Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Anniversary of why I am a worry warrior

On this very day two years ago, marks the event that has turned me into the worry warrior that I am it PTSD or neurosis but either way it scarred me for life. I had two horses injured at one point before this and was all "they'll be fine" and took it all in stride, but for whatever reason, this event did me in.
Tillie was depressed and lethargic when I got imagine my alarm when my
bright eyed and usually nutty OTTB was acting this way even after being stalled for 24 hours.

I worked a full day of work when I was driving home and got a call from a barnmate. They said Tillie's leg was swollen...and I should call me vet because she was non weight bearing and had a high fever. As I said, I have had injuries before, but this was the first potential career ending or worse yet life ending injury.

So one panicked call to my vet later he was on his way while I cold hosed her leg which looked even worse then I imagined.

Holy moly fat leg batman

The crazy thing is, we had just had a snow storm, so everyone was in stalls all night and day so I was not sure how on earth she could have done such a number on herself. I start rattling off all the possible things it could be and literally felt like I couldnt breath...after all I only have had Tillie at this point since July - roughly 7 months.

Tucked away just after being poked and prodded all night.
The vet came and right away administered bute and banimine as well as antibiotics as well as tapped the joint fluid to check for a joint was too swollen to ultrasound, but we xrayed to rule out any breaks. Basically it turned into a waiting game..if she wasnt any better by the next day to clinic we would go as well as wait for the joint fluid results.
Where the joint fluid was pulled

I was up and at the barn by 4am with Tillie still a bit under the weather...and I couldnt wait to take a look at her.  I breathed a slight sigh a relief...the swelling was down slightly. Not great, but she was walking on it slightly better..still hobbling on it, but wanting and willing to move.

The next day...still depressed, but more mobile.

 Called my vet and he gave us our orders to sit tight and wait: So we pressed on to another day with orders to cold hose and DMSO and wrap 2x a day. Side note: my vet was phenomenal through this case...he really did answer and ASK for me to call him all hours of the day with updates and texts, videos and pictures. I didnt blog yet so ALL of these pictures were to send to him for updates.

The swelling seemed stagnant the next few days which continued to worry me. Luckily some worries were assuaged when we got the results that the joint fluid was clear with no just begged the question what on earth this was all from. At this point my vet started throwing around cellulities but kept saying it was just odd the swelling was being so persistent.

The next day:

Still giant :( so my vet planned to come out and do a regional profusion where he basically used a tourniquet  below her stifle and then pumped IV antibiotics directly into her leg for close to an hour. She was already taking oral antibiotics and banimine, plus got another shot of Exceed (i think) - thick peanut butter like antibiotic. At this point I started her on rantidine to help with digesting all the bute and SMZs.

Day three after the initial event:

Her skin was starting to crack and peel in some areas from the pressure from the swelling so we combated that to prevent further infection and did the first overnight sweating of the limb - DMSO  plus Furacin saran wrapped under a standing bandage.

I could hardly believe the improvement the next morning! We were cleared after this to start hand walking a few laps and now she was at least standing without pointing the limb and only a 3/5 lameness.

The vet had me only cold hose in the morning and no longer DMSO since she was starting to show scurfing and irritation, but it was progress. So he had us do another overnight sweat:

It was getting there, but the hock was still retaining ALOT of swelling that my vet seemed a bit perplexed about. He decided to keep having us hand walk and if she could remain calm, try limited hour long turn out in the round pen so she could move a bit more and see if more movement would help. 

So I would go every day before work at 4am to rewrap it and administer meds to make sure she ate them and again after work to cold horse or sweat the limb, hand walk her and then turn her out while I cleaned her stall and set it up for the next 24 hours. 

Tillie was much brighter and eating more.
My vet must have not been 100% confident in movement working, so he decided to come out and do an ultrasound...the first of many of the next few weeks. I started to worry again more since we were improving in many ways but the swelling still just wasnt going anywhere. I started researching other treatments and purchased a hand held cold laser therapy machine that was the correct strength for horses and added that to our routine BUT it seemed to drastically help!

Looks kind of like this

Some definition coming back t the limb but the hock still huge.

