This blog isn’t going to be the happiest or most uplifting blog I’ve ever written because, as we know, life with horses isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. In fact the last year and a half with Henry has been emotionally draining and full of uncertainty.
Henry was my jumping/eventing/ working hunter/ absolutely fabulous at everything pony. He was stunning and fabulous and had so much untapped potential to do so many amazing things. He honestly just got better and better and I loved him more everyday. We were like two sides of the same coin.
On the 12th August 2016 Henry was kicked in the field. It wasn’t bad, there wasn’t a massive cut, there wasn’t blood everywhere. It just looked like a splint, he was sound and happy as ever. However, things progressed, it turned out to be a splint fracture. Nearly a year and many complications later, Henry was diagnosed with Bone Oedema in his right fore fetlock. This particular injury is very common in racehorses and very often career ending, nothing we expected to see in a little bog-standard Welsh pony. We turned him out for field rest for four months and after developing sudden arthritis in his hocks from not ‘resting’ very well in the field we decided to box rest him for three months and rehab to bring him back into work.
Henry has nearly finished his three months of box rest and decided to make the last month as difficult as possible. I’ve been doing his 10/15 minute walking and he’s been very happy to do so. Except one day; he got away from me when I was leading him into the arena and got his broken leg stuck in the arena fence. I can’t explain the panic when you’ve had your horse on box rest for nearly three months and it escapes and starts running round on it’s broken leg. Very grateful to Duncan who dealt with a very shook and teary Helen and came out very quickly and checked him all over. Still sound and no pain on flexion of palpation so all good. Henry wasn’t done yet…
About three weeks ago on a Friday evening I came home from work and Henry was bloated and sweating. He was a little lethargic and uncomfortable and just showing signs of mild colic. I called the Breadstone emergency vet number and efficient as always they said the vet on call would ring me. Fortunately, Duncan the vet who has dealt with everything wrong with Henry up until this point, rang me. He came out, examined him and gave him some buscopan and pain killers. Henry’s suffered from a bit of spasmodic colic before and buscopan has always done the job very well and very quickly.
The next morning Henry’s stomach had deflated a little but he was still sweating in a very specific area, just behind his shoulder at the front of his stomach. This was the most unusual part to me; Henry’s never been a sweaty, hot horse. He’s quite accustomed to a nice stable rug at this time of year. Duncan came back that evening and took some bloods. His bloods came back strange. He had a high protein level which means high inflammation somewhere none specific in his body (there’s probably a much more scientifically accurate way of saying this).
One of the possibilities was that Henry has developed a bit of ulceration in his stomach from being kept inside and being a little stress. I decided I wanted him scoped to rule this out. We’ve had a pony have ulcers before and I know how painful they can be. Henry has his 8 hours of starvation and made his way to Breadstone Equine Hospital. We met a lovely vet called Imogen and some vet nurses and vet students who watched his scope. When you scope for ulcers you put a camera up their nose and down their throat to look at their stomachs. Luckily, Henry has an extremely healthy stomach (especially considering the box rest).
Henry’s strange symptoms continued for a week or so more and while Duncan was on holiday Scott Milnes had a look at him. We all came to the conclusion that Henry just needs to go outside and we would review him then if he still wasn’t any better. When Duncan came back from holiday he took some more bloods which have come back normal and healthy which is definitely a relief. He’s been much perkier the last couple of days and he’s going to be turned out in 2 days 14 Hours and 46 minutes (not like I’m counting). So all is looking rather positive at the moment.
Henry isn’t looking his best at the moment and we have a long road ahead of us. One day I hope I’ll look back and know that it was all worth it. This month I hit rock bottom and really got sick of the heartache. Everything that’s happened to him; every decision I’ve made; is it right or wrong? I’ll never know. I’m incredibly luck to have parents that have their hearts invested in Henry as much as me and will do anything to keep him happy and healthy.
So coming to the end of this box rest I have my friends and family to thank for being incredibly supportive. But most I have to thank Duncan. I really couldn’t have done it without him. He’s probably dealt more with me being worried and upset than actually the pony. Sometimes only the reassurance from someone who actually knows what they’re talking about will do. Coming out at ridiculous hours when he’s already extremely busy and checking on how Henry is when he’s in a different country. Everyone that uses B&W vets are incredibly lucky, everyone of them I’ve had the pleasure to deal with have been kind, knowledgeable and incredibly invested in the horse in their care. I’m forever indebted to Duncan for everything he has done for Henry and I, and I hope he never sees this because I don’t like being soppy-ask anyone.
Here’s to turnout and exercise next month. Onward and upwards!!
Helen and Henry xxx