Wednesday, February 25, 2015

What Do Wednesday: Another Wintery Edition


Horses make them. Expertly.

This topic stems from one of the most recent TOABH, a comment from my last post & the fact that my dear Lilly recently & mysteriously wrecked her LH. Dealing with it has adventure.

Since it is winter, and we are/have been experiencing ridiculous sub-zero temps for weeks now (in case you werent aware) tending to [serious] wounds can be tricky and need some creative measures when it comes to wound care.

In any others season, I think *most* horse parents would rotate between some sort of wrapping, stall rest, salves/poultice and cold hosing system to mitigate swelling and risk of infection. Severe injuries do not count, as they require hospitalization and surgeries, etc and thats one ball game I hope I never have to play.

I've seen the horrors of those kinds of injuries and I do not wish that on my worst enemy.

In this case, treating Lilly's leg wound(s) have not only been exhausting but extremely stressful. I literally spent like 70 minutes, combined, today worrying about my horse at home and if she was in pain, was out of hay or water, was too cold, was too hot and if the barn had burned down yet, thanks to electric water buckets.

As mentioned previously, a commenter had mentioned her way of treating awkward wounds (hock joints) and being creative with supplies. Since I LOVE to pic y'alls brains for more ideas and solutions to problems.... I want to know from everyone... What do you do when your horse has injured her/him/self in a place thats very inconvenient for bandaging? Also, if your horse gets hurt in winter, what do you do to combat the cold when treating said wound?

In summer, rarely do I worry about anything besides flies and most wounds can be covered with salve when not able to bandage. However, tis' not winter and common methods of treatment are currently unavailable to cold hosing. Hosing would seriously cure half my anxiety right now.

Since I'm a list person I've come up with "Winter Wound Care Grand Plan", complete with numbered steps and photos for easy referencing. Please disregard ratchet-ness of barn and the disgusting mess our poultry/waterfowl are constantly making. They are darty & they wont leave.

Repeat twice daily with the exception of step 2.

1. Gingerly unwrap leg(s) and assess current fucked state

Still VERY swollen, but honestly looks better than yesterday  
Conclusion----obviously unwilling to bear weight and still EXTREMELY tender. Like, the most. Originally I thought the inside wound on her cannon bone & the hock injury would be the buggar, but she seems to be VERY ouchy on her ankle. Quite warm throughout entire leg. RH hock also warm and slightly swollen. Unfortunately, there is hair everywhere and she wouldn't let us come near her with clippers. We can only assume soft tissue 'damage' and minor cuts under the hair near her ankle. Quite worried about it, will monitor closely, nervously and excessively.

2. Venture to reach vet. (Play phone tag all day) Finally get a ahold of saintly vet, ask if you can up Bute dosage because old mare butt is obviously 3 legged lame

3. Attempt to wipe salve off/clean wound with heated water from electric bucket & soft towel.
   Mare will not allow you near wound....
   Keep trying.
   Dodge half-hearted kicks...
   Get most of the old salve off wound.

4. Celebrate and stretch, you've been hunched over for some time.

5. Dunk hands in heated bucket to thaw.

6. Seek to convince mare that cold soaked rags will feel REALLY good on hot, swollen legs. She will disagree for some time. Delicately lay rags on hock joints, wait and hope she doesnt move, awkwardly and gently wrap with polos to keep in place. Repeat with ankle joint.

7. Admire handiwork and let rest for 10-15 minutes while completing step 8

This was really hard guys

This is what torture looks like
8. Clean stall. Dole out PM hay. Prep PM grain.

9. Again, gingerly unwrap, and remind oneself to take used wraps inside (aka throw on the ground outside door).

10. Try to get some salve near the actual wounds and not on the ground, opposite leg, on oneself or elsewhere. It will be difficult because horse will be flinging about trying to dodge your futile attempts

11. Wash and thaw hands again in heated buckets

12. Trick horse into standing immobile while trying to get gauze to stick to wounds/salve by being as delicate as a butterfly with placement

13. Fully unwrap vetwrap from roll, since its probably frozen to itself & being bastardly. Attempt to warm in your hands, but theyre probably wet, & not helping. Drop vetwrap. Repeat step.

14. Readjust gauze.

15. Sneakily and quickly get that mother 'effin vetwrap around the damn leg, hopefully near the wound and hope she doesnt flinch/whole thing doesnt slip.

16. It does.

17. Repeat steps 11-15 again with fresh supplies, while cursing under your breath (or louder, if you're me)

18. Admire handi-work and catch a breather/wonder why you fucking own horses

Not too shabby. Better than yesterday! *pats self on back*
19. Stuff mare's face with noms & pet neck for dealing with this shit (you're about 35-45 minutes into the ordeal by now)

20. Re-roll legwraps because you probably haven't yet. Forget you didnt wash hands and get salve all over wraps. Get clean ones. Note they are the last clean pair and try to remember to wash dirty ones (spoiler, you wont).

