Feb 26, 2020 | 0 comments



Written by Alex Kane

So…what’s been going on in the Sense Equine world of late? So much! It’s been a little stressful, but I think we are now on the other side!

On the 6th December, Duke, my thoroughbred x warmblood, went down in the field. I was terrified that he had broken his leg! In an instant, it seemed, he wouldn’t bear any weight on his right hind leg. In no time, he was on the floor, unable to get up and evidently in alot of pain.

The vet came out and assessed my poor boy… an abscess! Urgh… aren’t they the worst!!! Perhaps Duke is just a drama queen…typical, right? At least they clear up within a couple of days with the right care.

2 days later… lame!

I mean, really, really lame! He wouldn’t walk at all. I was becoming a dab hand at poulticing, but still no improvement…so a call to the vet it is! Upon a second inspection, it is suspected that the abscess is higher up in the foot. PUS! BLOOD! Yup…it all came gushing out! My vet explained that it wasn’t exactly normal for a simple abscess! She explained that if he still wasn’t better in a couple of days then it could be a keratoma.

Two days later… no change! Lame…lame…lame…

A trip to the equine hospital it is! Poor Dukey had x-rays taken, which showed ostemyelitis with bone sequestrum. Put simply, he had fractured his pedal bone and had subsequently got a bone infection!

Here begins the testing few weeks…

Poor Duke was on total box rest… He was having his foot poulticed daily. During this time, I managed to share some videos of how to poultice a foot and even shared how to make use of baby nappy’s to get it done!

I had Duke on a course of strong antibiotics, pain relief and probiotics. For a week I had daily vet visits for intravenous antibiotics and I had to visit him at night to give him an injection of a second antibiotic into a muscle in his neck.

Following on… I started giving Duke a very strong course of antibiotics by mouth. This was just awful… 31 tablets per dose, I had to grind them up and syringe them twice daily. Along with the probiotics, to help keep his gut healthy and also the pain relief. It took on average 10-12 syringes per dose. I would mix the drugs with warm water and follow each syringe with one full of apple juice. The antibiotics are so disgusting to taste, the vet advised that they can (and often do) cause anorexia in horses. Just what Duke needed after so much time helping him put on weight!

Weeks of this continued… it seemed like it would never end. The infection didn’t seem to want to shift… it was up in his foot and I was now having to poultice his sole and also the top of his foot as it was starting to burst through the coronet band. My poor horse was put off all of his hard feed… his weight started to drop. The weeks were turning into months on box rest…and my boy was starting to become increasingly stressed being shut in all day. Frost, my fell pony kept him company in a small paddock nearby, in front of the yard, but it was heartbreaking to see Duke confined to his stable. The vet advised me that this was a very serious infection. It was at this point that I didn’t know if he was going to recover, or if he did, how much so.

Christmas Eve…and the box rest continues! Duke had started eating his straw bedding! So off to the shop we go… I put him onto wood pellets and rubber matting. Thankfully he was eating his haylage, despite no longer eating any hard feed. I offered every kind of feed I could think of, anything to help him eat and maintain his weight.

New Year… I got Duke walking around a little. He was starting to put weight on his poorly foot!!! His sole was starting to grow down, but the infection was still lingering. He had a little heat around his coronet band. The bulb of his foot was starting to peel away due to moisture, so I decided to take off the poultice and let his foot breathe and dry out.

Fast forward to February! Duke is a new horse! I started letting him have limited turn out. As the fields have been so muddy it has been a priority to keep his foot dry. From Christmas time and continuing on to this day, I am spraying his foot with antibiotic spray after every clean out and I am vigilant with how his foot is growing down. I had my amazing farrier, Luca Palmer, out every 2 – 4 weeks to ensure the foot is healthy and trimmed properly.

To keep Duke’s joints moving, I started gentle groundwork through mid January onwards. Short sessions to give him something to think about.

On Saturday 22nd February, I decided to re-back Duke!

48mph winds… a busy yard… why not?!

After 3 months of box rest, this horse was a saint!

Yesterday, I had another short ride and boy! This horse is definitely feeling a little more fresh! I have never been so happy to school spooks and side steps – we finished with some really relaxed work on the buckle.

Going forward, I will be continuing to re-back my gentle giant, helping to build up his muscles and strength. My main focus at the moment is to help build up his back muscles and to carry on establishing the halt.

Has your horse suffered an injury and had to come back into work? Have you had anxieties bringing a horse back into work after time off? If so, share your stories with me! It’s a scary situation to be in, when you feel like you’re going to lose your beloved animal – so lets all be there for one another!

Love to you all,

Alex 🙂

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