I signed the Bill of Sale for Rumor on July 31st, 2012. A 5 year old Appendix QH, bred for the race track. She had minimal training, was basically broke to trail ride. She was meant to be my up-and-coming barrel horse. I sent her off to my trainer for a month to work on her w/t/c/whoa, leads and leg cues. She was there for 2-1/2 weeks and was doing extremely well in her training.
And then I got the call. On a Sunday morning, Rumor was 3-legged lame. I immediately went out to look at her. By the time I got there, she was walking, there was heat in her hock and she had some swelling. I figured she sprained or twisted it somehow. Possibly kicked by another horse? We will never know for sure. But to be safe, I had the vet come out. We XRayed it, and everything looked fine. The vet told me to take her home, let her rest for a month or so, and then bring her back into work. Okay. Picked her up Monday and took her home. She was pastured by herself to recover. She was walking, but limping pretty severely. I was told not to stall her, but to keep her in a smaller turnout.
(Before all hell broke loose...Video)
Tuesday Morning comes around, I'm at work, and at 5am, I get a phone call from my mom saying that this is really bad. Her leg is horribly swollen. I said, yes, mom, I know. She said "No Chelsea, this is bad" She had to be to work at 6am, there wasnt anything we could do. I was able to get out of work early. And then I got home, I see this...
I immediately started crying, called my vet and told her she needed to come out immediately. The whole leg from groin to hoof was HUGE. It was HOT to touch, and she was not placing any weight on the leg at all. Flies covered her leg, she was absolutely, utterly miserable. It took by 45 minutes to get her up to the barn, which was a 100 foot walk at most. I couldn't even reach the hose to start cold hosing her leg.
The vet finally showed up and said we have a severe infection going on and she has contracted cellulitis. Whoa. That quickly? Yep! Vet placed a catheter in her neck, and we immediately started pumping antibiotics into her. IV Gentamycin. We also started her on IM Penicillin, 30 cc's twice a day.
It took forever to get her into a stall, but we finally managed. Bedded her down in some THICK shavings and she almost immediately laid down to take the weight off her good leg. Vet prescribed 30cc's Gent a day, and 60cc's Penicillin a day (morning and night) Both her IM, so she was getting 5 shots a day. She was also on bute. I wrapped her leg in a Hot Epsom Salt wraps multiples times a day to draw out whatever I could.
(Day 3, swelling decreased)
Vet did not give a good outcome for us. Rumor couldn't bear any weight on the leg, the amount of pressure her good leg could take was only so much. We had no idea what bacteria we were dealing with, nor did we know how she contracted the infection in the first place. Her skin wasn't broken anywhere, no puncture wound in site, there was no scrape from a hoof from another horse...Nothing.
I was put on the spot about what to do. I couldn't spend $5000-$8000 on her if she required surgery. I couldn't stand to see her in so much pain. If she didn't get better quickly, I'd have to make the tough decision to put her to sleep and ease her suffering.
Rumor ended up being on stall rest for 5 days total. Day 1-3, she didn't put weight on the leg. Then at the end of the 3rd day, I saw her use it to shift her weight. I cried. And videotaped it. By the 4th day, she would stand on it some to relieve weight from her good leg. And the 5th day, I was able to hand walk her slowly and let her graze outside. The 6th day, I was able to place her in a small turnout and let her move about freely. I cried again.
(Placing weight on leg for the first time...Video)
(First walk after stall rest)
(First day in a small turnout...Video)
By day 5, she was HATING us for all the shots. She was getting downright nasty about it. So we ended up having to switch to oral antibiotics. (SMZ Tablets) 9 pills twice a day. We continued to give bute to help with the pain and swelling. The swelling did go down some over the few days, But it took awhile. Like months. After she was moving okay, I was able to put her back into a small turnout to graze. And then when Chilly came back home from the trainers, I was able to put those two together and Rumor seemed to continue to improve. Still a major limp, a 4/5 on the lameness scale. We continued with the SMZ tablets for 5 weeks. The swelling was still moderate and she was feeling much better. Her eyes were clear and perky and she would even attempt to trot in the pasture. She had lost a lot of weight with the stress she was under.