Friday, September 14, 2012

One milestone and a huge vet bill later

It was very disappointing today to find out that my darling Toad had injured herself, but on a good note, this was another big milestone in her life now that she's learning how to be a "normal horse".  I was heading to the stable and my phone rang with and Trainer K.'s name popped up which is always a bad sign because we always communicate through text messages unless there's an emergency.  She was calm when I answered the phone and asked when I was coming to the barn - so for a moment I had hope.  Then she said in the same calm voice that Toad had just a few minutes before sliced her back leg open.  Urgh.

I got to the barn and Trainer K. had put Toad in her stall so she could rest and eat, so I went in to hang out with her and see where she was at emotionally and physically.  Emotionally she had calmed down a lot and seemed happy to be in her stall eating and happy that I was there petting her.  But her hind leg had a pretty good gash in it that was still bleeding.  After she'd had some time to chill out we brought her out into the groom room so Trainer K. could look at it under lights with her head lamp.  It was bad enough to need stitches so I called the vet who said to bandage it and give her some bute and she'd be there in a few hours.

I was a little worried about if she'd put up with having her leg bandaged but she did fine.  But I was very worried about how she'd put up with getting stitches.  I didn't see this but I heard the story about how when she scraped up her leg when the teenager had her no one was able to treat her.  Apparently, the vet tried sedating her three times and poor Toad was still in a state of panic about having anyone touch her back legs, so they tried putting her in a twitch and that just made it worse, so they ended up not even looking at the cuts on her back leg.  Then she had mud fever but no one could handle her back legs to scrub them.  Despite how far she's come in the last year I have to admit I was pretty worried about my vet coming in and trying to put stitches in her leg if she freaked out so badly over a vet just trying to examine some cuts 18 months ago. 

And to make matters worse, Trainer K. could not be there when the vet could squeeze us into her schedule so it was just me and my tiny little vet who despite being tough is probably not more than (if at all) 100 pounds.

I'm happy to say Toad was a champ!  She stood quietly while the vet cut off the bandages and was very polite about having her wounds examined.  I had to hold her tail though because when Trainer K tried tying it up in a knot to keep it out of her way when we initially looked at her cuts, Toadie swung her tail around to shoo away the flies and whacked herself in the butt with it and had a huge panic attack because "OMG! Someone's hitting me!!!". Which caused her to jump straight up in the air and swish her tail which whacked her on the butt which made her panic more which made her jump and swish her tail more which whacked her on the butt ... you get the picture.

So, I held her tail while the vet examined the wound.  She got upset once when the vet put alcohol rub on it and she tried to scoot away from the vet but I was on her other side so she realized she couldn't run over me, so she tried to run forward but she was in the cross ties so she jumped back and was a little frazzled.  But after a minute of letting her calm down and encouraging her to pull herself together she did fine.  She decided the clippers were going to kill her so the vet went ahead and gave her a sedative before clipping.  She did just fine when the vet put the shunt in, but then when the vet picked up the needle to put into the shunt she panicked - apparently, not realizing the ouchy part was already over, so we both calmed her while using both our body weight to keep her pressed up against the wall.  Once she realized the syringe going into the shunt wasn't going to hurt at all she calmed down and within ten minutes she was so sleepy I took her out of the cross ties so she could drop her head and sway back and forth and drool.

I was trying to ignore the worried voice in my head saying, "Sure, she's relaxed now, but when she tries to stitch up that leg she'll go through the roof just like when the teenager had her!"   Instead I focused on keeping my body relaxed and not physically holding any tension at all, and massaged her neck down by her withers where she likes it best.  And I'm happy to say that the vet clipped her leg, gave her a shot of numbing solution and put in three sutures and I didn't even have to hold the lead rope - I just swung it over her neck so I could grab it if need be and used one hand to hold her tail out of the way and the other to massage her neck. 

That to me was a HUGE milestone!  I am so proud of her and how brave she is now!  I truly believe it is because she has me and Trainer K to bond with and she knows she can trust us and she can just let go and relax.  She doesn't need to always be hypervigilant and defensive because she's all alone with no herd leader, she can relax and let her mom take care of her.

Here's testament to how she's no longer "the crazy horse no one wants" - one well bandaged, sutured up leg (you can't see them in this photo but there are scars right above the bandage from where she was injured 18 months ago when the teenager had her and no one could treat her).


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