Thursday, October 22, 2009

My little drama queen's dramatic tail (part 2)

My little drama queen's dramatic tail

As promised, the continuing saga:

I left off cursing the jimmy boot and deciding that soaking was not as evil as everyone says. My once-complacent horse was not a stubborn MULE when it came to picking up either of her front feet. When I finally got her to pick one up, I had to finish my business quickly because once she set it back down GOOD LUCK getting her to pick it up again. Also, if I took too long with my dinking around, then she would lay down to get me to put her foot down.


So that was getting old. My horse used to be not just willing to pick her feet up, but she anticipated which foot you were going to ask for and actually held it in the air waiting for you.

We were plugging along, not really getting anywhere, and I was starting to wonder if something else was going on. Gazelle is 26, which is pretty old for a horse, but she has always acted much younger than she is. In my experience, which I think is generic enough to be relatively true, horses tend to act like babies until they're 4 or so, then they act like stupid adolescents until they're about 10 years old. I've never heard that there is a magic number like there is with dogs to get the equivalent human age, but it's relatively close to 3 which is what I like to use. So, using that theory, a 4 year old horse would be about 12 years old in people-years, and a 10 year old horse would be about 30.

And 30 is, of course, when most people finally start settling down, doing chores without being told, going to work, being a grown up. With horses, they also start settling down, but they do it by acting calmer, getting along with others when they're turned out, and not spooking at stupid things like a garbage can moved from one side of the aisle to the other. However, just like with people, it can be plus or minus a few years. Or decades.

But Gazelle has never really followed that rule of thumb. Pre-abscess, she was a 26 year old mare that acted like she was 7. She would prance around outside like she had never even heard of arthritis, and rile up the other horses to such an extent that she could only be turned out by herself. When the wind was blowing, she's put her Dorothy Gale hat on and make a complete nuisance of herself, shrieking, "Auntie Em, Auntie Em!" and panicking about flying monkeys.

Post-abscess, Gazelle has been much more mellow, which has completely been freaking me out. Not lethargic, not lame . . . just mellow. I was like a mom with an ADHD child that suddenly started doing their homework right after school and washing their dishes without being told . . . what in the hell is wrong with my kid?!

I just couldn't put my finger on what was wrong. She would do everything I asked, but was still being a pain about picking up her feet. She would walk, trot, and canter on the lunge line, mostly but not wholly sound, and every once in a while would limp. Sometimes just one step, sometimes for half of the circle. The limp was pronounced enough that even I (a person not good at detecting a limp) could see it, but not so pronounced as to raise an alarm or cause me to call the vet back. Rather than the limp, the problem seemed to be just plain old melancholy.

The farrier came out for her regular appointment, and things started moving along. In looking at her front feet, he noticed that what was the good foot was now not so great anymore. And when he trimmed away the excess, he ended up draining some extra fluid. Not an abscess, not yet, but fluid that was either brewing up to become an abscess, or perhaps nothing.

He was not surprised that she wasn't totally lame, since it wasn't a full-blown abscess, but he wanted me to soak it a few times to make sure we got all the fluid out.

And now! Limp is gone, and melancholy attitude is melting away. I even got to ride yesterday, for the first time in weeks. Hooray!

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