This is a fairly long post – every time I thought it was near-ready to post, it wasn’t, and I kept going.
Once I figured out that there was no way ‘Fetti and I were in shape for Fireworks – either of us! – I started contemplating. How else could we be involved? It fell into my lap: we could drag ride the last 10ish miles from the vet check back to camp. I could ride her to camp, get trailered with my fellow drag rider to the vet check, ride back to camp, ride home. Twenty mile day, no serious timeframe, pull ribbons, be useful. She could stay on her breathing meds. Lots of win. That was supposed to be my next post: we did a thing!
Either Wednesday night or Thursday morning before Fireworks, after some negotiation, I passed the second drag rider spot off to a family member of the first drag rider. It only made sense for them to go together! It’s home territory for me. I could still go out and pull ribbons in one little section of trail, and help out in other places. Easy enough. Twenty miles might have been a lot to ask, anyway.
Thursday evening, I snagged C’s wheelbarrow when she was done cleaning her two stalls and took it over to Fetti. I still had the wheelbarrow right outside the back-side of her stall, and was lamenting the stomping she’d given the broom that I must have left in there a day or two prior. Sigh. I should know better. I do know better! Confetti tilted her head to fit it through the top panel, straightened it as she checked out the wheelbarrow: anything edible? Nope? Oh. OK then. She backed up with her feet, went straight back with her head..
and didn’t fit.
She’d already committed to backwards with her feet and body. All the pressure was on her neck and throat, hung up in the panel. Bless her, she paused for a moment, trying to figure this one out, waiting to see if the humans would fix this one – and when I couldn’t find an answer fast enough , she tried a second time to go straight back. I couldn’t figure out how to ask her to move forwards, as I was still standing in front of her, and she had no leverage behind; I couldn’t get behind her fast enough from outside the stall, and I’m not sure what I could have done from behind. My heart sunk as I pictured her taking the fence down with her, having the roof collapse (it had to be the panel that holds the roof up and is already somewhat unstable), having her break her neck, any or all of the above. I yelled for C, who made it over as quick as she could, stuck the baby pony in a free stall, and helped assess.
Fetti had quit pulling by now, but was completely collapsed behind, her head and neck stretched up and out, sitting on her hindquarters and not doing it very gracefully. As we very quickly looked at ‘can we take down panels’ and ‘do we find the barn owner to cut it’ and ‘can we get her up’, Fetti decided since the silly humans were still not helping, she had to take matters back into her own hooves, and pulled again. This time she must have tilted her head, because all I saw was her collapsing backwards and her head no longer stuck. (I do not have any photos. After the fact, C and I were both a little bit sad that we had no photos. It was both really impressive and fairly traumatic to look at. Only my nice experienced older horse..)
We yanked the flymask and assessed: scrape on the neck, scrapes on her hocks, scrapes on her face, swelling at her throat. Cold-hosing time. Except – cold-hosing the throat? – maybe ice packs might be a better idea.
Don’t normal people have friends with family that bring their nice new icepacks out to the barn to use on your pony? Everyone should have friends this amazing. Everyone should also have a pony this amazing; Fetti didn’t appear to notice that she had icepacks strapped to her head. And, in typical Haflinger fashion, she tried to drag me to loose hay on the ground when we went back to retrieve grain for her evening dose of bute. No injury shall get in the way of eating.
Thursday night, she looked a little stiff, more so trotting one direction than the other. We also noted a new lump on her left hind. She’d just done battle with the fence, though, so that seemed fair enough.
Friday morning, more bute, no noticeable change anywhere. Mildly upset at being asked to trot circles before breakfast.
Friday midday, status check: about the same.
We did a very leisurely five-ish miles solo pulling ribbons on Saturday in serious heat. She seemed relatively sound walk/trot. I was super stiff, and she didn’t feel entirely quite right somehow, so I hiked here and there. Very good pony. We still did a thing and we were still useful. I think I gave her Sunday and Tuesday both off, or maybe a brief round pen session Tuesday to see how she looked.
Thursday the chiropractor came out. He adjusted her poll and low back, showed me a few stretches to do, might have adjusted a couple ribs, was baffled that her breathing was screwed up (me too, me too), and was generally quite complimentary. I know he wasn’t giving the same spiel to everyone and I was really pleased with some of the suggestions I heard for other horses, as well as with his assessment that he probably won’t need to do much for Confetti very often. She takes good care of herself.
Prior to the chiropractor, I worked her briefly in the round pen. I asked for a few steps of canter and she looked deeply discombobulated, more so in one direction than the other, but neither was very pretty. Whoa. Unimpressed. Walk/trot looked OK, though. I noted that the lump on her leg looked about the same as a week prior but was not hot to the touch. (I’d been watching it, but this was the first time I snapped photos – or had good lighting for photos.)
Saturday I asked C to watch her in the round pen. I warmed her up at the trot, asked for the canter, and she looked.. fine? Tiny bit of an odd step in one direction, and then she sorted it out and it was better, and it was downright normal the other way. Well. OK then. We turned her out with the baby (three-year-old) pony and they both went flying around throwing bucks. I did not regret not riding.
Sunday Fetti and I went for a teeny-tiny trail ride across the river for the first time this year. Finally, it’s open! She felt sound. However, there’s still that nagging lump on the left hind. I waffled. Earlier in the week, I’d mentally given her until Sunday to sort this one out. I don’t like unneeded vet calls, but I also didn’t like where the lump was at and the lack of improvement.
Monday morning I called the vet. The horse appears, at this point, to be sound. I’m not sure what I want them to do aside from tell me the lump on her leg is nothing to be worried about. I appear to be concerned enough to pay for that vet call. I can’t turn off the “but what if” after googling “bump near fetlock.” It’s like looking at WebMD: it could be acne! It could be cancer! You might be fine! You might be dying! Call your doctor immediately, or maybe don’t worry about it!
And so Tuesday the vet came out. She’s sound at the trot – until they flexed that joint and asked us to trot out again, and then she wasn’t. She wasn’t head-bobbing dead lame, but she wasn’t right, and I could sort of hear it even trotting her. Why yes – my endurance pony can still trot out. Good mare.
The lump is at the bifurcation of the suspensory. She shows no reaction to palpation. The fact that she’s sound without flexion ten days out is promising but certainly not a guarantee of anything. The question at this point is whether she just beat up the tissues, or if there’s a tear/bigger problem going on. We’re starting with 30 days of handwalking, then 30 days of tack-walking, then re-assess. If she’s still lame with flexion at that point, we’ll ultrasound, probably at one of the bigger clinics. I don’t think it made sense to start with an ultrasound right now: one, it’s expensive, two, we’re going conservative treatment, and I’m not sure it would have changed our game plan much. She’d still be resting for two+ months if there was a tear. I did get ace so that I can drug as necessary. Fetti is not one I’ve ever expected to do well on extended rest, so one of my first questions absolutely was whether I could drug her!
We’re to avoid deep sand (hi, arena) and hills (hi, trails further than a mile out). I did get the OK to hop on to cross the river if we go hand-walking out there, that way I don’t have to get soaking wet. Thank you vet M for understanding that we’re trail riders and going to be bored walking in circles for two months. She did suggest wraps or boots when riding/handwalking to make sure she doesn’t overextend that joint. I haven’t historically worried about wrapping, but I know how to do polos, and I can pick up boots for going through the river.
So. There you have it: radio silence not because it’s been quiet around here, but because we never hit a good stopping point to write about.