Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Gravity is a Myth: The Earth Just Sucks

Shortly after we had to put Charlotte to sleep, a reader of this blog sent me a very nice email. His heartfelt condolences for our loss, words of encouragement and humor gave me the extra push I needed to get me through that tough period. It couldn't have come at a better time.

"Several months ago I discovered your blog. At this point I don’t remember how I stumbled across it, but I’ve followed the adventures of Faith and Linus – and more recently, the funny and then tragic story of Charlotte. I have to say, in addition to your skills with animals, you have a gift for storytelling as well. We’ve never met, but after reading your posts, somehow I don’t feel like a stranger either... And while I’ve posed a few anonymous comments, I wanted to send something a little more personal this time.

Learning about what happened with Charlotte was just heartbreaking. And then to read the summary of everything else that happened on top of that, well, I remember seeing a bumper sticker once that read:

Gravity is a Myth: The Earth Just Sucks

Scott, how true indeed.

Where do I start?

This past weekend Dan and I were reconfiguring (again) our shedrow barn for our farm animal brigade. Sophie and her piglets were ready to be moved out of the barn into the barn out back, and we needed to change things around to accommodate them. And the chickens. (Did I forget to mention the chickens?!)

For my birthday, one of my students thought it would be great to add onto our farm animal crew. (Because I obviously do not have enough to do around here - hahaha) We now have four chickens at our farm. Their names are Parmesan, Marsala, Cacciatore and Alfreda... I have never had chickens before, but they are quite entertaining. And the eggs are delicious! Moving on...

As I was moving around and cutting some new stall mats, I heard a squeal and a few thuds. I ran out of the shedrow to see Faith cornered in the big paddock by Rosie, our 14.1 hand Paint mare. Rosie cornered her where their water tank is and when Faith didn't move quick enough, Rosie kicked. Hard. And repeatedly. Faith finally kicked back, which only infuriated the little mare even more. Running towards them, arms flailing and screaming, Dan and I broke up the battle. Faith took off towards the run-in and we followed.

The sight was ghastly. My poor baby had blood pouring out of her. I quickly called Dr. George and explained the situation. Thankfully he was only 15 minutes away, and knowing that alone was a huge relief. We moved Faith into the barn, a trail of blood following us the whole way. It was so bad that we put shavings down in the aisle to absorb it. Dr. George showed up just a short time later and gave her intravenous anti-inflammatories and pain relievers.

He examined her and found that she had a torn vulva. (Let's hear that collective "ouch..." from our readers.) Rosie's hoof apparently nicked a pretty impressive blood vessel, which was the source of the massive bleeding. Thankfully, it was not interal. However, it was in such a location that stitches were impossible. Over the course of the next few minutes, the blood flow had begun to diminish and her body was beginning clot the wound.

While she stood on the crossties, we clipped and then began tending to her other wounds. Her right hindquarters were riddled with perfect hoof-shaped marks. I believe that seven was the final count. Dr. George and I began clipping around the marks and dressing them. Again, thankfully there was no need for stitches.

The plan was SMZs for the next seven days and bute for the next five. The first day was fine, the second day Faith decided that she wasn't going to eat her grain if there was medicine in it, so we were back to The Oral Medications Argument. (Please refer to our February 5th article.) Let's just say that you never really forget what a bute/SMZ combination tastes like.

Faith has always been a little fussy about eating her grain. Some mornings she dives into her bucket, other days she takes her time. On occasion, a few small handfuls will be left over in the morning, but she eagerly eats it when she is brought in for dinner. Since her injury on Saturday, she has been leaving a good amount in her bucket. I'm not sure if it is because she is not feeling well or perhaps another hormonal issue like we had in the spring. On the positive side, her hay and water intake has been good.

Fast forward to this morning... One of Sophie's piglets isn't doing too well and is in my house, on my living room floor, wrapped up in a blanket and under a heat lamp. My dogs are totally confused, to say the least. The piglet's name is "Victoria" and she is the runt. She is our little redhead with black polka-dots all over her. I'm not sure why she's weak, but we're giving her vitamin B12, bottle feeding her and keeping her under a heat lamp.

