Its been a long two months at Stori Stable. Since the end of May, we’ve just been bouncing from one illness or injury to another among the lovely residents. No one is riding; no one is having fun. I guess the only positive is that I’ve spent more time in my barn on a daily basis than I have in a very, very long time.
My lovely horse, Slewy, was the first problem.
In late May, he was looking “off” – not moving quite right in the hind. That turned into a full-blown neurological episode. He walked like he was extremely drunk and had no idea where his feet were. We tested for EPM (equine protozoal myloencephalitis – I think that’s correct spelling), Lyme, Vitamin E / Selenium deficiency – and considered a bunch of other things. None of his tests came back particularly conclusive and his symptoms didn’t clearly point to any one thing.
After lots and lots of medications (so many that he stopped eating for awhile – I think the “cure” was becoming worse than the disease), he’s doing better. EPM is our best guess at this point; although, Lyme would explain many of his lifelong symptoms of shifting leg lameness, behavior changes, and other “quirks” like skin sensitivity.
I just want to take a minute and say that EPM is a horrible, horrible disease. We lost the kids’ first pony to it several years ago. Treatment is super expensive and does not come with any guaranteed results. And, horses can relapse. It strikes dread into my heart. More on exactly what EPM is another day.
Slewy’s walking is close to normal most of the time and he’s back his normal, inquisitive, happy self. Now we’re trying to get his various sores to heal. He really cut himself up when he couldn’t walk and, since he was so unstable on his feet, we couldn’t get close to him to treat them right away. We’re also trying to get his right hind to stop swelling randomly. Vet ultrasounded it last week and saw a lot of fluid but no tears in the tendons or anything super bad. That’s good but what exactly is going on with him is anyone’s guess.
Then, there’s Stormy, my old guy.
Last October, when we evacuated the horses to the fairgrounds for the Kincade Fire, Stormy came home with a cut on the outside of his right hind fetlock. (Fetlock – think ankle on a person). It looked like just a cut and I treated it but didn’t think much of it. Even when it didn’t heal super nicely, I didn’t worry too much. The horse is 31, after all.
And then, suddenly one day, his entire fetlock was swollen to twice its normal size and the “cut” looked nasty. Of course, it was in the evening so having the vet out would have meant paying for an emergency call. Ugh.
As we were standing around, debating what to do, my daughter (who wants to be a horse vet and spends one day a week with our vet) says, “I’m going to poke it!” “Ok”, I said, thinking that was as good a first step as any.
She poked and a ton of pus and other yuck came flying out. Ok . . . good? Yeah, I’m thinking that was the way to go.
The vet eventually came out and x-rayed it to make sure there wasn’t some foreign object in there, some bone involvement, or something else going on. X-rays said all was clear so we set out on a course of irrigating it and wrapping it daily. He’s looking good.
Next up? Smokey! The 4 year old mini.
He seemed “off” one day . . . lethargic, depressed, and not at all himself. We tested for . . . EPM! And started him on EPM medication right away. Early treatment is key if treatment is going to help at all. Results? Inconclusive! Because we think his blood might have gotten mixed up with Ghostie (my daughter’s horse – we tested him too) at the vet or the lab.
Thankfully, we caught it super early, treatment worked and Smokey is back to his ADD self.
And then . . . Ghostie! (I’m telling you . . . its truly been never-ending.) You may recall that Ghostie was a rescue (have I written Ghostie’s story here? I don’t remember.) My daughter has spent a year working with him . . . nurturing him back to health, gaining his trust, learning his quirks. They had just gotten to riding consistently and were really making progress. She had had two lessons with her trainer on him. All her hard work was paying off.
And then . . . he tore his lateral extensor tendon (again, think outside of your ankle). Best case scenario . . . 3 months off. No riding. No turn-out. No . . . nothing except a very few minutes of hand-walking (leading your horse around) twice a day and icing. That’s his “icing boot” on his hind leg.
Finally . . . back to Slewy. The angry looking growth on the tip of his penis (I’ll spare you the photos) is “summer sore”, where flies lay their eggs and cause . . . well, an angry looking growth. Thankfully, its pretty easily treated with an ointment and he’s really cooperative about letting me smear it on twice a day.
So, there. That’s the update. No riding. No fun. But lots of time in the barn for morning and evening therapy / treatment / re-wrapping of various owies.
I. Love. My. Horses.