 My vet still couldnt find anything depsite all the ultrasounding and finally referred me to go to a specialist since he was concerned he was missing something.

Notice her skin funk and scurfing from all the touching, prodding, cold hosing.

So The next day I packed up a trailer and off we went to our local hospital. It was my first time hauling by myself and it was terrible not having anyone there. Plus Tillie wasnt nearly as good at loading she she is now so it was stressful all around.

Tillie waiting to go to the clinic.

 More sedation and alcohol on the leg for ultrasounding...poor things leg was so dry from it all I wasnt sure how much more it could take. The specialist spent some time on the phone with my vet and looked over the xrays and all in all said it was just a weird case, BUT it was cellulitis and just keep doing what we are doing and even start building up to turn out. He prescribed previcox to get her off the bute and give her stomach a break and told me go home and turn her out for a few hours and just watch her in case she got too excited.

Way to stay calm Tillie
Well she didnt exactly stay calm, but she was fine by the time she was still enough for me to catch her.

Random note: the fact that I can remember this all two years later is a testament to how much this all scarred me. 

We had another snow storm looming and now Tillie was starting to feel better she started getting a bit rowdy in her stall...5 yr old OTTB on stall rest for a few weeks = crazy town. She would start losing it whenever she heard me coming knowing I was the one feeding her and letting her get out of the box. 


Weirdo licking the stall door.
So yea, stall licking was happening alot so I started her on electrolytes and a salt block in her food bowl which she never failed to throw it out into her bedding and bury it somewhere. This also marks when we attempted to move her stall next to another horse on stall rest to see if it would help calm her down but it only made them kick and fuss at each other all we moved them a stall apart so they could see each other but not make contact. 

because bandage bows happen when kicking happens

So yea...a minor set back from the bandage bow from it slipping from her kicking. But moving them and ace did the trick. At least for a period of time...She started losing weight from all the stress, but also she started going through a growth spurt. (can anyone say bum high!?)

We built up to a few hours out each day in a small paddock and while Tillie wasnt exactly good about staying calm, she managed to keep herself out of trouble. That is until a few days into turn out her leg was much larger again...coincidentally after the snow started to melt and there was mud, so my vet though a relapse :(

See Mom I am being good!

Not to keep boring everyone with details but it was a long process...I moved her from this facility for a while to one of my trainers and was a working student for a while thinking that would at least educate me more while on the sidelines.

So we settled in there and finished out rehabbing and working up to full turn wasnt without its ups and downs.

just after stepping off the trailer

This is about the time Tillie discovered she was a fire breathing dragon...below is a still frm a video I was taking for my vet to show progress.

We started back into light work after another month...but she continued to come in with random injuries and had lingering swelling in the limb for quite some time. She was still not 100% sound even after moving her to the facility we are at now (where I teach lessons and much closer to home). The entire summer of 2015 was spent battling this lameness and trying to figure out if it was related or not (right hind was not stepping under her as much as the left).  

Here is some from her in April.

soooo much poulticing

Looks who started gaining weight and evening back out!

June starting back into work:

and a puncture wound....setting us back about a week again.

Then we moved to where we are now and after a few more weeks off  from what we thought was suspensory strain in that same leg....and DMSO....I could RIDE!!! ALLL smiles :)

So ultrasounds showed nothing, and the residual lameness my vet had us tackle it by putting on hind shoes, a slow build up back into full work (like so slow) and pentosan. Its been slow but shes been SOUND. I make this part of the story sound less stressful then it was. But I was told to ride my horse and see what every ride I was asking people does she look ok? for fear of it getting worse or not getting better.  

She has been off the pentosan now for a full year (I took her off last winter) but her hind shoes are still on. You guys have since heard what we have been up to since then...Now I get to worry about normal training things like her trying not to kill me and while I get upset and down sometimes on where we are, I always am soooooo grateful I have a horse that is ride-able. 

winter 2015 


  1. Cellulitis is no joke, and poor Tillie looks like she had an epic battle. I'd be scarred for life, too!

  2. Wow! I would be beyond scarred... I'm glad Tillie is doing better.

  3. ugh that leg tho.... that's really just so terrible. so glad her recent fat leg was a false alarm!!!! :(