Speaking of his teeth ...
In for a penny, in for a pound. What I can say? We're kind of an all or nothing team.
Things are healing (mostly) well. I am a tad bit concerned about the wire holding Speedy's tooth in place, but at least the wires are still there. Before I elaborate, a friend tagged me in a Facebook post with this picture attached. I don't think it needs much explanation.
If you only land here sporadically, you're missing out on all sorts of drama. You really should check in more frequently. Either way, in mid-February, Speedy tore open the front of both front legs, requiring sutures on the right side. The second injury happened about an hour after returning to the ranch from the vet. That wound should probably have been stapled closed, but it's healing fine anyway.
When Speedy was in for his tooth, Dr. Tolley examined the scabs that are hanging around and gave me permission to work them off. I was hesitant to do it before because I didn't want to screw around with the epithelialization of the last bit of skin. I still don't like to yank the scabs off, and neither does Speedy, but with a good soaking and a scrub brush, they're coming off easier and easier. Once the wounds are clean and free of debris, I am still coating them with some AluShield. At this point, the AluShield is really just to make myself feel better.
Speaking of his teeth ...
Again, if you aren't a regular reader ... Speedy tried to knock out his bottom left incisor a week ago. Dr. Tolley wired it back into place, and so far, everything is holding steady. I am worried about the wire irritating a bit of his gum though. If you look at the last incisor, the one closest to the top as you're looking at the photo, there is a bit of gum that looks annoyed. I can't tell if the gum is simply healing - that's where the tooth was displaced, or is the wire rubbing on his gum? I'll watch it for another day or two. If it still looks a bit pissy, Dr. Tolley will get a photo, and I'll probably get yet another vet bill.
In for a penny, in for a pound. What I can say? We're kind of an all or nothing team.
Speedy knocked a tooth loose. I told you that yesterday. The plan had been for Dr. Tolley to squeeze Speedy in between other appointments while I was at work. That didn't happen, for which I was secretly glad. I wonder if Dr. Tolley deliberately didn't squeeze him in knowing how much I love to be involved in my horses' treatment. Besides just being a concerned owner, I dig this kind of stuff. In the end, I got to watch.
Besides the standard IV tranquilizer/sedative, Dr. Tolley needed to block the nerves in Speedy's mouth much like your own dentist does when drilling out a cavity or creating a crown. For horses, this means blocking the ipsilateral mandibular nerve which is accessed through the mandibular foramen, an opening in the lower jaw.
To find the opening, Dr. Tolley followed some very specific measurements. He marked the location on Speedy's jaw with a Sharpie Marker much like a surgeon will do before cutting.
Then he used a very long needle which he injected into the mandibular foramen via Speedy's throat latch.
While Speedy "cooked" a bit, Dr. Tolley brought out an equine skull to show me what he had done.
You're looking down the skull toward the front teeth. You can see both mandibular foramen(s) - the two circular openings, almost in the center of each side of the jaw.
Dr. Tolley's purpose was to "flood" the canal with anesthesia, numbing the teeth along that side of the lower jaw.
Since I was fascinated by the procedure and because Dr. Tolley loves it when his clients are just as geeked out by this stuff as he is, he went and brought out his manual for doing these types of procedures. When I asked if the book was written for lay people such as myself or for veterinarians practicing medicine, he quickly assured me that this was literally his how-to guide.
Once Speedy's mouth was numb, the procedure was fairly simple. Dr. Tolley took a length of regular wire and threaded it through Speedy's undamaged teeth much like you would use dental floss.
Of course, nothing with Speedy is easy. Even though he was quite tipsy and numb, he still put up a fuss. Eventually Dr. Gonzalez joined in to help steady Speedy and keep his tongue out of the way.
Once the wire was through the front teeth, Dr. Tolley wrapped it around to "capture" the damaged tooth - the one on the far right. When the wire was wrapped around the teeth, Dr. Tolley twisted it tight, clipped off the extra bits, and smooshed it flat.
To support the tooth even more, Dr. Tolley wrapped a second layer of wire around the upper portion of Speedy's teeth. To ensure that the wire stayed up high, he used his Dremel tool to carve out a bit of Speedy's tooth to act as a guide, or a track, for the top row of wire. He secured that one exactly like the first.
And that was it. Dr. tolley finished off the whole job with a shot of penicillin. Speedy can go back to work at any time. Of course, I am to check his mouth for loose or broken wires and regular flushes with water won't hurt. In six weeks, Speedy goes back in to have the wires removed.
