Relieved is 100% the word I would choose to describe our current situation.
The nice, quiet, little barn that I had so carefully considered and visited over many months did not turn out to be a great as I had thought. In addition to my horse’s injury that I am still treating, he was consistently not receiving enough water and standing in a soggy wet stall all day. Communication between myself and the barn management was very bad, and despite my constant reminders of care I was being ignored and my full care situation turned into me doing my own care twice a day. I didn’t even trust these people to fill my horse’s water buckets each morning. And it was so weird how when I would visit in the morning and feed and water him that when I came back in the evening his buckets still had some water left and a little hay in the feeder – and when they did it in the morning and I arrived in the evening they were consistently dry and not a speck of hay to be found. Hmm… coincidence? I think not. I was also cleaning his stall twice a day myself even though I was paying for it to be done because shockingly – it was rarely being cleaned (and if it was being cleaned it was not being done well enough). I went out of town for literally 36 hours one weekend. I checked on him early Saturday morning before I left, cleaned the stall and did his wound care and then came back Sunday evening and I swear his stall hadn’t been touched. For a 16.2 hand TB that is on 24 hr stall rest – 36 hours in a stall can be very messy. He was standing past his ankles in manure. After that day I started cleaning his stall twice a day myself.
You think you can trust people to provide just the most basic care, but even that is too much to ask. I can only trust myself. In our 2 months my horse experienced a lacerated pastern and deep digital flexor tendon injury, his first and second set of stitches, being cast for the first time, a lip laceration, being stung by a bee and having a reaction to it, heel bulb lacteration, crumbling feet due to the soggy stall, and a bowed tendon from wearing a fly wrap for 5 hours. Oh I did mention he was on stall rest?
Fortunately, I had not given my stall up at my previous farm just in the event this didn’t work out and man I’m glad I did that. We were able to come back earlier this month after our 2 month nightmare vacation.
You know how I know my horse is relieved and happy? Because of this:
For those who don’t know my horse, he LOVES to lay down. It is not alarming to me to find him full out snoozing in his stall. In the two months we were gone I only caught him laying down once- and as soon as he saw me he immediately jumped up. This picture is within 12 hours of returning home. I was even able to sneak in and get some cuddles before he decided to get up. He always gives me that look that says “5 more minutes please Mom!” This is how I knew he was happy. That – and the fact that my normally trailer-sour horse immediately hopped into the trailer to leave without any hesitation spoke volumes to me.
So my hiatus is hopefully coming to an end. Paisley is finally able to be outside all day after 10 long weeks of stall rest. I’ve been able to stop bandaging his leg each day and we are just applying topical medications to our now small wound. I would estimate he is about 95% sound with just the occasional misstep on the left front. My vet thinks there probably was just a little tendon involvement due to him still having some minor swelling in his fetlock – but since he is a 20 year old horse that is no longer competitive she didn’t feel it was totally necessary to continue the strict stall rest. Even with regular turn out now I think that he is still improving each day. I do have permission to ride him but only at the walk. We are allowed to do light trotting on a lunge line – just a few circles each direction and building on that.
Warning: graphic images below!
If you’re interested in the progress of the healing here are a few pictures I’ve taken throughout the process. The first two are from day 0 and day 1. I apologize for the first picture – I took it very quickly and was a hysterical mess. The second picture is of day 1 and you can see how much was draining and starting an infection.The third picture is about two weeks in after the first sutures came out. We were hoping it would continue to close by second intention but it did not which leads us to picture four- our second round of sutures – day 26 into the ordeal. These sutures lasted only 7 days – as you can see since this is now an “old” wound they were very tight. He was in standing wraps and on extremely strict stall rest at this point to prevent the sutures from drifting but drift they did in picture 6. Fortunately – they did what they were supposed to do and close that internal layer of tissue. The bottom two pictures are finally healing. Yesterday was the picture on the right – finally starting to firm up and scab.
This has been a very stressful journey for both of us, and we are grateful and relieved to be home where we belong. If you have to board there will always be something to complain about, but at least at our farm I know my horse has water and I can control his care each day (without paying for a service that is not being done). I’m happy to be home and happy the farm has welcomed me back with open arms.