So I went out to see Blue last night and get a better handle on the lameness issue. Uh, what lameness issue? He didn’t put a foot wrong. (And I think I might know why.)
I think what we had over the weekend was a perfect storm of two things that may have exacerbated each other. OR maybe it is just one thing that kind of looks like the other thing, but was still exacerbated by conditions at Klickitat specifically. And I’ll just warn you now, this theory gets a little gross. So if the thought of microbes makes you uncomfortable, best read another blog today. :)
Let me explain. When I went to catch Blue in the pasture last night, I noticed that he was wet from the knees down. This is not shocking, as he has pretty much decided that he has free run of the whole property, and his favorite place to go is into and out of the creek/pond. I seriously think that what he likes about it is that it feels transgressive. If I just PUT him in the mare pasture, it would take the fun out of it for him. So as it is, I turn him out with the geldings, and then, when no one is looking, he fords the creek over to the mares and feels like the cat who caught the canary.
But I digress. The point is that his legs were wet last night. I took him down to the barn to have a look at his feet before lunging him. The plan was to look for any signs of bruising/swelling, and then to lunge him in progressively tighter circles, stressing the joints and looking for signs of lameness. Well, right off the bat, I noticed that the back of his right-front pastern had a wet, scabby area about the size of a band-aid running across it. You know how when a scab gets wet it gets soft and just sort of peels/rubs away? That’s what this looked like. I checked, and it is on the back of BOTH front pasterns, but not on the hinds.
This wet, scabby area does not actually seem to break the skin, but it is missing hair (this part of a horse doesn’t have a ton of hair to begin with). So I rubbed the dead, scabby bits away to reveal irritated, but not broken, skin.
Those of you who are not as new to as I am to the wet side already know what my conclusion is: scratches/mud fever.
And that may very well be it. Except. (There’s always an “except.”) Mud fever usually affects only white legs, or the white legs are more severely affected. On Blue, the problem is on both colors of legs. Also, the scabby, irritated areas are only on the front legs. The hind legs are unaffected.
So why the fronts and not the backs? Well, the only real difference I can think of is that he wears bell boots on his front legs to protect from overreach during riding. And the cuff on the boots hits exactly where the irritated spots are.
So, here’s my theory:
1. Blue has scabby irritation on his front fetlocks. It might be caused by mud fever, or it might just be irritation from the bell boots themselves. The cause is irrelevant in this part of my narrative.
2. At Klickitat, Blue’s legs got wet right away, and pretty much stayed wet throughout.
3. The continual wetness softened the scabs, which normally would protect the irritated area from the boot cuffs.
4. Once they had worn off the scabs, the boot cuffs exacerbated the underlying soreness… and THAT caused the appearance of lameness.
5. I didn’t see the problem when I checked his feet in the vet check because his pasterns were thinly coated in mud, and I was concentrating on his soles, not his skin.
Mind you, this is only a theory right now. What I did last night was wash his front legs and slather some micro-tek on there. Micro-tek is broad-spectrum but low-dose. I figure it is safe to use on pretty much anything, since I don’t actually know for sure if these are contact sores or fungal/bacterial. I know for mud fever a good mix is DMSO and Panacur dewormer. But since I’m not sure that’s the problem, I think I am going to try applying MTG for the rest of the week and going without the bell boots at Sunriver.
Because what else can we do but move forward? Better to get dinged at completion for overreach wounds that to get pulled at the VC for lameness...