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ID MyHorse

A Hole in Her Head

Spoil alert! Somewhat graphic photo at the end of the post!

My horses are ganging up on me. I only have two… and I make sure my facilities are as horse-friendly as possible. There isn’t any rusty farm equipment in the dry lot begging for a horse to cut herself. Nevertheless, the new mare found something to cause a nearly 3-inch gash in her head. But before I describe that situation, there is Kadeen’s contribution to my stressful week…

Itchy Eyes and Ulcers

Kadeen has had recurrent corneal ulcers, off and on, for the past couple of years. He also has a dry cough that seems to be getting worse. His cough usually starts in the spring, and for the most part, is gone by the heat of summer. However, this summer it never really went away. I attributed that to our wet, unusual summer. He would cough 1-5 times at the beginning of increased demand for oxygen, such as when Alan would ask him to trot or canter.  He would cough in a dusty, indoor arena. I would very rarely hear a cough in the dry lot when he was just hanging out… almost never.

I had already equated his corneal ulcers with his propensity to rub his itchy eyes. Allergies make him itch and cough. But his allergies (or the ulcer problem) had not yet reached the frequency or severity that demanded daily medication.

That all changed this week. It started with yet another corneal ulcer in his left eye. We just treated one a couple of months ago. I started my standard therapy. I can make him much more comfortable within 12-24 hours.

A couple of days after starting therapy for his eye, Alan and I took the horses on a trail ride. Alan rode Sadie, who is a dream on the trail. For the first time in 2 years, I was riding my beautiful boy. However, I was totally dismayed when he had the worst coughing spasm I have ever heard. After coughing a dozen times, he was fine for the rest of the ride. The day after the ride, he walked into the barn for breakfast with his right eye squinted tightly shut. He was already wearing a fly mask to protect his eyes. He was already on oral Banamine. But now I had both eyes to treat. I find it far easier to treat dog eyes than horse eyes! Luckily, Kadeen is really good for me. He knows I am trying to help.

After he developed ulcers in his second eye, I added additional therapies to his regimen. I draw blood, spin down the serum, and place a few drops in each eye four times daily (along with a couple of other eye medications!) That treatment helps minimize the damage the ulcer causes to the cornea. Additionally, I scheduled an appointment with the veterinary ophthalmologist. I don’t want to assume all of these eye issues are only related to his allergies. After that exam, my equine vet friend and I will need to formulate a plan to manage his allergies. I’m thinking that living in Colorado or Arizona might be a good plan! Arizona sounds great right now, as we are in the middle of horrible weather for November.

A Gash in the Head

And then there’s the new mare, Sadie. Sadie has turned out to be exactly what we wanted for the trail. She loads great, hauls great, and trucks on down the trail without fear. Kadeen walks quite fast, but Sadie can actually outpace him! She’s very sweet. I have struggled to manage her temperature control, as she was blanketed in Texas. I don’t blanket my horses, but she needs time to adjust to her new environment. During this nasty cold snap, she’s sporting a coat!

As she entered the barn for breakfast, I spotted the wound nearly in the middle of her forehead. It was DEEP. VERY DEEP. It was pretty clear to me that I was looking into her frontal sinus! I kind of freaked out…

My regular equine vet, Kelly, is out of town at a vet conference. Therefore, her new, young associate came to stitch up Sadie. This was a first for her, too. She was in regular communication with Kelly. Kelly told me in a text, “It is not as bad as it looks!” For example, she informed me that she had seen gunshot wounds and hit-by-car trauma like this heal amazingly well. That was very reassuring, as I have no experience with horses with holes in their head…

We sedated her, blocked the wound, clipped it, flushed it, and stitched it. Can I just say it was really FREAKY when she snorted and the flush squirted out of the hole in her head? It also bubbled out of her nose. We expected that. In fact, we were a bit worried that it took as long to make an appearance as it did… There are soft tissue marks that look suspiciously like steel horseshoes. I am virtually certain she was kicked by Kadeen. What else could break bone? So Kadeen has had a LOT to do with my stressful week. Can you get a perspective from the photo as to how deep it really is?

She is now on antibiotics and Bute. I just need to make sure it doesn’t get infected. She and Kadeen are certainly high-maintenance this week. So how was YOUR week?

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