A Note about Sugarbush Draft Horses
I see it over and over again, and no matter how many times it's said, it's still wrong. "Sugarbush Drafts are just an Appaloosa Draft Cross". Uh.... no. The Sugarbush Draft Horse was a breed created many years ago in Ohio. While the initial cross was made using Percherons to Appaloosas, in the many generations following, the breed has been solidified into a consistent type. Saying these horses are "just" a draft cross makes as much sense as saying that AQHA horses are "just" a Thoroughbred cross, American Cream Drafts are "just" a dilute Belgian, or that Morgans are "just" a grade.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
It was a Manic Monday, with good news
Well, she was sold into one of our extended families. Kris now cares for her, and she is owned by a lovely 10 year old named Rachel. We call her Ojo since we have a few Rachels.
A while back (2 weeks now?) Mel managed to find a long buried metal post in her paddock. The drought has turned the dirt to powder, and things that once were hidden are now beginning to be hazards. So, of course Mel cut her left hind pastern to bits. It appeared that she missed all of the important things - well at first it did.
We did make one mistake. I didn't recommend a penicillin injection. I should have. Instead, we treated the wound, counted ourselves lucky that nothing structural was involved, and started the healing process. Because Kris works all day, and only has a single pasture with multiple horses, Mel came to Iron Ridge for care, a small turn out, and daily bandage changes. For a week all was perfect. She healed amazingly, and in fact, she healed up too fast. The laceration closed, and began scaring, but inside was a very tiny bit of infection. After the first week, she began to show signs of discomfort on the foot. An abscess was suspected, so soaking began. The abscess ruptured the very next day, and she began to improve slightly. Then she stopped improving, and another rupture was found. Last Tuesday, she had a 3rd rupture leaking very gross stuff. Through out this time, we had been bandaging, soaking, scrubbing, and all of that.
Friday evening, when I went to change her bandage, I noticed what appeared to be joint fluid (sticky yellow clearish fluid) draining from the upper most rupture hole. Uh oh. The vet came to check her out the next morning, and we started our emotional roller coaster. It appeared that the tendon sheath was infected. Now, I am not the most experienced with joint or tendon infections, so I'm going to try to get this as close to accurate as I can.
Because she seemed happy, and content, and this is a little girl's horse, her owner opted to treat her for the weekend, allow her young owner to love her and say good bye, and hope things made a turn for the better. The vet did recommend this option. The other option was a $5000.00 surgery, with not much higher of a success rate!
Being a bit forward thinking, and realizing that the horse is likely not going to make it with out serious intervention, Dr. G suggested we use a certain drug off lable. In other words, it might help, wouldn't hurt, but this isn't exactly what the drug was made to do.
CleanTrx was designed for deep punctures. It draws out the infection while wicking up antibiotics. Teh chances of it actually reaching up into the tendon sheath were slim, but it was definitely worth the long shot! Saturday evening, we cleaned her foot, and prepared the solution. She soaked in CleanTrx for an hour, then we "vaporized" it for an hour (covered in an OB sleeve, and taped/wrapped it up) and then rebandaged with padding to absorb the drainage.
The next morning her owners were coming to visit. I walked into the barn, and almost cried when I didn't see her topline over the stall side. My heart skipped a beat. I have had so much bad news lately, that I was certain this would not end well, and I knew I just couldn't take another loss. Even though Mel is no longer "my" horse, she's still one of my babies!
Imagine my shock when I walked to the door, and saw her laying there just as happy as could be. Melody looked so rested, and content. She was bright eyed, and nickered at me! I walked in, petted her, and was able to breathe again! Not out of the woods, but she was still hanging in there. In my heart I was preparing to say goodbye to her, but I didn't want her to suffer. My greatest fear was that overnight she would take a bad turn. I mean, Hex was fine the last time I looked at her, only to find her dead mere hours later.
When I got her morning grain, Melody hopped up quickly, and hobbled over to her bucket. From there, we began her doctoring. 2 injections, oral bute, and assess the bandage. Her bandage was good, so she got to keep it on the rest of the day (if wet, soaked through, or falling off I was to change it). Later, Mel was taken out, and we all smiled at seeing her trying to bear weight on that leg, and rejoiced at her "I'm fine" attitude.
Monday morning, I woke fearing the worst. Like I said, I did not expect this to end well, and Monday was an evaluation day. If the vet didn't think that we were headed in the right direction, we were likely going to schedule her euthanasia. I rushed to the barn, still in my jammies, and found Mel drinking. She took one look at me, nickered, and headed to her grain bucket. That's when I saw the most beautiful thing. She was resting the good leg, and holding her weight on the bad leg for seconds at a time. It wasn't much, but it was progress! I checked her bandage, and was stunned. The swelling had gone down so much, that her bandage had slipped down her leg and was bunching up!
I removed the bandage, and headed in to find some clothes. I figured that the swelling was down so much because the crumpled bandage had constructed her leg. I pulled up her meds, and went out to begin my morning routine. When I got back, I noticed that her leg was a bit swollen still, but ONLY where the laceration was. her cannon bone was clean and dry, and completely normal looking. The bandage had been off for almost 30 minutes at this point.
We finished feeding the herd, and I headed in to start making calls. Played a bit of phone tag with the vet, and he was pleasantly surprised at what I told him (via his wife/office manager). She called back to let me know that the odds had changed.
Called Kris, talked it over. Called Betsy, talked it over. Every one is on the same page, and the appointment was made. I did a bad thing, and didn't even bother asking Leah if I could use her trailer (nice low step) because I figured that saving the horse meant a "yes" from her. Hooked up, and Melody loaded right up and out a second thought. I drove slowly, and tried to avoid the nasty bumps on that road, but it was still a rough trip for the 3 legged horse in the back. Betsy and Ojo rode with us, and wanted to be there to drop Mel off for her procedure (in case that was their last moment with her). We were all still nervous and worried that once he got into her leg, we would have nothing but bad news. The decision was made that if it was bad, then she was not to come out of the anesthesia. We left her there, and went home to hope, pray, cuss ,cry, and do all of the normal things you do when one of your pets is hurt.
I got in a couple of rides while waiting. Lady was a complete saint for me. She knew I was distracted, and stressed, so she worked perfectly. I couldn't have asked for a better session with her. Walk, trot, canter, trot, walk, halt. Right on. She needed me to hold her up at the canter, and her trot is on and off still (she fall on her forehand at times) but her mind was totally with me. Kissed her, hugged her, and thanked her for being so good. I mean, she barely even wiggled (for her) while being tacked up!
So, around 3:45, my phone rings. I expected it to be Kris... but caller ID said it was the vet. I'm thinking "oh crap". I answered.
"Well, it went better then expected, she's going to be fine".
Prognosis: great! 100% chance of full recovery. We picked her up, and headed home. Mel is on stall rest with hand walking for the next 2 weeks. The bandage can NOT get wet at all (and it's going to rain soon I think). Besides that though, we have nothing more to worry about. A couple of weeks of antibiotics, and some time to regrow the hoof, and she will be back to normal - including her amazing show stopping gaits!
I can't explain how nice it feels to have a good outcome. I was so worried about her, and thinking that I would soon be burying another loved animal. Knowing that she's out of the woods, and WILL heal, is about the greatest relief that I know.
Posted by Pinzgauer at 1:25 PM