Tuesday, June 16, 2009

OUCH: The Hick Chic Guide to Calling the Vet on a Lovely Sunday Evening...


When you are responsible for keeping horses in captivity, you simply CANNOT BE TOO CAREFUL.

The day after my victorious Instructor's Exam, we visited the farm for Tribble's belated birthday pizza.  While my mom was in town picking up the goodies, I gathered up the horses for a quick ride.  I tied the Little Lady to the barn while I hopped on Phoenix for a bareback-hackamore trip around the corral.  When I came back ten minutes later, the mare had managed to slice open her forehead on some sneaky sharp object sticking out of the barn wall.  

Needless to say, I feel like a very bad horse owner.  I know from experience that every winter, the barn boards shift and nails often work their way loose.  I usually go around with the hammer and pound in anything I find.  I didn't do it this year.  And now look at this.  She's in pain, and it's going to cost me a good chunk of money to get her healed up.  There's no option; an injury like this is way beyond what I'm trained for, or willing to work on.  She didn't want me anywhere near it though, so I didn't realize at first how bad it was. I reached for my First Aid kit and quickly dusted it with a coagulant to try and dry up the bleeding until I could get a better look at it.  

After supper I went out to check on her, and what I saw was not good.  The cut was bleeding because of its location. Every time she swiveled her ear, which for a horse is constantly, the cut would open and close.  By this time it had been about an hour since the injury and I could see how deep it was.  I called the vet.  

I'm going to admit here that I hesitated to call... an after-hours vet call is really expensive.  Horses don't plan around vet hours.  At least she had me there to take care of it, rather than leaving my Dad to make any decisions. I agonized over spending potentially hundreds of dollars I don't have, and called anyways.  I'll find the money somewhere.  I'll dig up some riding students.  I'll sell something.  She's worth it.

When Glen got there, I had both horses tied at the barn wall.  This is after I'd sent Bucky out there with my hammer and said, "Find anything sharp, get mad at it for possibly cutting up your beloved little horse, and pound the crap out of it, until it's embedded permanently in the barn wall."  Let's just say there are a lot of hammer dents in the wood now.

I told Glen I wanted to skip the fartin' around and just sedate her right away to avoid as much trauma as possible.  He said it's the only way he does things now.  He went up and gave her a friendly pat on the neck and stuck that needle in before she even felt it.

Soon she was drooping her head and twitching.  I untied her lead rope and held her head while Glen needled the wound to freeze it.  He got busy scrubbing the nasty cut.  I told my kids they didn't have to get right close and see it all, but I did encourage them to hang around and be aware of the process.  They're old enough.  (Tribble took the pictures when the whole thing was done.)

Bucky stood by playing with Phoenix's bottom lip and telling us he'd seen more gruesome stuff than this.

"Really?" I asked.  "You've really seen worse than this?  In real life?  Really?"

He thought about it.  Then shrugged.  "Nah.  I guess this is the worst."

Tribble chose to back off but Bucky was right in there as Glen cleaned and irrigated, then cut the jagged edges cleanly and stitched it closed with his curved needle and clamps.  I got my jar of "Swat" which repels flies and dabbed it on while she was still in a state of not giving a crap.

Just for prevention I put some under her eyes too.  She usually wears a fly mask but I doubt she'll want it on for the next week.  

Now I'll admit that I'm not only a bad horse owner for letting this happen, but I'm a bad person in general because... because... I think horses are... please don't hate me...  I think horses are funny when they're stoned.

But come on, wouldn't you?  The flappy lips, sideways ears?  The way they stand there with all four legs splayed out?  I mean, yes, it's pathetic, but it's also comical... I'm sorry, I really am.  I feel awful about it, especially considering why a horse ends up in this state, but geez man, if you've seen it, you know what I mean.  And now I feel really super awful about taking pics and posting them.  (It's honestly for the sake of a cautionary tale.  Don't let this happen to you!) 

I'll tell you what's really sad though:  some horses really are at their most manageable when they're like this.  Glen said he's worked on some horses whose owners quick go untangle manes or some other maintenance before the drug wears off.  I can't help but wonder why they even have that horse if they can't get close enough to it to take regular care of it.  

It takes about an hour to wear off.  As she started to snap out of it, I brushed her face with a soft brush to soothe her.  I just felt so sorry for the poor little thing.  She has the finest softest coat I've ever seen on a horse.  She can be scuffed and skinned so easily, but luckily she heals fast too.  
I kept on eye on her while she came back to life.  Phoenix stayed tied up so he wouldn't harass her.  I let her stay near the barn, slowly waking up.  

She had a clammy sweat under her fur so I threw a sheet over her until she was okay again.  Once she perked up a bit I offered her some water.  We still had to wait another hour to feed her, to avoid the chance of choking.  

Feeding has been a whole other thing, since her anti-biotic tablets have to be crushed and mixed with her feed, to trick her into eating them.  She knows, darnit, and she's a picky eater, so Mom and Dad have been trying everything to sneak her medication into her.  Strawberry jam, apples and brown sugar, Aunt Jemima pancake syrup; so far she prefers strawberry jam but ate the grain around the apple chunks.  She won't eat apples.  Strange.  We've got a few more ideas and I do hope she takes them and doesn't get any infection.  If I was there with her, I'd just jam a needle full of penicillin into her buttocks and call it a day. I've done it before, I could do it again if I had to.  Dad would rather not.  He's sort of retired from needle duty now that he's not a working farmer anymore.  Besides, she's tiny, but she's a heck of a lot bigger than a piglet.  

