Two Steps Forward…..

Two steps forward, then trip, stumble, and faceplant.

Doesn’t it always seem that just when things start going well, something always happens to screw that up?  Horses seem particularly good at this!

Hopefully it isn’t a really big deal this time around.  I’ve been having very, very good rides on Shady lately.  She’s been getting back into shape well and feels more and more supple each day.  We’ve been doing lateral work, strengthening exercises, hacking, and working on fitness for both of us.  We’ve both been enjoying ourselves mentally too.

Then came New Years Day.  I had a great day of saddle fitting and talking with good horsey friends.  Watching and talking with others always inspire me to ride even more.  I was excited as I headed to the barn, gathered up our tack, and gave Indy a few kisses (he gets his turn while Shady is drying with her cooler on after our rides).  I eagerly brought Shady out of her stall only to be confronted with:

It was hard to truly get it on film, but she’s pretty swollen here.

A giant swollen fetlock joint.

Immediate sadness and guilt washes over me as instinctively I assume this must somehow be my fault.  I must have missed something. Maybe we worked a minute too long yesterday. Maybe if I had gotten to the barn sooner it would have been different.

I began to investigate.  No signs of any cuts, scratches, stings, bites, kicks, or anything else that would damage the skin.  Generalized heat in the area, and not very hot, just a little warm.  No digital pulse.  Nothing in the hoof, no outward signs of abscesses.  No pain.  No lumps, just some pitting edema.  Sound at the walk.  Sound trotting left, maybe a little off to the right? No fever and it is only one leg, so I think I am safe to rule out systemic infection.

My barn is owned by an equine vet clinic, which is a huge, huge benefit.  Many of the horses that live there are owned by a vet or a vet tech. I feel bad to ask them anything when they come to see their horses, as it is their time to relax and not work, so I try not to. I did explain why I wasn’t riding and they offered to look, which was super nice and I really appreciated it.  They too were baffled, and suggested what I was thinking – wrap and see how it looks tomorrow.

Shady, getting ready for bed on a really cold night.  She didn’t wear her nice new Back on Track hock wraps to bed though.  (Got a great deal on them in the Dover basement!!)

I rub some liniment on her leg and wrap her.  I did give her some Free Bute Pro paste as it is an all natural pain reliever.  I love my FBP because it is great at relieving inflammation and pain, without harming her stomach.

While I groomed her I carefully checked her all over.  She had the tiniest of cuts on her face, other than that absolutely nothing.  Indy got lots of attention and I went home, only to keep myself awake worrying.

The next day the swelling had gone down by about half. Phew! Sorta.  While better, I still don’t know what caused it, and that makes me worry.  What if the swelling goes away, I assume she is better, and she swells up again?? Sigh.  Oh horses.

Repeat treatment, adding in an ice boot for a bit at first.  Tuck her in, go home, get in bed, stare at ceiling for hours trying to sleep.

Day 3- I had work appointments in the am, but thankfully the barn crew messaged me to say she looked good.  That makes me drive a little less fast and breathe easier.  When I got to the barn I would say she looked 95% better. We went for a hand walk with Indy, then iced, wrapped, tucked in.  At this point she is getting a little bored; she likes to work and gets a little grumpy when randomly out of work.

Looking much better!

Day 4 – looks great!  Swelling is completely gone.  Super excited.  I put her on the lunge line to check her out.  She looked great; even bucking and pinning her ears at the other horse in the ring.  Mentally she was relaxed and happy to be doing something.

Day 5 – swollen again.  No pain, not lame, nothing.  I did give her a betadine scrub just in case there is a small cut somewhere I am missing.  Liniment, wrap.

Tonight – Looks much, much better again.  About 95% back to normal again.  Like lunge session to see how she was feeling.  She looks good, some weakness behind with her left hind leg, but not swelling related.  That’s her weak left stifle.  Something we have always dealt with!

I’m still baffled.  She was very happy to work, even if it was just very light.  Depending on how it looks tomorrow, I may ride her lightly at the walk, see how she feels.  It will be good for her mentally!

If it gets worse or persists much longer, I will bring her on down to the vet clinic and have them take a look.

Anyone dealing/dealt with something similar?

“Hi Mom. I’m an enigma.”

11 thoughts on “Two Steps Forward…..”

  1. Mt young mare was sweelling, mostly in one hind, later both.
    Same story, no real explanation. She moved sound.
    Swelling down after working.
    Turns out, potassium vs salt levels were off. Not very common to swell like that.
    Added regular salt to her feed bag ratio, a hefty 3 tbspn, each day, and her fetlock have been back to normal. Just odd…


      1. I really thought it was a very strange theory and had never heard anything like it. But it was definitely what was missing for my horse! Since you do not have swelling in both legs I am Not sure if it is the same but it can’t hurt to try.


      2. Tonight, her leg was super tight! I had brought my electrolytes to try, but she decided she was all set apparently! I will keep them in mind for the future though. I do give her electrolytes after a sweaty or long ride, no matter the weather.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Glad to hear it!
        I hope it was just one of those freak things that always seem to happen to horses.

        I’m incorporating salt on a daily basis now, year round. My mare has a salt lick of course, but she’s not using it enough.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I hope the swollen fetlock turns out to be nothing serious. Thank you for your lovely comment on the Xenophon quote! I was trying to reply to it from my iPad and accidentally deleted both your comment and my reply 🙁 Oops! Will be using a computer & keyboard in future.

    Liked by 1 person

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