On August 24 I had a call from the barn help telling me that Cisco had come out of his stall lame on his left hind.They had found a nail in his foot and did take it out.Dr. Tanya Thomas came to the barn that morning and examined him.She put him on a broad spectrum antibiotic and had me soak the foot two to three times a day to clean it.He was better the next day but worse on third day.Dr. Thomas came back the morning of August 27 and advised he needed to go to the University of Georgia Veterinary Teaching Hospital for advanced cleaning of the wound.
At UGA Cisco was examined by Dr. Sherlock and her team…Dr. Lee and Dr. Avery, and later Dr. Mueller.Dr. Sherlock determined from further examination that Cisco needed surgery to clean out the wound because the nail tract had extended deep into the foot and to the coffin bone (also known as the pedal bone or third phalanx).She was able to do it that same afternoon.Cisco did well in the surgery and was supposed to be at UGA approximately one week if everything continued well.He was aggressively treated for the next week with strong regional antibiotic profusions and other IV antibiotics and bute.Cisco was sound after a week, but the wound on the bottom of the hoof was not healing properly.It took two or three more attempts to clean the wound to get it to where the sole of the foot began to heal over.He ended up staying 20 days and then was sent home to monitor - with caution that he may not fully recover.
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Cisco was so happy to be back in his own stall the first thing he did was roll. He was to stay quietly in his stall and be taken out to hand walk a few times a day.A problem presented itself the next morning when the other horses went out and he didn’t.Nothing could console him in the stall.He walked feverishly in the stall wanting to go out with the other horses until I began to walk and graze him multiple times daily.
Cisco had come home with a hospital shoe on.I put a boot over this and a fluid bag over that when the grass was really wet (This all took place in floody September!).An ordeal, but Cisco was very good about all this as long as he knew he was going out.His foot was still quite sore and it was nearly impossible to get the hospital shoe off twice a week to check and clean the healing wound.So, Dr. Thomas came out twice a week for many weeks…and at first had to tranquilize him in order to accomplish the bandage change.I really counted on her!He was also on very strong antibiotics four times a day, and my husband or one of my neighbors came out with me nightly for the 10 p.m. dosage.
Helen and Cisco - first ride after his foot injury
Two months went by and he was getting better and better.Dr. Thomas said I could start putting him in a small, dry paddock for a few hours a day.He was soooo happy!Soon I was able to get on him, just to walk down the driveway.I think he was as proud of himself and as happy as I was!!
We slowly started him back into the pasture…first with his buddy, Edna (the babysitter) just for a short period when all the other horses had come in…then with a few geldings.He was quite energetic at first but soon was more interested in grazing than running around.In the first part of December I started riding him in our arena.
Today Cisco is back to a normal schedule for him.He is out with 12 other geldings in a huge pasture every other day, in a good sized paddock with one buddy on alternate days.I ride him four times a week.He is sound!!!We are still working on building muscles back…particularly in his hind end.Last week he and two other geldings ran through the woods to the back pasture.He was spotted going into the freezing cold lake after a duck…he pawed and pawed but did not get the duck…then all three of the horses tore back through the woods to front pasture.
Cisco's foot on 11/29/09
This has been a long, expensive and exhaustive ordeal but well worth it!He is a wonderful horse and I thought he deserved a chance.I feel my being able to spend all day every day with Cisco when he came home helped him fully recover and not give up hope.It would not have been possible had it not been for the wonderful doctors and others at UGA, my farrier, Steve Schmidt, and Dr. Thomas in particular.