And we’re back!!!
A few of you eagle eye-d people may have noticed (or caught up on the news) that the summer for Stanley and I has been extremely quiet! Although I have been lucky enough to ride a friend’s lovely mare on and off I have missed my black beauty. The only blessing is that I have for once avoided the crazy tan lines associated with non-stop summer horse riding!
The start of the year I noticed a lump on Stanley’s jaw that was seemingly getting bigger. After discussions with the vet and a good prod and poke, it was decided as it was totally painless and caused no issue with his eating or riding. We would leave investigations until after the national championships as this was a huge goal that we had worked really hard for. Looking back, I have a feeling that the vet had a bad feeling about the lump as it had a very concerning look on x-ray and he wanted us to go out and enjoy our moment before we had to deal with any ‘news’.
After our amazing time at the nationals and being placed 5th in a really strong class, we returned home and the vet came to do some biopsies and sent the samples off to the lab for testing. Once the bone was drilled into and the biopsy needle put in place it was clear that what looked like sheets of bone on the X-ray were in fact soft and lots of thick serous liquid came out of the hole. It was difficult to find anything to sample and unfortunately the results came back inconclusive. So, plan 2 sprang into action and we found ourselves on the way to see Tom Hughes at The Liphook Equine Hospital. It was a concerning time for us – after losing Mum so suddenly, Stanley has been our main drive and reason to keep going – having him in an unknown situation was tougher than I thought. Our horses really do become family members and its horrible when they are in a situation taken out of our control. Luckily at Liphook we were met with nothing but professionalism and no one was phased even by my list of 5000 questions!
Stanley went off to have a CT scan and then Tom took us to his office to look at the images and discuss the findings – relief, the lump didn’t look like cancer but instead was a fluid filled cyst which was forcing the bone out of its natural shape. PHEW. Then came random questions – ‘has Stanley been headshaking? Itching his head? Rearing? – I thought they were bizarre questions but I answered ‘Nothing’ as was the case. The scans further revealed that Stan has very distorted anatomy on the left side of his head, his sinus had not formed properly and had no natural drainage system so he had a head full of fluid! It just makes me appreciate what a fabulously kind horse he is – to have achieved everything he has without making a fuss. Luckily Tom was sure he would be able to do something about this so it was decided Stanley would stay at Liphook and have surgery the next day – he had a great time getting 24 hour pampering by all the lovely vet nurses and yard staff.
I have never felt more relieved to have the phone call from the Vet to say he was out of surgery and they had done everything that was required. The cyst was removed through a hole the size of a 50p and the lining sent to histology just to check it was nothing nasty (and it wasn’t, phew!). They managed to do a standard sinus operation at the same time and made a new pathway to his nose – his anatomy will never be the same as a ‘normal’ horse, but it works for him, isn’t harmful and causes no issue. Now hopefully without a fluid filled head he won’t have a headache either.
A couple of months of regular dressing changes, keeping it clean and lots of field rest, both wounds healed up well. The bony lump around the cyst had reacted to the surgery and got substantially bigger but this has already started to remodel and is half the size four months on. The vets aren’t aware if it will ever return to normal but there is hope that it will continue reducing in size. He has been back in work for two months now and feels absolutely fabulous. He has been for another CT and check-up at Liphook and the vets are thrilled, the sinus is draining normally and the cyst has not reformed in his jaw – the teeth stayed put and bone is forming round the roots, so they look safely stuck in place! The vets discussed the case and all agreed that as neither issue is causing any problems and shouldn’t ever raise its ugly head again we have a vet letter with the full go ahead to push on now - although we will go for regular check-ups just to check.
I can’t thank Tom Hughes enough for stepping out of his comfort zone and along with advice from others fixing an issue which none of them had ever seen before. Thank you to everyone who has sent such lovely and kind messages asking how he is getting on in his time off. But also, a HUGE thank you to Will and the whole British Horse Feeds team for their continued support while we have been side-lined and also providing a feed Stanley found so palatable after surgery on his jaw; he didn’t lose any condition at all, and that has been beneficial in being able to get him back to work so quickly.
Our top hat and tails dream is still in sight and I couldn’t be happier to have my dancing partner back. I thank my lucky stars that this detour in our journey has ended as well as it could of – I am aware not everyone is so lucky. So, remember to smile and enjoy each moment you get to experience the thrills and freedom that our lovely horses give us.
Onwards And Upwards Now!
Hannah & Stan