Right, so my friend asked me to ask about what happened with her gelding today for her.
My friend leads the dude string rides at our barn. She had two dude string rides today. Her first ride was at 9am. She always uses her 9yo arab gelding for her lead horse. He was fine tacking up and she didn't notice anything unusual. They got out on the trail for her first ride and about halfway out, she had to stop to adjust the saddle on one of the dude string horses. Her gelding grabbed a branch while she was adjusting the blanket and started eating. He doesn't usually grab stuff out on the trail. The branch he grabbed was off a scrub oak and he grabbed about an 8" piece of branch complete with bark and leaves. She pulled the branch out of his throat (her words) and mounted back up. About five minutes later, she looked down at his head and he had a large lump on either side of his jaw, on the sides of his throatlatch. There was nothing she could do about it out on the trail and he was acting fine, so she just decided to finish the ride (the swelling stopped after about twenty minutes and then just stayed the same). It was a two hour ride, so they got back around 11pm.
When they got back to the barn, she said that the lumps were about the size of golf balls, but they weren't painful. Her next ride wasn't until 1pm, so she untacked him and let him eat and drink. She said he was eating and drinking fine, and was acting normal. The lumps also decreased in size during the hour or so before the next ride. She used him on the next ride and he was absolutely fine. When I went to pick her up from the barn, she had me look at it and it was slightly swollen (you could see it, but it wasn't obvious). It bothered him more that we were messing with him while he was eating than it did that I was touching the swollen areas.
He hasn't had any diet changes and gets fed at relatively the same times every day. He gets about a flake and a half of alfalfa morning and night, with a flake of timothy, a scoop of Lakin Lite (bermuda mix) pellets, and a small scoop of MSM for lunch. He's been on this feeding schedule for at least the last three months. My friend also said that the bugs are unusually bad this year, and it seems like they're out earlier than normal.
The BO is going to keep an eye on him tonight and make sure he is okay, but my friend is just curious as to what the reaction could have been to. It sounds like a bug bite to me, but my friend thinks it was the branch he tried to eat. Any ideas?