Monday, September 28, 2009

A Ride

On Saturday night Brian and I were sitting in the study, and my phone, next to me on the desk, buzzed and beeped, informing me I'd gotten a text message.

Brian and I have been a little out of the loop for the last week or so, having contracted a flu and been laid low. Some time mid-week last week, I emailed Cathi and asked if she would mind taking over the washing off of Steen's drainage for a few days, because there was no way I was up to the task myself. She was so nice about it and said no problem, and I commenced to lie around aching and sweating and not going to the barn for four days.

By Saturday night, when my phone beeped, I was beginning to feel human again. I looked at the text message. It was from Cathi and it said, "We're riding tomorrow at 10:00. Do you want to come?"

I, having not seen Steen's leg in quite a while, didn't quite know what to say. I asked if she thought he was up to it. She said she thought it would do him good. With a huge lifting of spirits, I told her to count me in.

Ten o'clock the next morning found me at the barn marveling at the difference four days had made in Steen's leg. The scab is much smaller, with new, pink scar tissue at edges. The scab is also not as tall, so perhaps the Granulex spray really is bringing down the proud flesh. Drainage is significantly reduced, no swelling anywhere. I was more or less ecstatic. Cathi offered to lend me a mount if I didn't want to take him out, but I thought we were ready for it. So six of us tacked up and headed down the road and oh it was grand.

It was a beautiful early fall day, windy, with leaves drifting out of the trees that drop their foliage at the first sign of chill. We did a sort of clover-leaf on roads and strips of grass between corn-fields around the barn. It was a good group - every person out there with decades of riding under their belt. About half the horses were on the green side. The other half as solid as they come. We had our adventures. At one point Cathi got off to pick something up out of the road and her four-year-old retired thoroughbred racehorse got away from her and ended up running around for a while before we could catch him again.

Eventually, Cathi took us to her brother-in-law's secret hayfield, freshly mown, and those with the desire and healthier horses than mine had a good gallop. Cathi's racehorse outran everyone else, of course. Steen, not allowed to participate, instead spun in so many wild circles it probably would have been less strain on his leg if I'd just let him run.

He was keyed up on the way home, but in a way I couldn't help but enjoy. We rode back along a rolling strip of grass between a corn field and a soybean field and Steen was prancing and the wind was blowing and I felt happier than I've felt in weeks.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Much Needed Update

I haven't been saying much about Steen lately because there is both too much and not enough to say. He's still injured, but the wound is still not, technically, severe. He doesn't limp. He doesn't favor the leg in any way. It seems likely that when it heals he'll be left with nothing but a nasty scar.

It's the "when" part that's getting me down.

Maybe it's just me, but this whole healing process just seems interminable. We've gone back and forth between bandaging and leaving it open a couple of times now. There are so many variables to weigh and so many different conflicting kinds of wisdom. I've been out to the barn the vast majority of days since he got his injury, which translates into a lot of time in the car. The wound is still draining a lot, and the drainage collects below the wound and scabs over, and if this doesn't get cleaned regularly, it start to eat into the healthy flesh and create more problems. But if we wrap it, the leg swells and the bandage sags and gets dirty.

So, I don't know. This morning when I was half awake I had the thought, "Gosh, I should go ride Steen today. It's been so long."

And while the vet said I could ride him after a few days if I wanted, everything I've read about proud flesh (which is, indeed, developing over the wound) says to limit movement and particularly weight-bearing activities to keep the accumulation to a minimum. So, basically, I shouldn't.

I know it could be worse. Horses do worse things to themselves all the time. And I do appreciate that, but I'll still be glad when this is over.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Getting There

Today I think all of Steen's swelling was finally gone. His back legs look good (other than the huge scabs) and his right front knee is back to its normal size. He seems pretty content back out in the large pasture, even though the grass appears to have stopped growing for the winter. I've decided I'm going to feed him the rest of the grain he had leftover from last winter to try to get his weight back up before it gets cold, although I'm thinking it's more muscle loss than fat loss and what he really needs is exercise. Luckily, the grass is so sparse the herd is walking around a lot, up and down the big hills in the pasture.

Today I gave him the last of his sweet feed, some grain, put icthamol slave on his "scratches," zinc ointment on his scabs, fly spray on his legs, and did my best to scrub off the drainage below his wounds. I swear, I feel like this summer all I've done is apply various goopy ointments to sundry parts of Steen's body.

However, when I put him back in the pasture, Steen trotted off to find his herd. Although I'm still treating his leg with care, he's clearly more or less over it. With the swelling gone and no sign of infection, I venture to say we are in the clear. I know it will be a long time before he heals completely, but I do believe the worst is over. I might even saddle him up and do an easy ride tomorrow or the next day.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Six Days Later

Today was the first Duke-Day inside the new structure. Granted, we have stalls on only one side and a lot of other unfinished elements, but I am sure Duke appreciated not being in the sun all day.

Steen got his feet trimmed, and afterwards we celebrated his progress down the path of healing by putting him back out in the large pasture with his herd.

Things are looking pretty good. We changed the bandage on Thursday and decided to leave it off so the scab could start forming, as the swelling was mostly gone and the flap of skin we were hoping might reattach clearly has no intention of doing so.

He's off his antibiotics and painkillers now, so mostly we're just applying copious amounts of zinc ointment and hoping he will heal without infection.

his two worst wounds - I didn't think to take the photo until after I put the zinc on today

Steen and Brian, hanging out the area we've been letting Steen graze a lot lately

at least he's still pretty

It's been a pretty harrowing week, with many, many trips to the barn to check on Steen and doctor him. After the first day, he was walking much more willingly, but still clearly tender. We changed the bandage for the first time on Tuesday, and he was such a good-natured patient, things went smoothly. The last number of days, he's behaved as if it's barely bothering him, and has not favored the most injured leg for many days. So, hopefully this incident will leave nothing but scars. I'm happy to get him back in the pasture and hopeful he'll put the weight he lost this week back on quickly enough to leave him in good condition for the onset of winter.

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