Sunday, February 14, 2016

Black Eye and A Bloody Nose

I was leaving work on Thursday, talking with my madre like I do most drives home, when the BO called. I immediately told my mom I would call her back and picked up the call with my heart in my throat. The first words out of her mouth were "Ashke is fine" and then she went on to tell me he managed to hurt himself in turnout Thursday morning. He had smacked the side of his face and given himself a bloody nose. It was still dripping blood on Thursday night. I told her I would be out as soon as possible. About the time I got home, I got a text from her saying one of our local vets was at the barn for another horse and did I want Ashke looked at. I said yes please, since I could split the house call.

The BO called me back and said the vet had looked at Ashke and wasn't concerned about the injury. He expected the nasal bleeding to continue for 24 to 48 hours but said it wasn't anything to worry about. I got home and told J I needed to run out and check on him, so we headed north.

 There was a small abrasion just under his eye.

 The side of his face was pretty swollen. 

I'm pretty sure I know what happened. He does turnout with a very sweet horse named Cory and the two of them play gelding games pretty much non-stop. There is no kicking but there is a lot of face fighting and rearing. I think Ashke swung his head away from Cory and smacked the fence.

 Hi cheekbone, jaw and jowl were all swollen. He was eating and bright eyed, but a little cranky with it.

 His cheek between his jaws was a bit swollen.

And his nostril was dripping blood.

I took pics and sent them to Saiph, then gave him horse crack and kisses and headed home.

When I got up the next morning I had a series of texts from Saiph asking questions about how he was feeling, what the swelling felt like and what I had seen. She was worried about air having gotten between his skin and his cheek from the abrasion on his face or a perforated airway that was allowing the same thing. She wanted me to have the vet come back out and double check, including an xray of his skull to rule out skull fracture.

I pretty much freaked and called the vet, texted my boss I was going to be late and J and I headed to the barn. The vet ruled out the air in his jowl, ruled out a perforated airway, dosed him with banamine to help bring the swelling down and told me to alternate hot and cold on that side of his face to help with the swelling. He didn't think an xray was warranted unless Ashke was worse and there was nothing we could do about the bloody nose except pack the nostril, which would put him in more distress than the slight bleeding that was happening. An examination up his nose did not show anything to him that would indicate needing xrays. (I also don't think he had the xray machine with him.) He concurred with the earlier vet's assessment, that Ashke had given himself a black eye and a bloody nose.

Saiph had some choice words to say about Western vets. She still thinks an xray was warranted and that the vets she knows and has worked with would have done that without hesitation. My experience has been that the vets here are a bit more hands off. Not sure if that is Western callousness or a regional difference in training. My options were limited because CSU is closed to all but emergency life or death situations involving surgery, since they had horses at am AQHA world reining championships that were exposed to the neurological form of EHV-1 and have closed their campus to outside horses.

J hitched up the trailer to take it to get the yearly maintenance done and I went to work alternating hot and cold on his face (I had brought the stuff with me after I had talked to the vet on the phone.) I did that for about an hour and a half, until J got back from dropping off the trailer.

 He really liked the hot pad on his face.

 My arms had gotten tired of holding it up, so I figured out how to tighten the halter to hold it in place.

He just hung out while I gave him a good grooming, washed the urine and mud out of his mane, and tried to deal with the heavy shedding he has started.

The swelling was about half what it was when I started. He was in a good mood and was very affectionate. He was still bleeding a bit, but the vet had said it could take 24 to 48 hours for that to stop. He went out into his run in the sunshine (by himself) at the end of our hot and cold sessions. I gave him a bunch of kisses, told him not to flip his head into the fence and headed for work.


  1. My concern was because the swelling you felt was crackly, crunchy, like bubble wrap, which is a hard thing to imagine or misconstrue. :/ To anyone reading this comment: crackly swelling on an animal or yourself is AN EMERGENCY. There is only one thing that feels like that and it is air. It means there has been damage to some part of the airway and air is leaking under the animal's skin. The way you described it, Karen, that you had never felt anything like that before, confirmed that you weren't imagining the texture, and it's what frightened me so much.

