Sunday, January 13, 2008

Why do I Have to be Right?

Have I just experienced the power of a self-fulfilling prophecy? In my last post, where I moaned about being ill (I'm much better now), I wrote that:
"Eventually, we all get sick at some point. I have as much vested faith in that statement as my belief that, 'Eventually, all horses go lame at some point'."

So, guess what? My palomino mare, Lexi is lame.

Like many lamenesses, the cause of the unsoundness remains an unsolved mystery at this point. I've had my vet out. I've spoken with my farrier. I've whined to my sister and my best barn buddies. So far all we can come up with is a horsey version of the old board game, "Clue." But instead of comments being, "I think it's Colonel Mustard in the hallway with the shotgun," it's more like, "I think it's an abcess on her left front with a tiny piece of gravel up a hoof crack."

It probably is an abcess. The symptoms seem to fit: I rode her on back-to-back long trail rides last week, and she was totally sound. She was her usual Energizer Bunny self. The next day it was raining, but she spent an hour or so in the turnout paddock and looked fine. The next day I lunged her and noticed, "Hmmm... Is she a nickel's worth off on that left front... Or not?"

The next day, she did nothing but mosey around her paddock, but she was definitely a little worse. A day later she was L.A.M.E.

Now, keep in mind that when I bought Lexi, both her owner and her trainer told me repeatedly, "Lexi is a prissy princess when it comes to pain. She's a real drama queen."

Nonetheless, when I failed to locate any bump, scratch, heat or swelling anywhere that would indicate an acute injury, I called my vet. She poked and probed and used the hoof testers. Conclusion? An abcess that's forming somewhere near Lexi's heel.

Naturally, being a neurotic horsewoman (oh, you don't know anyone else like this, do you?), I immediately catastrophized. "But what if it isn't an abcess? What if it's _______________!" I filled in the blank with every doomsday diagnosis ranging from a fractured navicular bone to laminitis.

Fortunately, my vet is both calm and laconic. "I don't think that's the problem. However," she added (I hate those 'howevers'), "if Lexi isn't noticeably better in a week, I'll come back and take some radiographs. But let's not go there yet. I think it's an abcess."

I must admit, when I rode off on Wally today to go on a ride with one of my friends, Lexi trotted and cantered several strides in protestation of being left behind. That's definitely an improvement. And I think I can see a shiny, almost translucent area on the bulb of her heel that looks suspiciously like an abcess about to form. Right now I'm heading out to buy some icthamol in hopes that slathering on the black, smelly gunk will help draw the abcess to a head. Or it could be futile and I could just end up with the tarry substance stuck under my fingernails for a week.

I share this saga with you because I know that as horse lovers and horse owners it pains all of us to see our horses in pain. Like a horse "mom" I want to just hug Lexi and give her a smooch and make it all better. Instead, I fret and worry, even though I was fully aware that eventually, all horses go lame at some point.

Want to share a comment or a tale of lameness woe? Just click on "comments" below.


Anonymous said...

Don't worry! All horses can get better. And Lexi should be fine with all the love and care you'll be giving her. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Oh goodness. My old Thoroughbred, Teddy, had such bad feet. He always had to have shoes - on all four hooves. If he pulled a shoe, he was immediately lame.

Let's see - the lameness issues Teddy has had.
He was pretty sound throughout 2003 and early 2004 until...
May 2004 - my current horse, Bucky, bit him on the stifle. It swelled up, he was lame on it.
August 2004 - Bucky kicked him on the hip. Off for three days.
March 2005 - twisted a hock, popped his stifle. Lame for a week.
April 2005 - caught his foot in the fence, cut up his coronet band near his heel. Lame for a few days.
May 2005 - Landed wrong from a jump, injured a knee. A few days later, he was sound enough to be walked. While I was walking (well out of the way) some idiot rode by on the phone and her horse slammed into Teddy's shoulder. Heat in the shoulder, lame for several weeks.
June 2005 - abscessed. Had eight - five in his left hoof and three in his right. VERY lame.
September 2005 - we retired him, started riding him less. Only lameness issue was arthiritis.
March 2006 - shoes were pulled. Two weeks later, his coffin bone had rotated to his hoof bed. Had to have shoes with pads.

Currently, as I heard from Teddy's new owner recently, Teddy is permanently lame, but he isn't in pain. He is unrideable but is happy enough to be a pasture oranment.

Teddy was the only horse, really, who had really bad lameness issues. There was another horse at my barn who contracted whiteline disease and had to have 25% of his hoof cut away. Another horse damaged his suspensory ligament after a farrier fit him with shoes that were too small (the farrier was promptly fired and sued).

We've had a lot of lameness issues at my barn. Currently, a mare has navicular and is on stall rest for three straight months. If she doesn't recover, the only thing we can do is put her down. =[

Good luck with Lexi!

Anonymous said...

Ah- Despair not :-) I've dealt with various lamenesses (although maybe not as bad as Gina's!) and I am sure you both will persevere. I have the feeling that Lexi will feel like she's being all pampered up :-) Try not to worry. I'm sure all will be better before you know it...maybe even before your next blog :-)

Anonymous said...

Eva has been lame for ages, and it looks like she'll be forever roaming the pasture because apparently, there's nothing wrong with her. But if you have found the problem with Lexi, I'm sure she'll be netter in a jiffy (Besides, Eva is really old...she deserves her time off. Get well, Lexi!!!!

Anonymous said...

Good luck Cindy I know how your feel my first horse when i was 12
"Max" had navicular

Cindy Hale said...

Gosh, thanks for all the support! I'll try not to stress out over this. Of course, I say that, but...