As I already knew, conjunctivitis is very infectious. As soon as we had the diagnosis I did my best to wash my hands a lot, be careful where I put his dirty fly mask and generally do everything I could to avoid spreading the infection, but it’s not easy. If I’ve just done his eye drops I can’t get out of the stable to wash my hands without touching the bolt with dirty hands. And of course on a big busy full livery yard, with a big riding school attached, I am far from the only person interacting with my horse. It stayed contained for a while but on Friday morning 1 other horse had it. At that point they put up the signs on the doors. This morning a further 4 had it. Interestingly the horses that go out with Drifter and the ones in the nearby stables haven’t got it. I do feel particularly sorry for the loaner of one of the newly infected horses – that horse has a real attitude (I’d assumed from the attitude that it was a mare, but turns out it doesn’t even have that excuse) and I’m sure it will be really hard to give drops to. Also, it’s got it in both eyes. Not a good situation.
So that’s the update on everyone else – how’s Drifter?
Originally the vet wanted him better by Thursday, and said if he wasn’t pretty much back to normal by then he wanted to be called out on Thursday. I cannot get there in the morning, (as I start work 25 miles away at 7.30 most days and we can’t access our horses until 8 on weekdays) so I asked the member of staff managing the yard on Thursday to check him over and call the vet if he wasn’t normal and then let me know what he’d said.
On Thursday I waited for the call all day (deja vu…) and after work got to the yard to find out what was going on. The member of staff who’d been responsible was teaching so I went to see Drifter first and found him looking just as bad – clearly not better. I spoke to another member of staff who said the vet hadn’t been called because he’d looked better that morning. I was not happy. While it was possible he’d looked better in the morning following the cool dark night and got worse in the hot bright day, I doubted he’d been that much better. Member of staff number two said she was running the yard the next day and that she would call the vet on Friday regardless of how he looked in the morning. So on Friday the vet came out and gave him some steroid drops to add to the antibiotic drops. Great – an increase to a total of 4 drops morning and another 4 at night. (With every dose he gets harder to manage. He’s not aggressive or nasty about it, but it’s so hard to prise the eyelids apart – even his eyelids are strong! And of course he tries to fling his head about while I’m hanging off it.) The vet also said if he wasn’t well by Sunday morning he wanted to come out on Sunday (at what cost?!) and take a swab to send to the lab (again, at what cost?!).
Obviously if he needed the Sunday attention and the lab test I know this is cheaper than the potential cost of leaving it untreated, but as I’m sure you can imagine I went down to the yard this morning hoping he’d be looking better.
He looked much better.
There is still a little pus, which does make me a bit uneasy not calling the vet, but it was very little. The swelling has almost gone and the conjunctiva is salmon pink, rather than the angry red of a few days ago.
I asked the opinion of staff member no 2 and she, without hesitation, said she wouldn’t call the vet out with him looking that much better. I am hopeful that tomorrow he will be back completely to normal.
I have texted the vet, as he asked, to update him, and mentioned that I am running out of the first eye drops but presume I should continue with the steroid one. He has replied that I should continue the steroid for 4 days. So hopefully the end is in sight.
I’ve not ridden much. As I mentioned in the last post I didn’t feel he could be exercised outside so we had to work around the other commitments of the indoor school. I did manage to lunge him in there one day this week, which gave me a chance to try asking for the right canter lead on the lunge. The first time I asked for canter in that direction he bucked massively but then settled into the correct lead. Hurray! I let him come back down to trot and then asked again. Again he bucked, less this time, but then flew round beautifully on the correct leg. It was fluid and easy. I didn’t have to keep on him to stop him breaking back to trot, he just went round and round showing me how easy it was for him. I’ve never had him canter that well on the lunge in his good direction, let alone this way. After a little trot I asked again and this time got a transition without bucking and off he went again, showing me it was easy. It looks like the physio really did some good, although it did occur to me that he was on quite a lot of bute for the eye, so if there was any soreness it would have been hidden.
Under saddle results were more mixed. I rode twice. The first time we got a good canter on the right lead. The second time we just couldn’t get it. I suspect that it’s one of those things that if we don’t get it quite quickly we probably shouldn’t carry on trying. When we don’t get it, I think we both try too hard. He gets stressed and gets a mental block with it; I start trying too hard with my cues which with me usually leads to doing weird things with my position that just confuse him. On the other hand I don’t want to teach him that not striking off is acceptable… I suppose I’ve got to try to find a balance of trying, but not keeping on too long with it. And I think if I can lunge him more often so he practices cantering that way without a confusing human on his back I think it can only be a good thing. I’d like to be able to sort this out myself without having to pay for anyone more experienced to school him, but I don’t know if I can. Of course it might be a while before we can afford any schooling, between what the vet will need paying and the cost of getting staff to bathe his eye and do the eye drops every weekday morning for 1 week and counting! Oh, and an extra £5 for staff to hold him for the vet on Friday when I was at work. We haven’t decided yet whether we’ll claim on the insurance – waiting to see how much it will come to.
In my riding generally I think my “feel” is really improving. I’ve got a lot more idea of which leg’s doing what (both his and mine!) than I’ve ever had before, which can only be a good thing. I also wonder whether it’s easier to feel him now that the his movement is freer and more symmetrical from the physio.
It’s a long time since we had a lesson, what with my insect bite reducing our riding and now this. In some ways I’m looking forward to when we can have a lesson again, but in others I think I’m feeling pretty out of shape and a lesson in this hot weather might wipe me out! Work is ridiculously demanding at the moment as well, so I’m stressed enough that I’d probably just yell back at an instructor rather than taking anything in.