Monday, August 27, 2012

Zip Does Stall Rest

Yes, he really is this sad.
He says sympathy cards are not necessary,
but sympathy cookies, on the other hand....

t’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve posted, mostly because I was busy making hay and making a nuisance of myself, neither of which was worth writing home about.  But this week, Zip fans, there's a whole new chapter in the life of my favorite Peck’s Bad Boy of horses.  Zip is on stall rest.

 To start, I suppose it's important to say that this was not of my doing.  I did not ride him into a wall, beat him with a rubber hose, or tell him sad stories about starving horses in India that put him off his feed.  Nope, he did this entirely on his own, and how he did it will remain between Zip and whoever it is that catalogs this stuff.  He was fine.  

He was fine.  

He was fine.  

Then he was not fine. 

Unlike his mother's rather creative approaches to un-fine-ness (buy a foundered horse, you get a foundered horse, but heaves and squamous cell carcinoma are add-on accessories that come with unexpected updates to the OS), Zip simply came in stiff.  He was stiff on the right hind, then he wasn't stiff on the right hind.  This went on through a few days of poulticing and wrapping and unwrapping and smearing with Cool Pack Green Jelly.  Then he was fine for a couple of weeks.

It's hard to imagine any of my herd doing anything strenuous enough to result in injury.  Overeating might be a hazard, but overexertion?  Never!

Last week, however, he came in more than stiff.  He was not putting his considerable weight on his right hind, and he did his usual "I hurt; fix me" thing where instead of going to his stall for breakfast, he plants himself in front of me and waits for me to find the owee and repair the damage.  I had a sneaking suspicion the discomfort (I don't use the word "pain" in front of Zip because it makes him faint) had to do with the small swelling between the canon bone and the tendon.  I poked it and got no response, but I cold-hosed, poulticed, wrapped, unwrapped and green jellied it anyway.  A Bute breakfast chaser put him right again.

The next day, my wonderfully patient barn hand, Irene, and I poked and pushed an prodded.  With memories of a two-week span of hoof-soaking I perpetrated on my daughter's gelding, Grady, years ago for what turned out to be a hairline fracture in his shoulder still nagging at me, I wanted to be sure I was hosing/poulticing/wrapping/etc the right body part.  He did have soreness in his hip, but there's a causation thing there....was he sore in the hip because he was doing his best dying swan impersonation, or was his leg gimping because of a sore hip?  

With that question hanging in the air, I dialed the vet, talked to the lovely Tammy, and on Friday Chris Fazio, Veterinarian to the Stars (and Zip) came and did his own poking.  Sure enough, I'd picked the correct spot.  Two points for me!  

The offending limb with poultice in a calming neutral beige

So began my descent into the lower levels of horse care:  Care of the Pulled Suspensory Ligament. There's nothing like trying to convince the dominant male in a horse herd to sit still for 1) more cold hosing, 2) more poulticing, and 3) being separated from his minions (especially that part) to really take one down a peg.

In his defense, he's been remarkably good.  Zip never (N*E*V*E*R) liked the wash stall or having anything behind his midriff (his sheath being the sole exception, and damn...he loves having that washed) hosed, washed or fussed over.  The first day was actually relatively peaceful.  I have two bruises on my arm from where he head-butted me into the wall trying to get out before I could clip the cross-ties, but once clipped, he is always good for a quick give-in.  He knows which side his bucket is buttered on and won't challenge the ties.  By day four, he was (almost) willingly going in and letting me clip those magical ties to his halter.  Score one for my side!

I figured from the get-go that this would take one of two turns.  Either he'd learn the deal, resign himself to it, and get gradually better about it, or he'd get worse by the day until he injured himself further or did enough damage to me to warrant his release into the (pasture) wild.  I should have known he'd find a third alternative.  

Turnout in a small pen seemed like a no-brainer.  It was.  I showed no brain-power at all in thinking the other horses would stay nearby enough to keep him company during his brief outdoor stints.  So the pacing began.  In the stall he paces in circles.  In the pen, it's a straight line.  Regardless, he's in better shape now than probably the last five years as he's put at least 100 miles on in four days.  Adding a stall mate helped, and he and Dolly can stare miserably at each other for the night shift.  But there's no one in the herd willing to stand in the little pen with him.  Amazing how fast his popularity ratings dropped!  Hell, in another week he can run for the Republican nomination and win!

This is going to be a very long haul as he has also added what I can only describe as Bipolar tendencies to the mix.  He thinks he's just fine, thank you, and doesn't get why we're not done with all this. I never know what I'll find when I go to the barn to check on him.  All the pacing has made him pretty tired, so he's sleeping a lot, but that didn't stop him from clipping his bad leg with his good hoof or breaking the noseband on his very expensive leather halter when I was leading him into his stall last night.  The fun just never stops.

All I can say is Kudos to the folks at vet clinics who do this all the time, and to those who have horses on months and months of layup, and those who have taken to living in the barn to save trips back and forth.  My hunt cap is off to you!  Hopefully this injury will resolve as quickly and easily as most of his others...which means nothing at all as he hasn't been 100% sound in probably seven years.  

Wish him (me) luck!
Dakota takes Stall Rest Companion work very seriously indeed!
If ever there was a horse made for stall rest, this is the guy.

Duke looking for the inevitable sympathy cookie that falls his way
I have my own version of stall rest.


The Dancing Donkey said...

I have found over the years that, while vets are quick to order stall rest, it often proves to do more harm than good. I have found that it generally takes 6-8 months with stall rest for a ligament injury to heal. It also take 6-8 months for the same injury to heal if you just turn the horse out and leave him be.

The mental and emotional stress of stall rest generally leads to other injuries and/or behavior problems that are often worse than the original injury. Since Zip is pacing and circling, he is obviously not resting. You may find that he heals better and faster if you just turn him out.

This is just a suggestion based on my own experience. I hope that Zip heals well and quickly. Good luck.

Unknown said...

It is nice to know I am not the only one who goes through this stuff!