Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Come On!!!

At 6:00 PM at the end of the last snow storm on 3/19/13, I went to feed our new colt Zephyr and his mom Thursday, their dinner. Usually they turned out in the morning and we visit them and check in on them all day. On this day, safely snug in their stall and having to care for the other 16 horses, which included cleaning all stalls and having to push the wheelbarrow through unplowed snow to the manure pile. Thinking all was safe and sound, I fed lunch at 2:00 pm then carried on.
Upon returning to feed dinner to the mare+foal (they are in a separate 2 stall barn), I found Zephyr distressed with green goop running from his nose, with each breath he bubbled and gurgled. A freaking Choke!!! He had probably been like this since lunch!
We got these two just before the onset of winter when the colt was 3 months old and he wasn't halter trained. He is friendly and we can pet him but is too wild to handle still and we felt we could deal with that later when we weaned him. With daylight savings time and all the storms etc. we really didn't have the time to spend with him and felt it could wait.
Well that said, here I am with an untrained foal experiencing a severe choke and I can't even catch him to help him. A choking horse needs to be calm and keep it's head down to avoid sucking food into it's lungs, very bad indeed if that happens.
With my heart racing and my mouth gone completely dry, I just wanted to run away from all of this as fast and as far as I could.
It was getting dark and I was all alone. Frantically I called the vet – beginning them to please come help me – I could barely breath- I will take the time now to say “Brett Gaby, I love you. No matter how awful the situation, when you get here, I know everything will be alright”.
He arrived in 10 minutes! It took 3 of us to catch the colt, in the process and excitement of it all the choke resolved itself. Dr. Gaby gently passed a foal sized stomach tube through a nostril and all was clear. (This was after 2 doses of tranquilizer, one in his neck muscle to slow him down and the other IV to stop him in his tracks). I asked if he could please give me a shot of that stuff too – ever been there?
Zephyr is now wearing Sugar Plum's halter. That in itself was probably worth the whole circus it took to get it there. Sugar Plum will wear Noogie's baby halter until she gets her own back. No one ever gets to use Noogie's things, but I guess he wouldn't mind, but it was hard for me because he was my son and died too soon.
And so there is much to be said about halter training newborn foals before they get big enough to realize that are stronger than you – because chokes happen – as do many other “unforseen occurrences” that require handling babies.
All turned out well enough, though these episodes leave me shaken for fays. We now have a substantial veterinary bill to pay and are almost out of money again. Please help us, we can not continue this work with you donations.
We continue to work on the “unwanted horse” issues as well as helping to expose the atrocious cruelties still going on in this great country of ours. The public has a very strong voice. We encourage it to be used in an educated non-frivolous way. We are making a difference. The powers that be are taking heed. Thank you.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

February 4, 2013

On 2/4/2013 the vet came to float Tim's teeth. She told me, instead, that he should be euthanized because of a laminitic hoof, that he was in pain and his quality of life was not good. I have the greatest respect for this vet and every single day I ask myself if it is time for it to be over for Tim. Tim is my very best friend in all the world. I tell him 20 times a day that I love him so very much. He is my constant and I am his. He is very old. He has been with me for twelve years. When the last of his vision faded from his eyes he gave his trust, his life, to me.
When we euthanized Snowdrop I planned it all out. I told everyone that knew her to come and say goodbye, they had 2 weeks to do this. We got the backhoe to dig her grave and made an appointment for the vet to come on a certain day. Snowdrop knew she was going to die that day. She just did. I swore I would never do that again. She just checked out, we could barely make her walk to her grave. I did not want that to happen to Tim.
Tim is a time bomb. I know his day is coming. I always said that if he ever chokes or colics that will be the end – no heroics, just over. In all our years together, Tim has never been sick.
As I held Tim on this day, 2/4/13, I sobbed and prayed. I had been convinced by the vet that this should be the end of his life. I asked for help from the Great Creator of horses and asked if Tim's angel could be with us to help.
The day before a human friend of mine had broken my heart. I was very sad. I really wanted some kind of small miracle to take place for me, I even prayed for one, silly as it seems, I felt so alone.
I put Tim's halter on and said “come on my love, let's go for a walk”. Because this was it, the last walk we would ever take together. As I looked right at Tim he rubbed his head against the stall door frame, caught some part of his halter on the stall guard eye bolt, the crown piece broke and it fell from his face. In all the years that I've had horses I have never had a halter break. I believe I just saw my miracle. Tim did not die that day. I said “well, there's my answer”.
He got his teeth done, I fed him his favorite candy. Tim is not leaving me just yet – and that's the TRUTH! - Amen.
I hand pick our vets. Only the best will do for us – but they are not always right. Sometimes I am. I have cared for Tim all these years. I have seen his good days and his bad days, I have seen him rally time after time. This was no wheres near as bad as he has been. He just keeps getting over stuff.
Maybe Tim's time will be up in a week, a month, or a year. Maybe he will make it into God's Kingdom and never die at all. I just don't know, but it wasn't on 2/4/13. His halter which he snapped and fell from his face 10 seconds before walking to his death, one minute after my prayers, well – I don't know – too many “coincidences” for me. Again I still feel that the horses tell me when it's over. Tim was telling me no such thing. He had his head out the door, snuffling around, knocking things over finding bits of hay on the floor to eat. His teeth were well cared for and he wanted Food!!
My work here at EOTS is endless and difficult for my aging body to manage sometimes. I do have the help of my wonderful volunteers and especially my “hydra-bud” Jessica, but I so depend on the powerful energy of these beloved horses to get me through the days. Especially Tim. His is just always connected to me. His quiet presence lends me his strength of spirit. He hugs me and comforts me. He is far better than any human whose job should have been the same. Any time, day or night he's there to help me. I know that he is probably going to die some day. Of all the horses here I will miss him the most, but on this day 2/4/13, I was reminded that dearest Tim a gift given to me for a reason that I do not understand yet. My beloved beautiful Tim – the most precious horse in the world.

