Sunday, August 18, 2013

No mo' drama: Harvey

First of all, let me tell you Harv is okay.

Harv has an abscess, or as we often hear people say, it's "just an abscess."  Abscesses usually involve hobbling for a few days and then resolution. If you're afraid your horse has a bad injury, it's always a relief when it's "just an abscess."  I know this.  On Friday, I panicked a little when I found him three-legged in the pasture--but he put weight on the leg as we walked to the barn, so I knew nothing was broken.  Also he was bright and wanting attention as usual.

But when I hand-walked Harv this morning in the indoor, I watched him struggle to walk and almost hyperventilated. He would step, and lurch, and rock back on his hocks. His back hunched. He'd slightly buckle his front legs like he wanted to roll. I stood with him in the indoor and wept.

Can I help it if I'm a drama queen?

I did what I almost always do when one of my horses is uncomfortable. I called the vet. In my defense -- he is old, and arthritic, and if one leg is compromised, well, the other legs are arthritic and old, and it ain't so easy to compensate with the other 26-year-old legs.

Poor Harv! His posturing was so odd and wobbly, I thought he might be foundering. He couldn't seem to find a way of walking comfortably, and he was shifting his weight around without finding a sweet spot. If you'd seen what I saw I think you would have been concerned too.

I called for the emergency vet visit -- it's always the weekend when the crisis happens, right? While waiting for the vet to arrive, I honestly wondered if I was going to have a heart attack.   Finally, the vet came. She came, she saw, she probed. There is a very clear focal point to the pain in his hoof, but a moderate amount of digging yielded nothing. So the game plan doesn't change -- we soak, wrap, and wait.

I'm a little embarrassed at my behavior today -- but only a little. With older horses, it's a slippery slope -- one chink in the machinery, and other parts start to go too. I wonder how he'll lie down and get up, I wonder if he'll fall. I worry he'll colic from the pain. I have meds on hand if I decide he's too uncomfortable -- I have the bute and SMZs.

 Bob and I went to check on him tonight -- he was turned out with a big boot and was grazing with his buds. At Bob's insistence we took him out to the tall grass for a bit where food was in easy reach. Then we went home.

That's my Saturday! I'm so glad Bob accepts how I spend my time. Harv is my boy, my numero uno.

I'll keep you all posted. Thanks for listening!


  1. Yeah, "just an abscess." My first experiences with abscesses (we have had TWO) are with my current horse. Vet's advice: Make him comfortable (aka bute) and ride him.

    Making the horse move will make whatever is causing the abscess to start moving toward "escape" and resolution.

    Horses have abscesses more often than we know. Often the shoer finds the abscess when he/she is paring the hoof during the regular visit.

    Carrots and "happy trotting" to Harv from my house/barn.

  2. A guy like Bob is worth a million. And it is a slippery slope especially with older horses - your list of concerns... whether he will fall, etc., are good reminders to us all how serious something "minor" can be. Of course, it is always a weekend!

  3. Hope that abscess pops quickly! Always better safe than sorry on calling the vet, especially with an older horse :-)

  4. Never feel embarrassed about caring for Harvey! You can't take any chances with these guys.

  5. Dancer's last abscess presented like this. I was on the phone with the vet ASAP, panicked that it would be a broken coffin bone or an infected navicular bursa or something fatal. My vet basically pat-patted me.

  6. Call me a drama queen -- I would have been the same way.
    Get well Harv!

  7. Abscesses can be the most scary lamenesses I've ever seen. I once really did think Tucker had a broken leg. Unless you, yourself, can actually pinpoint it as an abscess, there's no reason to feel at all embarrassed by calling the vet out.

    Glad Harv will be OK. Soaking and wrapping's a pain, as you well know, but you should be an expert at the wrapping part now, so you're halfway to the finish line already.

    Sending hugs. <<<>>>

  8. Don't be embarrassed. I have an old dog -Rhodesian Ridgeback-with the degenerative type of spinal stenosis. He's losing the use of his back end with arthritic changes and pain. He's under the care of a vet, he gets tramadol and dasuquin, but I know he's old (13 years old) and this disease will ultimately force me to euthanize him. It's hard though because his front end is strong and his back end is weak. I tell you this because last week I thought it was time because he didn't eat all his food and wouldn't get up. I cried because I wasn't ready. I took him down to the vet expecting that I would have to make that decision, and I wasn't ready. Turns out he had probably strained himself doing something he used to be capable of. A few days of steroid and extra drugs and he's back to his wobbly self. Did it to me again last night!

    So I fully understand your responses. Don't be embarrassed by them.

  9. A vet once said to me "horses, they'll break your heart." She is right. Weeping - don't apologize for that, you love him and he was in pain, weeping was a more than appropriate response. Horses provide us with a roller coaster of emotions, it's darn hard to always be a steady rock. Hoping he gets well soon. Kudos to Bob- a most excellent horse husband - for insisting you all go out for some choice grass. Sometimes watching our most loved horses eat grass, with gusto, is the best therapy for all involved. Hoping the Harvster has a quick and complication free recovery. Thinking of him, and you, and bob! Get well soon ,Harv!

  10. Partners like that ( human and equine) are worth their weight in gold.


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