Early morning phone calls are almost never good news. The only good news I can imagine is that your mare gave birth to the long-awaited foal. Otherwise, the conversations typically start with, “You might need to call the vet.” When Ms. C called just after 8 a.m. this past Tuesday, I knew that there would be some bad news headed my way – no possible pregnancies with either of my geldings… The only question that remained was, “Which horse?” It turns out that it was Ike’s brother Cigar who was not feeling well.
When it came time to walk to his paddock, poor Cigar was three-legged lame. He was almost non-weight bearing on his left hind leg. At that time, there was no heat or swelling anywhere else on the leg. Ms. C thought that she seen him take a wonky step on Monday, but there was no obvious signs of trauma on the leg. Ms. C suggested that I call the vet to determine what we should do. The only other times that Cigar had acted this way were when he had a abscess in his left front hoof and when a hoof treatment on his feet accidentally burned the bulbs of his heels. So obviously, we suspected an abscess.
I placed a call to the vet and hopped in the car for the 30 minute drive to the barn. The vet suggested we administer Banamine to help with Cigar’s comfort level, and call her back after an hour to reassess. The Banamine obviously helped, but Cigar was still not his usual self. This is the point where knowing your horse’s normal behavior is very helpful. While the Banamine was helpful, Cigar was still not interested in eating his breakfast. That is definitely NOT normal for this horse with a voracious appetite. After conferring with the vet, we decided to give him 24 hours before having the vet come.
Well, you can guess how Wednesday morning started…Ms. C called just after 7 a.m. and said we needed a vet to come that day. Overnight, the leg had swollen to sausage size from the stifle all the way to the hoof. Oh. Guess we aren’t going to get lucky with an abscess. Cigar was still not showing much interest in food or moving. Poor buddy. My day was rearranged to accommodate the vet appointment. The patient was cooperative with the examination. The cooperation was only due to his pain level; he is usually an ass for any veterinary procedure.
Diagnosis? Cellulitis. Prognosis? Very good. Course of Treatment? Fourteen SMZ pills twice a day for two weeks (392 pills – I did the math.) He is also getting some Bute for the first three days. Thank goodness the SMZ pills dissolve into water so they can be administered via syringe straight into his mouth. Wish us luck once Cigar starts feeling better. I see white paste in my hair and all over my clothing. Knowing my luck, it will stain. I also wouldn’t put it past him to sneak a bite or two on my hand/arm/body part closest to his mouth.
Well good drugs are a good thing. As of Friday afternoon, Cigar was showing signs of “normal” behavior, although, some would argue that nothing Cigar does is normal. He nickered for his meals and ate everything, walked around his paddock, tried picking up the water trough with his mouth (not sure why this is his new favorite pastime), played with Ike over the fence, AND, the biggest sign of all, he rolled in the mud. Yes, the leg is still huge, but I am so relieved that my old man is on the mend.
p.s. Ike is also glad his brother is on the mend. He is not used to his brother getting the bulk of Mom’s attention. Can you say jealous? Silly pony.