Well, that's it, Merlin is officially retiring.
On Wednesday the two horses in the empty croft next door were bombing up and down because their owner had come and taken away the mini Shetland which had been in with them. It wound Merlin up and I stood and watched from the gate as he raced down the field on the other side of the fence to him. He looked slightly unlevel in trot and when he broke into canter his stride was distinctly choppy, but he walked back up the field sound so I made a mental note to loose school him as soon as possible and have a proper look.
I didn't get it done on Wednesday and spent yesterday in Inverness. He was sound yesterday evening but when I came out this morning he was in obvious pain on the right fore again, hopping lame and not wanting to put much weight on it. The vets made me second call of the morning and Guy turned up with his box of tricks. The fetlock had swollen right up again (cold water earlier hadn't helped at all). No reaction to the hoof tester, so Guy had a gentle feel around the swelling. It was an oedema (fluid swelling) and underneath it the larger of the two tendons in that part of the leg was quite badly swollen.
So I have an initial five days of very strong anti-inflammatories and a prescription of two months TOTAL rest followed by six months of near-total rest and the advice that I can probably forget about riding him again. Guy has agreed that we can try keeping him out on a very, very small sectioned off bit of field, but if he starts bouncing about when it stops hurting then he's going to have to go on box rest for the first two months which will not make him a happy chappy. We'll make a decision about scans and x-rays once he's more sound - there's a portable x-ray machine which can be brought out here, but the portable scanner isn't high-resolution enough for horse legs, so we'd have to take him to Thurso for a scan. He's insured for up to £3,500 of vet bills anyway, so whatever the vets recommend he needs, he'll have.
He seems a little more comfortable this evening (he'll have his second dose of AIs in a couple of hours), I'm just crossing everything I have that we can get him sound enough to enjoy a long and happy retirement pottering around our fields.