doctor, doctor

Murray has some wild cannon keratosis this year.  He’s gotten it to some degree or another every summer.  Usually I curry some off, piss off the horse a bit, and then give up and leave them alone.  The clods always seemed to fall off by fall (tried to pun that but couldn’t make it work, gah), and then I could gently curry his legs back into shape.

This year it was not to be.  The scurf started early and got very irritated on cross country at Twin, when his boots ripped off the bits of crud and hair while we were running really, really fast.  I have been using Equiderma fly spray since April, and bought some of their skin lotion to get the crud off.  The protocol seemed amazingly straight forward: apply lotion, wipe crud off in 24 hours, apply in future as needed.

So I did it for the first time about a month ago and it kinda did… nothing.  Some of the cruddy bits came off and some didn’t, so I put the lotion aside for a while.  Until Sunday, when I took a look at Murray’s cannons after hand walking him and realized that I really needed to do something about the scurf.  It had built up to the point where the accumulated crud was actually 2-3mm out from his skin, making his legs look funny.  So I put on a thick layer of the Equiderma lotion and waited.  (Like… a really, really thick layer.)

the results were disgusting

On Monday, I was picking Murray’s feet out and bumped his right hind and a HUGE chunk of skin fell off of the cannon revealing sad, weepy, slightly bloody skin beneath it.

Um… wut.

I gently picked at the flappy scabby bit a little, but a lot of it was still adhered.  On the advice of one of the many lovely vets who I ride with, I applied some triple antibiotic lotion and wrapped the site.

The next day the wrap was intact, but all of the hair and some of the skin on his LF had come off (see above).  All on its own.  It just… fell off.

not the grosses view of the RH, but you can kinda get the idea

It’s really weird that the keratosis is only hitting hard on the LF and RH. It’s pretty unpleasant though, even the little spots are pulling off skin with them. And poor Murray is getting them beyond just his cannons — the cruddy bits have spread in small sections to the tendon side of his LF.

As one would expect, Murray takes the doctoring so well.  As in, barn manager had to have discussions with him on two consecutive days re: leg wrapping, then re: accepting a twitch for leg wrapping.  But when you leave him loose in the barn aisle to slather lotion on and then dry and ointment and wrap the leg?  Perfect (after a bit of a reminder). [Resemblance to Bobby grows, including fungus leg!!! Oh no.]

you can kinda see the lumpy crud accumulations on the front of this leg

I’m wondering if the huge number of bugs around this year have something to do with the irritated bits.  Murray is pretty cranky and stompy about flies, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he actually gets bitten by them or reacts to the bites.

For now, I’m avoiding the Equiderma lotion and sticking with the triple antibiotic my vet gave me.  We’ll see how this goes in the next few weeks.  On the up side, wherever Murray’s hair falls out from this it grows back white — so at this rate, we’re in for at least two new white socks.  I’ve always wanted my pony to dapple and have a little more chrome — and since he figured out dapples this year, maybe this is just my wish coming true?!

its important to match your fly mask to your vetwrap

PS Advice always welcome — this is my first gross horsey health issue, so if you’ve got ideas on skin soothing, skin healing, loosening that disgusting accumulation of dead skin and sebum, I’m all ears!

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five things friday

Phew. What a week. I was weirdly emotional about getting Murray’s hocks done, which is strange because that’s exactly what I called the vet to ask about in the first place… but some small, irrational, part of my brain still hoped that by magic my horse would be fine and proclaimed hale and hearty well into his seventies.  Murray, on the other hand, is super sad about being asked to rest again.

Just the saddest.

But as always, you guys were there to add excellent evidence and kind words of support, so I’m feeling much perkier about Murray’s prognosis.

1. Sweat equity

When my boyfriend moved in with me a couple of months ago he brought along his scale and a serious determination to get into a healthier lifestyle.  (Couch surfing and living with his parents for a year took a toll.)  I don’t worry too much about my weight unless something weird is going on, like I don’t fit in to my breeches or something, but I do hop on the scale every now and again.  On Monday, around noon, I jumped on the scale before going to ride, then headed out and rode two horses, worked 3 yearlings (oh man did they get on my bad side that afternoon), ran an errand at the feed store, and came home around six.  I’d polished off my 1 L water bottle and another 500 mL of water after getting home.  I jumped back on the scale out of curiosity before stripping to get in the shower.

