This fall I feel like we’ve had more than our share of setbacks. I’m hoping that we’ve turned the corner (fingers crossed). Fall is my favorite season to ride and the time when hunting is at its finest. There’s little better than hunting through the fall foliage in New England.
It all started with the darned pebble. That pebble caused the bruise that resulted in one of the nastiest abscesses I’ve every seen. Although Freedom was sound enough to ride barefoot, the location of the abscess made it impossible for him to wear a boot . . . so we missed several hunts while that healed.
Next came the cellulitis. Of course it appeared the morning of the day when I was going to Philadelphia to visit my newly-minted college freshman, I arrived at the barn to find a swollen leg. He was sound on it and after some banamine, SMZs and a hack, the swelling went down significantly, confirming the diagnosis. That morning I was very grateful that my vet supports keeping basic meds on hand. I had a full bottle of antibiotics and didn’t require an emergency visit. Instead, I called into the office to let them know I was starting the antibiotics and letting them know I would be away. One of my barn-mates is a vet so I asked her to keep an eye on Freedom and call the practice if he looked worse over the weekend.
By Monday, when I returned, he looked pretty good. Full of optimism, I took him hunting on Tuesday. The territory was mostly fields so I figured I could leave him barefoot and not irritate the heel with the boot.
We had a blast! I’d never hunted at this fixture before and it was lovely. Freedom was very full of himself and spent most of the hunt bouncing in delight. He felt really good and I could tell he enjoyed the gallops.
He felt good on Wednesday and Thursday, too. But Friday he was three-legged lame. Another abscess, this time on the diagonal hind. I will admit that I’d had my suspicions about that hoof as he’d been resting it a lot. My guess is that he was compensating for the abscess in the front and had overloaded the hind.
The second abscess burst on Sunday, again through the heel, but not as nasty looking as the first one. It’s hard to believe that he had two heel abscesses within a month after never having one before. I’m not sure what caused them — maybe it was the very hard ground this summer followed by the rain. In the grand scheme of things, I know that an abscess is a pretty minor complaint but I’ve been finding it hard to keep my sense of humor about it.
This time, Freedom came sound very quickly — almost as soon as the infection was out. I decided to risk hunting on Tuesday as it was close by and I know the territory well. If he wasn’t comfortable I could hack back. I wrapped his heels with animalintex pads and vet wrap and slipped his boots over them.
It was a lovely morning out — clear and crisp, even a bit cold. We’ve had a few nights with frost which means that the ground bees are (hopefully) gone for the season. I kept Freedom back with the hilltoppers and kept a more leisurely pace, much to his dismay.
He felt great on the grass but felt a bit footsore on the rocky trails so for the last bit of the hunt I kept him back with a woman who had brought a new horse to the hunt and needed to come in slowly.
The past two days he’s felt really good. I’ve only ridden him on grass but he is sound and full of energy. I’ve been soaking the newly abscessed foot to keep it clean and keeping my fingers crossed for the weekend!