Here it is, the 22nd of December. Yesterday was the shortest day of the year, which means we are now climbing out of our dark, dreary, abysmal hole and headed into the light. Sure, it’ll be colder these next couple of months, but it will also be lighter! And light is good…
Right now at this very minute (8:40 am) it doesn’t appear very light. That’s because we’ve got a cloud cover about 17 miles thick and it’s raining cats and dogs outside. You can tell a native Washingtonian by the fact that they don’t seem to recognize that it’s raining until they’ve been out in it for a half hour or so. Because they don’t recognize the rain, they’re out there without umbrellas (those are for wimps) and hats (smarter people put them on.) After 30 minutes of chores, I was drenched. My hair had soaked up a gallon of rain water and it was dripping down my face and neck. At least I’d put on gloves and Darling’s boots (they’re the only rubber boots without holes.)
Last night my body ached like it hadn’t in a long time. My shoulders and arms were sore right down to the very core after moving and shuffling panels around in the paddock in an effort to create a chute from which to handle Firecracker. I’d started out in the morning by calling the vet, who called into the clinic to get a prescription for acepromozine, which is a relaxant. He gave me two doses, actually, in case the first didn’t work. “Give it to her orally, on some grain, and wait 5 minutes then see if you can get to the buckle on the halter. If it doesn’t work, then wait a couple of hours and use your best judgment in giving her a second dose. It doesn’t come without risks, so it’s your call on whether or not you want to do it.”
The risks are slowing the heart rate down, and of course if it goes too slow, the risk becomes death. Fun, eh?
The first dose went down the happy throat of a horse who normally doesn’t get a treat of alfalfa pellets at 1 in the afternoon. Five to ten minutes later I was trying to get to the buckle, but with no luck. Although I really couldn’t tell if she had slown down at all with the drug, I could tell when she perked back up as she was suddenly a bit more adamant that I wasn’t going to touch her near her face.
Round pen panels are six feet high and can be moved about easily by people stronger than me.
Rather than give the drug again later, I began setting up panels and made myself a narrow chute. My assistant photographer (aka Darling) wasn’t around, so I’m afraid the whole thing went undocumented. The chute, however, was wide enough at the front for the hay manger. Firecracker then fit neatly between the panels (she went in willingly enough with food as an offering) and I pulled them as close together as I could in the back so she couldn’t escape.
The first attempt didn’t work. She let me touch her all over, but when it came time to work at the buckle, she backed up as far as the panels would allow, and unfortunately there were 20 feet of panels which made it difficult to stay with her as she did this. After 30 or so minutes, I let her loose and decided to try again at dinner time. The second time around, things went better. I managed to figure out a way to make the back end of the chute narrower which prevented her from backing up more than a couple of feet. Since she couldn’t get out of my way by going backwards, she had the option of rearing and trying to go over the top.
Which she didn’t do.
Instead, she stood and ate her dinner while I got the buckle undone. As suspected, it was stuck to the wound on the other side of her head. It dropped off her nose, but was left dangling. I let her out of the chute and put the remainder of her dinner into her stall. I had two options: Grab hold of the halter and pull, or leave it like it was. I opted to leave it dangling, not wanting her to associate me with the pain that would no doubt accompany the pulling. I did go inside to grab the camera at that point so you could see what she looked like after the ordeal. I was amazed when I put the photo up on the computer screen, as in the dim evening light I hadn’t really been able to see the wound. The halter had rubbed right down to the flesh.
So today, in the dripping, dreary rain, I’ll be out there again, this time trying to get some anti-bacterial salve onto the wound. I’ll undoubtedly forget my hat and finish the job looking like a drowned rat.
The halter fell off overnight. Today I’ll need to doctor up the wound.
Read Full Post »