For The Love Of Horses

The weather here in California for the past few days has been incredible. Warm, sunny days. Cool crisp nights. It has cooled off so much that I have worn a flannel night-gown to bed the past few nights and been comfortable! What gives?!  According tot he internet there is a huge El Nino brewing that will rival the one we experienced in ’97. That is a little unsettling to hear since that particular  El Nino caused extreme flooding in our area and a lot of people were made homeless. Apparently the concept of a 100 year flood plain was lost on some contractors and they built a large housing tract on it…

Because the weather has been so mild I have really been wanting to get out and go riding but with all the responsibilities at home I have not been able to go. Yesterday my younger daughter took DriDri with her to go see her horses with my “adopted” daughter Emilee. We had to move three of ours to a friend’s ranch to help get the pasture at our ranch growing better so we don’t see them as often as we would like

Emilee is my oldest daughter’s best friend. she is also one of my kids, having moved in with us a couple of years after high school so she could be closer to work and get away from an extremely dysfunctional family. She loves horses and I have helped her to be a better rider and caregiver over the years until she finally felt confident enough to buy her own. Sedona was her heart and Emilee and she were a wonderful match.  About a year ago the mare coliced so badly that she had to be put down.  Em was devastated.  She took on another horse for a while but Dallas wasn’t her Sedona and so she gave him back and advertised on Craigslist that she needed a horse and could give it a good home but didn’t have a lot of money.

A lady contacted her about a rescue she had. Em went and looked at him and fell in love. Nakota is a HUGE Appaloosa with a big blanket and loud spots over his hips. He was very thin and his legs have scars from where the former owners had hobbled him constantly and left him to stand for days at a time.  She hasn’t ridden him yet as his weight is too low still  but so far he has been just wonderful with her and is helping her broken heart to heal.

Sierra and Em had a good time with the horses and right before they left they decided to feed them. All was well and they were packing up to go when Sierra noticed that Canyon, the mare she shares with her dad and now DriDri, stopped eating. She started lifting her head and curling her lip and she could hear gurgling. She called me immediately and as we were talking she began to panic because Canyon began to shake and tried to lay down. Horses only lay down for two reasons–to take a nap or because they are in extreme pain. I grabbed my keys and some flip-flops and ran out the door, telling her to keep her on her feet and to call a friend who is a vet.

I was deathly afraid Canyon was colicing. She has done it one other time and my friend just happened to catch it and saved her. It didn’t make sense to me that she would colic so quickly when she was just fine while the girls were working with her and giving DriDri pony rides. Sierra called me back and said the gurgling, which she had thought was the mare’s gut, was actually coming from her throat. Our vet friend couldn’t come out but he told her to press on the base of her throat, where Sierra could actually see a lump, to see if she could get her to cough. She wasn’t colicing she was choking!! Oh my God! I put the pedal down and flew.

By the time I got there they had the gates open and I had called the other vet we use, whose clinic ten minutes down the road, and told them we were coming. I am getting pretty damn good at hooking my truck up to the horse trailer and was hooked up and had her loaded and gone within 15 minutes of getting there. She looked better–Sierra had managed to move the obstruction with pressure–but we took her in any way. Sierra was in tears and Em took the baby so we didn’t have to worry about her and I drove as fast as I safely could to the vet.

I have to admit I really liked the young vet who examined Canyon. Pioneer Equine Clinic is a state-of-the-art horse facility with large indoor examination rooms and two operating rooms. They can handle pretty much any emergency or operation a horse needs. Anything they can’t handle goes to the University of Davis to the vet college and that is only as a last resort. Because they are so advanced at Pioneer they get a lot of young vets who are either just finished with school or who are in their last year and need some practical experience working with large animals. This young lady was one of the new ones and I was impressed with how thorough she was. She walked around Canyon and spent a lot of time with her, checking her gut sounds and breathing to make sure that she hadn’t aspirated anything and that she wasn’t coliced after all. She came over and told us everything she was doing and asked Sierra’s permission before she treated her.

We were very relieved to hear that she had pretty much passed the bolus of food she had choked on, and upon further examination we discovered that she needed her teeth floated. Horses’ molars are supposed to be smooth so they can grind their food down before swallowing, However, over time they can develop sharp points and these points can cause sores in their moths and interfere with how well they can masticate the food. Apparently Canyon’s teeth have gotten so bad that the food is going down whole and that is why she choked. To rectify this condition a vet needs to put a gag in her mouth and file down all those sharp edges so that she can grind her food up efficiently once again. We have made an appointment already with our vet friend to get it done next weekend. Meanwhile Canyon is once again back at our ranch in the front field with Sierra’s other horse, Kodi, where she can keep eyes on her and she can be on some good pasture with no hay for a few days.DSCF0955-002

Sierra paid for the vet visit herself. I have to admire my daughter. She works part-time at her job but manages to save money out of every check and she didn’t blink when she had to hand over almost $200 for peace of mind about her horse. (Her dad will be paying for Canyon’s teeth to get floated, however, since technically she is still his horse though he never rides her.)  She thanked me for coming out and taking her horse to the vet since she didn’t  have a truck to haul her with. I think I may have raised her right…

So I guess I won’t be riding this weekend. Canyon needs to rest and Sierra and she are my riding buddies. Kodi is not road-safe yet but we are working on her. So I will stay home and clean house and maybe even tackle the garage. O joy! But since the weather has been so phenomenal I’m thinking the garage may finally get cleaned!  Considering that we were once able to park a car in it and now I can barely get a scooter in there–yeah it’s time… (Oh yeah, and I think there is a quad hidden amongst the junk also…)

I know a few of us on here have horses. What was your scariest vet visit? Hopefully it turned out all right but either way how did you deal with it? Horses have a way of finding a big place in our hearts to occupy AND a big place in our wallet! I probably would have looked at Canyon, realized she had cleared the obstruction, and said “Eh, it’s a long ways from her heart” and just put her where I could watch her for a couple of days and made sure she didn’t have hay or anything chunky like carrots and apples to eat. But that’s just me and a cowboy-way of thinking–vets are for when the horse is actually dying or hurt worse than I can doctor myself. Every thing else can be fixed with vet wrap, Furacin, and time! Lol!  So when do you call the vet for your horses? Or your dogs or cats for that matter?

Since I have been caring for animals pretty much my whole life I am pretty good at doctoring without needing the vet. However if anyone wants to contribute I have set up a GoFundMe account to help one of my foster dogs who needs ear surgery. Hobo needs almost $500 in vet care because he was so neglected and frankly I just don’t have it. Share the link if you can. Thanks!