Sorry readers, I am unable to get in touch with my inner blog writer this week. I have done little except take care of basic needs at home and then spend time with Woody and hope my first aid is helping. I have done some sewing, but cannot find the energy to photograph anything or write up a description of the process. I am consumed with worry.
So you are going to get a mini lesson in equine lameness and home care.
Lameness is sometimes really obvious, as in the case of Woodrow. I walked him out of the stall and he dragged the toe on the right hind. When he tried to trot, he could not put weight on that foot. But sometimes, a horse will be lame and it is so subtle that only a sensitive rider or observer will notice. Here are some signs:
- Head-bob: Your horse's head bobs UP when a sore fore limb hits the ground. His or her head bobs DOWN when a sore hind limb hits the ground. (A head-bob is easiest to see when your horse is trotted toward you. Usually, the more pronounced the bob, the more severe the pain.)
- Hip-hike or hip-drop: The hip on one side raises HIGHER and or/sinks LOWER than the other side. (This is easiest to see when your horse is trotted away from you. Sticking a piece of white tape on each hip will give you a reference point.)
- Toe-drag: The toe of the affected hind limb drags the ground on the forward swing.
- Shortened stride: The stride on one leg is shorter than the stride on the other legs.
So, what do you do if your horse is lame?
I believe you should call your vet with lameness issues. It is too complicated to figure out on your own, and sometimes you can head off a bigger problem. Many vets will consult over the phone, and let you try treatments before getting involved. In my case, I am treating Woody at home, and hoping for improvement by Saturday. If no improvement occurs, then he'll need to go to a big hospital about 3 hours from my home.
So, call your vet after having done a quick check first. Always start at the bottom.
First check for obvious causes. Pick out your horse’s feet and make sure there are no stones wedged into the crevices. Look for dark spots that might indicate a bruised sole. Feel the hooves. Is one hoof hotter than the others? Feel the pulse in the artery that passes over the fetlock joint. Is it pounding? Both heat and a pounding pulse are indications of injury.
Check for heat and swelling. The horse may have injured a tendon or a ligament, similar to a sprained ankle in people. If so, your horse will need a long rest period in order to heal, just as you would with a sprained ankle.
The cause of the lameness may be in any of the horse's joints. Like people, horses can suffer from arthritis and bursitis. The stifle, which is the equivalent of our knee, can slip and lock.
Many riding horses have sore backs. Even if your horse is not lame, if he or she objects to saddling, flinches or sinks his/her back when you brush it, suspect a sore back.
A horse may also have problems in their hips, or shoulders, or neck...like I said, it's complicated.
How do you take care of a 1000 lb animal who hurts and is a little bit cranky? I'm soaking his right hind leg and gluteal area with a hose for 20 minutes a day. I then use Absorbine liniment on the area and on his back. I spend quite some time massaging the different parts of his leg and back, then do a nice long grooming. The water is not appreciated, but the massage! Oh does he like that! Today he went to sleep while I gently found muscles that were knotted up and tried to release them with pressure.
He is getting bute, an anti-inflammatory, twice a day. It also is helping and I'm glad he is still eating it in his grain. It is difficult to dose a cranky 1000 lb pet.
Sewing news tomorrow or Saturday. Sorry for the lack of fun factor...