Total mystery of swollen legs that have turned into lesions :( Help!

Jane1017

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Jun 21, 2017
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Hey! So this is my first post. Hoping I will get some advice if anything :) so...

My horse has had swollen back legs from the hock to the fetlock for about 10 months. They have not been hot, painful, no lameness, not tender, no behaviour change, still eager to run around his field, eating, all body functions working. Every time I rode him, the swelling would go down. The vet did blood tests, nothing. she just said to excercise regularly and hose them with cold water. I did this religiously. He has 4 stockings so mud fever is always a risk. He did get mud fever before I brought him but it appeared to clear up nicely.
3 weeks ago, I came to his field to find him hopping lame! Not weight baring looking very very unhappy :( immediately I phoned a vet, they gave pain killers and antibiotics thinking it was some sort of infection. A week into taking the antibiotics the swelling had gotten worse, particularly around the hock and the lower pastern area all on the outside of his leg it scared me because it looked broken but it wasnt. The skin got very tight and broke due to the swelling ( I presume) 2cm wide circular areas that just looked like sores appeared 3 at the bottom and one at the top. Straight back to the vet I went panicking and she wrapped it up. 2 days later I go up to his field and the bandage has slipped down. It has to come off, I rebandaged it with clean ones and left it. It happened again three times. Every time I took the bandages off clumps of what I can only describes yellow fleshy gunk fell from inside and it was oozing. 2 out of the 3 sores started to break down into one big sore yet I noticed that the top sore by the hock had dried up because the bandage had kept slipping of it. So I chose to take the bandages off. I used hibi scrub, purple spray, green antibiotic flynrepelent, have cleaned it am and pm, and it's just getting no better and now clumps of hair is coming off around the sores and the outside of his leg.

Basically my horse has been on antibiotics for 3 weeks. Has a big 2 inch wide and about an inch deep lesion ( practically a big hole that is not heeling) by his fetlock and it is seeping and oozing and his leg is still swollen! Not as much but Nether the less still swollen... if I press on it yellow gunk squirts out the top lesion. the Vet has said it is a black thorn but i have no idea and I don't feel as though that that could cause this much damage!!‍♀️

Any one had anything similar? Any ideas? Anything at all??! Please nothing negative. I have tried hard to prevent it getting worse and racked up a hefty bill from the vet with no results . I love my horse dearly and I'm devastated I can't wave my magic wand and make it better for him.
 

carthorse

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Jan 6, 2006
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Hi, and I'm sorry to hear you're having such problems.

I don't think I'd be very happy with the blackthorn diagnosis, did the vet say why they think it's that? They can cause nasty infections, but unless you've been hedge jumping it seems a strange place to get one. Does the vet know what a mess it is after three weeks of antibiotics? I have to say that I'd be looking for a second opinion.
 
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lauren123

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Feb 3, 2007
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Hmm. .. This sounds very much like what sox had. Do you have any photos? My boy also has white legs and he did have like yellow scabs/crusts down his legs that where very very painful
 

Jane1017

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Jun 21, 2017
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Hmm. .. This sounds very much like what sox had. Do you have any photos? My boy also has white legs and he did have like yellow scabs/crusts down his legs that where very very painful

Hi! It won't let me upload any of them:( It went from swelling to sores to a huge hole in 3 weeks :( it's just nasty :(
 

Jane1017

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Jun 21, 2017
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Hi, and I'm sorry to hear you're having such problems.

I don't think I'd be very happy with the blackthorn diagnosis, did the vet say why they think it's that? They can cause nasty infections, but unless you've been hedge jumping it seems a strange place to get one. Does the vet know what a mess it is after three weeks of antibiotics? I have to say that I'd be looking for a second opinion.

He is a young horse and hasn't been jumping . Yes the vet didn't seem too concerned :/ :(. I will be asking for a second opinion think xx
 

carthorse

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No temperature or heat but he's been on antibiotics for three weeks? With an infection I'd expect temperature and heat, if there's no infection then why antibiotics? Not really questioning you Jane 1017, all you've done is follow vet advice.
 

newforest

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Mar 15, 2008
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Photos need to be resized to upload directly to the screen it you can link to the photo hosting site.
 

Jane1017

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Jun 21, 2017
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No temperature or heat but he's been on antibiotics for three weeks? With an infection I'd expect temperature and heat, if there's no infection then why antibiotics? Not really questioning you Jane 1017, all you've done is follow vet advice.
That is a very good point, maybe there was a slight temperature that he noticed. I will be asking my vet very soon!
 

domane

Gracie's mum
Jul 31, 2005
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Ask the vet to take a swab and culture so that the correct antibiotics can be given. I'm also thinking lymphangitis or cellulitis.... but weird that it hasn't responded to medication.

You can upload photos directly onto here if you download a photo resizer app and make them smaller first. I usually reduce mine to 800 x 450ish.
 

KP nut

I'd rather be riding.
Dec 22, 2008
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If vet thinks there's a foreign body in there then shouldn't she be doing an ultrasound to try and find it? A horse on our yard had a thorn in his leg. The damage it caused was astonishing. I have never seen anything like it! Leg swelled up to 3 times normal size, then a huge hole opened up which was pouring pus and dead tissue. Litres of it. The hole was enormous. The horse made a full recovery with regular flushing and antibiotics. He never jumped - he picked it up in the field.

My old pony also had a thorn in her belly - not quite such a bad reaction but still swelling, 2 lesions - 1 was the main site of the thorn and the 2nd was an exit point for pus that just burst open - and litres of pus! Again vet did an ultrasound to make sure there was nothing still in there, and I had to flush twice daily for about 2 weeks and give penicillin injections. She made a full recovery too.

So the diagnosis does not seem that odd to me. But a second opinion would be a good idea after all this time - if for no other reason than she does not seem very good at explaining things to you or taking your concerns seriously enough. And because things aren't improving yet and she needs to explain what to expect in terms of timescales. The above horse's owner was clearly told that things looked horrific and would look even worse before they got better. And that it would take time.
 

joosie

lifelong sufferer of restless brain syndrome
Oct 28, 2004
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PLEASE get someone else to have a look. Poor horse must be so incredibly sore! After 10 months of symptoms there is clearly something serious going on and at the moment your horse is suffering for it.
 
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KP nut

I'd rather be riding.
Dec 22, 2008
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10 months!!!!!! I misread your OP - I thought it was just 3 weeks!!! OMG yes, get a 2nd opinion.
 
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