I reflected positively on the past two weeks of progress we have made and started celebrating the tapering off of ulcer meds…maybe a touch too soon. The horse-ownership gods saw fit to bless me with TWO NEW ailments to knock me down off of my boastful high horse. Last Monday when I went out to the barn Bravo had a runny nose. The discharge was not a great color and only coming from one nostril. I didn’t like the look of it at all but to avoid overreacting I thought I would see if it cleared up in the next couple of days. Long story short, it did not, so I called the vet and made an appointment for Monday (today) which was the earliest they could fit me in on a non-emergency basis.
Friday night after work I headed out to the barn to check on Bravo. He still had his runny nose but was also still not showing any other symptoms- fairly perky, still eating great, no labored breathing or coughing, clear eyes. My workout plan for the night was going to be an in-hand proprioception exercise walking over raised poles. I took him out, picked his feet, and headed towards the indoor arena which, astonishingly, we had all to ourselves. We did a lap and he seemed a little off. I turned and watched him walk a little and he took some freakishly wobbly steps with his hind and I knew something was wrong. I looked him up and down feeling for heat, checking for cuts or bumps, but found nothing. I made him walk a little more and he was now limping quite badly. Panicking and assuming my darling lemon of a horse had somehow permanently injured himself I called the vet back and told them I needed him to be seen immediately.
The vet came out and watched me walk Bravo around the gravel lot. We took him into the round pen and made him trot out which he did rather pathetically. The vet then remarked “you got me all excited, I thought you had something neurological going on with the call notes I got- I think you’re looking at a hoof abscess here.” This is the same vet with the questionable bedside manner- I think he’s just got a very odd sense of humor. He flexed him and Bravo didn’t even flinch or look the slightest bit more uncomfortable so he felt confident the foot was the issue. Cue sigh of relief.
He was sensitive to the hoof testers but nothing looked obvious. He decided not to go digging on the off chance that maybe it was just a stone bruise so he wrapped it up with some animalintex and set me to the task of soaking, wrapping, and monitoring it over the weekend.
By this time, Bravo’s nose was running again and the vet got a little more serious. “That’s not clear discharge.” All I could think was whoever they’ve got taking call notes at the office isn’t helping me out much! He took some blood, gave him some painkiller for his foot, and started him on an antibiotic.
“I’m going to give you a bottle of 100 pills to get him through the weekend and then you can come pick up a 500 count on Monday.” Great.
I ultimately didn’t have time for a pity party this weekend as I spent nearly the whole time out at the barn either wrapping, treating, soaking, or trying unsuccessfully to sneak medications into my horse. I learned a lot about myself. I cursed a lot. Bravo was a…we’ll just say…non-compliant patient for the majority of the doctoring. Having never done some of this stuff myself previously- there was a steep learning curve.
There were some silver linings to the vet visit. My vet is still totally intrigued with and loves Bravo. He desperately wants to know his breeding and generally thinks he’s a cool horse. He also pointed to his hooves and said, “that line, is the day you brought him home and he actually started getting proper nutrition.” Uh yes, I will take that compliment. It starts to feel more and more everyday like I rescued this horse when I bought him and that makes me feel really good. Helping my five year old through these rough patches is frustrating and exhausting but seeing him develop keeps me encouraged and hopeful. I think he’s going to be something really great for me someday if we can just get through these…er…growing pains.
Anybody got any good tricks for getting your horse to take bute? How about for hiding meds in food? He’s been good with the SMZs so far, but just in case…tell me your tricks!