05 May 2016

Eventful Birthday

Happy 21st Birthday Stoney!!!
Stoney turned twenty-one at the end of April, so we celebrated in style because, after all, you don't turn twenty-one every day.
And by "in style," I mean he had a bunch of carrots, got to enjoy green grass and a good grooming. He's pretty low key like that.
Stand still, buddy!
Stoney didn't get the message though that his birthday is supposed to be fun. The day after his big day, he came out onto the pasture with a slight limp that got worse every day. I wracked my brain to figure out what was wrong--I checked his leg from shoulder to hoof for cuts and swelling, heat and abscesses but couldn't find anything. I cold hosed him. I soaked him in warm Epsom salt baths. I squirted yucky tasting pain medicine into his mouth, but everything I tried did little to help his painful gait.
Kate is my faithful vet tech.
Kate helped me every time I went out to check on our old boy, brushing his face, handing me supplies and swatting away the pesky flies. It's surprising how much a three year old can help if they're given the chance.
All wrapped up and ready to go to the vet.
Despite all our efforts, Stoney only got worse over the weekend, so I called up the vet and made an appointment to take him in. He was due for his shots anyway and I wanted his mysterious injury checked out. The problem was, he was almost three legged and though our neighbor graciously volunteered to drive the horses and I to the clinic, I was concerned Stoney wouldn't be able to hobble over to the trailer, which also meant Dancer wasn't going to get on the trailer. In a last ditch attempt to make him comfortable, I dug out Stoney's old hoof boot--something I haven't used in about fifteen years when Stoney stepped on a giant nail and suffered from a horrible abscess--and a trusty polo wrap, hoping it would help. Miraculously, it did. The next morning, he was still limping, but he could at the very least walk to the trailer and climb aboard.
On the trailer and ready to go.
As a kid, I used to love taking the animals to the vet's office.

Then I got a mare.

Part of my insistence on going to the vet's office, rather than having them come to me was A) to save paying the barn call fee and B) because Dancer is so horrible when it comes to getting her shots. An unwilling dog who doesn't like being poked is one thing. An angry, fat, 1,000 pound mare who is determined to get away from the vet is a completely different story. The other problem though, is that I was nervous that she'd refuse to get on the trailer taking them there, and then we'd be in a real pickle. However, because Stoney is so good at loading on the trailer and Dancer loves Stoney so much, so walked right on without batting an eye.

Phase One: Complete
Dancer cowering next to Stoney after getting her shots.
I emphasized a few times at the vet's office that my mare was an unwilling participant--really, can I blame her? I'm asking her to stand still while we stab her with painful shots. In her neck. Horses are prey animals and naturally, her inclination is to get away. I wish she was a little more like Stoney in that regard, though. He gets a little nervous, but stands like a statue for when it's his turn. It makes like easier for everyone.

With Stoney in the stocks, and me and another vet tech hanging onto Dancer, we managed to wrestle her into submission and get her inoculated. If manhandling a large animal doesn't make you feel a little bit accomplished, I don't know what would.

Phase Two: Complete
Sleepy, sedated Stoney.
With Dancer out of the way, it was time to turn our attention to Stoney. He stood perfectly for his shots, got a physical and his injured leg checked (confirming my consensus of most likely having pulled something while running around in the muddy pasture [boo for mud!]), was prescribed more pain medication and finally, had his teeth worked on. The older horses get, the more likely they are to have problems from all the grinding they do when they eat. Teeth go missing, wear unevenly or develop sharp points on them and the fix is a procedure called floating, which is basically filing off parts of their molars.
Poor Stoney! Open wide!
Stoney was sedated, fitted with a medieval torture device mouth speculum and the file was attached to a cordless drill. The vet said she was impressed with the good condition of his teeth and his overall physical appearance for his age and after he woke up from his drug-induced snooze, the horses both eagerly climbed back on the trailer.

Phase Three: Complete
Back at home and happy about it!
Stoney's birthday was a little more eventful than I like, but it all turned out well. He's recuperating nicely, is all vaccinated for this season and Dancer figured out that we aren't trying to kill her, even if shots do sting a bit. We're really happy that Stoney--who I've had since he was two--is doing so well as a twenty-one year old and enjoys his lazy life as a lawn ornament/part-time pony ride horse. We hope to have many more happy (less eventful) birthdays with him to come.

Happy Birthday, Stoney!

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