It’s been nearly three weeks since Splash underwent surgery to have both of her eyes removed. The first few days she was home were difficult for several reasons:
1. Splash was clearly uncomfortable and adjusting to having been in the Equine Hospital for three days.
2. Splash had serious separation anxiety and we couldn’t leave her alone in the barn without her equine pals, so all three horses were on stall rest for five days. We would turn them out for an hour to clean stalls and bring them back inside. It was a great deal of extra work for the humans.
3. Splash was on a severely limited post surgery diet to re-introduce food into her system slowly to prevent colic. She was hungry and restless.
4. Splash needed her face massaged to reduce swelling at least four times a day and we had to check on her frequently to make sure her mask was secure.
It was a stressful time from the moment we found out she needed surgery, but the end result has been wonderful. Two weeks post surgery we started to notice that Splash was having more fun and her head tilt was less prominent. We noticed she was playfully throwing her head and trotting around the field.
Splash was eager to interact with people and her horse friends. She sought us out with happy nickers and we gave her apples, carrots and peppermints.
We heard from other local horse people who did not agree with our decision to go ahead with the surgery and they believed we should have followed the only other option of euthanasia. Brent and I had a many discussion and couldn’t believe that it was in Splash’s best interest to destroy her because of a pair of bad eyes. She had been blind for a long time prior to coming to live with us and her adjustment was to living her life pain free.
A few weeks after surgery one of the biggest skeptic came to visit us at the farm and watched Splash happily wander the paddock. He suggested that perhaps he was wrong and we did the right thing by saving Splash’s life.
Brent and I had no idea we had created such a controversy. We had gone with our hearts and with the firm belief that Splash still had many contributions that would enrich her life as well as others.
Post-surgery she had to wear a mask all the time. http://www.guardianmask.com/ donated a mask to Splash! Great people and a wonderful product if you are looking to protect eyes from just about anything. The mask is fantastic. She’s still wearing it for another few weeks. It was great to protect against bumping and flies The last thing we needed was flies laying eggs in her incision.
We had the vet out to remove stitches. We were able to remove the left side, but the right side got hung up on some scabs and the vet needed to sedate her and pick it out. Another nerve racking moment. The incision is nearly all healed up and looks healthy. The swelling has gone down and her eye sockets are sunken. We did not do anything cosmetic due to the increased risk of infection and we love her just the way she is!
No more drops or gels or goo! Hurrah! No eye balls, so nothing to get full of pressure, infection or inflammation. The way she gets around you’d think she was a sighted horse. She seems to sense the fence lines and usually knows exactly where she’s going. Splash had a very noticeable head tilt prior to surgery and now you can hardly tell. She still doesn’t turn to the right very well but that’s probably from the previous head injury. The vet believes she has lesions on her brain from trauma. We won’t even speculate.
After a few weeks we decided to get Splash used to leaving the farm and started walking her along side Turtle down the side road. I rode Turtle and lead Splash while Brent rode Autumn in the lead. We did this several times and Splash seemed to enjoy the gentle walk surrounded by her friends.
After a week and three strolls Splash came down with a hoof abscess. I wonder if it anything to do with our walks down the side road? She came up “three legged lame” one morning. It was heartbreak for us and very painful for Splash.
After surviving a severe head injury, going blind and bilateral enucleation she was still in pain because of a small and simple stone. I immediately called my good friend and blacksmith Dave for advice and to formulate a treatment plan.
A major part of the problem is Splash has a fear of having her legs touched. We’ve had her for months and have only just begun to pick up her hooves. Most horses have their hooves cleaned out daily, but Splash needed some time to build some trust.
Push came to shove and since we needed to examine her hoof. She was clearly in pain and easily let me look at her hoof which was quite a surprise. When Dave showed up to examine the affected hoof we were surprised that she let him pick up the foot with barely a kick.
Dave determined she has an abscess in her hoof and treatment came down to soaking in epsom salts and then poulticing with animalintex 24 hours a day until the abscess breaks. For five days we soaked and wrapped and hoped it would break. On the morning of day six I unwrapped the poultice and found stinky pus breaking from her heel and celebrated. Never had I been so happy to see pus.
The abscess is still draining, so her hoof is a stinky gooey mess, but she is walking much better and is back to stealing apples off the apple tree in the paddock.
We bought her a pair of cavallo boots and she’s very comfortable in those, so we can turn her out with the other horses while still protecting her healing hoof. She has the guardian mask on her face and boots on her hooves. She looks ready for the catwalk. LOL!