Friday, October 01, 2010

Poor Belle

Belle is my 24 year-old Quarter Horse mare.  She was almost my first horse back in 2003 when I was looking.  Instead, I bought Tommy and few months later, my friend Lori bought Belle.  It was a great combination because Lori and I would take weekly riding lessons together as well as ride together during the week.  So, we also spent a lot of time with each others' horses!  At the end of 2006, Lori was looking to move up in her type of horse (by this time, Belle was 19 years old) but wanted to make sure Belle would go to a good home.  We only had Tommy and Butters at the time so I said, "Sell Belle to me!"  I knew she'd make a great 'husband horse', was calm, trustworthy, etc.  And that is how Belle came to live with us.  And she's been a wonderful addition to our herd ever since.  

So, that grand introduction is all leading up to what happened Sunday.  I came up to the barn Sunday morning to feed.  Everyone was in their stalls, waiting expectantly for breakfast.  I fed and we left for church.  We were gone most of the morning and into the afternoon so I didn't return to the barn until Sunday evening to feed dinner.  Belle was waiting in her stall and that was when I noticed her back right leg was swollen from her hoof all the way up to her hip!  You can see how large it is in comparison to the other leg!

Belle sometimes will stock up when standing in her stall overnight but she had been turned out and this was way beyond stocking up.  I knew something was wrong.  There were no obvious cuts, marks, sores, etc. but, Belle had something similar happen a few months ago when her front leg completely swelled up.  Vet came out, diagnosed it as cellulitis and put her on an antibiotic.  Within 24 hours, her leg was back to normal.  So, I was hoping it was the same situation here.  We decided to wait until morning to call the vet so I hosed her leg down with cold water, gave her bute, put an ice wrap on her leg, did everything I could to try and resolve it on my own. 

Monday morning, Belle was out in the pasture grazing (which was a good sign, I thought).  But as I watched her limp into the stall for breakfast, I realized she was the same.  So, even though I thought it was another case of cellulitis, I didn't want her to founder her good leg because she was putting all her weight on it.  I called my wonderful vet, Dr. Lampe who luckily, was nearby and at my barn within a few hours.  Upon examination, he noticed Belle seemed quite tender to the touch on the upper part of her leg.  He decided to take some x-rays to rule out a fractured leg.

That is Dr. Lampe holding the x-ray 'gun' on the left and my horse chiropractor, Kathy Lyons on the right holding the film that captures the image.  I had her appointment booked to work on Tommy and the gray thoroughbred for a few months and it happened to coincide with this event!  The great thing about Dr. Lampe is he is completely portable so I didn't have to trailer Belle into a vet's office for the x-rays, he did it right then and there!

Well, to my surprise, turns out Belle has a fractured tibia!  We have no idea how she did it; she was in a stall and turnout all by herself so we know no other horses were involved. And unfortunately, Belle is not telling us how she did it!  I guess the only good thing is she was down in weight a bit when this happened.  I was going to start upping her grain to get some fat on her for the coming winter but now I'm holding off a bit because the decrease in weight is actually better for her joints and especially for the back left leg (the good leg) which she is standing on all the time now.  The good news, my vet informed me, is that it could have been much worse.  There is no casting involved - just stall rest with some antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs.  The bad news is that stall rest is for 6 weeks.  And oh yeah, she can't lay down for fear that when she goes to stand up, she'll completely snap the bone.  Fun times.

So, to give her some mobility but keep her from laying down, we rigged this cable up in her stall and tied her now padded halter (to prevent chaffing and rubbing) to it.  She can walk around but can't get her head low enough to lay down.

Which sounds all nice and good except that she's pulled the cable down each night.  I'm not sure if she's been laying down or just trying to get to the far corner of her stall where there is another water source but I am now awake at night, worrying that she is laying down and that one of these times, she's going to stand up, snap her leg and I'm going to have to put her down! *sigh*  Oh Belle, could you puhleeze not break the cable anymore and just resign yourself to having to stand?  I would really like some more sleep ;-)

I talked with Dr. Lampe again yesterday to update him on Belle's condition and it seems she's coming along fine.  He did give me the go ahead to hand walk her to the pasture and let her graze.  This is a huge mental break for her.  So I did this as soon as we got off the phone and I was happy to see she's walking MUCH better and putting more weight on the bad leg.  This is important because on Monday, the farrier is coming to put a shoe and pad on the bad leg to help give her more cushion and support.  In order to do this, Belle obviously has to put all her weight on the bad leg so he can lift up the good leg to attach the pad and shoe.  We're not out of the woods yet but so far, so good!

Until next time... 

1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad the vet was able to find the problem but I don't envy the treatment you are having to do. I feel silly for complaining about having to clean the fish tank.


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