We opted not to take x-rays, but in the event that the tooth is fractured, I'll start to see signs of infection, and then we'll have to pull the tooth - a more expensive and less favorable option.
While Speedy should be fine, and I stress the should, I've taken all shows and clinics off the table. That means that I won't be going to the Lilo Fore clinic after all. I could take Izzy of course, but frankly, my wallet can't handle anything else right now.
I hope Speedy gets to show later this summer, but it was just stressing me out too much to try and get him ready for a clinic by mid-April. I felt an enormous weight lift from my shoulders with the decision. I've got some Izzy plans for May though, so you'll still see us out there.
Let's hope Speedy is done with the theatrics.
First of all, you kind of need them; horses too. Keeping with the theme of this winter though, Speedy tried to knock his out.
Speedy's a worrier. He paces and whirls when he thinks he's been left on his own, which NEVER ACTUALLY HAPPENS. On Sunday morning, while I lunged Izzy, Speedy apparently paced and whirled a bit too hard and whacked his face against the pole that holds up his roof.
I swear I cannot make this stuff up. When I saw the blood on his mouth, I pulled back his lip and saw a tooth hanging to the side. I gently pushed on it to see if it was loose, and he snapped his head back with an audible intake of breath. That sucker looks like it must hurt.
Since he was eating and looked fine otherwise, I decided to wait to call the vet until Monday. Frankly, my wallet couldn't handle a Sunday emergency vet visit for something non-life-threatening. The ranch owner and I both agreed to give it one day to see if the swelling would go down overnight. It didn't.
I called the vet on Monday afternoon, but due to a busy schedule, a day off, and the dentistry required to fix this, it was decided to drop Speedy off last night so Dr. Tolley can get to him some time today while I am work. The plan is to wire the tooth back into place. Sort of of like having braces.
I'll let you know how it goes. Oh, and Universe? F*#@ you!
I am trying not to complain too much, but waiting for skin to heal really is like watching paint dry. Speedy is now bandage free, but we're in the next stage of the process that happens when you take pressure bandages off; everything swells up. I've been down this road with Izzy (his wound took a full year to heal), so I haven't been surprised by the setbacks.
Last week I sent my vet some photos of Speedy's legs, and he gave the go ahead to remove the bandages and switch to an aluminum-based bandage instead. There are several brands to choose from; I went with AluShield because that's what Amazon could deliver the quickest. If you haven't used an aluminum-based bandage, it looks just like spray paint. The product description reads, AluShield is a convenient, water-resistant aerosol bandage that creates a protective barrier against external irritant agents in wounds in small and large animals.
When I got to the barn on Monday, my little heart sank a bit. Both legs were crusted over with dirt and scabs and the left one had ballooned up. Having been through this before, I shoved my disappointment back down and grabbed a hose to start cold-hosing. As I hosed, I ever so gently picked away at the dirt without dislodging the scabs. The photos above are from after I cleaned up both cuts.
From afar, meaning kneeling a few feet away rather than pressing my nose against his knees to get a serious close-up, the wounds look much better than they did even a week ago. Read about the injury here and here. When I looked back to find those links, I was shocked at how ugly it was compared to what it looks like now. In truth, both sides are practically healed!
The thing I love about AluShield is that it makes everything look better. I know both Speedy and I are ready to get back to regular work. I'll be glad when that last scab gets knocked off and pink skin shines through. Until then, isn't that a lovely shade of silver paint?
I mentioned that Speedy is back to work. We haven't done any cantering yet, just some walk/trot. The newest problem is that he's a bit sore on what I think is the left front, which is the leg where the smaller injury was/is. I think he's sore from the bandages and scabs.
I hate to ride a horse that's lame, but sometimes it's better for them to be ridden, especially if they get less lame while working. Right now, Speedy's energy is building, and he needs a way to get rid of it. Simple trail rides aren't quite enough to ease his growing tension. Twenty minutes in the arena lets him feel useful and valued which soothes his ego and lets him relax.
Since he was still sore on Sunday, I focused on improving the walk, both the free walk and collected. He could only stand so much collected walk though before he insisted on trotting. It was rough, but the longer he worked, the less it seemed to bother him. And then suddenly he was a fire breathing dragon, and he forgot all about being a bit sore.
We worked on getting supple, doing some shoulder in and moving the hindquarters. Over the past few months he's forgotten what a turn on the haunches is, so we rode a lot of squares and haunches in. He even felt solid enough to ask for a small medium trot. Boy does he love doing those!
Third Level is my goal for this year. We're behind schedule, but that's okay. We'll school what we can, and then we'll tackle the flying changes again when I am sure Speedy is healed enough to do them.