Despite consuming 1.5L of water, I’d still somehow lost a pound of weight while I was out of the house.  The water weighed 3.3 lb (1.5 kg), and I didn’t eliminate in other ways while out of the house, so that means I lost a total of 4.3 lbs in sweat + CO2 + water vapor over the course of the afternoon.  That’s a lot of moisture.

2. Electrolytes

In addition to drinking enough water to make up for the sweat I lose while riding and playing outdoors in general, I’ve taken to drinking some electrolytes as well.  A friend gave me a box of Osmo for Women and I actually like the powdered mix a fair bit.  It’s a bit gritty/grainy at the end, but it’s not hard to just swirl it up and down the whole thing.  I used to drink watered down gatorade while at horse shows, but I’ll definitely be replacing it with proper electrolytes in the future.  Eventually I’ll run out of my free Osmo — what do you use?  I’ve heard great things about Smart Water.  Thoughts?

3. Sore muscles

I’m kinda over paying an arm and a leg for liniment and muscle rubs that I feel like actually work.  I like Sore No More Gelotion a lot, but $18 for a little bottle, when I’m pretty sure I can get the ingredients for less.  I’m going to take a whack at making my own liniment. I’m pretty sure I have the basics sorted out (witch hazel base, arnica and comfrey for sure, maybe including camphor, lavender, rosemary, and ginger, emulsify with xantham gum).  What’s important to you in a liniment?  One of my friends loves the cooling feeling of menthol, which you can kinda replicate with peppermint oil (if you don’t want to add straight menthol crystals).  Another online source swears by magnesium salts as a body brace, and it wouldn’t be terribly hard to dissolve some of them in there.

4. International Blogger Contest

Horse Junkies United is running an International Blogger Contest with a bomb prize package.  I write for them occasionally and really enjoy the community on there.  I might enter (I don’t think I’m excluded, but I probably won’t win anything either) — and you should enter too!

5. Tweezerman nail clippers

I actually got these off of someone else’s Friday Five.  Have you ever owned really nice nail clippers?  Me neither, until I got these guys.  I LOVE them.  It’s so nice to trim my nails and not feel the jaggedy sharp edges that you usually get with the $1.99 drug store nail clippers.  10/10 will recommend again.

pain b&b

So. The experiment of last week.

When I took a lesson with Tina in May, I was starting to think about joint maintenance and preventative health.  Or maybe treatment.  Or …. whatever was appropriate.  I asked her thoughts, told her that I wasn’t looking for trouble/to spend money, but, you know, maybe the time had come to inject something?

Tina suggested, very practically (and, I should note, as a DVM), that I could try giving Murray what she calls a “B&B cocktail” for three days to see if it improved anything.  The B&B cocktail being 1g of bute and 250 mg of banamine twice a day.  If there was pain or inflammation somewhere in Murray’s body, the NSAIDs would mask them during that time.  If Murray was better on drugs, then we would know that he likely needs to be injected somewhere.  If he wasn’t… I’m not really sure what the logical conclusion to that would be.

So I put my horse on a pile of NSAIDs and a little bit of ulcer prevention on Tuesday of last week. And boy, did it ever tell us anything.


oh look, those hocks actually bend…

During last week’s lesson, Tina commented immediately that Murray looked great, that he was moving his hocks and his back really well.  This is a comment we don’t usually get until we’ve worked through all the residual stiffness, about halfway through a lesson.  Every exercise we did in the lesson was easier for Murray than it usually is — and it’s not like we’d been practicing a bunch either.  I jumped on him for the first time in a week for that lesson, and he was fantastic. Collecting the canter was so shockingly easy for him when I asked.  The difference was very, very clear.

My Friday  jump lesson was also “on drugs”, though we were coming down from them at the time.  Murray’s last dose of NSAIDs had been that morning right before the lesson, and he’d gone 24 hours between doses, so he probably wasn’t feeling as good as he had during the previous few days.  That, too, might have contributed to his nappiness.


just asking for a little more trot here

vs.


actually going for the extension here

I’ve actually already had the vet out to do Murray’s hocks (since this all took place last week) — I piggybacked on someone else’s PPE appointment.  It will be very interesting to see how it turns out, and whether this actually makes him more comfortable.

cantering on drugs last week

vs.

