Thursday, September 23, 2010

"Who's to blame...?" when horses are hurt

The flip side of the "safety first" principle is that if you try to control too much you're messing with Mother Nature. That can bring on injuries. Need a few examples? Here's my list o'shame...
  • In an effort to keep Harv warm in the winter I used jammies (lycra-hood for heard and neck) under his blankets. During turnout one day the hood slipped over his eye which was swollen shut for several days.
  • While Riley was on stall rest (last year) I normally handwalked him in the indoor arena, but it was super-windy and the ring was crowded. I decided to walk him up and down the barn aisle "to be safe," using a stallion chain and lunge line. He tried to bolt, got a few strides away before I gathered the line, and when the line "caught" he got thrown off his feet. He landed on his belly/hip on the cement aisle. His breath was knocked out of him, but he was okay.  The indoor would have been safer.
  • The barn manager called me -- Riley's front legs were swollen. Imagining cellulitus, another hoof abscess, or a blown tendon, I drove to the barn in a state of panic. But it was none of the above, The swelling was weird, blotchy, and worse on the inside of the leg... We figured out what happened. The night before I had saturated his legs with fly spray (no stomping!). An hour or so later, I decided to ALSO put on tendon boots. Over the fly spray. FAIL.
Don't leave me out here hangin' -- share your "overprotective mom" stories!


  1. Oh yes... the first winter that I body-clipped my boy (when he was 4), I bundled him up in several layers of blankets, panicking that he'd be cold, only to find him sweaty and panting in the morning. Way to go Mom!

  2. On advice from several sources, including my vet, I routinely kept newborn foals inside for 3 days, turning the mare-foal pairs out in the indoor only. Then a week of daily turnout in a paddock with vinyl safety fence, and finally out in a larger wire and electric paddock where every foal managed to run into the fence. The last few years the mares have foaled out in the paddock. Zero fence injuries!

  3. Living in California, with it's intolerably cold winters (sometimes it's less than 40 degrees at night!), I decided to move my sturdy, vice-less, totally fit and comfortable Arab gelding into a stall for the winter.

    Where he overheated and nearly colicked (naturally he was blanketed heavily to compensate for the freezing nighttime temperatures), learned to weave and crib, and lost muscle tone.

    Epic mom fail. Can we say "projection"?
    sigh. He survived me.

  4. Too fat horses. Need I say more?

  5. This one isn't particularly dangerous, but seriously annoying...

    When I was in college, I boarded with a girl who showed paints. I was ALWAYS envious of her horses' tails. Long and flowing. My own mare had a nice tail, right above her fetlocks at the time.

    I asked said girl how she kept her horses' tails so long an beautiful. She said that she didn't use a tail bag, she divided the tail into three sections and then braided each section, making three individual braids. The tail would be braided up, but the horse would still be able to swat at flies.

    Genius! I thought... I dutifully washed and braided my (VERY patient with my nonsense) mare's tail into the three braids. The very next morning, my mare had TWO braids. Convinced that "someone" (the masked evenger or someone) cut just one of my mare's braids out, I was livid. Well, I was livid until I found a perfect 2 foot long red braid in the fence in my mare's run. Darn! Over-obsessing gets me again. I went from a perfectly beautiful long tail, to 2/3 of a perfectly beautiful tail and a mare with a VERY sore tailbone (she ripped it out at the roots!). Needless to say, no more braids/bags/wraps/etc for tails...

  6. p.s. I've been totally guilty of thinking that it was way colder than it actually was and coming in the next day to a very p.o.'ed, sweaty horse. I feel ya! (had to resist the urge to blanket tonight, here in NW Washington state. It might get below 50... heh)

  7. A teacher told us about a woman who couldn't understand why all her foals were dying. Found out, to keep germs away from them, she would enclose the stalls with plastic and keep them in there for the first few weeks after delivery. Her foals were dying from pneumonia from all of the moisture in the stall.

  8. This is about the fifth story I've heard of eye injuries from hoods. One of the others involved a horse who went blind from a fly mask.

    I'm generally not a huge fan of leaping on the fad wagon, and having been out of horses for over 10 years, I can't help noticing that many things which are today "essential" were unheard of 15 years ago. Somehow, back then, our show horses were in perfect condition without fly sheets and masks, hock injections, or chiropractors. Which makes me suspicious when someone says, "Oh, I can't ride today, he's still sore from having an adjustment last Wednesday." (Horse was okay BEFORE Wednesday, just didn't like going to the left as well as to the right. We used to correct that by training.)

    The funny thing is... all of the nonsense costs money.

  9. I went down to the yard on Tuesday evening and he looked...wrong. Low head, glazed eye, lethargic, uninterested, sweaty.

    MAJOR panic, spent 20 mins taking his temp, listening to tummy for gurgling etc imagining colic. Was about to call the emergency vet - when he did a couple of massive farts, perked right up and went back to his haynet.

  10. In an effort to keep flies off my horse's legs, I got some of those fly strips that go around their pasterns. I put them on after I rode, and then headed home. An hour later the barn owner called me to tell me she was taking them off NOW, because my boy's legs had swollen to epic proportions. I spent the rest of the night cold hosing and scrubbing his legs with Dawn liquid (to get rid of the oils in the strips) and Betadine. Talk about a horse mom FAIL!

  11. I gave my horse a new treat, one of those cylindrical extruded pellet types, about an inch wide by 3 inches long. Horse ate the treat, I finished saddling and went to ride. Horse became lethargic, would not raise his head. I of course panicked and called the vet. Turns out he had part of that stupid treat stuck in his throat. Another lesson learned the hard way! I am much more careful now.

  12. I used to use the liquid fly repellent that you put on in drops on certain parts of the body and it would be absorbed through the skin. Well, failing to read the label like all smart people do, I put the drops on my girl like I was supposed to, and then did it again within the same week, just for extra protection because the flies were horrible that summer. THEN I read the box and saw that only one application is needed every TWO weeks, and it occurred to me that the repellent is absorbed into the bloodstream and I could've potentially just poisoned my horse. I freaked out and checked in on my girl routinely all night via calling the BM, who said she was not noticing anything unusual. MY girl was kept inside for two nights, poor thing. Over a year later, nothing has yet to have happened, but I think I'll read labels first before I try and add "extra protection."

  13. I had to be away one weekend this summer when it was super hot. For the first time in horse ownership, I asked a friend to give my horse a shower while I was gone. I told her that my horse is great in the shower stall.

    When I returned, there was a note on the board about treated scrapes and swap applied to my boy. What happened?! It turns out that he was excellent in the shower, but balked badly while being removed from his paddock by a "new" person. He tried to retreat backwards through the gate and got himself caught, scraping both sides of his belly. *Sigh*


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