Thursday, February 2, 2012

4 - To Bute or not to Bute

It figures.  Sometimes it seems that nothing goes as planned.  But, I try to believe that everything happens for a reason, and just try to be OK with the fact that I might never know what that reason might be.

I was hoping to trailer my horse to the neighbor's indoor arena this past weekend.  Before that adventure, I needed to get more hay.  Since the horse trailer was the nearest thing in the driveway, we decided to use it to pick up the hay.  It was the first trip out with the trailer, so, it wasn't quite ready to go.  We put on the license in the blowing snow, my husband trimmed the branches of the tree that would have hit the trailer as we pulled it out, he greased the ball and hitch, and hooked it up.  My husband doesn't know much about horses, but he has a lot more experience pulling things than I do.  So, I stayed with the kids and occasionally came out to check on his progress.  Finally, after an hour's preparation, my husband started to pull out, and, I can't believe it...a flat tire.

I knew the tires were original to the trailer, and that meant they were 7 years old...older than what is considered safe; my dad is a tire engineer and I recently had a lesson on tire safety.  I had learned that they should be replaced after no more than 6 years.  Even though a horse trailer probably won't have much tread wear, the rubber becomes degraded by the changes from the sun, heat, cold, and moisture.  I had planned on replacing them.  I was glad the flat happened on the driveway, and not on the road.

My husband borrowed a neighbor's trailer, so we got some hay.  But now I (or my husband!) has to learn how to change a tire on a trailer.  I tried calling AAA.  They don't do horse trailers.

I figured I had better get my horse groomed up, in case I got everything road worthy.  They were mud balls, so this could take some time.  I brought them in from pasture, and Dottie looked like she wasn't moving quite right.  The pasture was super muddy, so I hoped she was just awkward in the mud, and I wasn't overly concerned as I brought her in.  I grabbed a brush, and, I didn't even need to get to her legs to notice that her back right leg was swollen.  UGH.

Of course my first aid kit was in the barn, and so my Bute paste was frozen.  Double Ugh.  I gave her a bunch of hay, and took the Bute inside.  After a few hours, I boiled some water in a tea pot, and took my thawed Bute back to the barn, and gave her a dose.  Then, I added the hot water to a bucket of cold water, and started to get the mud off to see what injury was hiding.  Dottie wanted nothing to do with this, and I told her she was ungrateful for the warm sponge bath.  She was tied, with a quick release knot, of course, in the corner, with just enough room to reach her hay.  I kept at the sponge bath, ever vigilant of the potential that she might try to kick me away, depending on how much pain she was experiencing.  She was normally well mannered and stands to be brushed and for the farrier.  But, she rarely gets bathed and could use some more work in that department.  She was uncomfortable, and occasionally pulled her leg up under her.  She was swollen enough that she couldn't even flex her fetlock completely.  I ran the water down her leg and gently rubbed away the mud.  Her hind end moved back and forth, with her head stationary.  Had I spent more time grooming, bathing, and fussing with her, perhaps we wouldn't be doing a training session on standing, while treating an injury.  She finally realized that I wasn't going to give up, and ate her hay quietly while I cleaned her up enough to discover a couple inch long gash on the inside, front, of her hock.  The swelling all the way down at her fetlock was a result of this injury further up the leg.  I dressed it, and untied her.

I hoped that giving her Bute was the right thing to do.  I had always heard that you don't want the horse to be TOO comfortable, because then they might over do it, and injure themselves more.  But, I was hoping the Bute's anti-inflammatory effects might bring down the swelling, and I figured this was most important.

Ironically, I got the QH Journal in the mail the next day, and just this morning, I read an article saying that recent studies have debunked the thought that letting a horse experience some pain will help them to take it easy.  In fact, it said that pain caused stress, and that stress causes the release of hormones that inhibit healing.  There were other negative side effects of pain, such as diarrhea, ulcers, and more.  It tuns out that horses weren't more likely to cause further injury when given pain relievers, anyway.  So, it turns out that it was a good choice to Bute my horse.  The swelling is going down, and, the wound is healing up.  Who knows how she hurt herself.  I would guess a kick from her pasture buddy, but it is hard to imagine my little half blind, bottom of the pecking order, much smaller mare, inflicting a blow that would hurt big 'ole Dottie.

Between the flat tire, and the lame horse, I obviously wasn't meant to ride that day.  I just hope that all these inconveniences kept me from something much worse, and that my horse heals up without any long term concerns!

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