One of my boarders has a horse named Monte. He is a beautiful Keiger Mustang, born in the Keiger Valley region of Southeastern Oregon. Several months ago, a small lump appeared on Monte’s right cheek. His owner and I thought he’d hit his cheek while rolling on a rock, and perhaps chipped the bone, causing the bone to form the lump. But the lump grew larger. Then a viscous fluid began dripping from his nose. All the while Monte didn’t appear to be in pain. We could rub the lump and he wouldn’t respond. He continued to eat and act normally.
His owner made an appointment with a large animal veterinarian. Fortunately, the woman doctor was available. She was able to get x-rays of the lump. She suspected that there was a cyst under the bone, but she needed to send the x-rays to OSU Veterinary School to confirm her diagnosis. When she left that day, she handed me a syringe loaded with a sedative. If OSU confirmed her diagnosis, she would return to perform a procedure, but before she would arrive, we were to inject Monte with the sedative and then call her.
OSU confirmed it was a cyst and the sinus cavity was infected.
It was a cool fall day, with gray clouds that threatened rain, when I injected the syringe of sedative into Monte’s neck muscle. It slowed him down, but when Dr. Kathy arrived he was still much too alert. Mustangs are tough and resilient and Monte came from wild stock. His instinct was to show no symptoms, because a sick mustang would attract predators. It took three injections to finally sedate Monte to the level the doctor could care for him.
I held his head up, so he wouldn’t lie down. The doctor took a large bore needle and inserted it through the bone, into the sinus cavity. She attached a syringe on the end of the needle and injected a medication that would kill the cellular coating on the inside of the cyst. This would safeguard against the return of the cyst. Then she attached a larger syringe on the end of the needle and began extracting the infection—close to 200 ccs, or a little more than one cup!
Monte quickly recovered from the ordeal. He will always have a lump, but it’s smaller now. Monte returned to happily grazing in his pasture. His eyes are bright and he looks and acts like he feels better.
If you have a horse, and you find a hard lump—even if your horse doesn’t show any other symptoms—call your veterinarian and have it checked out.
It took me several days to recover from holding up Monte’s head. My shoulder and arms still ache. After a little research, I discovered that a horse’s head is ten percent of his body weight—that means I held up 100 pounds for an hour.