worried about what if this is something she needs ASAP. It is precisely because of our financial limitations that I had Lily insured (I didn't want a lack of funds to cost her her life in a situation where she could be saved), but since insuring her happened after the puncture wound was worked up last year, the left hind hoof is the only thing on her body that is not covered. You know-Murphy's law.

After P was done working on Lily's left hind, Lily put the hoof on the ground and then slowly raised her right hind, flexing the leg all the way up and just holding it in the air for several seconds, fetlock almost to stifle, then slowly bringing it back down to a resting position. This freaked me out x3. I have never seen her do something like that; I've actually never seen any horse do something like that, other than our resident DSLD horse and a video of a mare with stringhalt. Charles saw it too. P missed it because she was getting the hoof testers out of her truck.

The farrier hoof tested both of Lily's hinds. Her left hind was less sensitive than I would have expected, and her right hind was non-reactive, which made me feel a little better.

P said it should be fine to continue riding Lily and turning her out, as she had been fine up until now. I considered doing a short ride in the arena, but talking with Tina, we figured the trail might be better. Plus we already know how abrasive sand is, so Tina and I went on our usual Tuesday Trails (Charles was thrilled to go back home to take a nap, since I had woken him up early to come to the barn), and we had a really good time, but Lily was definitely ouchy on rocky ground. We took the Woodlands trail, which we hadn't tackled in a while, because the footing is softer, often covered by grass or leaves.

I took a million photos with my cell:

This trail follows Rock Creek most of the way. There were some stunning views of the stream. 

Everything is well on its way to greenness

Skunk lettuce in full bloom 

LITERALLY on the buckle

New baby leaves on a tree branch hanging over the trail

Lily did fine on the trail ride and, being familiar with this trail + 24 hrs of turnout, she behaved like an angel. We only walked; nothing strenuous. However, after the ride, Lily was really sore on both hind legs when standing on concrete and I felt beyond horrible. I soaked her left hind with Epsom salts, which always used to make her feel better, and gave her a gram of bute mixed with some of her hay cubes.

My mare looked positively miserable. I had her stand in the cross ties in front of Jez's stall while I soaked her, so she could visit with her buddy and I could hang out with Sally, who had come to spend time with her girl.

During that time, Jez had a weird choking episode. Nothing came out of her nose, but she was coughing and playing with her tongue and teeth in a way that seemed like she had something stuck behind her tongue or in a tooth. It was a completely random occurrence, and it freaked both Sally and me out. Jez seemed quite relaxed during the whole thing, and after coughing several times, BQ got called down to see. Jez then started just playing with her lips and mouth in a way that she'd never done before. It was very bizarre.

Luckily, this resolved during Jez's walk afterwards. She was still making faces, but she was spooked mightily by the tractor. Lots of dancing and snorting, but I was able to reel her in and prevent her from leaping around and taking off. After that, however, she was completely back to normal. I guess whatever was stuck in her mouth got spooked out!

During the time we were watching Jezebel in her stall, however, Lily did that strange thing with her right hind again-flexing it up all the way, then bringing it down to rest, while BQ was checking on Jez. She did it at least 3 times. The 3rd time, I surreptitiously went over to her and pushed her gently so she'd put the leg back down. I didn't want to get asked about that; I wanted to figure it out myself first.

I scheduled the vet exam for Tuesday April 23rd. It was the very soonest the vet could come out. Of course-now I get to lose sleep for a full week wondering what will happen to my mare. And with this new odd behavior with her right hind, I will most likely end up needing BOTH hinds worked up now. (At least the right hind is covered by insurance....) And then I was unable to schedule the exam with the practice senior vet; it is going to be the new associate, Dr. R, working up Lily. I liked her when I met her, and I like her ability to use minimum resources to the max (they don't have the best ultrasound and x-ray machine, but she makes them work!), but I've heard awesome things about Dr. S when it comes to treating this kind of issue, and he is outstanding at doing follow-ups and staying on top of things. I guess we'll find out if Dr. R is just as good...I just hate being the guinea pig.

A hoof surgery entree with a side of hospital plate...
You know what this would mean, though, right? Since it's a hind leg, Lily would need 4 shoes, after all this work and expense to get her going this well barefoot. *sigh*

If you want to catch up on the long process that was getting that left hind diagnosed the first time, go herehere and here, in that order. I even had to argue with my vet back in FL to get that hoof radiographed...


  1. :( I'm sorry to hear about all this. Horses can be so worrisome and frustrating. Hoping you get answers soon, and they're as least expensive and easy to fix as possible.

  2. As I always like to say "Horses are four legged animals looking for the most expensive and inconvenient way to die". We place so many hopes and dreams on them, and we outlive them, and we outlast them, and sometimes I wonder if we cripple them under all the weight of those hopes and dreams. Or maybe they just teach use to reevaluate and enjoy every moment we can. *big hugs* I feel like the more I learn about horses the more I worry about my own. I hope Lilly ends up okay and it doesn't cost a lot.

    1. Thank you! I'm just hoping we can get the wound cleaned out and taken care of with sedation and a local block in the barn.
      I love what you said-it almost made me cry. I wrote it down to save as a quote to remember. Not necessarily the way they try to find the most expensive and inconvenient way to die (haha-this is certainly true!) but the part about how we place so many hopes and dreams on them, and they teach us to reevaluate and enjoy every moment we can. *hugs back*
      And it is true, I think for all of us: the more we learn, the more we worry.