Sunday, March 15, 2009

Wacky Weekend

"Every decision you've made has brought us from bad to worse!"
Koehler (Treva Etienne) to Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush)
"Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl

Anyone who doesn't think God has a warped sense of humor never had a weekend like the one I had. Every decision I made, everything I tried to do with the very best of intentions, just made it worse.

You'll either find this story amusing, or you'll be validated in the opinion that idiots like me shouldn't have horses. Believe me, there was a point last night at which I thought the same thing. In any case, please be kind. It was a really bad weekend. I found out more things I don't know, and more things I really suck at.

It has been cold and rainy since last Wednesday or Thursday, and was raining yesterday morning when I got up at 6 a.m. By the time it got light, Mike got up, and I decided to throw the Boyz some hay, shoot some video, and give them a bucket of warm Gatorade. The photo below illustrates how drenched they were. The only time Poco's mane lays down like that is when it's really wet. You can see the water running down his belly.

I should have known something was wrong when I walked out with buckets and Jaz didn't move from his spot close to the dry creek bed. Poco had already started sucking up his Gatorade, but still Jaz stood there. Mike was on the back patio, cleaning the dogs' muddy paws, when he yelled, "He's not putting any weight on one of his back legs." Well CRUD.

Carrying his bucket, I slogged thought the quagmire, and sure enough, he's holding up his left hind leg and wouldn't put weight on it. He was soaked to the skin and shivering, mud up over his hooves.
It was all I could do to keep my boots from being sucked off. There's no telling how long he had been standing there.

The pastern and hock were warm and swollen, but he didn't mind me messing with it, as he chugged his Gatorade. I rotated the joint, felt around for any signs of breakage, but found none. His hoof was packed with mud, so I yelled to Mike to get a blanket, while I grabbed a halter, lead, hoof pick, a pocketful of cookies, and a flake of hay. I picked his hoof, which looked fine to me except the very tip of his frog was pulled away. My untrained eyes saw nothing. Can you tell that's important to remember for later? I poked and prodded; he didn't object, but I couldn't get him to take even a single step. We blanketed him and he munched his hay.

Made several trips back and forth from the woods to the house to grab my phone, more clothing, and various implements. Every time I did, Poco walked down from the shed and pushed Jaz out of the way for his meager flake of hay. Never mind that he had 2 of his own. Talk about hitting a guy when he's down.

It may have been about this time when, not just the day, but the entire weekend began to careen out of control.

No amount of cookies and coaxing could persuade Jaz to take even one step.
Called the vet, who could not be there for several hours. All I had was Banamine. Vet said go ahead and give it to take the edge off the pain. That made him willing to make the trek over to the run-in shed, which we made one slooow step at a time. He was downright loopy, in the same way sloppy drunks are: "I love you, man. No, I really mean it — I love you, man!"

This picture was taken standing in front of the run-in shed. The arrow is pointing to the hay I took out for him. That's how far I had to get him to walk. It felt like a very long way.

Made a makeshift stall. Poco says, how come HE gets to be in there with all that hay? What about me? The ears say it all.

I couldn't feel my feet in my muck boots. Jaz was resting comfortably from the Banamine.

I came inside to warm up and wait for the vet. Made some soup, which ended up being the only thing I had to eat all day except for a couple handfuls of dry Cheerios before I fell into bed last night.

Vet finally made it around 1 p.m. After telling me Jaz has arthritis in both back legs (we'll deal with it later), he numbed the foot and started digging around. White line disease. Deep abcess. The lifted bit of frog was nothing and was trimmed.
He couldn't get all the way to it, although he had carved out a crater about 2-3 inches long and a half inch or more deep. He said he wasn't surprised because of the weather. He showed me the black hairline on the inside wall of ALL of his hooves. I have always known Jaz's feet had been an issue in the past, but they have been great since he's been here. I did not know the signs I should have been looking for.

He showed me how to use the knife, but I will leave that to a pro so I don't kill myself or my horse. Seriously, me and sharp objects — uh-uh. As deep as he had to go, I'm not willing to mess with something that important. He said after it's under control, a hoof pick should do fine, now that I know what I'm dealing with. He also showed me how to pack the crater full of ichthammol and bandage it. Jaz gets Bute once a day for the next 2-3 days, then we'll see. First outflux of money.

