I wasn't going to commit this to the blogosphere, but I find I can't resist it.
A few weeks ago, the boys' pony came in hopping lame. He was so bad you'd have thought he'd broken his leg (a front one). Now Missis immediately diagnosed an abscess. This is one of few horsey things I know very little about. She said we had to get the shoe off immediately, so we sent for Nasty Farrier. In the hope that he never reads this, I can tell you he lives at Bleak House, and a thorough Dickensian character he was, too.
He did succeed in taking the pony's shoe off, after much rearing from the pony, and being held down by Mr O and Beefy Assistant. There was a distinct mark on the pony's foot and the shoe where the abscess had obviously made its presence felt. Then Nasty Farrier told Missis that the abscess had travelled round the front of the foot to the other side. We spent the evening soaking the pony's foot in salt water, despite the fact that he quickly invented a new game of 'let's see how many times I can kick the bucket over before they start shouting', and adding a poultice and a bandage. God bless vetwrap.
We change the bandage morning and evening, but by Sunday the pony is worse. Missis decides to call in Dog Vet. The call-out charge is double on a Sunday. He says we may need to keep poulticing for up to two weeks, that the farrier was correct that the abscess had travelled around the front of the foot, and then actually kicked the pony because he was being naughty. If I ever call that man out to see to one of my horses, shoot me first.
Now I have a brilliant book called 'First Aid For Horses' by Karen Coumbe, which is my horsey bible. It has never let me down. I have consulted it over colic (Max) being cast (Max again) and choke (Zak, bless him) and it has never been wrong. I love this book and trust it totally.
So I look up 'abscess in the foot' and it tells me to poultice the foot for no more than three days, then when the abscess has drained, to cover it and keep it dry until it is sufficiently healed that it won't get infected. So I am confused by her vet's advice to keep the foot wet. I have visions of the foot rotting away inside the bandage, or getting gangrene or something. But by the end of the next day I am a dab hand at putting on a poultice and bandaging it in place. I check the poultice morning and night, but there is no sign of any pus.
Dog Vet told Missis to go and buy a car inner tube, and fit it over the pony's hoof like a wellie boot, then to fill it with water and secure it to his leg. And so, three days later, we stood there, struggling, with the pony looking slightly bemused, as we heaved and stretched and pulled this rubber torsion over the pony's hoof, pulled it up his leg and poured water in the top. We taped it to his leg (he was thrilled) and he promptly put his foot down, split the rubber on the concrete, and the three of us stood watching in disbelief as the water poured out onto the floor. Missis walked away. The pony and I looked at each other. I'm not sure who was the more satisfied.
I don't know why she did it that day either, as Normal Farrier was due that afternoon. Normal Farrier is built like a brick privy, and whenever I look at him I am reminded of Gaston in Disney's 'Beauty and the Beast'. If he suddenly started singing, 'I'm exceptionally good at expectorating!' I wouldn't be at all surprised.
By the time he arrived, I noticed Missis had removed the rubber from the pony's foot. Normal Farrier said it was physically impossible for an abscess to travel round the foot, and that if you don't poultice it to draw it downwards, it will burst out of the coronet band at the top of the hoof, which is extremely painful for the horse. This is exactly what my book says, and I am liking Normal Farrier more and more. He then pokes and prods the hoof, and declares that there is no more pus in it, it probably came out the day we took the shoe off and the pony is absolutely fine. I resist the urge to hug Normal Farrier.
And sure enough, once he realised he wasn't fooling anyone, the pony got better and better. Missis was left with an enormous vet's bill, and I am left with an enormous feeling of satisfaction, and the ability to bandage a pony's foot, another string to my bow.