A trip to the vet’s
This morning, as usual, I let Chance, Beauty, Huey, Lucy, Roxanna, and Zola loose to go to the big field. This, for those who don’t know, is unfenced on 3 sides, so I check on them periodically to see what they’re doing. Around 8 or 8:30 I looked out to see Chance lying down. This was highly unusual, as it was a dark, windy day with what appeared to be rain clouds overhead. Not the normal napping day. In addition, after only a couple hours the horses are still usually into eating that lush grass!
My first thought was colic, and I watched intently for several minutes, but he seemed perfectly calm and quiet, and his ears were up. A few minutes later he got up and started grazing. The next time I looked he was doing more walking than eating – again not normal. So I went out to check on him. Listened for gut sounds – they were there – and noticed that his lips were swollen. He didn’t mind me touching them, and they were perfectly evenly swollen, not like he had an abscess or an injury. It appeared he might have been stung by something. Since it was affecting his grazing, I put him back in. Hoping he’d keep his head up to help reduce the swelling. The next time I looked out – not much later – he was sticking his head up like a giraffe pulling at something on one of the trees. I went out to see what he was doing and noticed his face was swollen, and his lips looked more swollen.
Now comes the debate. Should I call the vet out – or let it resolve on its own? Looking up “poison bites” in Pat Coleby’s book, Natural Horse Care revealed that she recommended injected vitamin C. I don’t have injectibles, but I do have ascorbic acid. I mixed about 1/4 cup of Vitamin C with some vegetable oil to make a slurry, which I then sucked up into a used probiotic oral syringe. Gave that to Chance and he only spit out a very tiny amount. However, now his skin had lumps. Not hives but sort of like a “quilted” appearance.
Okay – time to call the vet. In order to get him seen soon I would have to take him to the vet’s office. This required taking all my hay out of the trailer, along with the harness I use to drive Huey, 2 bags of grain, a container of grain – basically my whole “feed room”. Did that, then realized I had 5 horses to bring in. The horses are good, but it takes time to get them because of the distance I have to cover. Finally they were all in. I hitched up the trailer and went to get Chance. About an hour had passed since I last checked on him.
His face is less swollen, his lips are less swollen and his lumps are fewer. Should I risk waiting to see if the Vitamin C (or nature) would resolve it? Or should I play it safe? Since I was hitched and ready, I decided to just go to the vet.
At the vet’s I was told there was a hog there for castration that was ahead of me, but as soon as that was done the vet would look at Chance. I sat in the truck and Chance was in the trailer as they tried to castrate this hog. And it was a hog – huge! Why anyone would wait so long is beyond me. The hog screamed loudly for 20 minutes – while they did whatever they were trying to do. Not squealing either – he sounded like a table saw cutting through really hard wood – it was unbelievable. Chance actually whinnied several times in response. I tried to imagine why they didn’t just put him to sleep to do this – why try a local? But they continued on for another 15 or 20 minutes of more screaming. I really felt bad for the poor pig.
When it was our turn they had me lead Chance right over to where they had castrated the pig. There was blood, and there giant testicles lying there. Each one was the size of a cantaloupe (but egg shaped) – a big cantaloupe. Chance wasn’t having any of that! He kept trying to push or drag me back to the trailer. He probably was concerned they were going to kill him. The vet asked his assistant to check Chance’s sheath and quiet sweet Chancie fired off a kick without hesitation. Wow! He was clearly on guard. Being me, I then tried scratching his sheath – and he was fine. So he really does trust me.
I lead him out to the parking lot where he was happier but still wanting to go to the trailer. His head was all the way up and he was all but dancing around. All the horses act like such old cows at home (including Lena) that I forget how quickly he can turn into a racehorse! In the end he got a steroid shot, and antibiotic (apparently steroids suppress the immune system), and a tetanus shot, for the cut he got on his leg a few days ago. It’s very minor – nothing to be worried about.
The good news is that though I was worried he would come off the trailer and gimp across the sharp stones of the parking lot – due to that hole in his sole – he went sound. Whether that was his adrenalin or not remains to be seen.
The horses, particularly Beauty, are unhappy that they didn’t get to go back out when I got home. But I am pooped, it feels stormy, and I just want to relax. They will just have to suffer on their 20 acres.