Vet told me to get a boot and rolled cotton. Jaz was still resting quietly, so I jumped in my truck and headed to Paul Taylor for supplies. If there's an economic downturn, it is not evident at Paul Taylor's. I had to squirrel my way in the parking lot and park at one of the residences. The store was packed. Lydia and Sarah couldn't cash people out fast enough. A guy helped me. He waited on me once before and I have avoided him since. I don't know if he's part of the family or he just works there, but I don't like him. He treats me like I'm an idiot and seems to go out of his way to not be helpful. I am an idiot, but there's no excuse for treating a customer like that. I told him a I needed a treatment boot and he asked what size. He says it goes by shoe size. I say my horse doesn't wear shoes, but I have both measured his foot and done a tracing. He actually sneered.

I told him I needed rolled cotton and he handed it to me. It was only later I found out this was the cheap kind with no gauze coating, but he, of course, never mentioned an alternative. I had also completely forgotten I needed Source and daily wormer. Second outflux of money, almost as much as the vet.

When I got back, Jaz was still munching contentedly, while his buddy hung out doing the same. I decided to wait until later to redo his packing and came inside to chill. Walked by the dining room window a while later and there's Jaz.

I put my boots on, and caught him, but he would have no part of it. His soft bandage was soaked with mud, so I tied him to the hitching post and removed it. He was very nervous and I soon found out why. Some MORON was shooting, way closer than I have ever heard it before and it was getting closer. This wasn't hunting, this was playing. When there was a lull, I yelled as loudly as I could, "PLEASE STOP SHOOTING!" several times. It continued. So here I am trying to work on an injured HIND foot, trying to remain calm and calm my understandably wigged horse. Still it continued, and I was not feeling safe at all. I called 911 and went back to working on Jaz.

BTW, you know how he got out? Put his head under the lead rope and just let it go down his neck and off his back as he walked out. Monkey!

Here is where I found out that I really suck at doctoring. I cleaned it, repacked it and could not get that bloody boot on. That rolled cotton crap is nasty. I mangled the dressing and had to start over. By this time, there are no less than 3 cop cars coming down my driveway. As I was talking to them, I struggled with that boot the whole time. I finally got it on, then couldn't figure out the buckle. Finally got it. Shooting stopped.

Put Little Man back in the shed and he immediately started dancing, pushing against the lead ropes. He was trying to bang the boot from his foot. Wouldn't settle down. I sat with him, and that placated him for awhile, but he wanted his buddy, who by this time had eaten so much hay, all he wanted was a siesta. Jaz would not be contained.

I called Nita, and she said I should bring him up there. They are on foal watch and said they'd stick him in a real stall and take care of him. That meant I'd either need to take both of them up there, or bring a horse back. Poco would be beside himself alone. I knew they would both be happier together. This is also a good excuse to give the poor, decimated land a break. I couldn't get my trailer out of the mud (another lesson learned), so we decided I'd go up there, pick up Nita, bring their trailer down, and we'd take the Boyz back up. I couldn't find the blasted trailer hitch and didn't want to wake Mike, who is working nights. So I drove up anyway and borrowed theirs.

I had been freaked out, going on and on to Nita on the phone. She listened, and when she could finally get a word in edgewise, she said, "You know, we've done this before a few times." Driving up there, the silence was broken with my out-loud laughter. I was able to relax, if only for the length of the drive.

We got back here and Nita navigated to get us in a good place where we wouldn't get mired. We scraped bottom, but that's not unusual. I paid no attention to it. Can you tell that's important to note for later?

I had no idea what time it was, but it proved to be too late to load wiggy horses into an unfamiliar trailer as darkness was falling fast.
Their trailer is a standard divided trailer; mine is a wide, open stock trailer. I have a huge bruise on my arm and a goose egg on my head from not letting go fast enough and getting my head slammed into the window frame. I had been perched on a fender with my head in, trying to lure Poco with food. They had done nothing else but eat all day, so they couldn't be bought. After about an hour and a half, we had to call it off due to darkness. No way those Boyz were going to walk into that strange, narrow, dark cave. Nita's husband came and got her and I left my SUV and the trailer sit where they were, ready to try again this morning.

