Friday, 25 May 2012

Catching up

Oh dear, I've been a lazy blogger the past couple of weeks :o(

Quick catch up: his heel is better (the last bit of scab is just dropping off), no further lameness, his weight is steady in the 450s and I rode him last Monday!  Only for 15 minutes, he was good for about 5 and then his attention started to stray and it was all a bit 'Ooh!  Sheep!  Ooh!  Lamb!  Ooh!  Car!'  I've shut off the bottom field now, he's got the field shelter field (grazed almost bare) and a 5 metre strip of the house field, though the four sheep he's living with have the run of the whole thing.  It's just coming back after lambing so I thought it would be an idea to get them on it before it's suddenly hock deep and lush.  That said, it's rich enough that he completely failed to notice I haven't given him breakfast today!

We actually had a very sweet moment this morning, he was lying down so I went and sat with him and stroked his neck and he rested his nose against my shoulder and dozed for 20 minutes.

The search for a friend for him continues, with a bit more urgency now that the two ponies next door have been moved away.  He still has horses in eyesight, but none that he can touch very easily now.  Last weekend's prospect turned out to be a no go because she was probably in foal, much to the surprise of her owner (I did feel for the seller, she'd tried to get hold of me the night before to tell me, but I'd gone to bed early because of having to get up early to catch the ferry to Orkney to see her!).  Tomorrow I'm off to see a local pony - he's been for sale for a few weeks but I've been resisting going to see him a) because he's a Welsh D gelding and I've been looking at Highland mares and b) because the advert said POA which I generally interpret as out of budget.  However, after two people sent me his details I thought there was no harm in asking and it turns out that the price they're looking for is realistic, includes his tack and matches the very top of my budget, so we'll go and see what he's like.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Leg update

Picking out feet yesterday morning, I found a huge hole in the back of his left fore, just above the heel bulb.

Now, I'm 99.9% certain it wasn't there 24 hours earlier - I'd spent a day and a half worrying about that leg, sploshing water on it, cold booting it and bandaging it and I'm pretty sure that I'd have spotted a 1cm hole with skin sticking out looking like a tiny, tiny alien had chest-bursted out of it.

It looks for all the world as if an abscess has blown, but he wasn't lame enough and it's a little bit too high to have come out of the coronet band, so I suppose he must have caught it on something somewhere.  Anyway, it's being cleaned twice a day and having black powder puffed on it and it seems to be healing up nicely.  Definitely no walking out today though.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Weight target reached

Thanks to bad weather and a day and half on box rest (of which more in a minute), Merlin weighed in at 451kg today and since he's about right on the fat scoring front (I can finally feel his ribs but can't see them and nothing else has gone too skinny) we'll try to maintain from now on.  Without going back over all the posts, I think he topped out at 511kg (though he was chunkier than that when he first arrived), so that's 60kg gone since last summer or 9st 6lbs which is only 5lbs short of a whole me!

I came over all May-ish and started a new fitness regime this week.  Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday are Merlin exercise days, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday are running days.  I'm taking it very gently, so I'm doing Couch to 5K from the beginning again to break me back in, aiming for the Aviemore half marathon in October, and Merlin is doing 20 minutes' walk in hand around the village.

Or that was the plan.  We managed the walk Tuesday and Thursday, then on Friday evening I thought he was moving slightly oddly when he walked up the field for his supper.  Sure enough, when I got closer I saw that his left front pastern was so swollen that if you looked at his leg from the front it looked straight between the bottom of his fetlock and the top of his hoof.

Since he seemed reasonably happy walking around on it, there was no cut and it was fluid rather than hard, I sloshed it with cold water and shut him in the field shelter overnight to make sure he rested it.  The next morning it had filled up further, but drained almost immediately as soon as I led him out and sloshed it again, leaving a slightly less swollen pastern. 

We were heading into Thurso anyway, so I called in at the vet to check if there was anything else I should be doing.  As luck would have it, Bridget-the-eventing-vet was on duty.  She nixed my idea of giving him a little bit of turnout on the flat area behind his shelter, advising a short walk in hand on Saturday afternoon and then a restricted turnout area on Sunday if it continued to improve.  Plus stable bandages overnight to stop his legs filling.

A quick trip to the tack shop later and Merlin met his first cold water boot.  What a brilliant idea, especially for those of us who don't have hoses or mains water available at their field shelter/stable!  Merlin wasn't entirely convinced by the feel of it going on and the first one went sailing through the air and landed in the mud (now I know why they sell them in pairs...), but once it was on he decided it was A Good Thing and I had very little trouble when I did it again last night and this morning.

The stable bandages were a slightly different matter.  I'd only bandaged a horse's leg once; I was about 11 and the leg was plastic.  Still, I knew the theory, I'd found some videos on YouTube to refresh my memory - how hard could it be...?  As it turned out, the bit that flummoxed me was wrapping the bandage round in the correct orientation to end up with the velcro tabs on the correct side of the bandage, the first one took me three goes to get right!  I was concerned that I hadn't got the tension right, so popped down a couple of hours later to check they weren't in a tangle round his ankles. They looked fine, so I fed him an apple and went to bed, relieved I didn't have to worry about him tying all four feet together overnight.

This morning I went down to find the gate half off its hinges and no horse!  He'd lifted it off the top bracket so it swung off the bolt and the bottom bracket, jumped it and taken himself off to graze on a ledge on the near-vertical part of the hill in the bottom field.  The stable bandages had stayed put - result!  He allowed me to catch him with reasonably good grace and when I unwrapped him, his leg looked completely back to normal :o)  I stuck the cold water boot back on for 20 minutes as a precaution while he had his breakfast and I mucked out and wondered, given his overnight antics, whether it was worth restricting his turnout or not, but decided better safe than sorry and gave him an L-shaped area of flat field to potter around.

This evening his leg still looks normal, he's still being ever so slightly careful with it over the rutted areas, but he's definitely nearly mended.  If nothing changes overnight he can go back on normal turnout tomorrow and we'll pick up the walking round the village again on Thursday.