I realize that we do not get nearly the amount of rain that most of my readers do but, for us, seven days of rain in a row is an unusual occurrence.
I worried about Jackson as the rain continued, day after day. His set up in the paddock with a large, dry run-in shed seemed to be working well. Despite the rain, he was moving well. Until Sunday.
Sunday morning we went down to the barn to do chores under wet, miserable skies. Jackson was visibly off and half of his manure was in the run-in shed. Jackson is meticulous about leaving his poop in the same area of his paddock and never in the run-in shed so I knew his feet had to be hurting. In the evening, he was standing in the run-in shed with his head down and his eyes dull. He couldn't walk without almost falling to his knees. There were neat piles of manure scattered around him. He hadn't moved enough to disturb them, much less scatter them around. I gave him his hay and mixed up some bute (medication for pain) powder with a handful of alfalfa/molasses sweet feed. He put his head in the bucket and fiddled with his lips, but didn't eat more than a teaspoon. I put the remainder where he could reach it, hugged him, and walked back to the house with my eyes stinging.
When Brett came into the house, he asked me if it could be an abscess. I said it could but last year, all winter, I thought he had an abscess and it wasn't. It was laminitis. Brett tried to come up with a solution while I stared vacantly into space. He suggested isolating Jackson in a stall, with no access to the outdoors and the wet ground. That isn't a life. Not for a horse. I won't do that to him. I won't let him suffer. If he doesn't get better, I'll put him down. Deep breath. I just don't think I can do it over the holidays. He'll tell me when he's ready. I'll listen. Another deep, ragged breath. And then tears.
There was a Girls Night Out holiday party at our community center that night. ...bring a gift to exchange, an appetizer to share, and a beverage. I brought the bottle of champagne I had purchased the day before and drank most of it.
Monday morning, Jackson was much the same. He hadn't finished the bute-laced sweet feed. I gave him some more anyway. Monday night I dreamt that I found him lying down, unable and unwilling to rise. I dreamt I made all the arrangements with the vet and the guy that hauls away the dead horses afterwards.
Tuesday morning, I was afraid to go down and feed, but I put on my heavy jacket, pulled up the hood and went out in the rain.
Jackson was up. Not only was he up, he was walking around with just a slight limp. I wrapped my arms around his muddy neck and kissed him. I didn't mind the dirt in my mouth, I didn't mind the rain, I didn't mind the sloppy ground or the cold. Jackson's manure was all outside. His food was gone. Jackson let me pick up his foot without hesitating so weight bearing wasn't a problem. I couldn't see any evidence of where the abscess had burst through the dirt and mud, but I'm sure that is what he had.
The rain stopped finally. Today was very cold with gusty winds.