Really. I can wait.
I know I said I'd be writing about a lesson I took on Izzy, but I have to switch it up instead. When I unwrapped Speedy's legs last night, I finally got a pleasant surprise.
But first, an explanation ... I already told you I've been in the midst of a Tuesday/Thursday series of night classes for work. Tonight's class is the last one until late summer - so happy for that. Working from 6:45 a.m. until 7:45 p.m. bites. Hard.
Dr. Tolley recommended re-wrapping every other day, or every third day if my bandages looked good. My bandages always look good, but I've preferred the every other day routine as I am nosy and impatient and want to see fast results every single time. I haven't, but I am like a gambler looking for my next big win, so I keep checking every other day.
Yesterday, I got that big win. I re-wrapped on Sunday which would have meant rewrapping on Tuesday, but I had class that night. It's not possible to make the trek to the barn and back and be on time for class. We don't get credit if we're even ten minutes late. So, against my better judgement, I let the bandages cook for three days.
Yesterday, I unwrapped the first one, which is closing, but it's taking its own sweet time. I rewrapped it, and moved on to leg number two. Frankly, I was feeling pretty discouraged and not very hopeful and then a tad bit worried because it had been three whole days.
I always unwrap the vet wrap and cotton quickly, but I hold the hydrophilic foam pad against the wound because it does stick a bit. I didn't know that the first time I unwrapped, so Speedy got a surprise when I inadvertently yanked it off like a regular bandaid. OUCH! When I gently peeled back the foam pad, I sat back in surprise. The wound was nearly closed!
I so wanted to pick at the scab, but I didn't. Instead, I gently wiped any dirt or loose debris away from the wound and wrapped it back up again. I think I'm going to let my money ride and wait another three days before I open it back up. If my luck holds, it might even have hair growing.
My money's on the Speedy pony!
Oh, how Izzy loves his chiropractor. Like, let me stick my 1,350 pound self in your pocket loves him.
I was smarter for this go round. It usually takes me a couple of weeks to figure out why Izzy can't go in a straight line, pick up the left lead, or just walk forward. This time, I figured it out by the third ride - go, me. The first ride was probably just a whoohoo kind of day. During the second ride I found myself asking, What's wrong with YOU? I should have figured it out then, but I needed that third ride. That's when my brain finally kicked in and remembered that when I am asking Izzy what's wrong with you, he's likely been answering me for several rides. If I'm listening, I'll know it's time for some body work.
The visits are always the same. CC shows up ready to listen to the horse, while I'm busy telling him what I think is wrong. Sometimes I am close, but more often then not, I am just wrong. I was certain Izzy was out in his loins. Instead, everything was radiating from his poll. It's a good thing that CC doesn't listen to me.
On top of being ouchy in his poll, Izzy's jaw was locked up tight. That turned out to be a good time to talk about our recent bridling issues and Izzy's newly shortened canine teeth. CC is always willing to talk training and the reasons why horses resist. Sometimes they resist just because they can. Or because they're tall. Or both. I am looking at you, big brown horse!
Poll, jaw, and ribs, they're all connected. Both sides of Izzy's ribs were a bit sore, but since I figured out the problem sooner rather than later, he wasn't as sore as he sometimes gets. Izzy doesn't actually like to have his ribs worked on, but he definitely appreciates getting them done. I tried to catch a photo with his tongue doing its thing, but all I managed to get was a bit of mouth action. When he gets big relief, his tongue will fall out of his mouth.
The visit was on the shorter side, which means that I caught everything just in time. We're still on an every third month schedule, and no matter how much my wallet would like to stretch it a bit further, I simply can't. In fact, every ten weeks would probably be optimum.
The next day, we finally had a lesson. Izzy took the bit like his old self, and his naughties during the lesson were of the because I can variety. More on that tomorrow.
Since we were just talking about the cost of keeping horses, I thought I'd figure out exactly how much each of Speedy's bandages is costing me.
I'll go from the inside out. I start with a Hydrophilic Foam Pad. Those bad boys are not cheap. Each one runs approximately $3.30, and I use one per leg.
I soak each pad in saline solution which was $4.00 a bottle. Each pad uses a quarter of the bottle so that puts the cost of the saline solution at $1.00 per soaked pad.
The next piece of the bandaging system is the cotton web roll. The rolls that I am using aren't your typical cotton ball type roll. These things have a waffle-like texture that gives them a lot of loft and stability. They'd better be fabulous because I am paying approximately $3.16 per roll, and I use an entire roll for each leg.