And then this evening... Rosie came into the barn for dinner tonight on three hooves and one toe. Apparently one of Faith's kicks made contact and the lower portion of Rosie's right rear leg is swollen and sore. She is barely touching the toe of her hoof to the ground as she walks. We cold-hosed it, gave her banamine and wrapped it in a compression wrap. The vet says to keep an eye on it and call him in the morning if it looks worse.

So the next time you hear someone talk about the effects of gravity, tell them my story... :)



  1. Eeek! Oh, scary. All kinds of scary. Hope everyone comes through with flying colors.

    I'm surprised that Faith got beat up by another mare - you've described her as very pushy with her handlers, so as a non-horseperson I'd assumed she'd be the queen of the paddock as well. Is status with horses different than status with humans, or is Rosie also a handful in her own right?

  2. Ugh! Everything bad always seems to happen on bunches. I hope that your little piglet is ok. My gelding who will eat anything, anytime, anywhere, will NOT eat for several hours after getting bute. Hang in there...sending you positive energy.

  3. Poor Faith, hope she is soon feeling better. But at least she DID defend herself, not bad for an old girl. Hope that Rosie and the piglet is ok!
    You and Dan really are a Saint to the animals.

  4. WOW---Sorry to hear about the string of incidents. Mares can be witchy sometimes. One of our mares tried to bite my husband over the weekend when being saddled and then during the ride, proceeded to kick the gelding I was riding in the face. This was not a habit with her, so not sure what was her problem. Fortunately for us, there was no blood drawn in either case, but I am certainly aware of what "can" happen, as did happen in your case. Hang in there!

    Also, my gelding cut his leg in a trailer accident a few years back. He had to have medicine twice a day and I was having difficulty in the administration. I found that mixing the medicine throughly in a cup of sweetened applesauce and then mixing it in his grain made him actually "excited" about taking it. You might try that, but I'm sure you know each horse is different in their taste preferences.

  5. I'm so sorry. I am keeping you and all of your critters in my thoughts.

  6. OMG! Poor Faith! I do hope she can recover from this. I think I agree about the bute. You may want to bute her and wait awhile to give her the grain. I have had the horses refuse apples after a dose of bute so do not do that anymore. I wait awhile and offer it and they eat. On the witchy mare subject; I had a walker/paso cross who was an absolute bitch in the pasture. I had mares and geldings separated then. I finally put her in with the geldings because I knew it was a matter of time before she killed the dinky little arab. The fjord mare was boss and she did not challenge her, nor did she abuse her filly. I just did not want the arab hurt, she was not mine. The Holsteiner put her in her place and she threw fits but did not challenge him after the initial ranking tussle. She went down the road a few years ago and all is quiet on the barn front. Did not realize how much havoc that mare created until she was gone. I do not miss her; I just mourn the fact a damn nice mare was hell to live with.

  7. things happen in 3's. thats 3 right off the bat! good luck!

  8. I'll second the bute comments. My horses, after a dose of bute, will refuse all food for a while. The bute apparently leaves a very bitter taste in their mouths. If I have to give both bute & SMZ, I'll feed the SMZ in a grain mix of some sort & later do the bute in a syringe into the mouth.

  9. POOR YOU!!!! Ugh, there's periods where I cringe going out to the barn with the little voice in my head saying, "Ugh, what next?". When it rains, it often pours.

    Hoping there's speedy recoveries all around and you can have some peace.


  11. My Huey is also fussy about "stuff" in his grain--when I first got him, I tried to give him an apple. Oh, if looks could kill. He was SURE I was trying to KILL him, and it took a day or so before I could approach him with anything "new" in my hand.

    When he started seeing his acupuncture vet, she recommended this "odd tasting" (her term) powder called Body Sore to go with the "pins" treatment. I bought molasses, maple syrup and apple sauce, to see which one would work. The short answer is, they ALL worked because Huey did not need anything to convince him the Body Sore was edible. He eats it just fine without anything (now that the apple sauce and maple syrup are gone. The Molasses I keep around for mashes ;o) Anyway, you might try molasses or maple syrup.

    Give Faith extra kisses from her fans, TBDancer and Huey ;oD

    And kisses to Victoria, too.