Thursday, December 31, 2009

Trail Training Newsletter #108 - Update on Mingo

Update on Mingo

We left Mingo last month with a poulticed hoof for an abscess and a bottle of antibiotics “just in case.”

Good thing I had those antibiotics. I knew that his abscess would probably get worse before it drained. I waited my 5 days, and nothing happened. That day, I took off his poultice, and then I started soaking his hoof. He started to get worse each day. He was limping and walking slower and slower. It looked like the swelling was coming back, too. By Thursday, his leg was swollen like a balloon, and he wouldn’t let me touch it, again. He was back to spinning around his stall on three legs rather than let me put his foot in his soaking boot.

I started him on the antibiotics that night and called my vet the next morning. She told me to give him a big dose of bute, keep up with the antibiotics and see what happened.

The following day, he was much better, but the swelling seemed worse. He did allow me to touch his leg, so I was able to soak it. Leading brought the swelling down some, but the following day it was back. By the third day, he was walking poorly, again. Still no abscess. I called the vet, and she said to give him another dose of bute.

Everything followed the same pattern. Three days later, he was very lame. One very odd thing happened—he starting eating his hay with gusto again. That didn’t even make any sense. Here he has a very sore foot/leg and he is eating better than ever!

The following Friday, the vet came out to see him, again. By now, she didn’t think it was an abscess. To make sure, she did a nerve block. Sure enough, he walked just as poorly after the nerve block as before. Since the bulk of the swelling was above his hock on the inside of the leg, she thought that was the source of the problem. She told me she sees leg swelling like this with horses that have broken their femur, not that she believed that was the problem, but that’s just how bad the swelling was.

She said the whole thing was bizarre.

She said to keep him on the antibiotics and give him 2 grams of bute a day to see if we could just get the swelling down. If we could get the swelling down, maybe we could determine the problem. We hand walked him each day, too.

By Monday, he was walking fast and acting goofy. Each day, the swelling went down a little bit more than the day before. Another thing happened on Monday. A bump that he had on the front of his pastern on that leg—about an inch above his coronet—burst. Yes, it was infected. By now, my head was spinning.

Now this bump showed up late last spring. I had our other vet out to see it shortly after when his leg started swelling. The vet said the bump wasn’t the problem—that he had a hoof abscess in his heel. Sure enough, the next day it started to drain, and then he was fine.

I figured this bump must be ringbone. That hoof is the one that had 2 operations for that bad abscess some years ago. Since then, the hoof has grown odd, and I figured it put strain higher up causing ringbone. I watched that bump all summer. It never was hot or caused lameness. I tried not to worry about it.

When the clinic x-rayed that foot last month, to my surprise, I could see it absolutely wasn’t ringbone. At that point I stopped worrying about it entirely. That’s why I was so surprised when it popped.

Could it have been infected all along? Could a chronic leg infection that didn’t cause lameness have made him lose all that weight? Is that why he acted so sick at the end of October? Is that why he started feeling better when they originally put him on antibiotics for the cellulitis at the clinic? Did it cause the cellulitis and the more recent swelling? Did the long-term use of antibiotics finally helped enough that he wanted to eat his hay again?

All I know for sure is we have to get this thing to heal, too.

I don’t know, and my vet doesn’t know, either. It makes sense, but what about the nerve block? Now, I am just working on healing it up. He is walking as good as ever. He is even trotting sound. We have reduced his bute but kept up the antibiotics. I will call the vet again next week to give her an update and see where we go from there. Right now, things are looking better than they have in a few months. I should have my horse back in the spring when I need him the most. We have nieces we are teaching to ride…

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