Moxie’s Wound Saga
It has been way too long between blog posts here, but I think (hope!) life has settled down enough now to refocus and get back to blogging again. There were far too many irons in the fire for a while, and not enough time in the day to make everything happen. Today I’ll bring you up to speed on the unpleasant stressor that has been Moxie’s health… but the next post will feature a REALLY good stressor that has finally turned out amazingly well… our new farm!
So back to Moxie – so I acquired Moxie after my heart horse, Ink, was injured and would be out of work for a while. Consistent with the amazingly horrible bad luck that we’ve had this year, a couple weeks after getting Moxie she got in a scuffle while establishing herd dynamics and got a small wound on her elbow. We started her on antibiotics immediately and she received appropriate wound care. No big deal, right? Wrong. Remember that bad luck curse? Well, Moxie developed an internal abscess which turned out to be a really big deal. The vet was out countless times, did many ultrasounds, tried several antibiotics, the abscess was lanced and a drain was placed, etc… It would not resolve despite all the best veterinary care. Finally, we used a very expensive intravenous antibiotic, which did eventually work and the wound healed, though it did take longer than expected.
Whew! Finally, after more than two months, we made it through that nightmare that felt like it would never end. Or so I thought… Except that Moxie had abruptly tossed her head while receiving the last intravenous injection of that caustic antibiotic, causing the vein to blow. All seemed well at first, but eventually the neck swelled up and became very painful, Moxie developed a fever and was very lethargic with no appetite. Several more vet visits, ultrasounds, treatments, and meds. Moxie had a thrombosed jugular vein, which can get pretty serious in horses. In fact, my vet said this was the worst case she’s seen. The swelling and pain made it difficult for Moxie to swallow, she went quite a while without being able to eat any hay at all. Instead, she was offered a buffet of options several times a day: beet pulp and alfalfa mash, timothy and alfalfa hay pellets, finely chopped hay, hand picked chopped grass, Ultium, ration balancer pellets, etc. All food had to be elevated, as it was too painful for her to lower her head to eat off the ground. It seemed to improve, then got worse again, then more improvement… emotional roller coaster ride. She kept spiking a fever repeatedly. More vet visits… I got really worried when Moxie stopped eating entirely, but after yet another vet work up, we concluded it was likely due to stomach ulcers from all the Bute she had been receiving intermittently for well over two months. After adding in some ulcer management strategies, her appetite improved. Luckily the fever hasn’t spiked very high again and we haven’t needed any more Bute.
She started to improve again, then developed an abscess near the injection site, which left a big hole that we’re working on healing now. She’s eating really well, hasn’t spiked a fever for weeks, seems much happier, and has been off all medications for a while now. However, after this ridiculously long drawn out disaster with a series of unlikely complications that just won’t end, I’m not quite ready to say she’s out of the woods just yet… though she does seem to be on the right track.
So after more than 3 months and several thousand dollars later, hopefully this is really the end. All from a little cut.
Through all of this I have really grown quite fond of this amazing horse. She has been such a wonderful patient and doesn’t even hold a grudge despite the fact that I have been syringing awful stuff down her throat for months and doing painful treatments daily. She tolerates everything exceptionally well and has maintained her sweet forgiving temperment through it all. She even comes up looking for loving and scratches whenever I’m in the pasture or near the gate. So sweet. Most horses would see me coming and run the other way after all she’s been through, especially considering that we had just met when this all began, so aversive medical treatments have been the basis of our relationship development. Poor sweet girl!
Hopefully we’ve gotten a lifetime of drama out of the way, and Moxie and I can get back to a normal life and enjoy a long successful partership together from here on out. She’s already proven herself to be quite a special horse. I’ve talked to several vets and all have agreed that this should not limit her potential as an endurance horse. I’ll just have to tell ride vets that she doesn’t have a jugular to check jug refill at vet checks (one aspect of assessing hydration), and if she ever needs IV injections or fluids, it will have to be via an alternate vein (we’re not going to risk using the other side jugular unless in a true emergency). I’ve been assured that is not a big deal. The plan is to give Moxie plenty of time to heal fully, then start training her to ride (finally!) and doing slow easy trail rides and basic dressage for a while, then build from there and see what she wants to do. Has anyone ever dealt with a thrombosed jugular and the long term effects?