"Do you have any idea how lucky you are?" Dr. D said to me as she was bent over Tucker's right hock.
"I'm hoping that means there's no tendon damage?" I said, as her attendant took the lead rope from me, making my way around to Dr. D's side, my heart pounding. She then proceeded to explain to me that, had the laceration been a few milimeters deeper, Tucker could have sliced or severed his superficial digital flexor tendon, the large tendon you can see along the back of the horse's leg, above his hock. This, Dr. D explained, would have been a career-ending, if not life-ending injury. When she said this, I covered my mouth and turned away from my horse, literally sick and light-headed by the thought. But, the good news is that Tucker didn't even go through the subcutaneous level, and as long as the stitches heal well, without infection, he should be just fine in about 2 weeks.
In my long absence from the blog, I've been very busy with my new job (which I love, by the way), and fitting in rides on Tucker whenever I can. He's been working about 2-3 days a week (I usually aim for 4-5) for the past three weeks, but the rides I've had have all been good. So we decided to take Tucker to a schooling show yesterday at Black River, about 5 minutes from the farm where I'm boarding, for Alicia to do a couple of low level jumper classes. Tucker hasn't shown since November, so we wanted to ease him back into the process. Should have been a very light day for him, no pressure, low stress.
I was expecting freshness, and he was certainly more fresh than normal. (There was also a schooling show going on at our barn yesterday, with all kinds of ponies Tucker didn't know wandering around, so he was already in drama llama mode before I took him out of his stall). So Alicia and I carefully unloaded a shaky, nervous, pawing Tucker from my trailer and I took him out for a lunge. After running around for a solid 20 minutes or so (as opposed to his usual 5 minute spin), he finally seemed to calm down, and was trotting around with his head level and his tail relaxed, no big white circles around his eyes. So I walked him around for a bit and then took him back to the trailer to get cleaned up and ready to show.
On a typical show day, I come back to the trailer after our lunge and I can get our tack ready and get Tucker cleaned up and dressed without assistance, while Tucker happily grazes or munches on his haynet by the side of the trailer. I was halfway through this process when the accident happened. Tucker was cleaning up the hay that had fallen on the trailer floor, at the side door of my trailer, and I was getting his boots out of my tack trunk, with the lead rope in one hand. Tucker heard a noise and stepped back from the door of the trailer, so I turned around and stepped out of the trailer, and was in the middle of telling him he was okay when he decided he needed to see what that noise was. In the split-second it took him to spin around, I realized he was not going to fit in front of the water truck that was parked near us, but there was nothing I could do.
His back legs hit the front of the truck as he spun, and I immediately saw drops of blood on his hoof. "Oh no," I thought. I couldn't get behind him to see, but I ran a hand down his hock and when I pulled it back, my palm was covered in blood. Oh boy, we need a vet. So I took Tucker over to Alicia and told her we were hurt and probably needed to see a vet. She took a look and agreed that we should call someone. My first thought was all the tendons in that spot, and I wondered if it was possible that he had done some real damage. Stitches and cuts I can handle (I am used to that by now), but what if this was more? He was walking sound though, and seemed completely unconcerned, and given how wimpy he is, that was a good sign.
The staff at Black River were wonderful. We talked to the owner who started calling vets for us, and told us to head into the barn to get him cleaned up. The staff in the barn immediately helped us and carefully cleaned his legs with betadine scrub and water. Their help made me feel a lot better already. Tucker was a stellar patient, though he kept turning around to look at the leg, just in case we hadn't yet noticed that's where the injury was.
After a few calls to the vets in the area, we concluded that the quickest way to have him seen was for me to take him to the clinic that is right down the road, since the doctors were already there dealing with another emergency. So I loaded Tucker back onto the trailer and we headed down the road.
Once at the clinic, we took Tucker into the sterile examination room and got him sedated and ready for stitching. It took two doses to get the big man sleepy, but finally he gave in and took a nap so that the doctors could do their jobs. As they stitched, I stood at his head and couldn't stop kissing and petting him, just happy to hear that the injury was minor and he was going to be relatively fine. Dr. D apologized for going a little overboard, but I explained that his horse is one-in-a-million, and she's welcome to go as overboard as she wants.
They did a wonderful job of cleaning and stitching the wound, with lots of tiny little stitches close together. I feel confident that it is going to heal well. My instructions are that Tucker can get turned out as long as he's not going to run (or if turnout is not an option he can hand walk/graze), and I can walk him under tack for the next two weeks. Walking will help keep the swelling down, but he shouldn't do any running so that the laceration has time to heal. The wound is not bandaged because of its location, since a bandage would rub and irritate the area when he walks. I'm just supposed to clean the wound out gently with betadine and water, and then rub with alcohol and spray with allu-spray.
My regular vet is coming out on Monday to do spring shots, so I'm going to have her take a look at him, just for safe measure. The clinic did not prescribe SMZs, reasoning that it could unnecessarily cause stomach problems and increase chances of colic, which was probably a safety precaution because the don't know the horse. Since our regular vet knows Tucker and knows that he's always responded well to SMZs, I want to get her opinion as well.
So, sorry it took me so long to post, and sorry that this update brings bad news, but I figured that Tucker's fans needed to know about his little trauma yesterday. Plus, we need all those helpful, healing, loving thoughts that you bloggers and readers are always so kind to give. I'll be sure to update more regularly and keep you all in the loop on the healing process. Now that the first few weeks of the new job are over and I'm a little more settled into my routine, I should be able to find some time for the blog again. I must confess that I haven't been keeping up with anyone's blogs... but I will do my best to catch up! I hope you and all your horses have been well the past few weeks.
I'm headed out to visit the patient and give him lots of love. I think I should stop and pick up some apples and carrots to help the healing process. Maybe one of those hanging treats to help with the boredom for the days it's too wet and mucky for turnout? Poor guy definitely needs to be doted on, hand and hoof.