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Holy swollen leg, Batman!

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  • Holy swollen leg, Batman!

    Went to the barn last night with plans to teach a lesson after the farrier trimmed the girls feet.

    Student's horse reluctantly comes out of the stall, her front left leg is HUGE. We cold hosed, poulticed, wrapped and gave banamine, and left bute for the am. I am calling my diagnostic vet to schedule an appointment today.

    However, I wanted to pick your brains. The worst swelling is actually on the inside of the leg, about 3 inches up from the ankle. However, her tendons are VERY sensitive to palpation. There is not a ton of heat - am thinking that perhaps the injury happened right before she was caught and the heat did not have a chance to really emerge?

    I am not sure if she got kicked, or whacked herself... the pasture she is in is very quiet, 7 mares, mean age of approximately 15. Quiet crew.

    I am disturbed about her sensitivity to palpation, not so much about the swelling, although that is of course a concern. I am not very experienced with anything other than a bowed tendon in a leg, no ligament stuff. Any ideas?

  • #2
    Have you called the farrier to ask if he noticed it when he trimmed her? It might be good noting if he remembered her not wanting to stand to be trimmed...if it was hugely swollen I imagine he'd notice handling the foot. (if I understand the scenerio correctly that you noticed this after she was trimmed) At least it could narrow it down between a pasture injury and knocking herself in the stall. Let us know the vet results.


    • Original Poster

      Sorry, to clarify, we met the farrier there. He did not end up working on her because of the leg.

      Appointment is tomorrow at 3.


      • #4
        Is it the whole leg? If so it could be lymphangitis. But after reading your description it sounds more like an injury after all. I feel like I would have called the vet RIGHT then! You definitely need a vet to determine exactly what is going on.


        • #5
          This happened to one of my horses a couple of weeks ago. She came up to the barn with a huge swollen hind leg. There was only mild lameness and only a little heat. I cold hosed and poulticed, gave her a previcox, and by the next morning the swelling was down considerably and she was sound. By the day following that, all the swelling was gone, heat was gone, horse was fine. I assume she whacked it on something or tweaked it somehow.


          • #6
            Did she have a fever?


            • Original Poster

              No fever, localized swelling, reluctance to walk but once walking, not really lame.

              It is a really bizarre thing, I am stumped.

              In an ideal world the vet would have been out right away. However, since I ship out for lameness/diagnostics, it really wasn't feasible at 6pm on a Tuesday. There aren't any really good diagnostic vets around here, I have a fabulous general vet for vaccs/minor injuries, but even she refers out for specialized things.


              • #8
                I would expect fever and more rapid deterioration with lymphangitis. Cellulitis in a small cut is a possibility. Interference injury is always a possibility- horses can certainly injure themselves in strange ways, but something like a snake or spider bite might also be a possibility. They can lead to great deals of heat and localized swelling without real lameness (depending on the particular creature).


                • #9

                  My horse abscessed last year and he was more swollen on the side with the abscess -- no fever, but "tight as a drum" swelling six inches above the fetlock. It was tender. A pair of hoof testers would tell the tale.
                  Dressage, riding, sport horse blog
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                  • Original Poster

                    An update - been busy!

                    Well, went up the following day, removed the wraps and poultice, and the massive swelling was down. There was a smaller, harder swelling about the size of a golf ball around, but it only stuck out from the leg approximately a half inch.

                    We cold hosed the leg, took her out to hand walk/graze, and trotted her for 10 yards or so - only a slight tick off.

                    I called the vet Thursday morning, he said that if there was no severe lameness or swelling, or fever, he would be ok with continuing to watch it. Thursday morning, I removed the wraps/poultice, and the lump was completely gone. I turned her out with her pals, without wraps, and went back Thursday night. Leg was still cool and tight, mare is not lame.

                    Go figure. I am guessing some sort of bite, since it went down so quickly. I have never seen anything like it!