Thursday, August 12, 2010

Weather Related

Lately I've been asking myself-When did WEATHER become such an important part of my life? I've always been interested in weather patterns and how weather affects most everything we do. It can ruin the best laid plans. It can make a day feel wonderful. The answer, in my particular case, is six years ago. Yep. Six years ago when I bought these two horses of mine. 

These days, weather is at the top of my list of aggravations in my horse-life. Maybe I take things too seriously. Been trying to just roll with it. Some days are easier than others. Those days are when the sun is shining and the daytime temps are hovering around 70 degrees. Yeah, that's about perfect for me. Haven't seen many of those in quite some time. I think April was the last time this year. After April, seems like the weather conspired against me with storms, rain, more storms... Yeah, I think I take the weather a little too personally.

This week is our third week in a string of Heat Advisories and Warnings for our county. Heat index at 100-110, so they're reporting. In Southern Ohio, we don't just get hot, we get hot and humid. I am not a tropical kind of gal at all. I don't think I ever was but the older I get, the more I want my weather moderately pleasant as often as possible.

The horses are being annoyed by horseflies. Try as I might, there just isn't enough fly spray to do the job when they get hot and sweaty. I am an unbeliever of the label that says "lasts 7-14 days". I'm wondering if they're talking about stalled horses because that's the only way it would make sense to me. You can't stop your pastured pony from rolling in the dirt unless you keep him stalled and that's not how I keep my guys. I spread my Fly Predators once a month and that is a definite improvement on the black flies. But those big, fat, ugly, horseflies...Man, I HATE them!!!

I find myself these days monitoring the local weather radars when bad weather has been forecast. What's the deal with that? Not like I can change it. I guess part of me just thinks I can be more alert for the "what ifs". Right.

Well, the night the tree fell on the fence and Spirit ended up with a sliced leg, there was no wind, there was no rain, there was no weather at all. It was a quiet, hot evening. Trees have a way of just letting go sometimes.

I find having horses I am particularly attuned to what's happening with the weather, even more so than I was before I had horses. Then my thoughts go to the fact that 20 something years ago, we only had The Weather Channel, local news weather, and the radio for our weather news. 

Sometimes more information can become an obsession. Wonder if there's a support group for this? Seriously. Because I'm thinking I'm way too wrapped up in what the weather's going to be rather than just dealing with it as it comes every morning.

Sure am looking forward to next week...they say we're suppose to get down into the mid-80's.

Monday, August 9, 2010

When it's your horse, it's a different story...

Honestly, I think I'm adding July to my least favorite month list, though January is still on top. Last year we dealt with a flash flood and illnesses; mine, my husband and my dad. This year, I just couldn't believe the luck July threw at me yet again!

Three weeks ago, on a quiet Sunday evening, I had the misfortune of dealing with a serious horse injury. I have been more than fortunate for the 6 years I've had my guys. A couple bouts of mild colic. A few minor scrapes and bites, mostly on Spirit. Bo tends to be a tad too bossy. But other than that, nothing I deemed serious enough I couldn't handle.

I worked at a riding stable for 2 1/2 years and dealt with many horse injuries and problems in that time. Funny thing though, when it's your own horse, it's a whole different ball game!

Sunday evening, Hubby and I had fed the horses around dusk. It was a quiet evening. Nice actually, if not sultry for Southern Ohio. About thirty minutes later, as I was cooling down in the house I heard our dogs barking. That isn't so odd, they bark alot. We live out in a rural area. However, this barking is what I term "horse" barking. Lucy, our hound, has a certain bark she uses when alerting to the horses. She often barks like that when the horses are rolling in the dirt or playing around at the water trough. I opened the back door to check and was surprised to see Bo and Spirit roaming on our back hill behind our house. I figured I'd forgotten to close a gate. 

First things first, I needed to get both horses back into the corral and stall area. They'd already been out in the front field grazing earlier in the evening so I figured the front wasn't going to be quite as appealing as if they hadn't been out there. So, I grabbed their grain buckets and put a handful of grain in each one to get them inside. Never once looking over the horses to see if they were OK, because, I thought I'd left a gate open.

I ran out to the suspected gate, but it was latched. I didn't want to run all the way up on the hill or out into the back field to check the fence line, but did close the big gate to that field. Then went back  to the house to inform Hubby of my suspicions that there was probably a tree down.

