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We Are Flying Solo

September 2, 2019

Emergency Vet -- A Two-Fer

I was working outside on Saturday when I heard the fence wires suddenly start jangling in a bad way.  I had just put the horses in a small side paddock to munch on some fresh grass while I worked on their fields.  I whipped my head around to see Echo flailing about as the top wire dropped (it has breakaway points for this reason) & both horses took off to the other end of the paddock.

Since I only saw the end of the action, I'm not sure exactly what happened, but my educated guess is that Solo kicked out at Echo while he was up against the fence.  Solo got a hind leg over the top wire & Echo somehow got one front leg over it.

As soon as I caught them, I saw that I needed an immediate Dr. Bob inspection (of COURSE, it's a weekend, that's how horses do).  I was cautiously optimistic there wasn't anything catastrophic, as both were trotting & walking around in proper mechanical order (albeit full of adrenaline), but with ugly things - & these were definitely ugly - around joints, I am always very cautious.

To make it more fun, I don't know if you've ever tried to do first aid on two horses while trying to keep a phone in the good reception spot so the vet could call you back.  Well, it's impossible.  A HUGE thanks to Trainer Neighbour who came over & helped me juggle all the things until the vet arrived!

Both horses were really damn lucky.  Warning:  photos follow. 

Echo put a gnarly hole behind his left knee, but it is in a "safe" valley between vital structures.  We can't wrap it due to location, but it is already filling in rapidly.
Right after it happened Sat
He has a full thickness cut on the outside of his cannon, but it is just skin, I will wrap until it closes just to keep it clean as well as to reduce swelling there & below the knee.  Some wire chafes on the tops of both forelegs look bad, but no cuts there.  Thanks to youth, he's not even stiff.
Keeping Corona & Swat in business
I am so very grateful it is not Sacred Leg which doesn't like touching, otherwise I would be far more miserable.

Solo's right hind got the worst of it.  He exposed a chunk of cannon bone above the fetlock, which looks dramatic, but those usually heal up pretty well.
I really never wanted to see my horse's bones...
The front of his hock suffered two full thickness slices while pulling the wire down, but all the tendons are ok, just bruised.  I don't have fresh pics of those, we were too busy tending. 
Side view ~14 hrs later (Sun am)
A blood vessel got nicked & ruptured when I initially hosed it, so I was reminded yet again that horses have a lot of blood.  I think I could have done a transfusion when I rinsed out the initial bandages (below) in the bathtub yesterday.

This morning, those cuts were already nearly closed & all the tissue looks healthy so far.  My main job is to keep everything clean to prevent infection & try to keep the bugs off where I can't wrap.  Both will get a full course of SMZs along with bute for swelling.  Dr. Bob had me put some of the green Epsom salt gel in Solo's hock bandage, to try to draw out fluid into the diaper wrapped around it.  I've never used that on a wound before, just feet -- I'm pretty impressed!
Front view Sun am, healing up
What Went Wrong & What Went Right?

It was mostly a freak accident in just the wrong place.  My property came with hi-tensile wire fencing, which my neighbour built very well.  I have lined much of it with a strand of HorseGuard tape, but this section was not lined.  I'm glad it wasn't, because I think added tape might have made things worse in this case.

The wire itself is heavy-gauge & as I have learned during a couple other times Solo has bounced off the fence, this is an important safety feature which helps it roll off before cutting.  Unfortunately, just about anything will cut when you put an entire horse's weight on it.  I have seen horrific injuries from wood, electrobraid, PVC, mesh, thin tape -- horses are just way too good at carnage.

One of the multiple breakaway points did give when it was supposed to, which created the slack needed for the horses to get out & undoubtedly prevented much worse injury.  However, one point that should have released didn't & I found afterwards that there was an old jumper wire hidden in a bush that I had missed which prevented that release.  That's on me, as I'm sure that led to Solo's hock cuts.  I cut that off & reinspected all the other connections so it will never happen again.
It finally stopped bleeding, still tweaking my bandage setup
Despite the emergency bill & the stress of double first aid, I'm very grateful that things weren't worse.  No one needed stitches or sedation.  Both horses are sound, will heal fully, & are experienced at letting me clean & poke & wrap sore parts without kicking my head off.  After I do my penance of a couple weeks of nursing, everyone should be well on their way. 

Go hug your horses & check your fences.  Don't forget to look under the bushes.


  1. Glad the damage is relatively minor, for a horse. Keep us posted on the doctoring & healing process!

  2. I saw your post on instagram before reading your blog post and dang!!!! Glad that both your boys have a good prognosis and should heal well!

  3. Holy CRAP you got so lucky, and so did those boys. Wire fencing used to scare me, but honestly after seeing damage from other stuff... it can all be awful. Ugh.

    1. We were all lucky. I used to think all wire was bad too, until I "inherited" this particular fence. Solo jumped through it the 2nd day we lived there, not a mark on him (ALL the breakaways worked that day) & the neighbour that built it helped me repair it & taught me how it should be properly arranged. I now consider correctly built, heavy gauge hi-tensile to be a pretty safe horse fence for a pasture - like you, I've seen carnage from everything (wooden boards did the worst damage I've seen via impalement).

  4. Holy Carp!!! About 5 years ago Vannah got a leg wrapped up in a bit of barb wire that was on a tree that fell over in the pasture. I was luckily calling them for feeding and grooming and when she didn't come I went looking. Vannah was pretty calm about the whole thing and was just standing there waiting for someone to come and get her out. She had a very minor nick and rub to her hind leg. All in all so very lucky. Glad you were on hand when your boys tried to commit equine hari kari.

    1. What a good girl! I hate those lingering tree shards from who knows when.

  5. Ugh - horses. Found a hole in Val's frog, with dried blood around it over the weekend when I was giving a trim. Pressed on it and he freaked out, so started thinking abscess related (?). Poked with the hoof pick - - blood began dripping out. Saturday after noon of a holiday weekend with a hurricane heading our way...

    You deserve all the awards for managing a bloody two horse emergency, and the bandage in that last picture is gorgeous! Hope the boys heal up quick!

    1. Noooo foot blood, Val!! Is he ok? I am trying to figure out what to do in the rain on Thursday too - just in terms of bandages, because wet wraps are blech.

      Stay safe!

  6. Wow! Never a dull moment... Hope all the healing goes well. We are currently looking at fence options, will keep this in mind... 💜

    1. Fences are so tricky -- the biggest thing to me is to try to find something that will break & fall away cleanly, because horses be big & they can (& will) break anything. Of course then it gets more complicated if you are near a road (I'm not) & you have to weigh traffic risks.

      If only we could train horses to invisible fences!!

  7. ack poor horses! Glad they will both me ok!

    1. Thanks, they hopefully will be, I need all holes in legs to be gone ASAP!