As I was coming through the gate, this caught my eye...I glanced at the other horses, but quickly turned my attention back to my bay mare. Something just didn't seem right about that stance. Now nothing will get your attention around horses as quick as one that just don't seem to be "right". So I watched for a minute. Kinda like when you see a horse sprawled out in the sun...you just hold your breath, waiting for movement.
So I started to walk toward her. The closer I got, the more my alarm bells were going off...
Yea, just as I suspected, that is NOT a good stance. She is not putting any weight on that left hind leg. As I eased closer, I could tell she was in distress. She was breathing heavy and tight as a drum. When I got just about too her, she moved off and I almost broke into tears. She was packing that hind leg. The most she would attempt to do was step on the toe. I watched her move. Broken leg? Fractured fetlock or hock? Or hip? I just couldn't tell. The very worst was running through my mind.
Finally she let me get up to her. No swelling, leg not hanging like it is broken, hips look level. No cuts, no blood. What the hell? And then she moved again and I saw it. Her stifle was sticking out at a funny angle. Oh crap!
There was nothing I could do there, so I headed to the ranch house to call mom and set gates to bring the herd in. I went back to start bringing the herd in and it took forever to get those idiots moving in the right direction and to get my poor mare to follow. At first, she didn't even try to put any weight on the leg, but as she got left behind, she started dropping the toe to the ground and hobbling after the rest of them. By the time we got 1/2 way back to the house, she was traveling better. At least she was putting some weight on that leg.
I quickly ran the herd into the corral, sorted off all but the bay mare and closed the gates. She was sweaty and in obvious pain, but thankfully not overly excited about being separated from her herd. I threw some hay in the stall for her and rubbed her sweaty neck with a rag. When she was breathing normal, I gave her a bucket of water. By the time it got dark, she had drank, was eating and at least she was standing flat on that foot again.
I don't know if she dislocated that stifle slipping in the mud or by stepping in a hole, but making her move must have popped it back in place. Now I suspect there will be a long period of recovery and restricted movement while everything heals.
Tomorrow I will head back to the ranch with a horse trailer and if she is capable of handling the haul, bring her to town to rest and recuperate. That is all a person can do at the moment.