I went to see Reuben this morning, and he whinnied at me. Twice. I hand fed him some alfalfa, and he ate eagerly. He came out of his stall, stiffly, but willingly, and he walked a little bit. And then he stopped.
It was tougher from there.
A couple of days ago, I X-rayed his feet because Reuben reminds me so much of a horse with laminitis. The X-rays have been normal: twice. There’s not a big increase in the pulse going to his feet. He doesn’t have the classic stance of a horse with laminitis, with his feet way out in front of him. I had a farrier help me pull the shoes, and he’s not even sore to hoof testers over the sole. There’s separation along the lateral (outside) hoof wall on the right front and right hind, and he’s lost some skin there, but those aren’t the only legs that are stiff, and he’s not really sore in the areas where there’s separation. Honestly, I’m not sure why he’s so sure. But I’m worried as can be. The medication – four different kinds – helps him some.
I put him in a thick pad two days ago, and it didn’t seem to make any difference; maybe he was a little bit worse. I put wooden shoes on him the next day, and he seemed a bit better, and he seemed a bit better this morning, too. But after walking out to the wash rack for his bath, he didn’t seem any better at all.
There’s definitely signs that his skin is healing in some areas. Patches of hair are coming back in some places. There are some deeper areas, too, but those are healing.
His blood work is normal – no signs of infection. No signs of dehydration. Electrolytes are normal. Kidneys are working. Total protein is normal. I you didn’t know which horse it came from, you’d think the blood came from a pretty normal horse.
We’re going to leave him the stall on Christmas day. Maybe the walking just makes him sore. Maybe his muscles are so inflamed that the exercise hurts him. So we’ll stop for a day or two. We can give him a bath in the stall. And we’ll see what happens from there.
There have been so many suggestions from so many concerned people. I understand what it must be like to be a horse owner with a horse that has a serious problems. All sorts of “cures” get suggested. They all sound good, too. But I’m also full of information about equine physiology, and responses to injury, and lots of new information that I’ve learned from colleagues, human burn doctors, and my own research. I know a lot about what’s going on, even if I don’t know why he’s so sore. I know that some of the suggestions are useless, albeit well-intended. If I didn’t know so much about horses, I can only image how hard it would be to try to digest all of these suggestions. And I still want to try every one.
I’m worried about Reuben. He seems stable, but stable in a bad way. Most of the dead tissue has come off, or is about to come off. But he’s still sore. The next week or so is going to be very telling.
I wish this wasn’t happening over Christmas. I wish I could say that I know that this is all going to be OK.
I’ll never forget that whinny.