Saturday, November 21, 2009

we have an abscess (and we're happy about it)

About two weeks ago Salina made a mad gallop in the front field with the boys, and my daughter pointed out to me that she was just a bit off behind that evening. We gave her some Bute and kept an eye on her. She had a series of off again, on again days in which we kept her in the barnyard with her donkeys to give things a chance to get right.

By then it was seeming to me that it was her right front that was off. That knee is the most severely affected by arthritis. It got a little worse, it got a little better.

Throughout all this her appetite was the usual Hanoverian "give me my food NOW."

I used two homeopathic remedies. One was arnica and it seemed to help. I did another course of Bute, which didn't seem to help.

Yesterday things seemed worse. I called my husband home from work and prepared to call the vet, knowing that we might need to be ready to make a bigger decision. And then for some reason I went back out to Salina, who had positioned herself in the back door of her stall, half in and half out, right front hoof extended out onto the ramp of shavings that leads to the grass paddock. She was pushing the hoof down onto the shavings, and using her nose to push at the coronet band.

Now I had looked at her all over, every day for the past two weeks. No sign of anything. No swelling. When I first went out yesterday morning I'd noted that she had rolled during the night, and some part of me wondered how that could be if her knee was so bad. And I had the thought that maybe she had fallen but managed to get up. But the stunning thing was how GOOD she looks right now. Her weight is good, and her coat is shiny and dappled. It just didn't make sense to me that she could look so good and yet things seemed so bad with her knee.

As usual with Salina, when the humans around her seem hopelessly confused, she comes through with a big fat clue.

That right front foot.

She had positioned herself so that when I came back through the gate to the barn, I couldn't miss it. It was literally sticking out at me. And if that weren't enough, she was touching it with her nose.

So I took the hint and made another inspection.

There was a small bulging softness right at the coronet band. When I pushed on it, she bobbed her head. And there were the flies, who seem to be attracted to infection when it's just ready to surface.

Hallelujah! An abscess!

I immediately dashed back in and prepared a warm vinegar rinse, applied it to her hoof, and gave her a dose of homeopathic hepar sulph.

By the time my husband got home, she was already more chipper. She spent her day moving slowly, but using that hoof with a new intent. She knew it was time for that thing to blow.

She got another dose of hepar sulph before bedtime last night and this morning the abscess had blown. She's so much better.

In hindsight, I wonder if adding an antioxidant mix to her feed a few weeks ago has triggered this. Maybe there was something small inside the hoof capsule that needed to find its way out. In some weird way, I wonder if it's connected to the knee, and maybe this abscess blowing will clear things up some for her entire leg.

(those who read here regularly may recall that she has one abscess a year in the LEFT front hoof, and for whatever reason, that process has gotten a month or two later each year, and easier each time)

In any case, while hoof abscesses used to terrify me, when you have a 26-year old mare with arthritic knees and it turns out to be an abscess, it's a huge relief.

In this case, cause for celebration. I'm thinking of it as a clearing process. Blowing out all the yucky bad stuff before winter sets in.


Grey Horse Matters said...

I'm so happy to hear it was only an abscess and not something much worse.
It's amazing how they can tell you what is wrong and direct you to the right diagnosis and medical treatment. Glad she blew it out and is feeling so much better.

billie said...

Thanks, Arlene - how is Sweetie doing now?

Claire said...

abcesses are right b's, always look like they might be something else and take a while to show their true colours! glad that's all it was!

Matthew said...

A huge relief!

Victoria Cummings said...

I know that feeling of relief that it's only an abscess! I'm so glad to hear it - Salina was probably wondering what took you so long to figure it out, but I always do what you did and think about the worst possible things first. Arlene and JME turned me on to Animalintex and it's made treating abscesses much less painful for me and the horses. Have you tried it? Just buy the long wraps ( about $7) and cut them up hoof size, then use as a poultice. It is miraculous how fast it works. Hope Salina is doing better today.

billie said...

claire, I actually think this time there was soreness associated with that big hard gallop up the hill, and then the abscess started brewing and mixed up the symptom picture completely.

Now that I've lived through a few abscesses with Salina, I always think of that when something goes off for her, hoping for a definitive clue!

In any case, we are relieved to have that confirmed and to see her feeling so much better.

billie said...

Yes, Matthew, for us and for the beauty-girl.

ponymaid said...

Billie, what a clever old girl she is- she was doing a fall cleanup to ensure she goes into winter with her health in tip top form.

billie said...

Sheaffer, I think you're right. I am constantly amazed at the equine body and what it knows how to do to get, and stay, healthy.

Michelle said...

Yay for Salina!! I wish I had known about the hepar sulph a few months back when Tiny had a brutal abcess that took her out of commission for a few weeks. Where do you get your homeopathics for the horses?

billie said...

Michelle, I have a huge homeopathic kit that has about 100 remedies - I add to it periodically and replace as needed. They all come from our homeopathic vet, my homeopath, and the local food co-op... :)

billie said...

We actually did think abscess early on, but as you know it can be really hard to tell what's actually hurting.

Thanks for the Animalintex tip - I have some of that in the tack room but this time around it was impossible to use it - she was adamant about not picking up her front feet, and given the lack of any loss of appetite, swelling, fever, etc. I opted to indulge her and do the "wait and see" approach. The arthritis makes things so much more complicated.

The hepar sulph might have worked had I used it sooner - but then I would have been treating based on guessing, not on what I saw, so... we lived through the process with her.

Thanks for the support!