Sunday, April 13, 2008

Despooking, and the perils of the Forest

Spring is trying very hard to spring here in New England. The sun is getting stronger, and the rains are a constant threat. We have had a few dry days however, it seems for every 3 or 4 dry days, we get 2 days of rain. But overall, the sun is getting warmer and warmer, and the grass is beginning to poke its brave little starts out of the cool soil.

On Monday we had a gorgeous day in the 50's. I signed Mandy and I up for the Ride-a-Curly contest that Denise is putting on ( and for the month of April, she's having a mini-contest for despooking, since weather really isn't good enough to ride in the northern areas of the US and Canada yet. Those southern folks get a good head-start on us!

Anyway, after cold and clouds this morning gave way to sun and warm temps (52F right now and sunny -- T-shirt weather!) I had to drag my butt outside. For some reason, the thought of riding was not appealing at all, and I almost stayed in the house and did laundry I knew that was not the thing to do on a sunny day, so the laundry piles up, and I remembered about the Calmer-Smarter-Braver mini-contest. So I assembled my props, stuffed my camera in my pocket, and headed outside.

As I mentioned, Lakota has turned somewhat feral again. So as I walked into the paddock with my water bottle, a brush and a halter, all she did was turn her ears back toward me (she was facing away, standing on Ana's rock, dozing in the sun). After a few minutes, I kissed to her. That got her attention and she turned to look at me. So I clicked from across the paddock, and her head popped up, ears forward, but she didn't come for her treat. I held out my hand, and waited and waited, and waited while I was thoroughly molested by Jen trying to figure out how to get me to give up that alfalfa pellet. I attempted to invite Lakota in, and she was having none of it. I circled to the left, circled to the right, and she wouldn't take a step forward ..... until I sat down on a log. She came right on up and got her treat, nuzzled me, pressed her forehead to my chest, and put her nose into the halter. Awwwww, that is the first time she has ever willingly put her nose into the halter. I've been able to get her neutral, to the point she won't turn away before. Remember I'm still sitting on the ground, so she had to lower her head all the way.

So then I brushed her all over, and Jen was quite jealous (funny, I almost typed Ana there and had to correct it), and out the gate we went, among lots of fussing by the others, including Leroy. Leroy has such a low, deep, throaty nicker, but a high-pitched girly whinney, it was sooo funny! He called to her numerous times, April body-slammed the gate, and Whinney dug a hole to China. We made our way down the hill slowly, Lakota was unsure its been so long. So we checked out the goats sleeping in the sun, walked around and touched the pile of sand on the ground from Vic's sandblasting, the sawhorses, the crappy old trailer, and just got used to leaving her buddies behind. Remember that Lakota has a water and mud phobia, and won't step on shadows and such, so it was a big deal for her to stand on the sand, as it was different color and texture from the ground.

Went into the roundpen, and started looking at all the props. I had a pedestal, a big plastic owl, a trampoline, and a backpack filled with balls, an umbrella, and apples!

We started with the pedestal, and I was only able to progress to her pawing it, I couldn't get her to step on it (at liberty -- next time we'll try with a halter). When I tried to get her to mirror my steps and I stood on it, she bumped up to it and wanted me to get on. Awwww. She got a hug for that (lol).

So we moved on, and checked out the plastic owl,
and the backpack. Now THAT was interesting! She had her whole head in the backpack, was biting the umbrella and flipping it all around. Of course, I missed the shot when she picked up the backpack and was flipping it around in the air as I was checking the time at that moment.

Do you guys have any idea how hard it is to take photos when you are trying to hold a prop, hold the camera, and deliver treats at the same time? So these shots aren't perfect. Oh well.

So then I took out the umbrella, and rubbed her all over with that, it makes that rustling sound. Then I opened it up and she targeted it on the ground, and in the air. It was a little freaky and she didn't like it, but she wasn't scared of it. She just found it a bit too obnoxious to her sensitivities (lol). Then I rubbed her body with it open, she did quite well with that, better than I expected, she's not a fan of obnoxious things touching her body. Not scared, just doesn't like it, its rude.

Then we played with a ball, and targeted that and rolled it arounda bit. Then I got on the trampoline and bounced. That was a little freaky! She touched the trampoline while I bounced gently (feet not leaving the surface), and she gave it the hairy eyeball. I think the black shiny mesh top looked weird the way the sun was hitting it as it moved while I bounced. I kept bouncing while she took her treats though. Then I started to bounce a little higher, and OMG I laughed so hard as she bounced her head up and down with me to get her treat! Then after I got off, she had to go give it a good looking over.

Lakota had to go back and molest the backpack some more, it really smelled good, and she eventually found the apples in there.

