Despite looking much happier about his hoof, Max still wasn't sound. I had poulticed it as directed (bran + epsom salts) but the little booger had run out of the bottom of his boot on Saturday. His paddock mate went out for a ride, and Max spent the entire time running up and down the fenceline.
I gave the hoof another epsom soak and re-bandaged with just a dry dressing (a.k.a. a disposable nappy, held on with vet wrap). This was enclosed in a new boot made from an old tyre tube, and secured with baling twine and some duct tape. You can't say we horsey girls don't have the Kiwi "number 8 wire" touch!
(Imagine shot here of said brilliant device here, as I forgot to take a photo)
I guess the running about showed he was feeling better, and they say lots of movement is good for sorting out hoof abscesses. And sure enough, he ran right out of his bootie again on Monday. He'd been put in a bigger paddock with two other geldings and they were having great fun!
I brought him in, cut away the remains of the bandage etc, and found that the abscess had made its way out at the heel as well! There were signs of nasty pus on the bandage and a bit of a shallow hole - actually more like the top few layers of skin had been rubbed away. This is now the end of my experience with abscesses, so I figured another soak wouldn't hurt. A quick consultation with knowledgeable friends led me to decide to leave it uncovered from then on. There was a bit of spongy give where the farrier had dug a hole, but after a little exploration with the hoof knife, I decided to leave it alone.
Once I had left and gone to the gym, he and one of the other younger horses started thundering up and down, playing silly buggers. M. got some of it on video on her phone and I think that was one little horse feeling much better!
(Fortunately for me, he doesn't seem able to organise himself into a decent buck even when loose, so not much to be scared of there!)
I arrived at the paddock on Sunday to see my horse limping across the paddock. And when I can spot a lame horse at 100m, he is pretty lame.
There was some heat and swelling in his off cannon but nothing too dramatic, and not worth a vet call. I gave him two sachets of Bute, hosed down his leg and hoped for the best. He was still a bit hoppy on Monday, but I thought overall he looked better. On Tuesday morning, I couldn't decide if he was worse or just the same as the day before. I consulted my coach and another friend who is BHS trained, and they came over to the paddock to have a look. Both legs were looking a bit sore and swollen but the off fore was the worst, with heat in the heel. So I phoned the farrier, A. and left him a message asking for help.
I didn't hear back from A. so tried again, and eventually got his wife who said he was injured. Plan B was to get hold of another good farrier, but who is only part-time so can be tricky to get hold of. The stars were with us and I managed to catch him at home for lunch. He duly arrived, found the sore bit with his nippers (who needs hoof testers?) and dug out the offending abscess.
Voila! To the right of the frog, pus running out!
The farrier recommended a bran and epsom salts poultice, which was wrapped in an old nappy and then in a little rubber booty. Poor Max has a very badly swollen and tender leg, which I guess is a by-product of all that toxic stuff. No riding for us for a wee while though.
Despite no riding, we did the unbelieveable and actually placed in our second-ever dressage test!
Admittedly, it was only test 0.1 (which has no canter in it) but it's only the third time he has been in a white dressage arena.
I am so proud of my little guy because he was (mostly) wonderfully chilled out despite the chaos going on at the Park. In addition to the dressage, there was show jumping, cross country and a western show on! Talk about horses for Africa!
He took a bit of pursuading to get into the float, but we got there in the end. Once at the Park, he came off the float and went "WOW!". It was as if he thought every other horse there was a potential new friend, and he was so happy he could burst. Apparently, my little horse is quite the social butterfly, and LOVES going out. So once we get him to connect the dots and figure out that going in the float = new friends, we should be away laughing.
In yards like a real show horse!
After our dressage, I rode him around a bit and looked at what was going on. He had been a bit stressed to start with, calling out and refusing to stand still. I applied some groundwork and got him to focus on me, and he got much better. A little while later, I was sitting on him next to the show jumping ring, on the end of the reins, just quietly watching. Such a good boy!
So, it is nearly the end of winter. I am sure we are through the worst of the weather now, although Hawkes Bay has had an incredibly wet couple of months. They even cancelled the dressage practise day, and they NEVER cancel the dressage - it's just get on, and get on with it. I guess the ground is so darn wet now that the powers-that-be are worried it will be damaged by anyone riding on it.
Max has been checked out by the physio - I asked her to give him a Warrant of Fitness and just make sure he is all good, and ready to do some work this year. Judging by my creakiness, I should get one too, but I am a bit scared of what they might find... He has sticky stifles and the near one in particular has been a problem, making him incredibly lame last December. But happily, that looks much better and I just need to do some massage/stretches of the hip/stifle area and keep an eye on him. If needed, he can go out to Auntie Heather's place and run around on the hills there for a while to strengthen his legs.
I have had his saddle fit checked and got S. to make modifications to his skito pad to make it fit better. Until he develops some back muscle and topline, he will need some padding. But I am sure this will only be temporary once we get to work!