Saturday, March 9, 2013

I'm old ... plus horse teeth and rain rot

Yesterday was my 46th birthday and I was freaking out a little about being so old but now that I'm two days into it and feel about the same and since I didn't magically wake up completely elderly yesterday I think I might be over it.  I went to work in the morning, left a half hour early to have more time to play with Maiden (we had an excellent ride!) and then had some friends over in the evening and just hung out, ate snacks and had a nice time.  My good friend who lives behind us couldn't come over in the evening but she did drop off a nice present and the biggest helium balloon I've ever seen complete with magenta fur fringe.  My husband said it was "quite the pimp-daddy birthday balloon".

This morning I got up and went to my friend's horse rescue to help with some horses that were recently seized in a criminal case that has to remain hush-hush right now because I guess everything is still up in the air.  They have a bunch of new horses who have now been there a few weeks and all they're basically doing is eating and getting medicine until they are a bit more recovered.  But there're so many and such a small staff they are in need of volunteers to help with all the care.

I got there at 10am this morning and was lucky enough to find that all the stalls had recently been picked, breakfast had been fed and mostly eaten and water buckets had been cleaned and filled.  So the coordinator asked if I had experience handling horses and I said yes, so she sent me off to take everyone's blankets off and groom as many as I could and put on their medicine for rain rot.  Rain rot is a fungus that horses get when they are out in the rain non-stop and their skin never fully gets a chance to dry.  Horses who live in a pasture with a shelter will naturally seek shelter in the rain - if not all the time at least some of the time - giving their fur and skin a chance to dry out.  Horses with rain rot haven't had any shelter to go to when it rains and don't have blankets to protect their skin.  Although even with a blanket would you want to be in the rain non-stop with no shelter?

I thought all the horses looked fairly good when I walked into the space where they had set up a bunch of temporary stalls.  But then I started taking their blankets off. (insert very sad face).  And this wasn't even right after the criminal seizure - they'd had some time to put some weight on.  One draft horse looked like he was literally half the size he should be.  He had those big, beautiful, furry draft feet that went up to literally a skeleton of a body and the guantest face I've ever seen on a horse (half of which was covered with scabs from rain rot).

All the horses were nervous and a little shy but not  dangerous.  A couple were a little hard at first to get their blankets off because they kept scooting away from me when I'd walk toward them.  So, I had to slow down and change my tactic and just stand quietly in the stall for a minute or two until they got curious and came over to sniff me, then they were fine.   All of them loved being groomed - some more than others but definitely all enjoyed it.  They're all beautiful horses underneath the ematiation and skin conditions and all of them were really sweet and after grooming would sigh and chew as their way of saying thank you.  A couple of them laid their heads up against me.  I'm guessing they were not abused or mishandled, just horribly, horribly neglected.  And some of them probably weren't handled a lot because they are so shy. 

One of them had rain rot on her ears and I was supposed to put some medicine on them because apparently no other volunteers had bothered to try.  It did look like someone had managed to get medicine on at some point though.  That took quite a while because she was terrified of having her upper neck, face or ears touched.  I'm not sure if that was a behavioral issue from something she experienced or maybe more likely a reaction to her ears being so uncomfortable from the bad rain rot.  She wouldn't let me get to her ears just loose in her stall - she had too much room to dodge away and swing her butt toward me (and not knowing her very well I was not comfortable with that).  Her body language wasn't saying that she was going to kick me, it was saying "If I put my face in this corner and don't see you it means you're not there" - but I wasn't going to take any chances.  Finally, I decided to put her halter on and see how that worked.  She tried to pull away and looked scared out of her mind when she couldn't, but we worked it out.  I went very slowly and talked to her the whole time and when I finally was able to get the medicine on her ears she let me rub it in, I guess realizing it wasn't going to hurt horribly.  Of course then it started all over again with the second ear, being scared out of her mind that I was going to touch her with the scary goopy stuff on my hand. After I finished both ears and told her what a good girl she was she looked completely exhausted and nuzzled her head in my chest and let me give her a huge hug.

I'm signed up to go back once a week for the rest of the month and hopefully all of them will continue to improve and get healthier and we can all spend a little bit of quality time together.  I wanted to take one of them into the wash room and see if I could wash off her tail which was filthy, but liability said I'd have to have a staff member with me because they'd not had her in a washrack yet and the staff was too busy to come with me.  That was too bad but I understand why.  And it's unfortunate - people not making educated decisions then trying to blame someone else for their mistake.  Not that I don't make plenty of mistakes and not that a couple of them haven't gotten me hurt - but they were my mistakes and I learned from them.  It really bothers me when people won't take responsibility for themselves.

In other news Girlfriend had to have a tooth pulled last weekend which was quite the ordeal.  She had to be sedated and I had to hold her head up while my vet pulled out the tooth.  Horse molars are really big.  Yes, I knew that beforehand, but not having ever actually held one in my hand I don't think I realized how big they are.  The pliers they use to pull them out are giant too.  They use these thick metal clamps to keep the horse's mouth open so the vet can put her arms up in there without the horse biting them, but when the vet said I could put my arm up into her mouth to feel where the loose tooth is, I did, but Girlfriend could still tense her jaw muscles enough so I could feel her teeth closing on both sides of my arm.  Even thought intellectually I knew that she couldn't bite down far enough to hurt me I still had to pull my arm out quickly and say, "Oh creepy! Not ready for that yet!" because without the clamps she would have powerful enough jaws to bite my arm right off.   And I don't know the clamps well enough to trust them to that degree quite yet.

I had to slow down on the road to rescue this morning because a bad eagle and a crow were fighting over some road kill in the middle of the street and didn't want to move as I got close to them.  There are some bald eagles who nest in the woods behind our house but I never get tired of watching them.  I also like watching the hawks.  I think they look so cute when they're sitting all hunched up on a branch waiting for prey to pounce on.  I want to go up to them and poke them in the belly and said, "Hey - stand up straight!" because they look like gnomes in trench coats all hunched up.


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