Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Such a Scare With Leah

When one door closes, another one opens--or so they say.

I had such a scare yesterday.  Such a scare.

Leah has to be pulled out of the herd, every day, before we let the others out to graze.  When she came into her stall for breakfast, she was perfectly sound, but two hours later, when I went out to ride her--she was lame on her back left leg. Really lame. 

I felt her leg for heat.  Couldn't find any.  Checked for swelling. Found a little around the fetlock, but it was hard to tell. 

I started to list the facts, trying to reconstruct what may have happened to her: 1) She was in a stall eating hay. 2) Whatever happened occurred within a 2 hour window 3) No signs of blood or trauma 4) The other mares had gotten themselves into the stall next to her and were hanging their heads over the rails towards Leah when I walked out 5) She still had a ravenous appetite 6) She didn't want to bear weight on the limb, but could bear weight if asked 7) Mild swelling was at the fetlock. 8)Possibility of hoof abscess not ruled out.

Fetlock injuries can be bad, and that was not lost on me.  I started to yell out loud at my bad luck.  I started to cry.  It wasn't a pretty scene.

This is what I wrote yesterday: It makes me realize how desperately attached and invested I've become to Leah.  I have felt sick to my stomach all day.  So much time.  So much heartache.  So much partnership--FINALLY.

I watched her all morning and then had to go to work.  Last night, my husband and I went out to see her, and she seemed a little better.  We decided to stall rest her and see what we had today.  Today, she's walking like normal with very mild swelling still in the fetlock.  If I had to guess, I think she kicked out at the other horses and bruised her leg in the rails.  There is no sign of any trauma--scraping--but that is the only possible answer. I can't say we're completely out of the woods now, but I'm much more optimistic, and I don't think it's time to call our vet out...yet. 

While Leah was on observation, I opened another door, turning my attention to Beautiful Girl, who will officially start training next Thursday. I'm trying to get her caught up with everything she has already been trained to do before we start in earnest.  Our plan, so far, is that Rebecca will come here every Thursday night to help me.  Beautiful was trained at a young age to carry a saddle and respond to pressure from the ground.  She still remembers those early lessons well, but we need to get her to the next step of carrying and responding to a rider.

During yesterday's session, I asked her to trot over the rolly polls--she did awesome!!  One thing I can say for her, she knows where all FOUR feet are at all times and has great foot control through obstacles.  Way more than Leah, I might add.  Way more than most horses.

After that, we went to the tires.  Beautiful, at first, smelled them, then she put her a foot into one and walked over it.  Wow!  Here she is doing it again after a little break.  I had my camera in front of my face, and at first, she wouldn't come over at me--probably thinking I just wanted to take her picture.  I put the camera down, looked at her and called her to me--she started to come across.
 
Movement. One leg forward.
 
 No problem.




 Hi, mom.


She also did the labyrinth, which is a bit tricky since it has two turns.  Beautiful was sensitive and responsive to each ask of a foot.  She did go out of the labyrinth on the first try, but she didn't overreact.  We tried it again and a light bulb went on--she got it!  You'd think backing up through a labyrinth of poles would be easy, but to horses, who can't see where they're putting their feet--it makes them claustrophobic. They have to concentrate hard on your asks--and that keep them from thinking about other things--like their herd.  It demonstrates trust in their handler, too.  I was happy to see that she and I still have a connection.

When she was done, I gave her a treat and put her back.  She followed me along the fence line, which I thought was very sweet.

I have mixed emotions today--excitement for Beautiful Girl and her potential--and sadness, that Leah is / was lame.  I'm just hoping for the best and seeing some light at the end of this unexpected tunnel.

11 comments:

  1. That is quite a scare. Hopefully, it is just a bruise from her kicking and nothing serious. I know when one of our horses come up lame, I think "tendon injury" and panic -- so I completely get your reaction. Awesome work with Beautiful Girl!

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  2. Yes, my panicking mind went to bone, ligament/tendon, abscess, bruise, and back in that circle again. Then, I googled them all to read the many horror stories. Then, back to the barn for more cold soaking and wailing and detective work. I don't usually jump to calling our vet, especially since we have only one who can do calls nowadays. I put them in stalls, restrict their movement as much as possible, and observe. In this case, I cold soaked, too. Today, she's almost 100 percent with very mild swelling a little above the fetlock. Still watching, but almost out of the woods. I'm a little shocked at how devastated I was. We have been through so much together and finally have a partnership. I kind of lost my marbles.

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  3. Like children, if a horse can find a way to hurt themselves.... Can't count the grey hairs for worrying over the years (so I cover them up).

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    1. Sadly, that is true. Some are better at it than others. I've been treating Leah like a glass princess, and still, she found a way. But today she's like a different horse, so I assume it was a bruise from kicking out. I really need to learn to control my emotions more. My husband is better at it than I am. He has a be calm and wait and see attitude. Even an assume the best attitude. I'm calm when it comes to horses acting out or panicking--because I don't want them to panic more--but when it comes to health--I'm completely unhinged when faced with possibly losing one.

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  4. Horses are like a roller coaster, you just never know if the next turn is up, or down, or sideways - all we can do is enjoy the ride while we are on it! I just made that up, sounds pretty damn accurate lol!! Hope Leah's lameness is minor, and you can continue your riding partnership. I feel your pain. Every time Koda and I sort our riding out together, something comes up. Again. Since foundation comes from on the ground, every time we restart riding together the path gets shorter. No doubt that would be the same with Leah. Sounds like an awesome plan with Beautiful Girl :)

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    1. I did think of that--the positives of ground work--as I contemplated a year long recovery. It's always good to remind ourselves of that--and what a blessing in disguise it can be--when faced with these injuries. Cowboy had a year out for recover of his P3 and I do remember the time fondly. My farrier told me my job was to protect his mind--as his TX involved being kept in a 12x12 stall for 9 months. We moved his stall next to the house and I'd hang out with him most of the day. We bonded pretty deeply and kept that bond all this time.

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  5. That would be scary. Since she's recovering quickly it might be just a ding and will heal quickly. BG is a very smart cookie

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    1. I agree. Such a quick recovery does suggest a bruise. Thank goodness.

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  6. When you were describing the situation I immediately thought of a kicking injury. They can really fire with those back feet and I've seen them not be able to put weight on it after connecting with metal or other hard surfaces. I think cold hosing is the way to go.
    There is an old saying, you don't miss your water until the well runs dry, so it's interesting that this incident really showed you just how much Leah means to you now. That's a good thing.

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    1. That's a great saying, and so very true. Look how much we pour ourselves into these relationships with our horses. It's a huge blow to think you'll lose that partnership, and yet, horses are so fragile, we risk that every day with them.

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  7. Hopefully it's just a minor injury for Leah ad she'll be fine. Beautiful is an awesome girl! We never know how the day is going to go with horses. We just have to go with the glow ad deal with issues as they come up. Good luck.

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Please feel welcome to join our discussion--tell us about your own thoughts and experiences.