There’s just something special about Luc. And I don’t mean in the he’s such an amazing, outstanding, once-in-a lifetime horse kind of way. He is all those things, but when I say “special”, I mean that if there’s a way to get into trouble in new and interesting ways, he’ll find it.
This week Luc certainly found a new way to concern my sister Jen, his owner, and me. Jen showed up at the barn one day last week to find Luc with a swollen face. From about the eyes down to just above the nostrils was puffy and swollen. It wasn’t impacting his vision or his breathing, he didn’t really care if you poked it, and other than looking a little like he’d just had a nose job, he was perfectly fine.
The next day, it was a little more swollen so Jen made the decision to call the vet. Thanks to the wonders of the internet age, she was able to send a photo to the vet, who was able to give us a course of action to take. Apparently the vet has seen a number of horses with swollen faces this year, some due to insect bites or stings, some due to whacking their head on something (or someone!), and some due to sticking their face where it just doesn’t belong like a patch of stinging nettles. She suggested a course of Bute, twice a day for a few days, and applying ice.
When I arrived for my ride a day later, Luc’s face was still swollen, but the vet had given the all clear to ride since it didn’t impact his breathing, so we went ahead and pulled him out of the field. While Jen was grooming and tacking him up (because I’m spoiled like that), I had the fun job trying to ice Luc’s face. Fat face, as I’ve now affectionately started calling him, did not want to cooperate. He tossed his head, did his best giraffe imitation and then proceeded to try and eat the ice pack. I did manage to get the ice on his face for about five to 10 minutes, and it actually seemed to noticeably lessen the swelling.
Since he was swollen right where the noseband would go, we decided to take it off for my ride to prevent the possibility of any pressure. I had decided on a light ride, a nice relaxing hack out in the freshly cut hayfield. Or, at least I hoped it would be relaxing. I hadn’t really taken him out for a real ride out there this season, and well last season’s first attempt did not go so well.
Luc surprised me by being nice and relaxed. In fact he was so relaxed I decided on a little trot as well. After a few minutes of trotting something just felt off. Luc was tossing his head and not listening, so I brought him back to a walk thinking there might be a bug on his head or something. I pulled his head around and what I found wasn’t a bug. Instead, I noticed that the entire ring on the bit, plus the gel bit guard, were gone – inside Luc’s mouth! A quick look at the other side of his mouth revealed that bit guard was also now in Luc’s mouth, and he was happily chewing away on both of them! See, I told you he was special.
Thankfully I was able to call over Jen, who had been walking in the field with us, to fish the bit and bit guards out of Luc’s mouth. I guess that’s why you wear a noseband. Once our tack was firmly back in place, I went back to working Luc in the field. We even cantered a little, with me keeping a constant eye on where the bit was.
It was a fabulous ride out in the field. Luc for the most part was responsive and relaxed. He even had some impulsion – at least while we were headed towards home!