Thursday, July 12, 2012

Hindsight: Riley has scratches AND something else

Ri has an ailment. Shocker.
I took Ri to a show Sunday, and we competed despite a pesky swelling in his left hind that started about five days earlier on July 5. After a dry spell, we had strong t-storm cells move through  overnight, and Ri came in the next morning with a "big leg." I thought he had been stepped on by Harv in the thunder (which was very, very loud and close). But that was not it. He was not lame, once the swelling subsided (exercise brought the swelling down to near normal). It's not an abscess -- at least it doesn't seem like one at this point.

Guesses? Anyone?

Scratches. We think. There is a pink area behind his pastern, a little scabby, and it's very tender. My best guess is that he had some dry skin behind there, maybe a little cracking with the very dry spell we've had until July 4.  The night of July 4, it rained/thundered, and I think maybe some sort of fungus or bacteria took hold in the compromised skin. Opportunistic infection? Ri's hooves also seemed to go to hell that night, his right front is flaking up again.

My vet has him on SMZs and a mixture of Desitin and Neosporin applied to his dry, clean pastern.  She's concerned about cellulitis.

Update 7/12/12. So, I was out yesterday afternoon to do my three-hour horse nurse stint, Riley and Harv, and noticed something on Ri's RIGHT hind above the fetlock, like a hen's egg. Looks like a wind puff, but with sudden onset, AND it's a bit more "turgid" than a windpuff (not squishy) -- though clearly a moveable fluid --  it may be a bit warm, and Ri is ever-so-slightly reactive when I press it, although it's hard to say since it is exactly where you press to get him to pick up his foot. The footing at the last show was damnably deep....


  1. Your description makes me very nervous as I've dealt with cases of lymphangitis in two horses I've owned through the years. This kind of weather and a cut or wound on the lower legs is ripe for that sort of condition. It wasn't pretty and was always lurking for a recurrence. Hope it's nothing like that and you and your vet get it resolved quickly.

  2. Ya know, ya go all winter and things are fine. Come summer and look what happens. *Sigh*

    Fungus does love the warm weather. So also do ticks and all kinds of nasty biting bugs.

    Enjoy the nursing duties. At least you have a real purpose in life. *S*

  3. I had an imported warmblood that came to me with such horrible scratches he couldn't even walk. His skin was cracking and bleeding. There are many different treatments for scratches. But choosing the wrong one can make everything much worse. The infection feeds off of a moist environment yet the scratches hurt when they are dry. If it doesn't start improving quickly you might need to try something else. Talk to various vets for different types of treatments. I would even consider going homeopathic or all natural too. Good luck!!

  4. Hi Stacey! Both of my mares had bouts with cellulitis last summer; it seems to me to be a particularly "summery" ailment.

    From what I can tell, scratches, dew poisoning and greasy heel are all caused by bacterial infections in compromised skin in the legs, and my older mare is particularly susceptible to it due to having white legs. We coat the scabs in desitin/pink thusia and gently debride them as best we can.

    One of these sites eventually became infected, which caused her cellulitis, and she was treated with an oral antibiotic and firm stable wrapping, all the way up above her hock. The antibiotics cleared the infection, but the wrapping really, really helped keep the fluid out of her leg and get reabsorbed into her bloodstream.

    If Riley's leg swelling continues, wrapping it up when he's not being worked might stop or slow it while the meds do their work. Hope this helps!


  5. Has it been super wet, muddy, and rainy? I went through this with Harley - he ended up having sore heels... The rain had made mud (of course), and softened his heels, and the cracks between his heels.
    Slightly tight heels gave the bacteria a place to bloom. We made some hoof changes, and sprayed with Vetericin twice a day. Also put him in a dry stall, and left him there until the rain let up.

    Good luck

  6. Scratches does sound like a possibility or insects. The flies were absolutely horrendous after the storm here. It sounds like you are taking all the necessary precautions and treatments.

    I really despise footing that is too deep, especially at a show. I want to show off my horse not struggle through a beach. I hope it clears up quickly.


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