It was dark now. So I turned on the stall light where the horses had been eating the grain and was stunned by the sight of a pool of blood where Spirit stood. My stomach flip flopped. I have to say I panicked big time. I went into the stall to find out where all the blood had come from and in the meantime, Hubby had gone to check the fence line.

Spirit had a  4"X 6" laceration on his back leg, right below his elbow bend, on the hock. I didn't see pumping blood, only blood from the wound but that was bad enough. My mind raced back to the time one of our horses at the stable had gotten into a barb wire fence and tore her leg in a similar area but tore the artery. Talk about a mess! She did survive by the way though the injury was very slow to heal as I've since learned, these types of leg injuries can be. I didn't observe any bone and he was still able to walk though I was thinking shock might set in if I wasn't careful.

I immediately got my head together and with Hubby's help,started with first aid to the wound as best I could. I got it cleaned, and wrapped enough to settle myself down. But  was concerned about Spirit's shock factor. He's a very sensitive horse. He was very hot. Since he still seemed able to walk, we walked a while. I checked the bandage and didn't see major bleed through. When Spirit seemed calm enough, I walked him to the front field to be with Bo. My thoughts, Spirit would be better off walking at his own pace through the night, keeping his circulation going, than standing in a stall. I checked on him hourly, needless to say a sleepless night for me. Besides, Spirit's not the type of horse to take inactivity well.

We don't use barb wire we have horse fencing. Hubby found a solid tree had fallen, bending and breaking a section of fence down to the ground with just enough room for the horses to walk over and out. The odd part of this, in my mind, the horses escaped on the forest and creek ravine side of the fence line. I would not have expected that. But I have a scenario in mind of how it happened and how Spirit ended up the one with the injury. Bo had no marks on him, no scratches, nothing.

I believe the tree fell after we went in the house. At first the horses were probably scared, but then Spirit's curiosity got the best of him so he went to investigate. After he figured it was OK to snoop around, he probably tested the waters over the fence, probably half over and half back. Then, Bo joins the investigation but pushes Spirit, which he often does, and Spirit panicked, then caught his back leg on the sharp ends of the broken fence as he tried to hurriedly get out of Bo's way. Bo, on the other hand, was able to gently walk over the broken fence, plus, he's taller.

Well, it took Hubby three days to fix that fence. We tried to fix it that night but it was just too mangled. I was possibly overly concerned about Spirit's wound and called a local equine vet (we have only one, the other vets are hard get for farm calls) who informed me if it wasn't an emergency, the horse wasn't bleeding out, he couldn't stop by until Tuesday morning. Wonderful.

In the meantime I watched for leg swelling which fortunately didn't occur. I learned how to wrap a Figure-of-Eight leg wrap from my horse first aid book. When the vet arrived that Tuesday morning, he looked at the wound and informed me he'd seen worse. Nice to know. The vet did his own cleaning and wrapping. He didn't think antibiotics were needed but told me to wash with Betadine scrub and re-wrap every three days, for three rounds, then dry bandage every two days for the following fourteen days. Spirit already had his tetanus so that wasn't needed either.

I've learned, it's not an easy task to keep a leg wrap on a horse that is pastured. I'm pretty sure after the first week, Spirit had learned to pull the wrap down. Unless I used a whole roll of Vet Wrap, I was wrapping that part of his leg daily. Keep it bandaged three days, sure! I was lucky to get twenty four hours most days. 

Spirit was a gem through it all, I'll give him that. He's not one to stand still long, he's got to move but when I was working on his leg, he stood perfect! Until last Friday. I guess it was by then, and almost three weeks of all the wrapping, he decided he was done and enough was enough. I got a little irritated with him and finally decided maybe he knew better this time. The vet had told me that eventually air drying would be my friend for this wound. I sprayed some Wound Kote on it, right or wrong, and it's healing fine. He's walking fine. So, in my opinion, we won this one.

I don't have the luxury of depending on a vet to come out when I call. It's just not something that private horse owners in my area can depend on. Maybe it's like that everywhere. But, I managed,and we all got through it. At some point in horse ownership, you will have to deal with something. That's just the way it is. Try to be as prepared as possible, but more than likely it will be something you've probably not dealt with in the past and it'll happen on a hot sultry or freezing cold night. Just the way it seems to work.