As I was bringing the supplies back to the house, the giant white plastic bag I was carrying spooked the horses in the dark and they took off into the mud. I cringed, thinking that was the last of the boot and we'd be at square one in the morning.

I could have used a shower, but I collapsed in bed around 9:30 p.m. I was so exhausted, my body felt like it was vibrating. I didn't sleep as well as I should have. I was not looking forward to the battle of trying to get those two into that narrow trailer.

Since nothing happened that was supposed to yesterday, and I couldn't sleep anyway, I got up well before 6 a.m., and started doing laundry. Caught sight of the Boyz and wonder of wonders, the boot had stayed on!

I had to vacuum because Mike, the dogs, and myself, had made this place a muddy mess, with hay everywhere. Mike came home from work and found the ground had dried out enough to get my trailer out! He hooked it up to his truck and went to bed.

Vet called and asked if Jaz is putting weight on his foot. Uh, yeah, and then some. Told him about the plan to take the Boyz up to Heather's. He is also their vet, so he knows Jaz is in good hands. Got hold of the farrier, who was stunned, since he had just seen Jaz 3 weeks ago and his feet had been fine. He's also their farrier, so I can have him come sometime the week of the 23rd to trim him and scrape out the nastiness, and I won't have to be there.

Feeling unwarranted confidence, I decided not to wait for Nita. I transferred stuff from my truck to Mike's. I pushed a bale of hay to the front of the trailer to both tempt them and keep them busy. I also attached a bucket of grain to each of the clips as an added incentive. I didn't feed them, so all they had was the hay in the loafing shed. Poco hesitated, but his stomach won in the end. Jaz was a pain in the ass. After about 40 minutes, I still couldn't get him to step in. He was standing really close to the entrance because he wanted to be near Poco, so I pulled the lead rope in and tied it to the frame. I got my stick and, standing to the side and slightly behind him, gave him 3-4 light, rhythmic taps on the butt and he hopped in and stayed in! By this time, Poco had eaten all his grain and Jaz's as well. Piled 3 more bales of hay in behind them and we were off!

Got up there and had a flat tire on my trailer! Unhitched and left it where it was in the middle of their driveway, and hopefully Jason won't be too ticked off at having to fix it. At least I have a spare. By the time the Boyz were settled, it was going on 3 p.m. Got back here and decided to park and unhitch their trailer and return it later. They have mine, so no big deal.

I suck at backing the trailer, but finally got it to an acceptable place and saw this when I went to unhitch.

Even though Nita said they knew it was already bent (it is actually broken now) and it needed to be fixed, we will still pay to have it fixed. Mr. Fry says that's how guys do things. Third outflux of money.

It was well past 5 p.m. once I got everything put away and came inside, glad that it was all over. But God's joke continued. I dumped a whole bottle of water on my nightstand and one of the lightbulbs over my sink exploded.

I've had enough. I'm going to bed with a couple of Tylenol PMs before anything else happens. I need to go back to work just to get some rest.


Nuzzling Muzzles said...

What a nightmare! I feel for you. It seems I get more than my fair share of days like that. Just when you don't need anymore stress or problems, you get dumped on. I hope things improve for you soon.

Paint Girl said...

I am so sorry to hear about you terrible weekend! Things do seems to come in bunches, especially when you don't need them too.
I had to deal with my first ever hoof abcess last year. It was a long process but I learned so much. Now I will know what to do the next time that happens.
Take care of yourself and I hope Jaz is feeling better soon!

manymisadventures said...

Yikes, sounds like a harrowing weekend! Make yourself a cup of tea (or something stronger? ;)!

Hopefully things will settle down a little. Whew, I'm stressed out just reading the post.

RoSe said...

My thoughts are with you my friend, hang in there.

cdncowgirl said...

Wow that definately sounds like a crappy weekend. Just think though, you MUST have some good luck coming your way now!
*jingles for Jaz*

Mrs. Mom said...

OK Leah- Breathe deep, relax, and take a good look around you.
1) Jazz Is OK.
2) Stinker Man Compadre Is OK
3) YOU Are OK! ;)

You did fine. And that clerk at the store? I'd have given him holy what for about that freaking 'Tude of his.

