Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Mingo's Month

What a Month for Mingo

Early in May, Ellen and I went for a ride up to the show ring. Mingo was stumbling on his back hoof, and it reminded me of last fall when he got an abscess in it. The ride was uneventful—that alone should have been a clue. Mingo still hadn’t settled down for the year, and suddenly, on his favorite ride, he was behaving? I was suspicious.

I brought him home, and put him in his stall. I kept an eye on him, but nothing seemed amiss, so I saddled up Cruiser for his ride. Ellen was going to drive down to the trail and hike out to meet us. I left before she did. When she caught up with me, she told me Mingo was miserable and had an abscess in a hind hoof. He told her he couldn’t even walk, and he was the unhappiest horse in the world. Mingo is known for drama.

I hurried back, and Ellen went returned to the barn, too. I brought Mingo out of his stall and led him about. It really wasn’t that bad. He could walk on it, and only favored it slightly, but I could tell it was an abscess. I’ve had way too much experience with abscesses.

I called my farrier. Last time this happened, I called the vet and my farrier said that was silly because he would have been glad to come out, and he would be cheaper. I left him a message to call my cell phone. This was on Saturday. By Monday, I didn’t hear from him, and that was really strange. I figured he was out of town. (Turned out, he did call—I just haven’t figured out how to use cell phones, yet.) I spent my time soaking Mingo’s foot. You should have seen the expression on his face. It was one of plain misery—yet he could still walk very well.

Monday morning, I called the vet, and she took a look at it. She said it was ready to pop out of his heel, and she couldn’t find a place to drain it. It must be under the frog. My job was to soak it some more and let it resolve itself. As Kevin led him around, she marveled that he wasn’t favoring the foot at all—just going a little slower.

The next morning, Ellen was cleaning Ranger’s stall, and she saw Mingo trying to lie down. As he slowly lowered himself, it hurt and he reversed direction and stood up. He tried it again and just about crashed to the ground. She checked his heel, and it was wet. It probably just burst. She left him that way, and I soaked it in the evening.

After a week of soaking and leading, I took him on a short ride down the hill. All seemed well. The next time I took him out to ride, he was limping on a front leg! I ran my hand down his foreleg, and he had a large area that was hot, swollen and very painful to the touch on the inside of his cannon bone.

I couldn’t believe it. I iced it and called the vet the next morning. He came out and said it was too swollen to determine the cause of the problem. It could be a bruise or a suspensory ligament. Of course, he had been resting in his stall, so it shouldn’t be a ligament, but how did he get a bruise? And, by the way, he has an abscess in the heel of that same foot, and it is ready to burst! Once again, it was in at spot that the vet couldn’t drain.

I had to ice the leg and soak the hoof in hot water. Mingo is a wonderful patient. He allowed me to do both at the same time. In a couple days, the abscess burst and the swelling in his leg was going down. A week later, I called the vet, gave him an update, and he told me to start working Mingo again to see how he does. That night, I trotted him on the lounge line, and he seemed sound. The following day, we rode down the hill and did some trotting, and once again, he was sound.

The next day, I decided to take him out on a real ride. We went out by ourselves. He walked slowly down the hill and crossed the river very much like his old self. I started to trot on the other side. He seemed sound for the first 10 steps or so, and then I felt him go down in the hind. I groaned, but then I realized that he didn’t sink due to lameness, he sunk down to better launch himself into a huge buck of joy! When I got him to stop, I quickly checked my tack to make sure it was a joyful buck and not one from a bad saddling job. The saddle was fine, and we trotted on.

A little down the trail, he bucked again. As we traveled along, he got faster and faster. Once we got to the spots that we like to canter, he really, really trotted fast. There was another buck and a big spook. Mingo felt fine, and he wanted me to know it. I had my horse back. I figured if his leg could survive this ride, it was proof that it was just a bruise. I brought him home sound, and he was fine when I rode him the next day—if a little hyper. He has been sound ever since, and he still hasn’t settled down, either. Maybe in June…

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