It seems poor Cyryl has been plagued with bad luck at the moment. It’s been on thing followed by another…
A couple of weeks ago, I happily enjoyed a long sunny hack after work on a Tuesday and he was a dream. I returned on Wednesday with my friend, who was going to school him for me and noticed a thick, green music dropping from one nostril.
There was tonnes of the stuff, it had gone all over the stable door and the floor and he was so lethargic and down. Cyryl isn’t a cuddly horse by any means, but that day, he just wanted to be cuddled and looked after.
Immediately I panicked because there has been a huge outbreak of the Strangles virus in the area. And although we haven’t been out of the yard recently, we do have a new next door neighbour who is out at shows every few days and I had heard that horses can be carriers of the virus, but not suffer any symptoms.
My yard manager was also very concerned because so many yards around us have been completely shut down recently due to Strangles and no horses are allowed to come or go. Obviously that would be disastrous for a large competition yard like Cyryl’s. We have about 50 horses there!
I took his temperature, which was raised, but not alarmingly so and called the vet. By that time, it was quite late in the evening and my vet was on another call so couldn’t make it. I was reluctant to leave him for the evening, but the yard staff assured me that they would keep an eye on him and would let me know if he declined at all.
Luckily, the vet came first thing the next day and listened to his chest, which was clear (but his throat was raspy) took his temperature and took a swab of the snot for testing. He said that it could be Strangles as it was in the area, but also, where Cyryl has had respiratory problems (COPD) it could also be something to do with that.
We were prescribed a week of antibiotics and to quarantine him. Only one member of staff was allowed to handle him and they had to disinfect themselves after touching him. I was so worried and I also felt like so diseased and like nobody would ever rode with me again!
Anyway, a long day and a £182 vet bill later, we got the results back and thank the lord that it was a different type of bacterial infection. It meant that he was still contagious and had to be quarantined, but fortunately it wasn’t Strangles.
I have no idea how he got the infection; perhaps he is more susceptible to them because of his previous respiratory problems?
After a few days, the mucus cleared up and he started to seem much perkier. The vet explained that if the snot had gone and he was perkier in himself, I could ride again three days after he had finished the course of antibiotics.
He finished on the Thursday, so I planned to go on a really gentle field hack on the Sunday evening to see how he was.
I then got a call from the yard on the Saturday saying that he had come in from the field absolutely hopping lame. They thought it was an abscess, so immediately called the farrier to remove his shoes and have a look.
After a clean poultice and the farrier finding nothing, I then realised that he actually had laminitis! Cue panic two!
He’s never had it before, so I was surprised in that sense. But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. He had his routine changed so he was out in the field overnight and for most of the day, to help with the quarantine issues and to keep him away from the other horses while he was contagious. Before the illness, he was out in the field for a few hours between morning and early afternoon. I think the huge increase in grazing time in the lush summer grass, paired with his generous waistline resulted in laminitis.
This meant a week of box rest and absolutely no treats which killed him, but also me too. I felt so mean.
We decided to leave his front shoes off for the week and I spent time sponging him to keep him cool (sod’s law we get a heatwave the week he is stuck in the stable) and I also led him round in hand to try and stop his joints from stiffening as that would be the last straw for me if his arthritis flared up again!
He’s just had his shoes back on, but I haven’t attempted to ride yet. I’m too scared to be honest!
Fingers crossed he makes a full recovery from both. I’m quite scared that he is going to be very susceptible to laminitis moving forwards now.
It also means that we had to cancel a Dressage competition and a two day adult riding camp too.
But hey ho, that’s horses. They always go lame or get ill in gorgeous summer and never in grotty Winter when we don’t want to ride!!