Thursday, April 26, 2012

A video of horse trailering gone wrong

 Right now there is a video causing a huge uproar. It shows a woman, reportedly Cyndi Plasch, attempting to load a horse on a trailer using a wiffle ball bat. Apparently the horse is refusing to load, so her method for dealing with it means she beats on the horse's rear end with a wiffle ball bat. You can see the video here.

While it isn't unusual to use 'extensions of your arm' such as crops, lunge whips, and the like (sure, I guess even a wiffle ball bat if it works for you) to motivate a horse to get onto a trailer, this video illustrates how such items can be used inappropriately. Rather than pressing the bat against the horse's hind end, or gently tapping it, the woman is instead striking the horse as hard as she can.

There are two things wrong with this. First of all--there is no excuse for excessive force. The video description states that Animal Services says, "...that this would only be appropriate if the horse's life was in immediate danger, ie if you had to get the horse out of a burning barn."

And I completely agree with that. If it means life or death, then by all means, go ahead and wail on the horse's rear end with that bat. But that is certainly not the case here.

Second of all, you should never lose your cool when dealing with animals. When you lose your cool, you lose control of the situation. Everyone gets frustrated now and then when dealing with animals, but when  that happens, you should step away and take a deep breath. I sometimes get frustrated with Limerick when riding--some days, all she wants to do is spook, spook, spook. But when that happens, I ask her to do the one thing I know she can do sanely, and then I finish the ride. That's it.

The worst part of all is this: if that woman is indeed Cyndi Plasch, then that is a shame because she is a horse trainer. A horse trainer, of all people, should know better. A horse trainer, of all people, never lets his or her emotions get the better of them when dealing with horses.

And you know what? That includes being overtaken by love and tenderness, not just anger and frustration. There are people out there that believe the best way to "train" is to smother your horse with hugs, and that is also wrong. You need to walk that fine line and demand respect from your horse while also doling out affection in appropriate doses. That is how you earn your horse's trust, and how your horse earns yours.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Update on Limerick's chest

Her chest is doing great! The stitches came out on Friday, and there is now a small wound. It was about the size of a quarter on Friday (see photo) but is now the size of a nickel and getting ever smaller. I don't do anything other than spray scarlet oil on it once a day. She is also thankfully done with SMZs.

She was allowed in turnout on Saturday but overdid it (sigh) and came up lame, with a clearly inflamed extensor tendon on her LF. I wrapped her leg in a pillow standing wrap and gave her bute, with instructions for no turnout on Sunday. Sunday she was 99% better. What gives?

They say things come in threes, so perhaps that was number three. Gas colic, chest wound, minor tendon injury. Who knows--I am just glad she is okay now.

On Monday I was hand-grazing Limerick down at the grazing strip when a cop pulled someone over on the road in front of the property. You could see this from where we stood, and Limerick was quite alarmed by it, although I could hear nothing connected to the situation. She would held her head high, bits of grass sticking out of her mouth. After a moment she would throw her head down for a quick bite before lifting it high again to survey the scene. Finally she said phhhbbtttt! And with that, resumed grazing as if nothing unusual was happening. It cracked me up!

We stayed down there long enough to witness the same cop let car #1 go, do a U-turn back to his/her hiding spot, then pull a second a car over several moments later. Car #2 being pulled over was old hat to Lim, and she didn't pay it much mind.

Yesterday (Tuesday) she looked so good--her coat was aglow and her dapples are blooming more than ever. How can one horse appear so different from one day to the next? I had to wave a peppermint around and get a photo of her. Here she says, "Mom, are you going to give me that anytime soon?"

I love my girl!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Nasty chest wound

On Monday the 9th, I got a text that no horse owner wants to receive: Limerick has a bad injury and what vet should be called? I was packing up for the day when I received this, and I can tell you I've never left work faster!

I was picturing a horrific leg injury--broken bones, torn tendons, three-legged lameness. But when the message came through that it was a chest injury, a large part of me was relieved.

When I arrived, Limerick was calmly eating hay in her stall. She was also cribbing, which I found to be a good sign because cribbing employs the muscles along the neck and chest. The wound was ghastly but not bleeding profusely. As I waited for the vet and time passed, Limerick began to show signs of pain. She would periodically go into the corner of her stall and hang her head, then after about five minutes of this, go back to eating hay. Then five minutes later, back to the corner. I willed the vet to arrive quickly.

In the meantime I decided to get a photo of the wound. I was unhappy and worried, but at the same time I knew I would be taking photos of the injury as it healed, and would kick myself if I didn't get that initial shot. And so, in the name of learning, here are the photos.

Hour one--injury is a 4.5-5" flap of skin and tissue hanging loose to
create a 'bowl' with a depth of around 2".
I initially thought this was a bite, but later decided she likely
ran into something, possibly after being chased by another horse.

After debriding, suturing and insertion of a drain (white tube). 
Suturing time around 1 hour.
Penicillin procaine injections for the next six days. Vet instructed
to not touch or try to clean the wound until he re-examined it
in a couple days. No turnout, obviously.

One day after. Massive swelling extending up the shoulder 
and down the foreleg. Grade 4 lameness. Wound is healthy.
Limerick was depressed in the morning but frequent
trips to a patch of grass nearby lifted her spirits.

Two days after. Swelling has decreased, wound is still healthy.
LF foreleg has developed swelling, mainly along the inside
foreleg, cannon and knee.
Limerick shivered whenever she was brought out her stall
so she was covered with a fleece sheet for these excursions,
which helped tremendously!

Three days after--swelling further decreased. Vet checkup--drain
removed, wound is rinsed with diluted iodine. Grade 3 lameness--much better.
Begin cold-hosing for swollen leg.

Four days after--wound still healthy, continues to drain.

Five days after--wound looks great! Crusty bits from drainage--
won't attempt to remove until incision has healed further. Doesn't
bother Limerick otherwise. No discernible lameness at the walk.

I will update further when I can.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A moonlight ride

If there's one thing I love about spring and fall, it's the moonlight rides. When else can you begin your ride outside after work in the early evening with sun shadows and finish with moon shadows? When the sun is going down and the moon is coming up, and is soon bright and nearly-full or full?

Last night, at the end of my ride, I stood Limerick in the middle of the arena, facing away from the moon. Our moon shadows were crisp and dark, and above me the clouds had partially cleared to reveal starry skies and Jupiter. The cold was just biting enough--I had on my heavy winter coat and winter riding boots--and the wind blew hard enough to stand Limerick's mane straight up as we stood there. But it was perfect.

I reflected upon what a wonderful moment that was and wondered how many more times I would get to do that in my lifetime, and how many more times I would get to do it on Limerick's back. Hopefully countless more times, but you never truly know.

As we stood there, I also thought about how tiny and insignificant we were beneath the scope of the ever-revolving sky--the sun, moon, stars, and planets. And I realized it didn't matter. What matters is that you take the time to stop and savor moments like these. Enjoy life always, and never take the small things for granted...the spectacular show that is Mother Nature included.