horses

Unicorn wannabes and other equine oddities

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A vet once told me, “Sheep are looking for a place to die.” The meaning: by the time one seems sick, it is probably a goner.

Apparently our sheep’s sludgy, algae-covered water trough is a fountain of youth, because our crew refuse to the kick the bucket. (Check Funny Farm next week, to see if I jinxed them with that statement.)

Setting sheep aside, I can attest to this fact: if you own a horse, he will get hurt or sick. Remember, Benjamin Franklin famously said: “Nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes, and that your horse will get injured or ill.”

The last part is often omitted.

Fortunately, most ailments are recognizable to owners: colic, hoof injuries, skin lacerations — routine stuff that may or may not need the vet.

But every so often, a horse will throw you a curve ball.

Like Chance, my older Thoroughbred. I rarely ride him so he receives minimal attention — a cursory glance to make sure nothing’s broken or bleeding, and that his 4 legs aren’t sticking straight up in the air.

But earlier this summer, it was impossible to miss the lump protruding from his forehead. It was rock-hard and didn’t appear to be injury related.

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This particular condition has a name… which I’ve presently forgotten. But my vet assured me that it isn’t causing him discomfort and it should go away. So far, it hasn’t receded much. He appears to be sprouting a unicorn horn.

Jazz, my other horse, has his own facial imperfection. It also appeared without provocation: a trail of distended veins on his right cheek.

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This is a permanent development but it is benign. Really, no big deal. (I texted my vet for the medical terminology for this veiny disorder and Chance’s unicorn head, but apparently she’s too busy working — stitching wounds, saving horses and such — to field my random blog questions.)

Not all of our weird equine ailments have been harmless. In my last post I mentioned Rocky’s eye. (And kudos to Brynn for noticing, “something’s wrong with Rocky’s eye.) Ultimately, he was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, a tumorous growth on his eyelid. The tumor was surgically removed (a more conservative option than taking the entire eye). But with this approach, we decided to follow up with chemotherapy, which may reduce the chance of recurrence. It comes in the form of a topical gel, applied inside the eyelid, three times a day, for several staggered weeks.

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Ironically, on Monday — the same day that Rocky received his first dose of chemo ointment — Brynn also began a new course of meds: a foul-tasting antibiotic, also three times daily. It’s thick and gloppy, and according to Brynn, “tastes like rotten peppermint and salt.”

Brynn isn’t thrilled but accepts her meds as long as we provide strawberry milk or a candy chaser.

Rocky, however, is a noncompliant patient. Very noncompliant.

Treating him is a two-person circus three times a day: Martin physically, forcibly, wrangles Rocky into submission so that the pony’s head is still, while I try to pry open his tightly clasped eye, and deposit a 1/4 inch dab of Mitomycin-C inside the lid.

I’d like to say that it’s getting easier over time, but it ain’t. And safe to say, Rocky hates the sight of us.

If nothing else, these thrice daily episodes enforce the mantra that Rocky and other ponies believe: Kids are generally kind and less troublesome. Those big humans are not to be trusted.

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Equine Invasion

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“This place is going totally horse crazy,” said Martin, today. “It’s like… there’s no escape.”

“Yea, I know,” I said. “But now that the girls have Rocky, they want to ride all the time. And Hadley’s in pony club, and there’s lessons, and I’m hunting–”

“I’m not talking about the horses in our field,” Martin interrupted. “I’m talking about the ones in the house! You girls and your horses — you’re taking over!”

“It’s not that bad,” I countered.

Though the coffee table tells another story. 

Recently, a friend passed along her childhood collection of Breyer horses.

An ample collection populating the table.

 

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“Don’t worry,” I said. “We’ll find a better place for them. And this horse thing? Maybe it’s a phase; the girls could grow out of it.”

 

I mean, it could happen. Take Hadley: it looks like her enthusiasm is waning.

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She’s doesn’t like these horses one bit…

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A Gary Larson Moment

 

I know that it’s not nice to mock other people…

But sometimes it’s fun.

Last week a few of Martin’s coworkers were in town for business, and they stopped by the farm.

Martin gave them the ten-cent tour, including a courtesy gator spin around the neighborhood.

I didn’t have my camera handy when they departed — 4 businessmen, dressed down and wedged in the gator — a billowing cloud of gravel dust in their wake.

But I snapped a couple of pictures when they returned, cutting across our pasture. And the scene reminded me of a Gary Larson, Far Side cartoon–

–or rather, a Gary Larson-esque caption:

“Shhhh, if you’re very quiet… you might see the elusive businessman, dressed down, and straying from his natural habitat…”

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 Look, here’s a herd of them now….

 

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Here they are again, interacting with a quadruped….

 

Okay folks, consider this blog post a palate cleanser. More funny-farm-appropriate thoughts to come (once we build an ark and float out of this rain-soaked scene….)