Cheryl and Kahlua - photo by Shana Newman

Cheryl and Kahlua – photo by Shana Newman

Finding a new horse doctor is worse than finding a new pediatrician. Actually with my kids we stayed with the same doctor for their entire childhood even if it meant flying 1200 miles for the yearly checkups. (Which should give you a clue with regards to my sanity).

About a year ago my husband, I, horses and dogs moved 350 miles south back to our hometown, leaving behind one of only three veterinarians I’ve ever really liked and trusted. I knew I had to begin the process of finding a local vet but knowing how much I hate this process, I kind of put it off.

Time passed and well, I will admit I’ve been blessed with this mare. In the 5 years she’s been with me, we only needed a vet once outside her annual shots and Coggins. I’m not a “know it all”, but with 30+ years of horse ownership I have seen and dealt with a lot of things, including stitching up a wound in the pasture, so not to many things make me run to the vet.

There was “vet day” at the barn for shots and Coggins… COVERED!!!

One day I showed up to the barn and the mare had weird bumps all along her spine and was super sensitive to the touch. Panic struck!! This one stymied me. Was it bugs?? Was it hypersensitivity?? Could this be neurological??? Oh crap, this is beyond me…. Total panic…

Over the allotted few days I gave it to play out and see, there was crying and yelling and my poor husband got a full load of irrational crazy horse mommy he had never seen before. I wanted to drive my horse back north to Dr. S!!!

I heard one theory after another from the barn manager, from other boarders, from my trainer all talking to me like I was a new to the horse world and trying to assure me although no one has ever seen anything like this so it was probably nothing.

The bumps would go away then be back. The soreness was progressing I could barley touch my horse. I felt it was time for professional advice, with it being 90 degrees out a five hour trailer ride was out of the question.

Having lived in this area before I knew of some doctors to stay away from and for every veterinarian listed in the directory, someone had something bad to say about each one. I did a bit of research on the barn vet and it came back not so pleasant. I called the other doctor that was recommended to me and every phone number was disconnected, sending up red flags.

Finally the decision was made to call a vet that 3 out of 5 people had something good to say about. In the two and half minutes he looked at my mare, he made a diagnosis and sold me medication, Bute and muscle relaxers. He spent most of this time looking through me and talking mainly to the barn owner (not me). Let’s just say I was not impressed or happy. He decided she either became cast, rolled on something in her pasture or my saddle pad was irritating her, (trust me it’s not the pad, I’ll defend my pad with my every last breath).

A week and a half later a different vet was called. In less than two minutes he assessed “it’s the saddle!”

By this time the mare has not had a saddle or rider on her in over four weeks and she has been in this saddle for five years, which is a highly reputable saddle and was professionally fitted and re-done less than two years ago.

A few more days go by, photos are sent and many many phone calls to a doctor I trust. My gut was telling me everyone was wrong and Dr. S said “I can’t tell without seeing her but I know you, go with your gut.”

A few more day passed and the bumps were almost gone as well as the tenderness. The saddle fitter couldn’t come for two weeks. So I decide to try to ride.

I rode the mare for five days straight same saddle, same pad.  We had the best lesson, one of the best rides ever, walk, trot, canter, and latter work… just totally amazing and after each ride I did a complete evaluation of her back… no bumps. no soreness…

Then I get a call from the barn…DA DA DA !!!  “One of the other horses bit your horse leaving marks. We treated it but it’s nothing, she’ll be fine”.

Later I find out that this other horse was caught pinning my mare in a corner of the pasture, biting and kicking her. I was told it took a few guys to break it up and that they had never seen such aggression as this other horse had showed.

AND low and behold !!!!  all the marks were exactly the same. The bumps along her back were from bite marks and the soreness was from being kicked.

For the time being the mare is in a separate pasture and I have two vets on the “do not use” list.