Shooter...back on the injured list. :-(
I noticed on Sunday morning, when I fed that Shooter's injured hind leg was swollen again, but I can't say that I thought too much of it at the time, outside of thinking...'Guess I need to get him back into the BOT boots in the mornings'. I'll admit, I thought the fetlock looked puffier than I'd remembered seeing it before, but he was standing fine and walked fine, so I just went about my business.
After running to town for a few errands, I came back and got ready to work horses. I caught Shooter first, thinking I would work him and then I could leave him stand for a few hours with his BOT boot on. His leg was still swollen, but no more than it had been that morning and he was still walking sound and didn't mind me touching the leg or have any problems lifting it back for me while I cleaned it out.
I still thought that fetlock looked puffier than normal and it did feel maybe a tish warm. The biggest thing I thought I noticed was the fact that he looked more flexible in that fetlock than usual. I mean, the flexibility has come back remarkably, considering he completely severed his front digital flexor tendon and most people cannot even see the slight lack of flexibility in it that I do.
Saddled, we headed to the round pen for a little free work. It's been a few days since Shooter has been rode and I usually give him a few rounds in there the first day back before stepping on.
He stepped off going left, walked around the pen once and then started to hit a trot. Lame! And not just a little bit. I stepped in front of him to turn him the other direction, but he ducked his head, took a big ole fartnocker jump and ducked around me, trying to lope, but he was dead lame on that leg and I was horrified to see that the fetlock actually looked floppy.
Shooter being Shooter, he didn't want to stop immediately and was ducking and diving back and forth across the round pen, every time I tried to step in front of him and get him to Whoa. In the last turn, he stubbed the toe on the injured hind leg and yanked his leg up, refusing to put it down. That time he stopped and I walked up to him and snapped the lead rope on, but he stood there on 3 legs for what felt like forever. And I was just sure he had somehow broken his damned fetlock and that would be the end of him. Finally he set that leg back down...and then walked back to the trailer, completely sound again.
Okay, so not a broken ankle, but as I was watching him walk back to the trailer, I definitely noticed a much freer movement in that fetlock that what I've come to consider normal. And I was not sure that was a good thing. Out of habit, I dialed my vet in Colorado...And got his answering service. Crap!! Forgot it was Sunday. :-/. I kept feeling Shooter's leg and there was definitely some heat in the fetlock now, but he still didn't seemed bothered by me touching it. Not so fond of me squeezing and prodding it though. But he was standing there, plumb square, putting full weight on that foot and looking at me, like, 'WTH?'.
Well, at this point, I didn't know if the sudden freedom in his fetlock movement was a good thing or a bad thing. It could be a good thing, whereas some scar tissue tore free and he was just sore, but would now have 100% use of that fetlock, or, it could be a bad thing, meaning he over-extended the leg at some point in the night and actually ripped the digital flexor free from the tissue it healed into and may now not be able to fully control the flexion of that fetlock. I dunno enough about this kind of thing to even know what the possibilities are of that happening or how that could affect his future ability.
I debated calling my vet on his personal phone, but man, I really hate to do that. I don't like being 'that' horse owner. Shooter wasn't in any obvious pain, he was standing on it and walking sound. I decided to leave my vet to his personal day and called a friend, who has spent a significant amount of time doctoring her own horse back. At this point, I was mostly unsure of whether to go with ice or the BOT boot. After much discussion, we decided ice would be the better course to start out with, so I hosed Shooter's leg and put an ice boot on him.
I left him stand at the trailer with the ice on while I rode another horse. Came back, removed the ice boot and left him stand while I rode another horse. Came back, put the other ice boot on and left him stand while I rode the last horse. Then I put him in his pen for the night, figuring he really didn't need to be moving around on that leg much.
The next morning, first thing, I called my vet. Luckily, he was still in the office. He immediately assessed my worst fears...It's most likely that Shooter tore the front digital flexor tendon loose again. There just isn't a lot of tissue for that to hang onto in the front of the leg and I guess Shooter must have been farting around in the corral, probably playing with LJ, and stubbed his toe or twisted sufficiently to rip that tendon loose.
It will heal again. I mean, Shooter is sound at a walk, not in any distress, but this underlines a certain question I had about what would happen if Shooter ever stubbed that toe running barrels. That is why I was working so hard to get as much flexion in the fetlock as possible again. I suspected it was possible to tear the tendon loose, but had never really heard of it happening once a horse was healed (and it's been almost 2 years since his injury). Now, I guess I know it can happen. I'm more than a little devastated. Not because his life is in danger, but because I allowed my hopes to grow over these last few months. Now, all I can do is wait it out and let it heal again. I have no doubt that it will be at least a month before I even know if he is going to be sound beyond a walk and if that happens, it will be probably another 6 months before I will really know how this will all play out.