21. Tell horse to brace for the worst, and try to wrap legs, making sure the most injured leg gets as much coverage as possible and wrapping other leg for support. Horse will resist at first but then accept her fate as she is quite over this by now and just wants more food.

22. Repeat steps 18/19

Are you noticing a trend here? I like blue shit.

23. Return traumatized animal to her stall and give PM grain with meds.

24. Clean and refill heated buckets.

(Once inside)

25. Dry/fold cold compress wraps. Remember you forgot the other dirty wraps down at barn. 

26. Pre-crush pills for AM because you will hit snooze one too many times & be running late

26. Blog about it and collapse into bed.

So there you have it. A way too detailed numerical list of what I've been doing for what seems like eternity already.  You're welcome.

I've decided that wrapping the hocks overnight/during the day terrifies me & I'm too worried it will do more harm than good. But, the cold compress seems to be working in lieu of no hose, and she seems to actually enjoy it once I can get the damn things on. I don't blame her, those wounds are gnarly. I wish I could use ice packs, but shes so tender, I dont think the awkward pressure would work out in this instance.Vet has coordinated antibiotics & bute, so medications are taken care of. Luckily, if I mix it with a little water and dump on grain she doesnt even notice. Hallelujah. Otherwise, it could be worse and I'm glad she seems to have a good attitude about being inside and treated like a queen. 

Like I said before, I've been really lucky when it comes to horse bodily injuries and this has to be the closest to worst I've had to deal with, which is nice (I say that lightly-this has been the opposite of fun for both parties). I've had cut coronet bands (scary) and my mini's hoof splicing (ULTIMATE scary) but otherwise, this is the most creative I've had to get with bandaging and technique.

So, dear readers, What Do?

Feed me YOUR secrets!


  1. I wish you could clip her, those fridgid temps and snow would do half your job!

    1. that's what i was thinking too... otherwise no ideas, having not had to deal with any combination like this before :(

    2. Agreed ... that would be handy.

  2. In the winter I just clean it and turn them out. The snow and cold is the best healing aid possible (unless it needs the vet of course). Walking around will help the swelling too.

    1. I would love to just do this but she literally can't walk and I'm also fearful of the ice and snow bothering the hell out of that ankle. We have a solid 6-8 inches with a layer of ice overtop :(

  3. You might consider "icing" her with snow - I am sure she would probably protest, but snow might work better (and be easily available...) than ice packs. I would back my mare into the pile from the plow and bury her legs up to the hocks when we were dealing with suspensory issues a few winters ago. You could bring the snow to Lilly in a muck tub or see if you can put a layer of snow on a towel (maybe fold so it's in an envelope of towel?), wrap around the hock and polo? I'd also look into a hot pot for the barn - I stashed mine in my trailer as an afterthought when I graduated from college and it's been the best. thing. ever. for everything from making alfalfa pellet mashes to soaking hooves in the mud/ice stage of Spri-Winter to allowing me to figure out that my horse DIDN'T have bone or muscle exposed/sticking out of her leg - instead it was a... bloodsicle? Horse's leg had gotten a big old scratch and while it was bleeding, the blood froze to the wound, just getting bigger and bigger until it was like 2" raised from her leg and looked like granulated/frozen flesh. I gingerly rinsed with warm water from magic hot pot and boom... it melted, thank god. I generally swap to Blue Kote in the winter because I can keep it in my car/pocket and it doesn't freeze solid, like most of my goops and gunks do (hot pot heated to steaming might defrost those, too). I've also had luck with bag balm, but usually use it on blanket rubs / the sore my mare gets on her withers from too many blankets. I wrap and turn out, but my horses are used to the MN cold and seem happier outside on the round bales than in their stalls screaming for their friends (MARES.).

  4. They make these wraps called "Spider Bandages" that are perfect for the hock area!

  5. Yikes! I don't know. I haven't dealt with those kind of injuries in the winter. I like cold hosing too haha. When Chrome punctured his hock and was swollen he was actually sound. No limping at all. So it was pretty easy to deal with. I just gave antibiotics, checked on him everyday and left it alone. I've never wrapped an injury... I hope you figure something out! That sounds absolutely miserable.

    P.S. That anxiety girl meme is so me. Also if you hate crushing pills as much as I do you should be able to dissolve them. When Chrome was on SMZ or something like that I just dropped them into a syringe, filled it with water, put the plunger in carefully, put my finger over the end and shook it until they dissolved. Then I just gave it to him like dewormer, but you could easily pour it over her food since she will eat it. :D


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