"Smile! It keeps your brain from falling out when you're frustrated!" - Clinton Anderson (Downunder Horsemanship)

"They say boys never grow up, their toys just get bigger. I say I never grew up, my 'My Little Ponies' just got bigger!" - Me

Friday, August 26, 2011

Cody's Turn

While Lady's had kind of a crazy summer with sunburn and sweet itch, Cody's hasn't been much better either. Things have been pretty up and down with her knee. I'm not entirely sure how successful I would call her knee surgery. She's definitely not rideable sound, and at this point, I have my doubts that she ever will be. But I'm at least hoping for pasture sound, which she seems to be lately, though I'm worried how things will be once cold weather begins to set in, will she be too uncomfortable to make it through winter? I don't know.

At MSU after surgery in December
But this summer she's had her ups and downs. Thankfully more ups as far as lameness than downs. She was hand walking 30 or 40 minutes 3 or 4 days a week ponying out on the trails with Lady and I without much trouble. Once she got warmed up, she seemed to move along pretty well. But Mother Nature kind of spoiled that with a long stretch of 90+ degrees with 100+ heat index. I didn't want to move much in that, let alone make my horses go for a walk in the hot sun. So cool hose downs and maybe a short walk were pretty much the name of the game. Lately, the skeeters will carry you away if you stray too far from the barn.  But even without all the walking, Cody seemed to do ok on her knee. She had a weird week at one point where she was really sore, then seemed to bounce back from it.

A couple weeks ago she came galloping and bucking full speed all the way across the pasture trying to escape one of those B-52 Bomber flies. The last time she pulled a galloping stunt like that this spring, she was three legged lame for days, it took her a week to get back to where she had been as far as lameness. She was so worried about the fly attacking her and trying to get away from it, I wasn't sure if she remembered the gate was coming up fast, let alone be able to stop in time, I'm just picturing the wreck about to happen. This is Cody after all, and "disaster" seems to be her middle name. And sure enough, her head pops up, her ears fly forward, and that look of "Oh sh*t!" crosses her face as she realizes with the fence on one side and Lady galloping along on the other side, there's no where to go but straight into the gate. Somehow she managed to execute a sliding stop that would have been the envy of any reining horse and brought new meaning to the term "draggin' ass", and only bumped her nose on the gate. And sure enough, she was three legged lame from her antics (but she did get away from that fly and managed not to crash). Oh Cody. But thankfully she seemed to walk it off after a few steps, and an hour later, was pretty much back to her "normal" level of lameness. So that there is progress. Small victories.

She is due for x-rays again. The last ones were back in April I believe. But instead of having my regular vet do the x-rays again, I decided to take her back to MSU to see the surgeon this time. Since Cody seems to be the first successful failure of this surgery, I really wanted Dr. Caron to see her again and get his thoughts, what went wrong, has the joint healed like it should have, see if maybe there's something more than just the knee adding to her lameness, what more can I do for her to try to keep her as comfortable as possible to be a retired pasture pet, especially with cold weather a few months away. Thankfully I do have options still to try, such as daily bute or a different devil's claw and yucca supplement, joint injections to the other two joints in that knee, Adequan or Legend injections, maybe one of the magnetic/ceramic knee wraps, she'd probably benefit from seeing a chiropractor.

So she was supposed to go in to MSU on Tuesday this week, I couldn't wait to see new x-rays and see what Dr. Caron thought. Especially since last week, she started getting really lame again. Good thing she's going to MSU on Tuesday. It kept getting worse, by Saturday she was three legged lame, it took her forever to walk across the pasture to come in for dinner. I cleaned out her foot, and that seemed fine, no rocks or anything stuck in there. I couldn't find any heat or swelling in her knee, but she wanted no part of walking on it. I was just sick and heart broken, her knee was giving out, just like Wayne's did. I went home in tears. Sunday she was marginally better, at least walking on it, but still horribly lame.

But when I went to pick up her foot to clean it out, I discovered a tiny weeping sore at the front of her foot on the coronet band! She blew out an abscess! No wonder she'd been so lame lately! I feel awful, and feel like an idiot, I never even thought to check for an abscess (yes, I clean and handle her feet daily, but I always have gloves on about 90% of the time that I'm handling my horses since a few years ago my body decided it was allergic to horse dander, so I totally missed the heat in her foot)! I just assumed it was her knee getting worse. But I have never been so happy in my life to have a horse with an abscess. An abscess is far more treatable than a knee giving out. And after a good cleaning and soaking, sure enough, there was the tiny pinhead sized black hole in her whiteline on the bottom of her foot where everything started. Poor girl!

This is the first abscess I've had to deal with on one of my own horses. So I called my farrier, because I know he's really good with abscesses, there are some vets that call him to come and dig out abscesses for them. Since it had already blown out the coronet band, he probably didn't need to come dig this one out, at this point it should drain itself pretty well, so soak it twice a day to help draw everything out and call him in 2 days with a progress report, or sooner if it starts building heat again or she goes dead lame again and he'll come right down. And blow out an abscess she did. What started out as a tiny hole in her coronet band about as big around as the end of my little finger turned into about an inch and a half weeping sore by Monday night. Ouch!

But so far so good soaking twice a day. At least it's not oozing any more, still pretty angry looking, but not draining. And she's walking better, but still a little ouchy, but I'm not sure if it's because of the foot, or the knee, or both, with the knee problem added in the mix, it's hard to tell. And thankfully in a better mood the last few days, Monday night while crouching down to work on that foot, I felt the careful warning scrape of teeth across the top of my ballcap letting me know how she felt about the situation, along with several dirty looks. Yesterday the heat was finally gone in her hoof wall, but still some heat right at the coronet band, so my farrier said soak her a couple more days till the heat was gone there too to make sure we get rid of any infection. I also took pictures of it and emailed them to him. He said it looked like your typical abscess and looked to be starting to heal fine, just keep an eye on it and keep him posted.  Tonight the heat in the coronet band was finally gone.

So it's been a long week. Every morning has pretty much gone something like this (and repeated every evening):
  • 5:30 am - crawl out of bed
  • 5:45 am - stumble to truck, hot water and breakfast in hand
  • 5:47 am - eat breakfast on way to barn
  • 5:52 am - arrive at barn
  • 5:53 am - sweet barn kitty demands to be fed
  • 5:54 am - furkids demand to be fed, Cody's pawing, Lady's weaving
  • 5:55 am - both nickering at me "Feed the starving ponies!"
  • 5:56 am - breakfast shortly, hold your horses!
  • 6:00 am - one foot soaking

Needless to say, I am thoroughly exhausted after this week, and about to go fall in bed for the night!
As for the MSU knee checkup, well, we rescheduled. There's no point in taking her in for a knee checkup if she's lame on that foot from an abscess. So we'll get her foot healed up, and then hopefully we can get a better idea of where she's at with her knee, or if there's something else in the foot that's adding to the problem. 

So the MSU trip will be in two weeks. And the furkids and I will keep trudging our way through this crazy summer.

Happy barn kitty!


  1. It is a relief to find an abscess - much better than other things that could cause that degree of lameness. Hope you can figure out how to keep her comfortable long term with the knee.

  2. Thank you for sharing the abscess pictures. I have never really seen an abscess. I am so glad that she is feeling better. I imagine that it can be very painful.