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.
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