I really hated leaving that evening, but I know she's in the good, caring hands of my parents.  We've got good vets.  Glen was the guy who took her case when she was a scrawny yearling with a fractured hind leg.  I'll be making an appointment for him to remove the stitches in three weeks.   And, I'll be back for a few visits to see how she's doing, and slather more of that pink bug repellant on her speckled face.  Until then, I totally trust that she'll be well taken care of.  And that Phoenix will be partially pink from her rubbing her face on him.  
Oh, poor sad little horse!  Mom called to say she's acting normal and not shaking her head anymore, so we assume it doesn't hurt like it did. But I beg all of you horse owners out there: please go out and check your horse's home for sharp things!  It's a bit of work now that can save you a lot of pain and money later!  And if you horse does get hurt, and it's more than you can handle, call your vet.  I hope yours are as good as mine. 


dilling said...

my kitten once jumped on the counter, proceeded to throw, push, bat or play, an old toothpick thing down that i had used to check a cake/crumble with, and apparently, played with it until she fricking put the point of it into her eye... oh, my guilt.

Cowgirl Rae said...

Oh I feel your pain......

I had a paint filly slice and scalp her face on a smooth woven wire fence, on a late sunday afternoon.... yeah, the off duty vet call was bad.

Leave it to a horse to self destruct for no apparent reason.

PS she healed up just fine.

Paul Tee said...

I can't believe how fashion conscious you've become now that you're an instructress. Even the medication has to match your T.

coffeypot said...

I bet in horse-speak she would have been like Bill Cosby doing his going to the dentist routine. As for the meds, why can't you stick a water hose down her throat and blowing the pill down her gullet? Just make sure she doesn’t cough just as you put your mouth on the hose to blow the pill.

Heidi the Hick said...

Coffeypot, I'm glad she can't speak english. I'd have lost it for sure.

Paul, image is everything. Hee hee...
No, I didn't plan the co-ordinating T-shirt/ointment combo. You think that's bad, apparently Phoenix has pink spots all over his body now. How embarrassing eh?

Cowgirl, I am glad to hear she healed up fine. It's terrifying - you get to the point that you're sure every surface a horse comes in contact with is potentially fatal!

Dilling, I am now scared of toothpicks. Did she end up okay??

Astaryth said...

Two thoughts:One, the first guy I ever worked horses for used to tell me that horses were born to self-destruct, and if you had 10 acres of fencing and one nail sticking out, not only would the horse find that nail, but would cut itself in the worst possible place. ;p

Second thing... come on, we -all- laugh at them when they are sedated. AND, make fun of them. They are so funny, and we do it out of love... :)

Heidi the Hick said...

I can honestly say that makes me feel better!!

Biddie said...

I know all too well about after hours vets...I still owe a bit for Ruby!
I would laugh at the stoned horse, too..or cat, or dog, or whatever. Still, I'm glad that you took care of the pointy thingy. :)

Cowgirl Rae said...

OK, I posted my filly's adventure, check it out and see for yourself....it will heal, and thank God for hair.

.... as she walks away shaking her head......

chamoiswillow said...

Try crushing or dissolving the pills, then mixing them into molasses and drizzling it over her grain. The molasses is strong enough to mask the taste. You can crush them in a mortar & pestle or coffee grinder. If you have neither, soak them over night, starting in hot water, that will dissolve even the toughest pill. My mare (pictured) managed to tear her eyelid almost all the way off on the end of her water bucket's handle. That was a stitch job for ya. Two weeks before she was due to foal. I feel like I angered the veterinary gods when the vet had come out two weeks prior to the eyelid incident for her shots, and I said "see you in a month!" meaning when the foal was born...They (the veterinary gods) chose to smite me for my arrogance!

marsh to the fore said...

One time I was in the kitchen doing dishes and happened to look outside and Plato was standing there grinning as doggies will do and I looked at him and something didn't look right but I couldn't figure out what.

A couple of hours later, A COUPLE OF HOURS LATER, my son Glenn saw him and yelled and said one of his ears was chopped off a good inch at the top!

The dogs next door did it and I didn't even see it. Talk about guilt. It must have been hurting.
The level of stupidity...unbelievable.

Lynn Sinclair said...

Hell of a day for you! Glad she's okay.

Real Live Lesbian said...

Poor girl! At least you found the meds in a pretty pink color. AND all animals are funny stoned. ;)

Trailboss said...

I have to admit that I too find it funny when they are stoned. My mare has to have a shot then she is shod. The farrier is weaning her off of it and she is getting a lot better. Still it's funny. I remember taking a horse to have his teeth floated and while he was stoned the vet removed a HUGE pebble thingy from his penis. It's not called a pebble, I just can't remember what it is called! He peed so much better after that. Poor baby had probably not had it removed in years if ever.