cantering off drugs

I’m more than happy to include hock injections as part of Murray’s routine maintenance.  He’s proven to me that he’s worth investing in (lol, only took four years), and obviously from a welfare and ethics standpoint I want him to be comfortable in the work we are doing.  I fully acknowledge that we ask horses to do some pretty unnatural things, though, and that some low level of discomfort is likely to be present in doing this.

camelot, june 2017

vs.

during the experiment, last week
not a totally fair comparison as it’s not quite the same moment of the stride, but you get the idea

But I also don’t have the funds to endlessly pursue what might make him feel better if the hock injections don’t help.  It seems like there are a lot of ways I can spend, validly or wastefully, money on this “problem” — and part of it depends on how big I decide the problem itself is.  There are plenty of horses who are comfortable competing at much higher levels than we with similar (or even more) maintenance needed.  Honestly, I’m hoping that this does the trick enough for me to be able to put thoughts of further evaluation and injection out of my mind.  At least until I develop that app and become a grillionaire.

may 2015

january 2017

during the experiment, july 2017

The key will be to keep evaluating Murray’s comfort and happiness in work.  Formerly, Murray’s objections to work always seemed to be to the concept of work in general, which I have always taken as a work ethic problem.  He’s always had a kinda shitty work ethic (but maybe he’s also always kinda needed some more joint support?).  So the next few months will be very telling for us.

hot mess

In the last six months I feel like there have been an absurd number of “and then I rode Murray for the first time in ten days” moments.  Good news for me is that he’s actually getting better despite all of these breaks, and we continue our slow climb up the mountain of dressage, training, and more generally: life.

So here we are again.  Another first ride after ten days away, although at least this time Murray managed to get out for a few rides with our barn manager’s kid.  Unfortunately, Davis also got buckets of weird and aseasonal weather with thunderstorms and a hurricane warning (an actual hurricane warning!), and aforementioned kid made the same decision as I have many times this season and chose not to ride any time the rain and wind got louder than her phone.  Murray appreciated it, and I totally understand.

remember when I did this in january and thought it was a good idea?
NEVER AGAIN

Murray was a ball of filth when I got to him.  Earlier my barn manager had sent me a video of him poking his tail through the bars of his stall and scratching his dock and butt crack on there, so the boy must have had an absolutely wild itch.  In fact, the whole of his body was probably one big itch because he has bug bites seemingly all over, and several scrapes from where he’s clearly tried to scratch too vigorously.  This amounted to a nice, fist-sized edema/bite on his belly, and a raw and slightly bloody patch on his sheath.  Yes, his sheath.  Pony somehow scratched himself so hard he bloodied his own dongle.

I curried him ferociously, channeling a bit of L and my former self in terms of grooming habits, and was very happy to see his hair coming out in brush-fuls.  Even the hair I clipped is also coming out, and with a fair bit of skin gunk and dust I also managed to dislodge a lot of that short hair.  There is a summer coat coming in underneath, it’s just not terribly long or strong just yet.  While currying I found all kinds of lumps and bumps on him associated with bug bites, nicking himself in turnout, or just general stupidity I think?  He had a big scrape across the point of his hip where the hair is now gone, and through his front legs and in his armpits he’s got dandruff like woah.  For a moment I even thought that the kid had given him spur rubs because the hair at Murray’s girth area is falling out in tufts, but I think it’s just a yucky humidity-associated skin bug.  I’m going to try to bathe him in tea-tree oil shampoo this week to see if that will help, but if nothing else the drop in humidity should dry out the skin gunk.

I miss shiny summer ponies

Murray’s feet were also a touch thrushy, for the second time I’ve ever seen in four years. I scraped them out and put some Sore No More “The Sauce” in them after my ride, and expect it won’t go any further than that.  And in doing so I found a whole host of little nicks and cuts on his lower legs from … whatever it is he’s been doing.

Then we lunged. And Murray was like “did you not hear? I don’t canter any more.”  He’d shake his head around and flail and tranter a bit and then fall back into the trot.  He cantered once when he spooked but not for more than half a circle.

The horse was the definition of a hot mess.  I could do nothing but roll my eyes at him.

He was surprisingly reasonable under saddle.  There were a few pony club kicks when he didn’t feel like trotting at first.  And I had to get a little rude when he thought that sticking his neck to the right and twisting his head left was a good way to trick me into thinking he was moving into the contact.  I felt really centered and quiet through my lower body, and Murray eventually gave up his charade, so I kept it short and sweet.

can we have summer again PLEASE?!