2 weeks ago the mid atlantic had what turned out to be a snow/ice event with 6″ of snow followed by probably 7 hours of sleet and some freezing rain and snow. Basically, all of the snow compacted and we ended up with 5″ inches of concrete. Then there was a hard freeze.
Everyone cares for horses differently. Some people lock up during storms (keep in mind, we were expecting a blizzard and were in the 18-24″ category). Some people turn out. My guys live out with 24/7 access to shelter. They always have. Jiminy and Batty would be fine living in a stall somewhere (though with my set up, this really isn’t an option), but Subi has never been one who does well with stall rest. It brings him back to life on the track? I don’t know. He’s survived stall rest, but normally stall rest requires some help by drugs. As for stalling part of the time? It’s never been something he’s adjusted to. I’ve tried it when I had access to stalls, but there is a trade off. The trade off being he doesn’t eat. I can stall him to eat (when I had that set up–we worked our way up to 1.5 hours), but anything more leads to too much paces/walking off weight, etc.
So, with the storm coming, I packed the shed with hay nets (plus they always have a round bale out elsewhere), filled the unheated paddock trough, and basically fed dinner, added blankets, and said goodnight. Come morning, everyone was hanging out in the shed with no intention of leaving. See, that’s the thing. They’re happy to go in themselves and stay put, just don’t force them in. So, we skipped breakfast and didn’t feed until dinner when the mess had stopped.
By dinner Subi was bored and had wondered out (the other bums had to be coaxed out to play with treats–they had food so why leave?). That night and the next couple of days it was super cold with a hard freeze and you could walk on top of the frozen mess–even the horses for the most part. Which caused problems. See, when Subi would walk, it was step, step, step, leg fall through. Step, step, step, leg fall through. So, he’d be really cautious while walking but…
So on Thursday (3/16), I got home from work (sick), I looked out the window and notice that Subi was moving strangely. He was off, lame, but not necessarily lame lame if you know what I mean? I walked out and found his entire left hind stocked up with some heat around his stifle. He was definitely reactive when I’d mess with it, but certainly not 3-legged and while there was heat, it wasn’t hot or super swollen. Your could really see how off he was on turns (of course) but the more he moved, the better he looked, the more he stood, the worse he looked. I do want to add on thing about Subi. He isn’t lame. Ever.
While most people would say I should have gotten the vet out, I didn’t. If it is a serious stifle injury, most horses don’t come back completely from them. I’m not going to put him on stall rest with hand walking (my shed can be converted to a stall so yes, that is an option). I am NOT doing that to this horse. Without serious drugs, he will cause massive injury to himself and others, lose weight, not eat (and he won’t eat on drugs), and possibly kill himself. For what? I just need him to be pasture sound and comfortable and happy. I’d put him down before I’d do stall rest (a decision I made years before).
So, right now, we’re doing bute and he’s taking it easy. The swelling and heat are finally gone (yay!). Finally! And he’s walking normally again as of this weekend. But, my gut still says he’s protecting himself. He’s not joining in when Jiminy is carrying on and while he’s the mud lover, he’s less covered then he’d normally be and not on both sides. Saturday morning I gave him a nice grooming and after went to groom Batty (and promptly gave up–see evidence below *it would help if I included evidence*) and Subi did canter up to shoo Batty away but he’s not trotting so… I do want to get him out on the driveway and trot him and see where we stand. I do think that he’s just going to be a pasture pet which is fine.
After fighting with squirting crushed bute in applesauce down his throat,
we’ve mastered the bute-stud muffin pill pocket!
I don’t know. But my gut just tells me something is up. And watching him move. And stand. And carry himself… So it might just be a strain. It might be a slight tear. Who really knows. But, my job is to keep him happy and comfortable. I owe him that.
And we’ll see where he is. We’ll see if he needs something to keep him comfortable long term. Obviously bute isn’t a long term solution. But, that’s ok.