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.

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