The final layer is vet wrap or co-flex or whatever I found cheapest. Since I bought mine from the Riding Warehouse with a hefty discount, each roll was $1.56.
So what do we have?
But seriously, $9.00 leg? I have to find a cheaper hobby.
My horses have had to wear a lot of different types of bandages to aid in healing a bunch of types of wounds. I am going to let you in on a little secret; I actually love bandaging legs. It puts me in a zen-like state - a mind not fixed or occupied by thought or emotion and thus open to everything. It's the same feeling you get while cleaning tack or stalls or vacuuming. I only wish it weren't my horses' legs that needed the bandaging.
So what makes this bandaging job different from all the rest? Well like I mentioned yesterday, I am using the hydrophilic foam pads soaked in saline solution instead of Telfa pads soaked in white lotion, a liquid that irritates the skin which slows epithelialization to reduce the chance of proud flesh. That's how we healed Izzy's massive leg wound a few years ago.
This bandage is fairly simple and takes me less than five minutes to apply. That makes me wish I had four legs to bandage to lengthen the amount of time I get to spend in that zen state. Just kidding, sort of.
The first step is to soak the pad in saline solution. I pour the saline solution on top and then press down on the foam pad to encourage it to soak up as much solution as possible. I actually do both pads at the same time to reduce any waste. I've already ordered more saline solution as the bottles I bought from the vet were smaller than I thought.
Once the hydrophilic foam pads are soaking in saline solution, I start removing the bandages from the lesser wound. I like to do the easy one first because there's less chance that Speedy will get grumpy. By the time I get to the more severe wound, he's getting tired of me. If I started with that one, getting the second one done would be more of a chore which means no zen moment for me.
Once the bandages are removed, I gently wipe the wound down with water, you can also use a Betadine solution, making sure that nothing is stuck to the wound. I clear away any slime or goop that has built up. The wound will usually bleed, so I try to wipe that up as well.
When everything is clean, I carefully apply the wet hydrophilic foam pad, making sure to center it over that wound.
While the moisture of the pad will nearly hold it to the leg, I am always careful not to let go as it really sucks to see all of your hard work and money hit the dirt. Ask me how I know. So while carefully keeping the pad in place with a finger or two, I grab a cotton roll and start winding that on.
Everyone has their own preference, but I like to roll all of my bandages towards the inside of the horse. That means clockwise for the right legs, and counter clockwise on the left legs. I think Dr. Tolley rolls all of his in the same direction, so it probably doesn't really matter.
The good thing about using so much cotton roll is that you cannot over-tighten this bandage. This is a good thing because you don't want it to slide down, so when I start wrapping, I pull that vet wrap as tightly as I can. I always start in the middle and then go up, leaving a small bit of cotton showing at the top. Then I wind the bandage back towards the bottom, also leaving some cotton showing. I like to go up and down a few different times, but I always end in the middle. Leaving that little bit of cotton hanging out at the top and bottom seems to keep the bandage in place better than does sealing the cotton.
And the of course, I repeat everything on the more severe wound. Just as a warning to those who are squeamish, the next picture contains seeping blood and a close up photo of the major wound.
Then I repeat everything with the second wound. While it looks pretty bad, it is healing, albeit slowly. And in fact, we kind of want it to go slowly. If the skin cells work too quickly, we run the risk of the cells piling up on top of each other which is what we call proud flesh. Right now, what we want is for the skin cells to grow across the wound, epithelialize, so that they meet each other on a level plane.
I am wrapping it every other day, so this photo is from Wednesday. I'll take the bandages off again today. Hopefully it looks slightly narrower than it did on Wednesday. I hope to ride this weekend, but if it is still bleeding like it did on Wednesday, I'll keep it to a walk. Speedy needs the exercise for sure, and his brain could use a distraction.
Fortunately, Speedy really does have a good brain, so while he doesn't enjoy having his wounds poked at, he has learned that I am going to poke him gently. He stands perfectly still for the whole process, making my job a lot easier. That's a good thing as we have a lot more bandaging to go.
I am really not sure how many times Speedy has seen the vet this year. I think five. We get it, Speedy. You're special and fabulous and worth every penny I own which is now not very many. Please stop hurting yourself!
Speedy's visit was just as interesting as Izzy's, but for a whole different set of reasons. Izzy's canine teeth were fascinating, especially if you're into teeth and bits. His poundage (a hefty 1,350 pounds) was also entertaining to someone like me who has worked her literal butt off to get rid of excess pounds. He can have any of mine that he'd like. What made Speedy's visit so compelling was the drama lurking beneath those two blue bandages.