You are NOT an idiot already! Sheesh... ;)

Those Davis boots are fantastic to have on hand. And they stay on really well too!

Ol Jazz ought to be right as rain soon for you. Since your hoof guy just checked Jazz three weeks ago and saw no sign of the WLD, I'd be thinking that it is not a *true* case of it, and that there is just some minor hoof wall issue going on thanks to your wet weather of late.

Chin up!! It will all work out OK!!

Leah Fry said...

Thanks, everyone. The same thing kind of happened when the little toot colicked last year -- I did not recognize the early symptoms. It was not until he was rolling, twisting and sweating, and exhibiting classic symptoms that it was obvious to me.

That was an adventure too, since it was arguably the yukkiest night of last winter and of course, my vet was out of town.

The good news is, when either of these things happens again -- and one of them surely WILL -- I will know what it is and what to do.

cowgirljlynn said...

Boy, what a weekend! Hope your week goes better!

Alex said...

Sounds a lot like my weekend. But, throw in a 7th birthday party and a skunk. sigh. I hope it gets better for you, i keep telling myself my luck is bound to of these days!

Anonymous said...

yup.. i'm the consummate "plan maker" and yup the corollary to that is if you want to watch G-d laugh, have a plan

I too suck at reversing a trailer :) Me thinks you've earned the glass of cognac award for the week

gp in mt

Blackfeatherfarm said...

Oh my goodness, I had to laugh, now that its over. I can attest to the fact that god most assuredly has a wicked sense of humor. I am always cautious how and what I ask for, with a couple of conditions along the way, as I have learned getting what you ask for, doesn't always come how you envisioned it. So you are so right about that.
I actually appreciate your story as I guess I'm in the idiot category too, not a long time experienced horse owner. If there is ever any problem with my animals it is ALWAYS on a weekend at night. If it is raining, freezing or snowing, that is always the cherry on the horrid sundae.
Bless your heart, hang in there, me thinks you did just fine. Give that snotty store clerk a sneer from me.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Oh my goodness! How awful! I feel for you. Sounds like Friday the 13th just extended into your weekend. Yikes!

Under the circumstances it sounds like you handled things really well. I would have been a mess worying about my horse's foot and probably caused more problems and stress.
I hope Jazz's foot heals well and it isn't as serious as the vet first thought.
You are very lucky to have such a good friend as Nita and her husband Jason, too.

Hang in sound like you could use the Do-Over Button. lol!


word verification: brounco


ezra_pandora said...

Oh my gosh. You definitely got everyone's share of bad luck in this situation. Just hop in bed and pull the covers over your head!! They say bad things come in threes, but you must have gone a long time without to get THAT many things!!

I hope your poor Jaz is feeling better and it's a speedy recovery. I've never had to deal with abscess' but I hope your farrier helps a lot.

C-ingspots said...

Holy crap Leah!! So glad you had those tylenol pms - but next time take them with a glass of wine and a soak in the tub. You did fine - under those extraordinary circumstances dear!! Anyone would have been stressed and probably plain old-fashioned pissed off more likely. Remember to take deep breaths, cuss like a sailor and do what needs to be done. Next time, you'll handle things even more smoothly. In place of that rolled cotton, you can also use feminine pads - they cushion the foot and keep the medicine in place in between soakings. And instead of the icthamol, you can use table sugar and betadine solution mixed together to form a paste. Works even better than the black junk and generic betadine is cheap by the gallon. I would not advise anyone inexperienced using a knife on their horse's foot sole. Leave that to the vets - sometimes I don't even trust the horseshoer unless he/she really knows what they're doing. There's this stuff called white lightening that can be purchased at farrier supply stores that works great for white line disease. This kind of thing can happen to anybody and usually does when you least expect it. Hang in there little buddy - this too shall pass!!
In the meantime, prepare for the unexpected and put together a first aid kit.

Anonymous said...

Oh, man, what a weekend. When it rains, it pours.

I, like you, also have my horses out 24/7 with access to run-ins. I've often wondered what the heck I would do if one of them needed stall rest. I just don't have the facilities to lock them inside if needed. I prefer them out. I would probably have done what you did...shipped the injured one off to a barn for stall rest.

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