You may recall that last spring I climbed aboard Ben for a ride, and climbed off in a funk that left me wondering whether I’d ever get on him again. Since then, I’ve ridden Commander a few times, but never worked up the courage to try my big beautiful Thoroughbred once more.
But I’ve been feeling mighty tempted lately. Last evening, in fact, I looked at the forecast for today – sunny, upper 70’s, light breezes – and thought, well, this might be a good day to give it a whirl. Certainly get on and walk around the ring. Try a trot, why not? If he booms forward, put him into a circle and keep him too occupied with my aids to get silly. If it goes well, well.... maybe even a short canter? Maybe?
Maybe? Worth a try, surely. Who knows? I went to bed on that thought.
And was yanked out of sleep at 6:00-ish a.m. with a call: “Your horse is three-legged lame.”
When I got to the barn I found Ben in the run-in, pointing his right hind toe and not wanting to move. Patiently, slowly, I got him hopping-hobbling up the driveway to his stall; soaked his presumably abscessed foot with the hot water I’d brought from home; and left him settled in with plenty of hay to go home and wait for the callback from the vet’s office on when they could come see him. No bute or Banamine till the vet has examined Ben.
An hour or so later I got a call: Ben’s pawing the barn down. Solution: bring Commander in to keep him company. A short time later: he’s still pawing the barn down. Must be pain, not absent-buddy angst. I called the vet’s and got approval to get some bute into him, fetched it, and went back to the barn to give Ben another soak and two grams of bute.
I found Ben lying down on his right side, which is where I administered the bute to him – well, whatever paste didn’t spew out with the hay quid he’d been holding, or smear along his face when he twisted his head away; but by golly he got at least two grams eventually. I was worried: Would Ben be able to get back to his feet, especially with the bad leg having to do a lot of the pushing? It was ugly, but he did it. Still toe-pointing. After a while the bute seemed to take hold and he began gingerly, occasionally easing the foot back toward flat, though never fully weight-bearing.
Ben let me pick his foot up and stick it into a bucket of hot water and Epsom salts, but as I did so I noticed that what had been barely discernable puffiness around his fetlock a few hours earlier was now frank edema from the joint up half a dozen inches on the back and sides of the cannon. Oh, crap. This isn’t looking like an abscess; this is looking like a tendon injury. I let the vet’s office know we had something potentially more serious facing us.
When the vet arrived she did several X- rays as well as palpating the area. Good news: No signs of a break in or near the joint. Bad news: Ben has “torqued his suspensory”. He’ll need to be on complete stall rest for at least five, probably ten or even more days; be on a regimen of bute; and apply a topical analgesic, Surpass, daily to the area (be sure to wear gloves!). Oh, and ice the area twice a day while I’m at it.
And, given how codependent he is with Commander, the mighty Morgan will have to join him in the barn to keep him calm, at least for the first several days. Great.
Oh, and the vet confirmed my fears that this injury most likely means the end of Ben’s riding career. Great. Not that I was planning anything strenuous for the future even if our ride today had gone well, but.... Crap.
At least, by the time I left the barn, Ben was feeling the combined effects of the bute and Surpass and was putting that right hind nearly or fully flat for encouraging amounts of time. Let's hope he recovers to paddock sound without difficulty.
Just back from settling the boys for the night and here’s what I found when I looked in on Ben:
He was standing hipshot, his left hind toe-cocked.
His left hind. HIS LEFT HIND. He was letting his injured right hind take the weight.
When he moved, he moved with almost normal freedom. He was quietly perky and happy. He’d devoured every scrap of hay, sucked down two full buckets of water, since I’d left them around 2:00, and he was looking for more, please!
Okay, yes, okay, he’s got a metric buttload of bute aboard, plus that insanely effective topical analgesic. And the edema is still present – firm and smooth, not particularly warm to the touch.
But still! What a world of difference from the pathetic hobbling creature of this morning.
I begin to nourish hope.