Wednesday, February 14, 2018

On being proactive

<----------This?

This is the face of a horse who would never worry his owner.
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Which would be true if he were a cartoon character, or a stuffed animal, but he is not. He's a living, breathing, money eating machine that seems to thrive on giving me grey hairs and high blood pressure. But I love him all the same, mostly.

But this is the curse of horse ownership right? That constant balance between the high you feel after a great ride or the feeling you get when your horse nickers at you and the lowest of lows when your horse is so desperately trying to tell you something hurts and you can't figure out where or why.

If only you could talk!
But the thing is... owning a horse is more about the grey area. The days of mediocre rides and small break throughs, pulled shoes and mystery lamenesses that leave us scratching our heads. And our role in all of that is to be the very best advocate we can for them.

I realize that this varies, WILDLY amongst horse people. There are the "wait and see" types, the "bubble wrap the horse" types, the "let's call the vet every-single-time" types, the "I'm going to post this on OTTB connect and get advice" types, and everything in between. If I had to describe myself I'd say that I'm a bit old school about some things but I'm also very cautious.

I take what I know about my horse and try to apply my knowledge base around that horse's particular issues. Some horses are stoic (mine is not), some are prone to certain types of issues (cough, cellulitis, cough), some never tell you anything but you have a gut feeling that they are not quite right (I find those the most frustrating).

And when I say I'm cautious I mean that I probably build more recovery time into my treatment protocol than some. For example, after Scout got cast and developed a nasty vasculitis I kept him on stall rest judiciously, and turned him out slowly. And while he seemed sound, I did not push his training schedule because he was not completely 100%. I gave him a little more time (an additional week of turnout and no riding) and it was worth it to see him moving like this:

Strong and stepping evenly (and happy!)
And so when he came in from turnout with a big fat leg two days after these photos, my proactive protocol kicked in once again. Vet worthy? No. Needs immediate treatment and care? Yes.

Who me?

What I thought was just mud is actually a gross scab + fat leg
Once I got under all the mud and scrubbed the leg I saw what appeared to be a gross scrape. No biggie, BUT since I didn't know how long it had been there (I had been away from the farm for two days) and given the mud, I opted the best course of treatment was a 5 day cycle of smzs, a day of stall rest, and overnight wrapping. The antibiotics are to keep any sort of cellulitis from developing hopefully. He did have a slightly elevated temp (but like a half a degree), and given his history it's better to treat this judiciously. And while he was sound on it, there was no reason for me to push him to work on it.

Cleaned up but gross
And he'll be fine. The cut will heal, he will hopefully not develop a cellulitis, and he'll be sound and happy again. And that's the end goal for me... keeping him happy (first) and sound (second). But they go hand in hand I think.

I think at the end of the day it's hard to trust that we are always doing the best by our horses. What happens when you don't trust yourself to make a decision? Do you have a good support system to bounce your ideas/worries off of? What happens when you don't agree with or worse, you don't trust your vet? How do you know where to start or stop with treatment? How closely do you listen to what your horses needs?

Maybe I listen a bit too much (to my horse, to others), but that's my prerogative. Your protocol is yours. While some might find me too cautious, I might find others too cavalier. But it's all a learning experience in the end. 

And God he's worth the worry. <3