Dawn is a tough, strong, fierce mare, but she always seems to find a way to have odd injuries or illnesses. She got in terrible kicking fights with Lily until she accepted that Lily was dominant. When Sugar arrived, they got in fights until Dawn's dominance was established, but just before that happened, Dawn was seriously kicked by Sugar (I was there and the sound was just like a cleaver going into a piece of meat - an awful "chunk") on the outside of her lower hind leg, with profuse bleeding (Lily lapped up the blood!) and many stitches required. She's had an odd neurological illness - probably a rhino virus - involving a very stiff neck and a fever. There was the time recently that she ran full-tilt into the fence while chasing another horse. And she's broken teeth before - she often bites the fence or metal gate when she's aggravated, and will run her teeth up and down the stall wall to indicate impatience or irritation.
I got a call (of course, just as I was heading out to an appointment, since cancelled) from our p.m. barn lady this evening that there was some blood on the snow by the gate in the mare's pasture and that, when she checked the mares over, Dawn's mouth was full of blood. This is one of the things I love about our regular p.m. barn lady - she notices things like this and takes action as appropriate. Many people wouldn't have noticed that anything was wrong.
So I cancelled my appointment and headed over to the barn. Indeed, her mouth was full of blood - when I opened her lips to look it started dripping out and when she tossed her head it was flung around. Dawn's usually fussy about her mouth, but one good thing about her is that if she needs help, she'll be cooperative in ways she usually isn't - she's smart about that, so she let me look at her mouth. The blood seemed to be coming from farther back in her mouth - not her front teeth. She had no external signs of injury on her face or head - no sign that she'd been kicked or hit her face on something. Her incisors looked OK. When she was chewing bits of hay, her mouth made an odd grinding sound - I'm suspecting an injury to a premolar or a molar. It could be her tongue got stuck to the very cold metal gate, but I suspect she broke a tooth biting the gate or the fence, which she's prone to do - she's broken teeth in the past but without this amount of blood - she may have split one or knocked it out. I doubt it's an injury to the palate, as she would be more uncomfortable - she's pretty demonstrative, running her mouth and front teeth up and down the stall wall (a sign of discomfort) but not head shaking or pawing. The vet suggested Banamine, but I elected not to do that yet since she's still bleeding and I also don't want to affect sedation, if that is needed, or her digestive system.
I called the vet's emergency line and got a call back pretty quickly - my vet practice is good about that. The recommended that we not feed her her dinner and that we take her hay away, which we did, to allow the bleeding to stop and the injury to clot over. I'll go back in about 2 hours to check on her to see if the bleeding has slowed. If it hasn't, I'll have the vet right out. If the bleeding has stopped or slowed, I'll wait another two hours and then offer her some hay - she was happy to eat but chewing carefully before we took her hay away. Then we'll see what we've got. I've got a call in to Mike Fragale to see if he's still in our area and came come and look at her, if not I'll have our regular vet look at her and then perhaps take her to U. Wisconsin at Madison if dental work is required - I like our regular vets but don't trust them much for dental work.
Horses can get up to the most amazing things, can't they? I think she's going to be fine, but I'll be updating through the evening as I know more - stay tuned.