Sunday, September 15, 2013


While I fretted about Hudson's soreness -- feet, hocks, whatever it is -- Starlight quietly developed a huge abscess in her right front.
The patient.

She was slightly gimpy when I left on a business trip, and since I hadn't ridden her for a little while, I was pretty certain she was cooking an abscess.  

Unfortunately, it was my husband who saw the truly horrible lameness that occurs just before an abcess breaks, and he raised the alarm while I was 2000 miles away.

So I called the vet from the airport and explained what was going on, had her planning to come the following day unless the abscess, if that's what it was, popped. 

I came home to a three-legged lame pony.  So sad!

Once home, I could easily find the spot on her coronary, above the heel bulb where the abscess was getting ready to pop, and gave her a hot soak.  By morning, a large abscess has broken through, and the pony was feeling much better. 
(Photo borrowed from

Starlight had never abscessed in her life until the past few months, and now she has had two, the poor thing, one front and one rear.  

She and I have spent some quiet time together during hoof soakings the last few days, and this led to some random observations:
  • Starlight is the best patient I know.  When I put her foot in a soaking boot (the CleanTrax soaking boot, for those of you who want to know), she stands stock still.  It is as though she was touched in a game of Freeze Tag.  I have never seen such a good soaker before.  Those of you who have a horse that hates soaking will be appreciative of how nice it is to have a good soaker.
  • She is extremely tense in her neck muscles.  While soaking, I did a little of the Masterson Method massage on her neck, and she seems to find it very hard to relax. Maybe it's the Freeze-Tag thing she's got going on (she's a stock horse and they seem to take rules very seriously).
  • DeCato the Mustang is one smart mare.  Unlike Hudson, DeCato was allowed to stay in the run-in during the soaking, because, unlike Hudson, she will not frighten Starlight and push her around. 
My standing still for so long next to Starlight gave DeCato an opportunity to try to mug me for treats.  That reminded me that I had intended to start doing positive reinforcement training with DeCato.
One of the best brains in the barn.

The plastic jug I had used for the soaking water was nearby, so I decided to experiment with my food-motivated mustang.  It didn't take her any time at all to figure out that if she touched the water jug, I dispensed a treat.  

Teaching a horse to touch a "target" is one of the first steps you'll find in any clicker-training, or positive reinforcement, method.  

She's a smart little redhead, that one. 

So that's what's up at my barn this weekend. Lots of meditation time (also some riding.  I haven't stopped gently riding Hudson, but I will be trying to discover the source of her issues through an exam later this week). 

I hope all critters are sound and sassy in your barn! 

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