Discovering the Bat Cave
Actually, scratch that. He's a stoic motherf'er who don't take nobody's business but his own. He is, however, liable to foot problems and exceedingly accident prone. This horse has taught me more about first aid than most vets learn in their first year on the job. This month he's been teaching me about patience, good attitude, and how long a hoof abscess can actually take. Yeesh. I've had more fun lessons.
For 3 weeks, the old man has been on again/off again lame. At first it was subtle, then very much looked like an abscess was nigh. Then suddenly he went the typical three legged lame, and was extremely sensitive when his right front heel bulb was palpated. I figured, "good. This sucker will pop any minute now."
|That's gotta go any minute now, right?|
Then two more weeks went by with no change.
In a fit of despair, I called my vet. He talked me down off the ledge, telling me this sounded completely normal. Apparently abscesses like this one, that seem to be coming out through the heel, often take a very long time to resolve. He told me they are usually very large and deep in the foot, often originating under the frog. He said he wouldn't be surprised to find one like this takes 4-6 weeks to resolve, and leaves behind some amount of damage to the foot that has to grow out.
Cool, that's definitely soothing my nerves ... not.
|Movement is definitely the right call with abscesses, especially ones like this where you start to worry about damage to the other front leg. Still, it's really hard to see your horse hobbling around like he's shattered a leg...|
Last weekend, we had a breakthrough. The barn manager told me the vet would be out to look at another horse. While he was on the property, we chatted about Pig's issues. He offered to take a look and see if he could find a spot to give some relief. I am so glad he did.
|Look what we found!|
A quick shallow cut with his hoof knife immediately had some nasty black pus flowing. A minute or two later, and we'd uncovered ... a freaking chasm in the foot. Upon seeing a photo of the hole, Allison asked me if bats flew out. Honestly, still not positive they didn't. This abscess was HUGE.
The vet thinks that the infection line likely stretches all the way up into the heel bulb. That's almost 2 inches of track. What a monster of a thing. I'm legitimately impressed this old man was hobbling around as well as he was.
|Seriously. Imagine this cavern growing out. I cannot.|
I stuffed some betadine soaked gauze up in the hole and wrapped the foot back up. He's back out in the field and looking okay. Today he's a little lame again, but that doesn't surprise me. I imagine there is still some infection left to drain out, plus that whole infection track is going to leave a sore spot in the foot while it grows out. In fact, my vet's parting words were "that's going to be ugly as it grows out." Yeah, no kidding. Understatement of the week.
|Pathetic chestnut is still a very cheerful chestnut. I love him so. (Unrelated. Can we talk about how nicely he came out of winter this year. Damn. What a sexy hunk of an elder statesman he is.)|
While this story isn't one of rainbows and light, it's nice to find a problem that can be resolved right now. Anyone else finding their animals are bringing them things to focus on that aren't this crazy virus world? Our furry friends do seem uniquely capable of keeping us grounded during times like this.
Stay safe and sane out their friends. And watch out for bat caves in your feet... or something like that.