I have the worst luck when it comes to riding!!!
Ya'll know if you've read this blog that I spent some time out of the saddle this past spring due to a really bad episode of sciatica. After much physical therapy I was finally able to get back in the saddle...then my mom fell and broke her hip, so I spent the better part of the summer going back and forth to Central Oregon. Didn't get one trail ride in all summer long.
Well, I'm back now. Went out and rode twice last week. Friday's ride was divine so I figured I'd give Boo a spa day on Saturday since he's been rather neglected this summer. I headed out to the barn Saturday afternoon. I knew something was wrong as soon as I tried to give him his carrot. He turned his head sideways and took the carrot out of one side of his mouth. Then he proceeded to mouth it, but couldn't seem to chew it. I looked him over and the underside of his chin where that little fat pad is seemed sort of hard compared to how it usually feels. I thought maybe he'd been stung, but I couldn't find a point of entry. He also appeared to be tender on his left cheek up high and I detected some bad breath which this boy never has. DH and I managed to get the slobbery carrot out of his mouth so he wouldn't choke on it.
I went ahead and took him into the barn and proceeded with his bath. He didn't like it much, but I promised him he would be really happy about what came next. That would be getting to free graze on the grass outside the barn. Boo is a real chow hound and he loves nothing better than eating. I turned him out to graze and dry off in the sun while I cleaned up the shower stall. I kept an eye on him, however, and I did not like what I was seeing. He appeared to try to graze but would then move on to another spot, then another, then another. That is so not like this horse. Once his head is down it stays down and wandering is kept to a minimum. After a few minutes of this he managed to tear loose a big clump of something green, but 5 minutes later he was still standing there mouthing it and saliva was flowing out of his mouth. Once again, between the two of us DH and I managed to remove the offending food from his mouth. Boo was not chewing and he was not swallowing.
Enough of that!!! I called the vet. Turns out they were in the vicinity and after a 3 hour wait they turned up at the barn to check Boo out. The vet explained to me what it could be. It could be a cracked tooth, it could be he had something stuck up there in his mouth, it could be he'd been kicked in the jaw and had soft tissue damage or worst case scenario a fracture. Boo didn't have any evidence of trauma, so I thought it more likely he had something stuck in there or a cracked tooth. After some sedation, and some checking, the doc said "he has remarkably good teeth for a 20-year-old horse, and he doesn't appear to have anything stuck in there...so that leaves soft tissue damage from some kind of trauma or a fracture.
He left us with instructions to give him bute for pain morning and night, to feed him a senior feed mash along with grass hay cubes that have been soaked in water, to monitor how much water he was drinking, and to call on Monday. If he's no better they will do a radiograph. Thank God I have a great barn owner who has been through similar feeding rituals before. She jumped right in and has been keeping me posted ever since. He's eating the mash and cubes. This morning she even said he seemed to be chewing it and that was a good sign. DH and I went out this afternoon and I saw for myself that he is working that jaw much more than yesterday.
I have no idea what happened to my horse or if this is going to get better all on it's own or not. I guess a little more time will tell. I plan to go out tomorrow and check out the eating and chewing situation again. Monitor that he's been pooping and check out that tender jaw and the funky smell. Then I'll decide if I'm going to go for x-rays or just wait until Wednesday when our regular vet (not the one on call) is scheduled to be out for shots. Dr. S is pretty good about things having to do with the mouth, so I'll feel a lot better once he has looked him over. No offense meant to the younger/newer vet, but this is my baby were talking about here.
It may mean I'm not going to be able to ride Boo for awhile. We'll see. If it does it looks like Bay and I will be getting much better acquainted than we have been in the past. Maybe it will be a good thing to ride another horse for awhile :(