dancing horses

dancing horses

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

The Good, the Bad and the Mystical

 About 10 days ago I had a vet appointment. The main goal was to get Carmen's teeth done. She has a bit of weird bite so needs it adjusted every 6 months or so. I also get both horses a booster. And I had one other thing I wanted advice on, but more on that later. 

First of all 'The Good': 

The vet was very impressed with Carmen's body condition. She liked her weight and muscle. She said that Carmen's back was the best she's ever seen. Carmen's teeth needed a little work but is wasn't dire. 

Her weight is good even with all the green grass


Now for 'The Bad':

Back in early summer I noticed a lump on Carmen's ear. She was mildly reactive to it and I assumed that it was a fly bite/sting or spider bite. But it never went away and I began to be curious. I took a photo of it to monitor it but it didn't really change. I decided to wait for the vet to come and ask her about it. In the meantime I also noticed another lump down by her muzzle. 

Both of us thought the same thing and I'm sure many of you are as well- that it was melanomas. As a gray horse it would not be surprising at all.  Both my vet and I like to have clear data so she decided to do a needle aspiration and send it off for analysis. 

The offending lump


The Mystical

Now Carmen is drugged for her teeth floating. She is not a cheap drunk at all- she requires a larger than expected dose of tranquilizers and she metabolizes it quickly. My vet says that she's seen that a lot in Andalusians (I joke that the Spanish can really hold their liquor).  

Carmen was not a fan of having a needle stuck in her ear lump and both the vet tech and I helped. My job was to scratch her favourite itchy spot to distract her. It didn't really work but the vet got some. She placed that on a slide and went back for another sample. Now the drugs are really wearing off and Carmen's decided that she's been very tolerant up to now but our quarter is up.  The vet tech takes her head and the vet gets in position. This time I didn't rub her wither. I made myself really still and put my hands on her shoulder. I breathed really quietly while I thought 'I am here with you'.  And with that, Carmen became totally still and didn't move while the vet took her sample. I don't know what made me do that but I swear she and I connected at that moment. 

Back to the Bad

I wanted to wait for the vet to call back before I wrote this post. I got that call today. 

It turns out that it's not a melanoma at all. It's a mast cell tumour. Which are really rare for horses- estimates about 2-7%. Largely benign, they can be invasive. 

We decided to remove them both and a date has been set for later in November (so the flies are gone). Unless it's starts to change and then it comes off sooner. 

Panicking? Who me? I'm not panicking, you're panicking. 

I am, of course, diving down the rabbit hole of research- sticking with science articles and not dr. google. I did request a research summary article from research gate. It asked me for my organization's name and I put in 'panicking owner of horse with mast cell tumour'. I'm sure that'll work. Right?  

I am also, of course, imagining the worse case scenario. Because it's on her ear the vet can't really take good margins. If it comes back then we'd need to go the vet college. 

possibly enough to get me through

If anyone has experience with a mast cell tumour in horses I'd appreciate some information. Unless it's bad, Just kidding. Sort of. 

The soul eating part of my brain is telling me that of course this happens now that things are going so well. I know that life doesn't work like that. But still.


just breathe



30 comments:

  1. Drink the wine and remember it's a horses goal in life to worry it's owner and cause said owner to spend $$...

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  2. Unfortunately, I don’t have any experience with it. I wish I did. That show is going to drop feeling is the worst. Maybe it’s natural to think that when things are going well, because I do the same. The best back they’ve ever seen is an amazing compliment!

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    1. Thank you. I should clarify that she meant Carmen’s back was the best she’s seen. I’m sure she’s seen better backs on other horses.

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  3. Grey horse troubles … Im watching every bump and funny spot like a British nanny watches a group of chocolate-eating 2 year olds in the parlor room covered in chintz. But, I have been trying to keep my eyes on the use of CBD oil on reducing tumour sizes in horses, much more research required.

    As for the mystical, Im not crying, youre crying. 😂

    Wine for the rescue!

