Starting the new year off with a bang

Hahahahaha. Oh, horses.

I was away last week, taking some time for myself to reflect ahead of the new year. While I was gone, I put Tristan in training. On Wednesday, they took him out to longe, and he was a smidge NQR. That’s not terribly unusual for him, but he was cheerful and moving out, so they did a light work. Thursday, he came out and was three-legged lame on the RF. His fetlock was far more puffy than usual, and over the course of the next day and half he blew up his leg below the knee. Limited turnout on Friday was not a success.

I got back in town Sunday, and found a very cheerful horse who was a little sick of being stuck inside and whose leg, after 12 hours of standing wraps, was still blown up and warm. He was clearly lame even in his stall; he would rest a hind leg but when he shifted from one area of his stall to the other he didn’t want to weight that right front at all. Levels of “fuck” were now upgraded.

Tuesday, the vet was out for other horses and got to spend some quality time with him. (Of course, I was in a non-negotiable staff retreat all day, so could not be there, which put me in a horrifically bad mood, not what you want when you’re doing strategic planning.)

As the barn manager took off his wraps, she noticed a hot, puffy area right at the coronet band. Great! Abscess!

Except – abscess in his right front. You know, the foot of endless complicated medical lore, where he’s missing about 30% of his coffin bone from previous infection and stress fracture.

I gave the all-clear to every possible diagnostic they wanted, and to send the many views of his foot off to specialty radiologists to read. I filled up a whole Google Drive folder with his previous x-ray photos (if you really want to look at a million images of a foot, you’re welcome to peruse).

Right now, we wait. Our best-case scenario is that he’s just got an abscess, because the scar tissue in that hoof just let something in, and we treat it aggressively with soaking, flushing, and antibiotics and go on our merry way.

However, if there are any radiological changes to the bone, indicating deeper infection, recurrence of the previous problem, anything like that, we could be headed back in for a second surgery, ten years after his first one, to modify that coffin bone again and scrape out the infection. He recovered well from that first surgery, but he was ten years younger, did not have Cushing’s, did not have a whole host of other old horse problems. Plus, he had a full coffin bone then. Now he’s got less to take from.

The in between would be step up aggressive treatment including regional perfusions of the limb, soaking, wrapping, cleanout, you name it. Hit it with everything we can to kill any possible infection and take lots of images of the foot in the meantime to make sure things have been halted in their tracks. That feels, right now, like the most likely scenario.

So, I have to say, wholly unexpected news. I figured we were in for some kind of nasty soft tissue thing, given that he was still swollen and warm after four days of standing wraps and stall rest. It literally never occurred to me that it might be an abscess.

2 thoughts on “Starting the new year off with a bang

  1. Ughhhh Tristan! FWIW we just had a very similar lameness present in our oldest horse on the property after the owner was on vacation for a bit, and it was a massive abscess that blew out her heel yesterday, the exit point is over an inch long! Hopefully it’s just that.


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