And Then
The day after Tim's almost death, my dear friend Ruthie appeared with her farrier. Tim had his feet trimmed. He's left front hoof twists inward, we don't know why, but this was the one the vet was concerned about. The problem was the right front. The farrier discovered a subsolar abscess. That was a very good thing! The abscessed hoof hurt like crazy which caused him to use his twisted hoof as the weight carrier. He was very painful under these circumstances. I have watched this cycle for years, Tim is used to it and I see it so often I don't even worry about it any more. I will break the cycle this time though. We have to fix it so the abscesses never returns.
Time gets around fairly well as long as he only needs to limp on his twisted foot, but the abscesses need to go.

Love Is -?

Some of us are just not lovable people. I tried for most of my life to find a human to love. I just didn't know how. It was a game I couldn't win. One day I just got tired of failing. Loving and being loved by animals is just so easy. It is pure, it is real and it requires no effort at all. Animals either love you or they don't. It's immediately obvious, there is no flirting, no ex-partners to fight with – their loyalty is guaranteed for life. They don't judge you, cheat on you, or leave you for a younger person They know your voice, feel your energy and greet you with noisy enthusiasm when reunited with you, whether after years of separation or a 5 minute walk to the manure pile. Everyone one of our horses would follow me through fire. They don't all love me, but they trust me. That is a huge responsibility. Our horses all understand words, not just short commands, but whole sentences. When I say “Would you please move over so I can pick up that puddle of pee you're standing in?” They do, I try to remember to say “thank you”, they like that.
In Gabriel's case “How long do you think you're going to wait for lunch if you stand there roaring and thumping at me?” grumbling and muttering under his breath at what an ass he thinks I am, he backs off and sticks his head in the corner and waits until I feed him. He knows I always win this game, because I have his lunch and if he wants it he has to let me win. Gabriel adores me. He's like a big goofy teenage boy, he pushes me around and sometimes almost bites me when I'm too stupid to understand his needs. Somethings he rests his teeth on me and gazes in my eyes with pure love, if no one is looking. I introduce him to people as “my husband Gabriel”. We're like an old married couple, the Frank and Marie Barrone of the horse/human world (from the Everybody Loves Raymond show). Though Gabriel belongs to an angel, I cherish our time together even though we argue most of the time, I will miss him very much when he leaves me, though it will be much quieter around here. He is so beautiful he just blows my mind. I always was a sucker for a pretty face.
I am surrounded by the most beautiful beings in creation. I am an artist and really appreciate beauty. Horses are masterpieces of design. From their incredible hoof structure to their frivolously useless manes, which I believe only exist to make us love them more, makes them more appealingly gorgeous. There is no more wonderful smell than on that velvety spot just behind a nostril. Their intelligence and ability to figure things out, if you give them the time to do it, is fun to watch. They are all excellent people trainers as well. We have to be careful of that because they remember everything if it works once, they'll do it again. Very clever beings are horses.
Dear old Gorgeous blind Tim has a very deep bed of soft shavings. Because of his long list of problems, he lays down a lot. While we clamber over and around him to trim his feet, he can't stand on 3 feet for trims so I hack away at his hooves as best I can or Georgia our farrier does it if he's laying down while she's there. He's so good. He knows we are helping him and just sleeps through it all. I am always on the look out for pressure sores, especially on his hips. I found an oozing abscess recently that I cared for as best I could, but pressure sores are notoriously difficult to manage on horses. This one was pretty bad an my guilt for not noticing sooner was great. I cleaned it and packed it with medicine, but I wonder, is it time for it all to be over for Tim? How much suffering does he have to endure? He is in his 30s and he will never be made well. Tim knows when I even think these thoughts. He reads my mind. If I could just wrap him in Willie's memory foam mattress, to pad his boney parts 'til they healed – How I love my dearest Tim. He spits out teeth, eats 5 buckets of hay cubes, 4 grain feedings and all the hay he can manage with the few teeth he has left, daily. He is no problem at all to me. I am with him all day and he never complains. He totters outside and loves to roll in the snow and nap in the sun. He is magnificent. He wraps his neck around me and comforts me in my distress. Tim is my friend and most loyal supporter. He loves me too.
And so, I have never quite “connected” with the human race. My berserker energy is pretty intimidating to most people, but I have been accepted into the world of horses. We just “know” each other. Wherever I go, we just “know” each other. I am not lonely. Being surrounded by too many humans makes me nervous and noodgy. So I pretty much live by horse rules. They are easy to understand. I have stopped trying to explain myself to people. Now that I am old and not beautiful anymore very few want to be around me and I don't get away with the behavior that I used to. But horses – will horses are what I am – always have been – and that is very truly good enough.