Before we even brought Speedy into the exam bay, Dr. Tolley and I discussed how we should sedate/tranquilize Speedy. Two weeks before, Dr. Tolley had run into the problem of needing to knock Speedy out while being unable to because he couldn't mix the knock out drugs (that's a really technical term because I don't know the names of any of those drugs, and nobody probably cares anyway) with what he'd already given Speedy. For this visit, he went with a class of drug that would allow him to drop Speedy later if needed. I was totally cool with that decision. Neither of them, meaning both Dr. Tolley and Speedy, needed me losing my composure on that day, particularly since Dr. Gonzalez had the day off.
Speedy's teeth were in pretty good shape. Dr. Tolley only needed to fix a little here and a little there. He and I have discussed this many times. Horses who get regular veterinarian care usually remain in better shape far later into their senior years than those who only get occasional vet care. Of course there are always exceptions. Speedy obviously being one of them. Dude.
Once Speedy's teeth were done, Dr. Tolley gave me the go-ahead to remove the bandages so that we could get the sutures out. This next part is going to sound a bit vain, but it is not my intention to sound so. It's just a reality.
For my entire horse ownership life, I have either kept my horses at home, at a private residence like now, or at a boarding facility where they fed and maybe cleaned and that was it. On top of that, I was an endurance rider for more than 16 years. By necessity, endurance riders learn crap about equine physiology that most people really don't want to know. Endurance riders never miss the opportunity to check out poop, urine, respiration rates, anal tone, skin tenting, attitude, and so on.
There has never been a parent, trainer, or barn owner responsible for my horse's well being; it's always been my responsibility. As such, I've had to develop a pretty solid skill set when it comes to equine care. My horses will let me do to them what they won't let someone else do. So when I told Dr. Tolley that I should be the one take off the bandages and clean the wound instead of him, he agreed immediately. Neither one of us wanted to have to knock Speedy out. Another example of where that great client/vet relationship comes in handy.
When I first removed the bandages, I saw what I've been seeing for two weeks - a Frankenstein looking affair with a bit of Jack the Ripper thrown in for good measure. It was a mess. I gently wiped away clumps of dirt and goop and then asked the vet tech for water. Almost immediately a warm Betadine wash was in my hands with some 4x4 gauze pads and a stainless steel, turkey baster-like syringe.
As I gently irrigated and wiped the wound, it started to look better and better. The lower portion of the injury, just below the red stuff, had clearly reattached itself. Most of the skin had survived. Speedy stood very quietly as I pulled and prodded at the delicate flesh, loosening every bit of gunk that might irritate the newly granulated tissue.
As I was finishing up, Dr. Tolley squatted down beside me and ever-so-carefully began snipping away at the sutures. In a quiet voice he encouraged me to keep doing what I was doing so that Speedy would remain calm. Speedy jerked his foot away a few times, but I placed it back on the ground and let him know that it was okay.
With far less trouble than we had expected, the sutures were removed. Dr. Tolley breathed a sigh of relief and let me know how worried he had been about the procedure. I quickly retorted, Don't tell me stuff like that. It just freaks me out to think you're freaked out! He just laughed.
I didn't have time to get a photo of the wound after the sutures were removed, Dr. Tolley bandaged it back up before I had a chance, but it looked really good. Deterring proud flesh, an over-granulation of tissue, is of course the next hurdle. Proud flesh is something that I have a fair amount of experience with, so I'll be working hard with fingers crossed that we escape that particular outcome.
For the next few weeks, Speedy will remain bandaged until the wound is completely healed. Our first line of attack is going to be wrapping both legs (the other slice hadn't healed completely either) with Hydrophilic foam pads soaked in saline solution. The pads will stay moist against the granulating tissue allowing the skin to rebuild itself. It's a fairly simple bandage with the Hydrophilic pad pressed directly to the wound and covered with a roll of cotton web. All of that is then secured by vet wrap.
The good news is that Speedy and I should be able to get back to work by this weekend. Dr. Tolley suggested I keep it at a walk/trot initially, but as I see the skin closing, we can start back with the canter. I'll need to rewrap every other day and on days that I ride. Of course if things start to go south, we'll go back in.
Oh, and before I forget, Speedy got on the scale too. He came in at 1,005 pounds. The vet tech quipped that he was really only 1,000 pounds as he was easily toting 5 pounds in bandages. I thought that was funny.
Another piece of good news is that Speedy has been sound this whole time, so the wound was considered superficial, nothing structural was involved, just skin. Now if I can just keep him from crashing into something else, we might make our Third Level debut yet.
Fingers crossed, right?!