Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Fireworks FAIL

Living out in the country in rural Texas has a lot of befits. It's quiet, we don't worry about livestock limitations, and we're not under the jurisdiction of basically anything. Our neighbors are nice and leave us alone. It's a good deal.

Well, except for holidays. During every summer holiday, fireworks stands pop up on the side of the road like evil boils upon the beautiful face of our countryside. Out here, outside of town, fireworks are legal and any Joe Schmoe can load up on as many explosives as they like, and fire them off whenever they wish. For those of us with animals, it's a complete and total nightmare.

Last year, my nextdoor neighbors didn't set off any fireworks, so I didn't have any idea that they would do it this year. The whole weekend of the 4th, there were booms and crackles in all direction, which I expected - but then the nextdoor neighbors started setting them off. They are right at the top of our hill, right on the other side of the trees, so they're pretty close.

This close, in fact:

As you can see, the horses were not very happy about it. That was on the 3rd of July, but I was able to keep them pretty quiet otherwise and everyone made it through the weekend basically all right. 

Everything went fine through the week. Dylan rode like a million bucks. I started rifling through the omnibus looking for fall shows. I bragged to someone about what a sound, strong, capable horse he is. He's 15, he's barefoot, he's sound, he requires basically no maintenance at all. 

Well, apparently the universe heard me talking, and decided to send me a little dose of humility. 

Look he's even on there, "dressage school master"

Hot and sweaty but going like gangbusters

On Sunday (July 10th), in the middle of the night, my neighbors decided again that they were going to set off fireworks. It was a quiet night, with nothing going on. I was sitting in a chair in my pajamas, feeling sleepy and contemplating going to bed, when suddenly I heard what sounded like heavy artillery going off over my house. I went outside, and not surprisingly, the horses were running in every direction blindly in the dark. The neighbors fired off several more rounds of fireworks before I got everyone settled down. In the dark, everyone seemed all right.

In the morning, they were definitely less all right.

Pax is covered in scrapes and cuts. She has a fat leg, but she seems to be quite fine and the swelling has already improved. The puffiness is related to the cuts and scrapes, and she'll be fine. But I could have done without the total heartattack I had when I saw it. 

Dylan is less fine. On Monday, he had a hot and fat leg, and had some cuts and scrapes. The scrapes are all down low on his pastern, and are basically little more than a bit of hide taken off, but the area was swollen and mildly warm. What was more concerning was that higher, where all of the major tendons and ligaments run behind the cannon bone, the are was swollen, hot and tender. Alarm bells started going off in my head. I'm pretty well versed in evasive maneuvers when it comes to leg injuries, so right away I started in with cold hosing and icing. The only thing I had on hand to knock out inflammation was DMSO, since I had used the last of my poultice on O the last time she whacked herself. so in between icings he had DMSO and wraps applied. I jogged him in a straight line and on a circle, and he did not appear to be off, so I was optimistic that it hopefully wasn't anything terribly bad.

The next morning (yesterday), I had hoped the swelling would be improved, but it was not. If anything, it was just as big and hot as the day before, and now he was lame. I switched tactics, moved to more aggressive icing and cold hosing, and applied Sore No More poultice (the Ultra Performance kind). Man that stuff is awesome. I've always been an A&Js Ice kind of girl but I also think the Sore No More products are really great, and I'm super pleased with the performance of this one. I knocked about half the swelling out of it by the end of the day, and by this morning about 75% of the swelling was gone. Yesterday I called my vet, and made an appointment for this morning to have a lameness exam and an ultrasound done. I was feeling completely panicked about the swelling - it was so classic suspensory, and he was sore to palpation in that area. All I could do was feel bad about everything, wonder why the horse gods and the universe hate me, and mourn the fact that I finally feel like I am able to ride pain free and get back to the show ring and suddenly my extremely fine and sound horse blows a leg out and we're all just going to die and the world is going to implode. It was a rough and depressing night.

Icing and more icing

This morning, the swelling was down about 75% and he seemed rather more like himself. I was slightly more optimistic as I drove to the vet, but I still had visions of massive suspensory damage dancing through my head. 

I know I've mentioned many times that I love my vet, but I'll say it again - I love my vet. We have a great repertoire and he trusts my input. I feel that he knows that I am capable as a caretaker, and that I know a fair bit about both injuries and anatomy. We get on very well, as he is willing to listen to what I have to say and work with those parameters, and I am willing to defer to him as the expert and take his advice as well as do whatever he instructs me to do. Not to mention he's the best leg guy around - he's the one I want for a lameness evaluation. Nobody else will do for me. Because Dylan is both insured and very special, I handed off his lead rope to the tech and told them, "we do whatever we have to do get him sound."

And to my surprise, he was already sound in a straight line. Like, totally fine. Not an off step. We flexed him on both sides, and.... totally sound. Dr. H palpated him, and found that the suspensory was not painful, but the check ligament was. Suddenly I felt much more hopeful. Could it just be a check ligament? We put him in the roundpen and sent him both directions, and he was sound about 95% of the time, with a few random head bobs in there, but they were quite minor. Dylan is a huge man baby - if he were a human he would be that macho jock that gets the man flu and acts like he is going to die from the sniffles, so I was hopeful that it wouldn't be too bad on ultrasound.


And man did I ever get lucky. Everything looked to be in really good order and good size, except for the check ligament. The body of the ligament was not damaged, but there was some swelling and minor damage in the area to the tissue. Dr. H classed it as a check ligament strain, which is about the best case scenario I could have ever asked for aside from there not being any kind of problem at all. It's just a check ligament that did the job it was supposed to do - stabilize the DDFT and help prevent damage to it. Dr. H said he will likely be back to work in as little as just a few weeks - we are rechecking via ultrasound in two weeks to see how he is looking. In the meantime, we are doing the same protocol - coldhosing, icing, poultice, wrapping, rest, bute and Uniprim to knock out the crud and swelling around the cuts. We discussed it and decided to keep him in turnout with O as company, as this is the best chance to keep him quiet, and the injury is minor enough that it shouldn't cause a problem. 

And I'll be having a word with my neighbors about the fireworks. 


  1. Pleased to hear it isn't a major

  2. Great news from the vet; hope your chat with the neighbours goes well!

    And about that probability of injury table.. That is so damn accurate it's scary!

  3. I would have lost my mind! I get the fireworks thing but they could have warned you so you could bring them in or prepare. I'm glad that it's not worse- I hope he heals quickly

  4. Ugh fireworks are my least favorite time of year. That law is wonky though. Here they are mostly legal in town but the wrath of god descends outside city limits.

    That's desert life, though--green grass lawns don't usually burn. Desert does.

  5. I hope the convo with the neighbors went well. I sure hope they'd understand!!!! Glad he's going to be ok. Totally get the feeling the horse gods are against me feeling, going through that now too!

  6. I'm sorry, that is super shitty. Glad it's not worse tho and hopefully Dylan heals quickly and easily!