Wednesday, February 20, 2008

My Bad Day

It all started out warm and comfy, snuggled under the blankets, sleeping like a baby, then the door burst open and my out-of-breath husband says, "You are going to have to come and help me, we have a severely injured horse." Well this isn't unusual because I get awakened by this tone of voice regularly but it is usually announcing that we have a foal on the way or horses out.

It was still dark when I stumbled out of bed and went to the junk room where bandages, vet wrap and other medical supplies are kept, however the room had been recently rearranged by our youngest son trying to run an extension cord. So, it took me awhile to move a few boxes in order to find the things that were needed.

I usually get up slowly and in stages in the morning because of my back, I drag myself out of bed and make it to my computer chair and take a few pills to deaden the pain, then I sit there until I can stand upright and can actually walk. There was no time for that this morning, so I wasn't standing or walking upright.

Somehow, as it turns out the electric fence had been unplugged and something had broken a fence wire and drug it into the broodmare lot where the pregnant mares are awaiting their due dates. It could have been a deer, they tend to tear down most of our electric fences. The mares have to be kept in a dry lot or as it is now, a muddy lot, so that they have no access to fescue grass or hay. Fescue causes all kinds of foaling problems and since fescue is everywhere, the only answer is to put them in a lot with no grass and feed them only grain and hay without any fescue in it.

Morning is my beautiful black registered Tennessee Walker mare and she was the one who got the wire wrapped around her hind ankle. It is a very nasty injury, we brought her into the barn to look it over and she was unable to flex her foot forward, so we knew she had a damaged tendon, the cut was to the bone and all the way across the front of the leg and partially around the side and down. We wrapped a disposable diaper around the leg and then wrapped it tightly with vet wrap.

Morning is due to foal on March 12th, so we called the Vet and had him come down at his convenience, since we knew that he would not be able to do much with it. We have been through these types of injuries before. But we still wanted his opinion.

My husband had left for work and I was waiting for the Vet, when I heard our Stallion talking to the remaining three pregnant mares, who are just across the fence from him. There was a bit of squealing, so I went to check and he was in the lot with them. In the darkness my husband had thought that the wire had come from the other side of the pen, since fence was down on that side, but it was also down on the stallion side. So, I had to walk out there on the frozen, uneven mud to make sure there was not anymore wire in that lot and to see if anyone else had gotten injured.

I wrapped up the downed wire as best I could and made sure that the mares could not get out on either side and left the Stallion in with them because there was also wire on the ground on his side of the fence that I didn't want to deal with because I had a splitting headache.

In the mean time, my little Angel (the dog), had seen her chance to slip in the barn and grab some good stuff to chew on, so I had to chase her down and scold her. Then I fed the goats, chickens, dogs and cat and watered everything.

I finally made it back into the house to make me some coffee but then I heard the Vet coming down our driveway, so I bundled back up. Did I mention that it was 19º with a wind chill of -40º? Well, that is what it felt like!

Morning is a very nervous horse, who only likes my husband even though she is technically mine, her heart belongs to him. She does not like strangers at all and she really thought the Vet was stranger than most. The Vet said that anytime a tendon is damaged like her's is, it makes them panicky because they no longer have control of the foot or leg. But I told him that she was born panicky and this was just typical "Morning" behavior.

She had stood fairly quiet while my husband had wrapped her leg but she just knew that this man with the knife in his hand was going to amputate. He finally got the wrap off, but only because he is very good at what he does and has had a lot of practice with stupid horses.

Then he did horrible things to her poor leg, like rub the bone and pull the extensor tendon out to show me that it had been completely severed. He also said that she had grooved the bone in two places. He said that she would probably heal back alright, and that the injury was high up enough that she wasn't in much danger of getting infection in the ankle joint.

We have had these types of injuries before and they seem to heal up with just scarring to remind you that it ever even happened. It is the cuts on the back of the legs that usually make a horse lame for life.

So, then the Vet and I discussed and solved all of the world's problems before he attempted to rewrap her leg, we were doing pretty well with her until the horse-eating chickens came into the barn, then we had to regroup and try again, we finally got it wrapped. Then he gave me my instructions of changing the wrap daily and penicillin for 10 days, we had already given her a tetanus anti-toxin before he came.

After the Vet left I went back into the house to make me some coffee, but before I did, I looked out the window and seen that one of my goats was out of her pen. So, I bundled up again and made several failed attempts at getting her back into the pen. I won't go into how I finally accomplished it but I was ready for a rest when I was done.

I had just gotten back in the house and had taken off my several layers of warm clothing, when I started hearing a strange sound. I couldn't quite figure out what it was and then I thought that I had better go outside to check it out. As soon as I opened the door I knew I was in trouble because I had heard that sound before. I ran back in the house and bundled up as fast as I could and ran for my husband's persuader stick.

The two stallions had gotten together, there was still an electric fence between them but I was beginning to suspect that it wasn't on since they were both leaning on it to get at each other, but even if it was on, they wouldn't have cared at this point.

I have had this happen to me once before with two stallions when I was home alone, it was impossible for me to separate them by myself and they both ended up a bloody mess and one had a broken jaw before help arrived. We did get them separated but they never did decide who was King.

With that earlier incident in my mind, I just could not let them get through that fence now. I tried to catch the older stud that had been in with the pregnant mares earlier but he would not have it, all I could do was run them from one corner to the other corner and back again, over and over.

Finally, the older stud stopped and came to me and let me halter him and lead him back to the gate that held the mares. I looked at the fence that he had come through and it was still up, so he had to of just walked carefully through it because it wasn't on.

By this time, I was exhausted and so was he, he waited patiently while I tried to get the stupid gate open but the snaps that held the gate closed were frozen. I fumbled with them and banged on them for a long time, then tried to think of another way to get him back where he needed to be. Finally one of the snaps broke loose and I got the gate open.

By this time the sun had just barely thawed the top of the mud, so that it was still frozen hard but slippery. I was so thankful that he is such a good boy and so easy to handle because it took me a long time to walk him across that treacherous lot and back to his pen. After I made it through yet another gate, I walked him along his fence line fixing the wire as we went.

When we made it to his water trough, it was frozen and he started licking around on it, I started pushing on the ice to see if I could find a weak place that I might be able to break it, then just as easy as can be, he put a front foot through the ice and started drinking. I guess he didn't need my help after all.

I went back to the house to make me some coffee, then I thought that I had better take him some hay, so I grabbed a flake and went through the little gate that goes into the broodmare lot, I walked once more across that uneven, frozen and slippery broodmare lot to his fence and threw the hay over.

When I turned around, I saw that one of the mares who could barely walk on the frozen ground had made it to the little open gate and was now free as a bird. Boy, was I mad this time, she knew better than that! All horses can smell an open gate, I think that I need to get a grant and study this phenomenon. I spent the next 20 minutes trying to get her back in the lot. After she was safely back in place and the gate was securely fastened, I went to the house to make me some coffee.

That was when I noticed that the same goat that had gotten out earlier was out again, reminding me to go check to see why the fence didn't seem to be working. After using the same technique that I had used earlier to get the goat put back up. I walked up the hill to the fence charger and sure enough, it was not plugged in. No one knows how the charger got unplugged but it sure caused a lot of problems.

Everything seemed fine at this point and I thought that it might be safe to go inside, take off most of my layers of clothing and fix me some coffee and that is what I did, all except the coffee part, instead I just laid down on the bed and went to sleep. I did make some coffee when I woke up at about 2:00 in the afternoon.
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