On September 4th 2012, I received a call from the barn. The fact that I was receiving a call was alarming since they only call when something bad has happened. Texting is the usual form of communicating these days. I was told that when they brought Falkner in from his paddock they noticed his right eye was really swollen and there was puss coming out. I knew it was an immediate emergency and called my vet as I drove to the barn. When I got there this is what he looked like:
Luckily he didn’t seem to be in too much pain or upset about it but, man, this was gross! The vet arrived almost right after I did and started examining him. The tricky part of this injury was that his eye was so swollen it was really difficult for the vet to see into the eye. We had ice packs but those weren’t helping quickly enough. After a few tries, she determined that she didn’t think the cornea was scratched, which was a huge relief. We have no idea how he did this but he could have poked it when grazing or possibly been stung. I often find myself wishing I had a webcam over him at all times so I could always see what he’s doing!
The treatment for this was the following:
- Apply triple antibiotic ophthalmic ointment to eye, 4-6 times PER DAY, for 3 days. Then decrease frequency to twice daily for 4 days.
- Apply small amount of atropine ophthalmic ointment to eye, once per day, for 3 days.
- Give 1 gram Bute orally, twice daily, for 3-5 days as needed for pain.
- Keep fly mask on at all times to help protect eye if he rubs it. (Thank you, Crusader Fly Mask!)
The 3rd and 4th parts of the treatment were the easy parts. Have you ever tried to put ointment IN your horses eyeball 4-6 times a day?! It’s not easy, especially with a 16.2 hh horse (I’m 5’4”). Thankfully, the barn attempted to help me out with a couple of the treatments since the barn is about 30 minutes from my house and 15 minutes from SmartPak. However, Falkner was not a fan of this and was pretty difficult for them to handle. We had to get the ointment in his eye, without getting the tip of the tube dirty or else it could get worse. So I immediately armed myself with some Hilton Herballs and got ready for a fun evening at the barn.
As much as I was dreading this, it was actually one of the best bonding experiences Falkner and I have ever had. Obviously, he didn’t want me to put the drops in but he wasn’t mean about it. He would just raise his head up. I felt badly because I wouldn’t want anyone putting stuff in my eye if it hurt either! So I spent about 3 hours with him that evening working with him to ensure I wasn’t going to hurt him. By the end, he was letting me put the drops in as long as I was really quick about it and was sure to reward him with a treat. I was ecstatic after I was able to do this (even if my arm was achy and tired).
The next few days were stressful and we spent a lot of time together but I was able to get the drops in much more quickly than the first day. I also started to see some improvement so I knew that I really was getting the ointment in there!
His eye was pretty much back to normal in about a week or so but I was sure to finish up the rest of the treatment as I didn’t want any of that infection to stick around. I had the vet come out to double check that there was nothing wrong with his cornea and she said everything looked great. This was one of the scariest injuries I’ve ever had to deal with and was thrilled it had a happy ending.