Tuesday, October 15, 2019

That Time Annie's Eye Blew Up

As promised, here is the story about Annie's eye and what resulted from an emergency Vet trip which led me to cover 500km (310 miles) in a single day.

First, let's back up a bit.

Oh dang.
Following my trip to Mexico mid-September, I immediately hopped in the saddle the first chance I could get. Naturally, the second day of my return also featured some saddle time. However, as I pulled Annie from the paddocks, I noticed her lower lid had some slight swelling and groaned inwardly as I threw her in the cross-ties.

She didn't seem too bothered, so I opted to continue tacking up and figured a light ride in the snackamore wouldn't hurt any. I had plans to meet a friend, and we were going to wander the subdivision and catch up - my favorite activity as of late.

As I swung a leg over and cruised down the drive, I started to message our vet with information and pictures, as I know full well that eye injuries are not something to take lightly. I met up with Nicole and AJ as I finished sending the e-mail and we plodded along for the next 45 minutes. The ride was alright, but Annie grew increasingly agitated and would toss her head every several strides. We were close to home by that point, so I hopped off and walked home with Spud and Annie in tow.

Back at the barn, I called and texted the vet (bc #anxious), and gave Annie some previcox before heading home for the evening. It didn't take long for the Vet to message me back, which I was extremely thankful for, and I was advised to watch the area and see how she did.

Monday morning the eye looked great and the swelling seemed to recede to the point where I felt pretty confident it was a minor scrape to the fleshy part of her lid and she would be fine.

However, Tuesday surfaced and Annie was very uncomfortable - cocking her head and trying to hide her injured eye into my sweater, as well as attempting to "run away" from whatever sensation the eye was giving her. I took a few videos and frantically contacted the Vet again, noting a small scab had started to form near the outer corner of her eye.

Banamine and antihistamines were our best friends that day, and although the swelling receded that evening, by Wednesday morning it was back with a vengeance and I sent the Vet a four-worded text that read "We're on our way.". While I feel as though it could have been handled at home (knowing the outcome now), at the time I was positively frantic with the possibilities, despite physical evidence in front of me dictating the eye was not compromised.

Wednesday morning I came out to the barn to find this and promptly headed
back home to hitch up the trailer.
Still, better to be safe than sorry.

It was a nice long 500km roundtrip to the Vet, which made for a very long day for everyone involved. However, I was relieved to have our Vet get her hands on Annie and perform a few tests to ensure the integrity of her eye, as well as explore the area to give her findings.

Ironically, I had reached out to the Vet and had scheduled to be in her next set of appointments at Barn C (our Vet just moved up from the Alberta area and is located a bit far from us, but she comes up 1-2x a month to Barn C for appointments, which is HUGE considering for the last decade we've simply had Traveling Vets who come up 1-2x a YEAR) for an alternate issue I had wanted explored.

We were able to both assess the eye and look into the other issue I had outlined previously with the Vet - a semi-persistent cough that has plagued Annie since she had a horse-cold mid-July. It isn't persistent, and it isn't exercise induced, but she will randomly cough (hard) in the pasture and/or under saddle and I was becoming a bit worried, as Annie has never been much of a cougher since I have owned her.

Just living her best life, content to eat all the grass on Vet C's front lawn.
We did a few tests, including eye-staining, and the overall findings in her eye were very promising - the eye was intact, not scratched or ulcerated like the Vet had disclosed the day previous. We weren't hugely concerned about the eye itself, as she hadn't been blinking furiously or squinting tears/pus. The only real issue was the amount of swelling. The Vets official diagnosis was "insect sting/bite". We carried on with some NSAIDs, as well as cold-compression, and a nifty "eye patch" adorned to her fly mask, as the UV rays were causing a lot of discomfort (ie. head tossing).

Next we moved onto the cough, which included a few laps of trotting on the Vet's front lawn, palpation of the area, a pre and post-exercise lung check, and a few other short-duration tests. The number one concern I had was that the cold she had had back in July had caused some kind of lung scarring and her ability to effectively draw in and expel air would be compromised.

The vet findings were that the lining of her trachea appears to not have completely healed - as just like in people, horses may have weaker immune systems and require a greater length of healing, especially after contracting an upper respiratory tract virus. We discussed at length that this particular virus is not something that can be vaccinated for, and I personally know of three other horses who had contracted the same virus over the Summer. The horses with weaker immune systems seemed to have been hit the hardest, as Spud never showed any issues despite being hauled and exposed as much as she.

An ice-pack was not to be tolerated, so I took to
freezing dish cloths in the freezer and she seemed much
less objective. 
The final recommendation for this was limited, but sensible exercise for the remainder of the Fall/Winter.

Following the Vet appointment, it took nearly a week and a half for her eye to stop being so extra. I sent daily messages to the vet, including photos, and did as much cold-compression therapy I could. Her eye turned into an even bigger, swollen mess before the weekend, and the skin began curling and peeling in the most randomest places due to the toxic substances attempting to leech their way out of her body.

Its painful just to look at.
Thankfully this came in the days to follow.
Once the last of the deadened skin fell, the swelling vanished and along with it, Annie's sensitivity to light. The first day I took her eye-patch fly mask off it was kind of hilarious, as Annie had spent the last several days navigating the pastures with one eye that she seemed shocked to discover she had two of them again.

Since the appointment and her eye healing, we've relegated ourselves to 1 hack a week - mostly walking, although I have thrown in a few short-lived stretchy trot sets. I did have to cancel my last Anthony clinic of the year, but the horse comes first no matter what. If time off is what she needs, that's what we'll do.

It's been kind of weird to not have a strict riding schedule, and I was worried with one ride a week Annie would become a bit of a fire-breathing dragon, but for the most part she seems to be enjoying the downtime, despite the fact I can tell she is bored (I have spied a few gallop marks in the back paddocks so she can't be too bored lol). We have been working on some in-hand stuff as well as hand-walking, but I'm kinda just letting her be a horse and enjoy the downtime. Which, she couldn't have picked a better time of year, as our riding season slowly dwindles from October onwards, so we aren't necessarily missing much.

The pink highlighter sheet is out in full force.
Pictured is Annie, ready for our weekly toodle <3
Regardless, she's worked so hard these past two years that she deserves it.


  1. I am glad that neither concern was really serious. I would have panicked at that eye too! It is a good time of year to have down time.

  2. yikes that's kinda crazy how the skin scabbed and peeled like that! i would have similarly not wanted to take any chances, eyes are scary yo. glad it's all ok tho!

  3. Aww I am glad that whatever bite she was having a reaction to wasn't worse and she is ok now! Bummer about the infection but sounds like she will be right as rain soon.

  4. Oh wow, that sting or bite or whatever was pretty crazy! Poor girl! Glad she's on the mend though. Hope the cough clears up soon too.