Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Horse Eye Inflammation

Inflammation in Horse's Eye Resembles Cherry EyeHorse's Eye Inflammation Resembles Cherry Eye
In checking the horses over at the pasture I noticed that our Quarter horse mare, Lacey, had an inflamed eye with a small lump in the corner. I waited a day to see if it would clear on its own and when it didn’t I gave my veterinarian a call. Wouldn’t you know, it was Friday of Labor Day Weekend and he was already on his way out of town.

I described what I was seeing and he asked if I had any eye ointment on hand – I did, but it was old. He told me to go ahead and use it as long as it did not have any cortisone in it and to give him a call after the weekend if it hadn’t gotten any better. I told him that it looked similar to “cherry eye” in a dog, but Dr. Harms explained that horses don’t get “cherry eye," which is an inflammation of a gland in the corner of a dog’s eye and horses don’t have that gland. I then asked him why I wasn’t to use an ointment with cortisone in it. He explained that if there is a scratch, abrasion or ulcer on the cornea, corticosteroids (cortisone) can exacerbate the problem by preventing the defect from healing, but it is helpful in reducing inflammation and preventing scarring.

Pulling Back Horse's Eyelid to Administer Ointment By Tuesday after Labor Day I was still concerned and so I had the vet come out to take a look. His diagnosis was that it was most likely one of three things:
  • conjunctivitis, which is essentially inflammation of the whites of the eye;
  • a foreign body, which would most likely be a small piece of debris in the corner of the eye causing irritation; or
  • squamous cell carcinoma, which is a tumor of a cell type that is found at the margins of the eye.
I was to put a triple antibiotic ointment with hydro cortisone in the corner of Lacey’s eye 3 to 4 times daily for 7-10 days and he wanted to recheck if the eye wasn’t any better in 5 days.

Treating Inflamed Horse Eye with Ointment On the 5th day I called Dr. Harms again and told him that although it wasn’t any worse, it wasn’t any better either, so he changed to a different ointment with cyclosporine, which is to be put in the inflamed eye once every 12 hours.

I am very concerned as the lump in the corner of Lacey’s eye has grown and it is still red and sore looking. When I talked to Dr. Harms this morning he said to give the new ointment one more day and then tomorrow I am to take Lacey to his clinic. He plans to sedate her and then check the tear duct for a foreign body and will also take a sample to send to the lab to see if it is a squamous cell carcinoma. How I’m hoping it is a bug or a small seed that got in there, instead of a tumor!

* Addendum: while not an uplifting end to this story, read the follow-up here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Hunt Caps

I was watching an old movie not too long ago in which a couple of actors were riding horses in traditional hunt attire. They were wearing hunt caps, which today are just items of apparel for English riding classes that are not over fences, and had the ribbons on the back of the cap down.

Have you ever noticed those ribbons on the back of the velvet hunt caps? Have you ever wondered why they are there, and the correct way to wear them? The ribbons are the tails of the bow and have a special meaning for those who “follow the hounds” in a fox hunt.

The most common color for the bow is black, used for fox hunting, but there is also a red ribbon which is used for stag hunting. In some countries, their cavalry riders have silver ribbons and their national riders have gold ribbons. It is general usage to have the ribbons sewn up – the tails pointing up – as that is the traditional usage for most riders, any rider is entitled to wearing the cap in this way. Having the ribbons down is reserved for the Hunt Master and hunt staff. Ribbons are also down for cavalry officers and riders representing their countries at the Olympics or the World Equestrian Games.

Not many general riders wear the hunt caps any longer as they are not an ASTM/SEI certified helmet for safety purposes.