    My other concern was that Lily had a fractured skull with no penetration into her nasal cavity and I was still told to monitor for a sequestrum, where a piece of bone flakes off and abscesses as the body tries to get rid of it, because we could see that she had a small piece of bone that was partially displaced. I was terrified of what the SQ emphysema meant for Ashke + not knowing where the crack in his airway had occurred to cause it nor how bad it was. It can take weeks for a sequestrum to declare itself. Again, this is why I'm such a weirdo about my animals' vet care: the cats don't see regular vets because I know more than most, and if I can't have them seen at work I'd rather they not be seen at all (I wish I could write about all the horrors we see in specialty medicine from mismanagement of animals by reg vets, but I can't), and I prefer my equine vets to have done an internship in specialty medicine of some sort. The perspective and level of care is very different, but not everyone has access to vets with this type of knowledge/experience. My current region is home to some of the top riders and horses in the East Coast, especially in eventing, and also to some very wealthy people that want the absolute best, top-of-the-line care for their horses, which means I have access to that level of care too: I'm very fortunate. I can see the more blase attitude towards equine veterinary care in CO stemming from seeing horses as working ranch animals for so long, not that different from cattle. In South FL, the field equine vets had the same type of attitude as your CO vets simply because most people *couldn't* afford the more specialized care. I got into a HUGE argument with my equine vet when Lily sustained a puncture wound to her left hind. The FIRST THING you do is take x-rays with that sort of injury! Puncture wounds to the hoof are considered an emergency. It took A MONTH of the wound not healing before I could get him to get the damn machine out and take films to make sure there wasn't something still lodged in there and there wasn't damage to the coffin bone or any of the other major structures inside the hoof...and he still didn't do it right! I had to have a recheck with my MD vet, who injected contrast dye into the wound so we could see how deep the wound was when taking x-rays. It was ridiculous. This is why your whole ordeal with Ashke literally made me want to scream and tear my hair out.

    I'm THRILLED he is better and that the SQ emphysema resolved, but do still keep an eye on his nasal discharge and monitor for any change of smell coming from his nose/mouth for the next few weeks. I have my fingers crossed and candles lit that he will fully heal uneventfully! <3

    1. I have a list from you that I am checking daily. :)

  2. "Horses spend their entire lives trying to commit suicide." One of my favorite quotes from a horse vet.

    That must have really hurt to get a whack that bad on the side of his face. While Dusty doesn't do large animals, the benefit of veterinary medicine is that they are all trained on all aspects (or at least used to be until recently when some schools began the track method. I won't go into my rant on that bad idea) of veterinary medicine. This means that I have a solid reference when it comes to the horses and their injuries as to when to request more thorough diagnositcs and when to let it alone. The vet who came out for Gem's mild colic episode was terrible and Dusty ende dup having to tube Gem himself as she was quite incapable of doing it.

    I hope he heals uneventfully and I will be sending good vibes your way.

  3. Damn, the things horses can do in the name of having fun! Glad he seems to be improving. When I first got Major he stuck a tree branch up his nose in pasture (that we can figure) and was not going to tolerate packing it, so made a bloody mess for 48 hours or so. But healed right up. I'll hope for an uneventful recovery, I love the resigned look of "what is she doing to me" on the heat pack under halter photo. Get well soon Ashke!

  4. Oh horses...

    Val had mysterious nose bleeding a while back. My paddock / barn investigation revealed no source / site of an injury, so I immediately was contemplating a face / brain tumor of course.

    When it happened a second time a few weeks later, I really started freaking out. Then I saw him trying to scratch his nose on the pointy brittle end (he had bitten it off) of the traffic cone he got as a toy not long before...

    Hope Ashke heals up quick :D