Horses are magnets for mischief--we all know this. It's the reason TheHorse.com currently hosts more than 32,000 articles to help you safeguard your steeds. Still, I frequently lapse into the mindset that my Warmblood mare Lily is immune to trouble because she lives at such a top-notch facility. This is simply not true. And she kindly jogged my memory of it last week.
No matter the facilities or level of care, horses will still find ways to hurt themselves.
Photo: Courtesy Alexandra Beckstett
The farm where I board Lily is the epitome of an impeccably maintained and managed show barn. We're talking rubber pathways from stall door to pasture gate to prevent horses from slipping on concrete; arena footing that's watered and dragged once, sometimes twice, daily to minimize risk of injury; and a knowledgeable staff of eight who live on-site to oversee the horses' care from dawn to dusk.
So when Lily emerged from her stall Thursday morning with a mysteriously sore right-hind fetlock, we were scratching our heads. Neither she nor her stall showed any signs of a scuffle, and she had felt good when I hacked her the afternoon prior. On a positive note, Lily did have the foresight to injure herself on a day the veterinarian was already scheduled to come to the barn.
Upon arrival, the vet palpated the lower limb in question and then performed an ultrasound to determine just how much trouble Lily had gotten herself into. No one said the "S" word out loud, but that tender area was located frighteningly close to the suspensory ligament branches. Fortunately, the images revealed nothing more than edema and inflammation indicating bruising, and the vet prescribed four days of icing and stall rest/hand grazing. On Day 5 he would stop back by for a reassessment--his best guess was that Lily had whacked herself good and hard sometime in the past 24 hours.
It's been a while since one of my horses showed up with an unexplainable eyelid laceration, missing chunk of skin, or swollen limb. Usually the damage is superficial and easily treated, but I think as a sport horse owner I tend to react with a bit more panic than necessary. After all, injuries equate to missed training days or events, layups turn performance horses into very expensive pasture ornaments, and getting a horse back into show shape doesn't happen overnight.
Fortunately, pending any other unforeseen predicaments Lily encounters, we'll be competing as planned this Fourth of July weekend no worse for the wear. Doc took another ultrasound of her leg yesterday and gave us the all-clear to resume training.
I guess it was just my time for a reminder that no matter the facilities or level of care, we can't ever fully protect horses from themselves!
What are your most memorable I-wish-my-horse-wore-bubble wrap moments?