Please bear with me and read my essay. I'm really worried, this is a little over my head. =|
So two or three weeks ago, [around the 9th?] I pulled Ricci out for a ride and I noticed her leg was swollen. It's her front left and along her tendon. You know when you run your hands down the back of a horse's leg to pick up feet, and there's that little groove in between the tendon and the bone? It's squishy on the inside of her leg, right in that groove. When it first came up, it was something I saw before I felt. It was swollen around her fetlock too, noticeable enough for someone who sees a horse twice a day every day, probably not noticeable to anyone but me. There wasn't any heat or tenderness.
Overly-concerned horse owner that I am, I took her out on the lawn and walked around and didn't see anything off. I trotted her around me, made sure she was really forward and nothing. She cantered just fine too, both directions. So I tacked her up and went on my ride, figuring it had stocked up from hanging around in the shelter all night.
The ride went fine, the swelling had gone down a little. The next few days it stayed the same. I kept doing a little bit of lunging to get her moving and see how she was, and it always seemed to improve after a little bit of work. It also improved when I would rub and massage it.
It's been a while, and it's still there. Her fetlock isn't swollen, it's just squishy in that little groove. She still seems pretty sound, although I've noticed she is a tad bit off, and I'm either seeing it because I know her so well or I'm imagining it because I'm really worried. Either way, it's only a little tiny bit off.
I've ridden her once or twice since then, and had two vets out. The first did teeth, and after Ricci was finished, I remembered about her leg, but when he looked it wasn't swollen at all. He felt it and said her tendons felt fine. He said it was odd for it to be gone, but he didn't think it was something too bad seeing as it did go away. I mean 100% gone. We were working in the front yard before he got there so he knew which house it was.
The second vet came out two days later [on the 18th] for Ricci's chiro. I talked to her about it. She saw Ricci move at a brisk trot to see how she moved, and she didn't think she was lame. She also felt it. This vet said that if it goes away or goes down, it's usually a circulatory problem, like when stalled horses get puffy pasterns, which was my original diagnosis.
Now, on the 26th, it's still squishy in the same spot, and it's been the same for a few days. Granted, I haven't had time to work her, but still. I did do some free-lunging this afternoon and she was galloping like mad and bucking and hopping and rearing with Gracie, so she's feeling good. Maybe it will feel better when I feed dinner tonight, but in the meantime, I really am worried. There are tons of terrifying things that can go wrong with the tendon, and since it's so close to the tendon, I'm about hyperventilating-panicking. Please please PLEASE tell me what you think!?
Pictures wouldn't show anything, it's only slightly squishy now, and she's got lots of fur on her legs... or did you want them to see what area it is I'm talking about?
I want to see her body, her forelimb conformation, her feet, and the area that you are talking about.
There's a few possible things it can be, but since I can't be there to see it firsthand and palpate it, you gotta help us out and give us something more to go on.
If that's just not possible, then this is my best advice. Stop working her, turn her out and leave her off for the period of time she had the swelling. So, if it's been swelling off and on for two weeks and now it's gone, then she needs two additional weeks off without any swelling. If it takes four weeks for the swelling to go away, then you give her an additional four weeks off after that for a total of eight weeks.
Doing that will ENSURE that the soft tissue injury is healed regardless of what it was. Because even though you can't see outward inflammation, there will be internal cellular inflammation.
I'm not sure what kind of pictures are best, but I took these yesterday. The affected leg is the right one. Do you see that little brown spot on the inside of her right leg? It's right along there, running down in front of the tendon.
You can kind of see the swelling in this one. Kind of, lol.
This is the most recent full-body shot I have of her, taken on Tuesday or Wednesday.
If this has continued and continues, then schedule a specific lameness exam with your vet. Often-times if you don't set the appointment about a specific problem the vet will assume it's not your top priority and don't go too in-depth unless you really stress that you want to find an answer. Or because it's something really mild and has only been there a few days they don't get too excited until the problem doesn't resolve or gets worse.
An ultrasound exam will likely be recommended since it's not resolved so that the vet can determine if there is damage to the tendon that requires special rest and rehab.
Ok... but what do you think it could be? There's lots of scary words they throw in with tendon injuries, but as I said, this is over my head, and I really don't KNOW any of it. I know there's lots of things it could be, and that without being there you really can't know, but if I know the possibilities, I can look it up and talk to the vet and really figure out what's going on.
Anyone else?? Please?!
Edit: Thanks Ryle. I brought it up at their floating appointment because he was out there. At that point, it had only been a few days. And I brought it up again at my chiro appointment because she was out there. I'm too poor to call a vet out any time she comes up limping, but it's usually an abcess or being sore from a long, hard ride so it's things I can handle. This is different though. I am supposed to have a follow-up appointment with her chiropractor in another week or two, and I'm going to base the exam on her leg and then do chiro if I can afford it. The chiro she can do without, it's not top priority.
At this point, would you suggest cold-hosing, aspirin, bute, anything?