Friday, June 30, 2017

Starting With A Leg Update

When we last left our erstwhile equine hero, he was unfortunately bound from shoulder to ground and held captive in a terrible prison....
Okay, okay. So maybe I'm being dramatic. Speaking of drama, I feel I must warn you there are graphic photos ahead.
I am happy to report that the following morning the drugs appeared to have done their duty! His knee was much reduced in size, and no longer exhibiting signs of an acute cellulitis outbreak. On top of that, he trotted (er... galloped?) extremely sound 20 meter circles in turnout.
Oh yeah, buddy. Looking real injured here.
It was almost like he was begging to be put on the trailer and taken to the show. So of course, that's just what we did.
"Except, like. I'm totally not. Also, why would you make me stand so close to my own very recent poop? This is an outrage. I am outraged."
-- Pig, probably
I wrapped his knee under his shipping boots just to be careful, and we journeyed the 20 minutes to the stunning Loch Moy. I figured if he didn't continue to improve, I could treat him there just as well as at home. If he did, we could show. No harm either way.
Exciting fact! Pig did not fall down on this trip. Way to go Pig!
Arrival was uneventful. I didn't want to push Pig's improving leg, so instead of riding him I just let him pose majestically in front of glorious mountain views and eat his body weight in lush xc course grass.
-- again, Pig
Jan and I poured through the rule books looking for any indication that I could be pulled from the show for an obvious leg wound. There was no way this sucker was going to close up overnight.
Showing with a leg wound? Awkward.
We found nothing. The rules on blood and wounds are very carefully written, it turns out. Lameness would get us withdrawn (though, also I would scratch if he was lame...), as would blood anywhere drawn by a rider aid (mouth, flank, belly). We could find no indication that a cut to the leg like Pig's would get me picked on by the TD or judge.

The morning of the show dawned, and he was so gloriously sound. And so we showed.
Here's a pretty picture of us showing to distract you from the leg horrors I warned you are to come. GIRD YO LOINS, FOR DREAD IS UPON THEE.
At the show, I noticed the wound was deep. Like, into the fat layer deep. That meant as Pig moved his leg, fluid was being pushed through the opening, and (are you ready for this? Probably not...) foaming. Yeah. I know. Gross. But also, kind of just looked like my dressage horse just foamed on his own leg.
Okay. So... maybe not quite exactly like that.
The depth of the wound worked against me as I transitioned to caring for this monstrosity while Pig has remained in full turnout with his rough and tumble gang. For starters the wound was left open, while barn staff and I cleaned it out with betadine and put on antibacterial wound care ointments. This was not quite as effective as I'd hoped.

See. It started... uh, growing.
Wtf is that? Aliens? Spiders again?
The wound itself began to look granulated, like proud flesh was taking a deep hold. It refused to close up and was leaky all the time.
Mmm, granulated and leaky. So delicious.
The vet wasn't too worried. He attributed the swelling to delayed reaction to the trauma of the event, and we ruled out an abscess. He suggested a few methods to deal with the proud flesh issue.
Pictured: A few methods
I was directed to apply hydrocortisone cream directly to the wound. Any scrubbing I could do with betadine would also be good. I took it upon myself to do some light scrubbing and application of wound powder before rides to help keep it from being too disgustingly leaky.

The horse remained sound.
"I am horrified by my new leg jewelry, but otherwise unfazed. As per usual. Because I cut myself ALL THE GODDAMN TIME."
-- Pig, His Royal Majesty, Ruler of Mysterious Wounds
After two weeks of the hydrocortisone treatment plan, I'm happy to say things look much better with the leg.
The large swelling is ... uh... down? Localized? Less? Lets go with "less".
The wound is starting to look like a normal wound, and closing up internally finally.
Bai leaky knee! Hello scabland!
I'm happy with the progress, and now I'm just wondering what kind of cool scar we'll have to commemorate this lovely vet bill moment in time.
Plz. No more vets.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Because Of %@*#! Course

It's two days until our second show at 4th level. So what is Mr. Big Bad Dressage Horse up to? Well... lots of things.

He's working on his social skills by meeting new neighbors...
And he's making sure to keep his energy up with plenty of snacks...
"Oh man! Alfalfa?! My favorite!"
And he's focusing on the days to come, with maybe a little worry...
"WTF have I gotten myself into?"
What's that you say? Your horse doesn't typically prep for a big dressage show with stall rest and a wrap from elbow to hoof?


So what happened? Good question. My barn owner texted me this photo early this morning:
"HOLY JESUS CHRIST HIS KNEE IS PREGNANT... WITH TWINS" -- My actual initial reaction
It was quickly followed up by this...
The cut is pretty superficial. It's a touch deep, but not really a big deal. The swelling, though? That indicated a much larger problem. My barn manager mentioned it looked like he'd spent the night in the shelter, not moving much. Then she sent me a video of him struggling to walk to the wash area, and suggested he may have a fracture.


She cold hosed him for a long while and gave him his regular morning equioxx. After standing awhile with cold water and ice on him, he walked better.
Define this "better" of which you speak.
The swelling went down some, too.
Oh god... what if it's filled with spiders?
The vet showed up, also suggesting x-rays to eliminate the possibility of a fracture. We weren't sure if the scrape on the knee was due to blunt trauma from something like a kick or when the swelling kicked in. Those questions made the decision to x-ray very easy for me.
Let's take a look inside that knee, shall we? 
Thankfully the x-rays came out completely clean. In fact, that knee might be the prettiest joint in this horse's whole damn body. However, the rapidly developing cellulitis is a real concern.

The vet's plan consists of IV steroids today, possible oral steroids for the next three days, and a course of SMZs to begin immediately. She also suggested a good wrap would help bring the swelling down even faster. I agreed.
"I did not consent to this." -- Pig, probably
The wrap is lovely, but requires Pig to be stalled for 24 hours. I'm hoping the IV steroids from today do their trick and the swelling is much less by tomorrow. The vet is mildly optimistic about my chances of showing, basically indicating that he should be fine as long as the swelling goes down. With zero indication of damage to the joint or surrounding tissues, the cellulitis is really all we seem to be fighting.

If his knee is still confusing itself with a pregnant belly tomorrow, we obviously won't be shipping to the show grounds. At that point, he'd need to start on the oral steroids to keep knocking this down and our chances of showing would be blown even if the swelling magically resolved. After all, you can't show at a USEF show with dex in your horse's system. #funfact

We're going to need a lot of finger crossing and wishes to get him to Loch Moy this weekend, and even then it's the barest of chances. Clearing up his cellulitis is my top concern, the horse show is obviously secondary. Realistically we could be looking at weeks of recovery. It's all an big question mark at the moment.

At least one funny thing came out of this morning's whole catastrophe, this hilarious video of Pig attempting to walk in the stiff leg bandage. His whole confused yet hopeful expression just kills me, as does his ridiculous leg lift. I could literally watch this thing all day.

Oh wait. That's what gifs are for... enjoy!
I mean, I've been trying to train him to lift that shoulder for years. Now if he could just do it without the mummy wrapping and the expensive vet calls...
Feel better, buddy! I'd much rather complain about a crappy dressage test than watch you be so uncomfortable!