I woke up early this morning, having to be at the barn by 9. Packing up the dogs and many necessary items I'll need for the day, I bit Antonio a good day and tell him I'll be taking the dogs with me for the day so he doesn't have to worry. He mumbles something about worrying and goes back to laying tiles.
Hopi is my pony. He's small but sturdy and full of personality. He hasn't been too up to snuff lately, and given the signs he needed a routine cleaning that males horses get once or twice a year. So I ended up calling a friend to come check him out. I also booked a farrier appointment for the same day so that we could get everything over with in one sitting
Rachel is an ex Large Animal Vet Tech, she's also one of the most knowledgeable horse people I know.
Sheath cleaning is common among people in the horse world, it's also the chore that no body in the horse world actually wants to do. It involved putting your hand in places you really don't believe it should be going. So most of us hire vets or friends to do it.
So, after putting on some rubber gloves and lubing up, Rachel told me very calmly that there were lumps and she couldn't perform a cleaning. Rachel knows what she's talking about and asked us to call the vet.
I called the vet and explained the symptoms and was told that they'd call me back right away. When they called I was told that the vet was busy on a farm call near by and would show up in about an hour. Despite what you may think, this is indeed bad news. See, with horses, if you're unsure about something and call your vet and it's something minor they'll make an appointment for a week or two down the road.
When whatever is wrong isn't obvious, such as wounds needing stitches or some form of colic, you always want your vet to make an appointment somewhere down the line.
When they say they'll be there right away it's a bad sign.
Throughout all of this the animal control officer for Rehoboth is there, making her yearly 'inspection' which actually means, sitting around and talking to people without bothering to check on the welfare or health of any of the animals. But whatever. She sat around trying to convince me to breed my dog, complaining about PETA and explaining why foxes and coyotes needed to be culled.
Disgusted, everyone around her walked away several times in hopes of some sort of escape. None came.
Our vet's a cute, young women who wears awesome hats and brings her dog everywhere she goes. He's a small cattle Australian type dog that sits in the front of the pick up and makes sure everything is the way it should be.
Rachel immediately began firing off what was going on and what the problem was in tech language. The vet nodded and explained that she'd be sedating Hopi just to see what was going on. Ten minutes later he was standing in the cross ties trying to stay on his feet.
The animal control officer was still milling around, apparently deciding to watch the entire going's on uninvited.
Peter, the barn manager stood silently in the corner, upset that one of his horses was sick and it had gone totally over his head.
Following descriptions may be disturbing and should be read at your own risk - skip if you're a male with a weak stomach.
After feeling around for quite some time the vet's hand cam back bloody, and when she finally got a hold of his, more personal anatomy and was able to pull it out the problem was obvious.
Half of the tissue has rotted away and was bleeding heavily. Most of the tissue was black and chunks of tissue fell to the floor before the blood started to make a puddle on the mats.
After she began cutting dead skin away, and giving both a liquid pain reliever similar to morphine and a strong antibiotic directly via syringe directly to the injured area (Something that had Peter running for the office in a fit of dry heaves) we were told there was nothing she could do immediately.
End disturbing images?
"It's either an infection or a type of cancer these horses usually get. But the way it's bleeding and because it came on so quick I'm leaning towards the cancer," Of course, she said it much more professional and calming then I did, but the results are still the same.
The biopsies she took will be back in 7-12 days. If he comes back with cancer the price for the necessary treatment would be more then astronomical. In the mean time she leaves me with both an oral antibiotic and pain reliever. I also shouldn't worry about all the blood.
Because Hopi only eats hay as opposed to grain I'm told to buy Hay extender, something similar to grain with less calories, as the vet warns he also needs to lose about fifty pounds.
Rachel helps me get the stumbling pony back into his stall where he stares blankly and sleepily at the wall.
I bid Rachel, Peter, and the Animal control officer a hasty goodbye before headed to the feed store with a long list of supplies to make him more comfortable.
When I return from the feed store with more hay, shavings, fly spray, hay net, and a fifty pound bag of hay extender I leave it for Peter to put up into the hay loft and check on Hopi, who is still more then a little woozy. He ignores his hay and stands mopier then I've ever seen him. The sedative should be wearing off, the vet says when I call. He's just sick.
When I solemnly return home Antonio has an important announcement for me.
"I'm not scared anymore!" He tells me in his heavily accented English when I approach the bathroom to inform him both I and the dogs have returned.
"I'm more scared of you now," He continues before breaking into a hum as he sets down a tile.
"You don't walk on the tiles," He starts again "Don't walk on the tiles until tomorrow. You walk on them and I'll kill you,"
Some consistency would be nice.
By the end of the day all they've finished for the day has been the floor. We're still out a bathroom.
When I return to the barn around five Hopi won't take his medication. I mix it with a hay extender and he ignores it. Beth, another boarder who also has an ill horse offers me some bran mash, a treat much more tasty then Hay Extender. It's also ignored. I ended up leaving it in his bucket in case he changed his mind. In the mean time, all involved pace around nervously.