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    1. I love that analogy. It’s true and hilarious.

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  4. I didn't even finish reading this post before I messaged you, but just in case anyone else ever finds your blog researching mast cell tumors in horses - I had a mare with a mast cell tumor on her lip removed. They got good margins, she recovered beyond my wildest expectations, and to my knowledge she never had another issue (I sold her about 6 years after the surgery with full medical record disclosure and am still in touch with her current owner). I am more than happy to discuss my experience (with an insane amount of photos) if anyone else has any questions. Find me via my blog or email lrstrid@gmail.com. hugs to you and Carmen ❤️

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  5. Hang in there. Sending positive thoughts for Carmen and for you as well.

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  6. Oh how stressful! I'm sorry you're dealing with this, and I hope all goes smoothly with having it removed.

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  7. Wine - definitely good to drink all the wine haha! I don’t know anything about mast cell tumors in horses, but have heard from vets that the tumors have different effects on different types of animals. My cat had one on his face for many years, altho I just had it removed this summer after he managed to scratch it badly then wouldn’t allow it to heal (despite weeks and weeks and WEEKS in the cone of shame….). So we cut it off. Probably even odds that it’ll grow back eventually, but my vet said there’s no real reason to be concerned. Tho she also said sometimes it can be different with dogs. So again, not sure what it means for horses… but. Hopefully it’s fine — and in the meantime, wine <3

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    1. My vet said very similar things. I’m more worried about the surgery on her ear.

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  8. I did the melanoma check on Phantom this weekend when I washed her tail... I get any odd lump looked at when she sees a vet and feel like a helicopter mom when I do. Lumps are so concerning to grey horse owners! The C word is always scary to hear, fingers crossed that you have some effective options for treatment.

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    1. Yes, I do regular checks as well. It’s good to be vigilant.

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  9. So sorry to hear this :( Sending virtual wine and hugs. Also good for you for getting checked, I know many who would ignore it.

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    1. Thank you. I was so sure that it was a bug bite at first. I'm glad I had it checked out and not just assumed it was a bit or a melanoma

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  10. The mystical is pretty cool! Hope the mast cell thing works out in a positive way.

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    1. Right? As I was doing it I was thinking the exact same thing!

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  11. Hang in there! Horse health stuff really gets us panicking. Hopefully you guys will have a successful removal and nothing else will happen. Internet hugs.

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    1. Thank you. You are right- we start to lose perspective.

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  12. Hang in there! Horse health stuff really gets us panicking. Hopefully you guys will have a successful removal and nothing else will happen. Internet hugs.

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  13. Oh man. I'm so sorry. I have no knowledge or experience, but I hope things go well for you.

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    1. Thank you. On another note- I loved the photo and you riding Nila. It was great to see her out and about.

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  14. Literally anyone would be panicking so does it help to know that your reaction is normal? I will say this, the interwebs will likely make you crazy looking up treatment plans and studies, but the fact that your vet is not telling your right away to go to the vet school I feel like is a good sign. If she thinks she can take it off right there at the farm, that is a good sign in my book. Good luck and sending positive vibes!

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    1. thank you for that! It does help a bit. I did get a lot of comfort looking at the vet research. And hearing from Leah.

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  15. Sorry I missed this post, I know its hard not to stress out about this but I'd leave it in the vets hands. I'm sure she will be just fine. I've had two grays and luckily they never got tumors. If the vet thinks she can take it out with no trouble at the farm, I think that's a good sign. Hang in there and good luck.

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  16. Just catching up now. I’ve no direct experience with horses, but our dog did just fine even after having one removed from a tricky place (in her knee). Sending lots of well wishes for you and Carmen.

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  17. Man, I am sorry I missed this. I do not have anything to share, but there is always something. I am glad that they could be removed. Use your grooming time to keep an eye out! Dang. Anywyay, y'all ARE connected. Not just in that moment. In that moment, you were just more in tune to it likely because it was intentional <3

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