Chrismas Eve

My Hoof Hurts

Jigs has an abscess.

I just returned from the barn from soaking and wrapping it. He doesn’t want to move. I probably should have turned him out, but he really seemed to want to stay in his stall.

The call came early morning in the midst of scrubbing the dining room in preparation for tomorrow’s Christmas meal.

“Jig’s was lame when we turned him out this morning” the voice said. My throat caught.

An abscess in December? Not likely, I thought. “I’ll be right there.”

Jigs was picking at his hay when I got to the barn. He turned to greet me but stopped when he put weight on his right foreleg. His eyes were large and, pardon the anthropomorphizing, sorrowful, pleading.

There was swelling above his fetlock. None of his past abscesses had swelling.

I was alarmed. A few weeks ago his right hind leg had some swelling but no lameness. Over the phone, the Vet told me not to worry. “He probably banged it. Call me if it gets worse and I’ll come out.” (She’s known me long enough to know I panic easily.)

As I felt Jig’s fetlock, all kinds of visions danced through my head- not one of them contained a sugar plum fairy.

Emergency visits are expensive, especially the day before Christmas.

I called without hesitation; her associate was on duty. “Please come,” I whined.

She examined his leg. There was swelling behind and above his fetlock. His hoof was warm and there was a digital pulse. She got the hoof tester out.

“Abscess.” She concluded. I’m sure, there was an ‘I told you so’ in her thoughts.

I asked about testing for Lyme’s. After all, this was his second time in as many weeks he had swelling. She looked at his hind leg where there was still a bit of a bump. “Broken blood vessel,” she tusked, “he must have whacked it– see it all the time. Nothing to be concerned about.”

No need for a Lyme’s test.

So today I have been faithfully soaking, diapering, and duct-taping his hoof. I will continue this ritual until the abscess pops and drains.

Jigs’ hooves are hard, healthy, so like his other abscesses, the Vet said it will work its way out the coronary band.

“Be patient.”

I will wrap and wait for as long as it takes. I would do just about anything for Jigs.

Jigs is the horse I waited my whole life for.

Granted, he wasn’t the one I was looking for, rather he presented himself to me as big as life and as red as a fox a week after Pepper was euthanized.

I hadn’t intended to get another horse so quickly. (And I never liked sorrels or chestnuts.) But there he was, J-I-G-S. How could I not take him home?

As a kid I dreamed of being the one rider for a magnificent, ebony horse. What girl didn’t, after reading every Black Stallion book 7 times?

Jigs is certainly not Ebony, and, if only Alec could ride The Black, anyone can ride Jigs.

He’s calm and careful. It takes a lot to rattle him. Often he is lazy, so he’s not always easy to ride. He hates ring work. But he loves to have a job, to play games. I suspect he really enjoyed chasing cows  last week.

I am blessed to have him in my life.

Christmas morning, I will gladly get up early, pull on my muck boots, and head to the barn to soak, wrap, and duct tape Jigs’ hoof.

I will even make him a bit of warm mash for a Christmas treat.

And I am so relieved, it is just an abscess!

The barn was quiet and cold tonight. I could hear the horses moving slowly behind the gate as they moved their hay around to get the best piece. When I turned the light out I could hear Jigs sigh from his stall.

All was at peace. I felt blessed.

Merry Christmas

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