So then we went back up, and I had about another 10-15 minutes, so I decided to bring Jen out and see what we got out of that.

Jen was very excited to get to go do something! Whinney was PISSED off that she was not chosen, and lunged at Jen and dug a deeper hole.

Jen was very eager to go do something, and didn't care about the goats, or ducks, or any of the other stuff, she just walked right down like she's been doing it every day (I think she's been out there 3 times in the past year?)

At first Jen zoned in on the cones. Mandy has worked on targeting cones with her, and that was all Jen could see. She didn't care about the other stuff out there, went right to the cones. I thought the umbrella would get her attention. Nope. I opened it, rubbed it on her, nothing. She didnt' care at all, totally ignored it, but was focused on those cones. She had a bit of a spook (a teleporting type spook, second one today) when the goat got up from sleeping in the shady corner of the roundpen.

So I walked away, and took out the ball, and pointed to it, got her to target it, then rolled it. That got her attention, so she targeted that a little, but kept going back to the cones. Soon enough, she realized that she only got a treat when she touched the ball. The lightbulb went off, and she understood that its not only about cones, there is other stuff to do, too! So kicked the ball around, and she went after it, touching it, and pushing it with her nose. She loved it!!! She had so much fun!!!!!
So after about 15 minutes of that, I brought her back up to the paddock. She was a bit bargey and excited, (food gets her a little bit up and excited). So as we walked back up the hill, I played the "post" game. The first time she ran into the halter, she almost leapt out of her skin and said "Oh crap, I better pay attention to that!" The second time she said "oh shoot, forgot", the third time she said "just testing!" and then she walked beautifully at my side the rest of the way. She was a good girl waiting while I sorted out the fence/gate, etc., and moved horses out of the way, went in and stood quietly while she was surrounded and sniffed over.

Then I brought them their late lunch, and that was our day!
Later on, when I headed out to feed for evening meal, I found Jen 3-legged lame. She would not weight her right hind at all. So I haltered her, and brought her up to the stall. I could find nothing wrong, no heat, no swelling, nothing. She was looking for her dinner, and otherwise happy. I was stumped, so assumed she had an abscess. I tried soaking, which did not work, Jen wouldn't put her hoof down in the boot filled with water, she hiked it up high.
I tried again on Tuesday, with the same results. Finally on Wednesday I had a brilliant idea, and soaked paper towels in Apple Cider Vinegar and water, and wrapped her hoof in them, put the whole mess in a plastic bag, then put it all in a boot. That seemed to work, and she would put the foot down and not hold it up in the air, but she was still very lame on it, and wouldn't put any weight on it at all, not even to rest it.
After having a lesson Wednesday morning then running to the Health Food Store for Silicea for her abscess, I checked her foot, and when I took the boot off, and unwrapped the foot, I felt something catch on my hand as I put the hoof down. looked, and saw a bit of papertowel stuck to stomething sticking out of her coronet! Of course at first I paniced and thought of a bone protruding. Yes, that's me, always think of the worst. Anyway, she would not let me touch it, at all. So after realizing that it was a piece of wood, I rummaged around until I found my pair of pliers, and while standing on her left side so she couldn't kick me, I reached under and across and pulled the piece of wood out of her right hind coronary band.
No pus came out at all, thank goodness. I cleaned it up best I could with Betadine, then wrapped it up and called the vet. Dr. Will came out that afternoon luckily. She is the same vet that came for Ana's injury, ironically. So she clipped her fetlock hairs, and scrubbed her up, applied hoof testers. There was nothing to report, no fever, she wasnt' acting off at all. So she got a tetanus shot, bute, and SMZ, and Hetacin K injected into the hole 2x/daily and rebandage. Unfortunately that evening, Jen had a reaction to the SMZ, and begain rubbing her face, swinging her tail aggressively, pawing, biting at her injury ,biting at her sides and back, and really getting anxious. I immediately called the vets office, and Dr. Will called me right back. She had me dose her with 1/2 dose of Banamine, and that settled her down almost immediately. Well, after I managed to wipe the paste off of Jen's cheek and my sleeve and stuff it into her mouth with my fingers.
On Thursday I drove to the vets office to pick up doxycycline, so she is on 35 tablets of doxy 2x/day now for 9 days.
So far, so good. Jen's last dose of bute was last night, and I've kept her on Nutrient Buffer to help ward off ulcers. Her temp. remains normal, and she is weighting her hoof. She stumbles around on it a bit, but is fully weighting it and resting the other foot. She's getting better and better about her treatments, although this morning she was reluctant to eat her grain with her doxy. I hope it was just a one-off, and she'll gobble up her evening meal. Which, as a matter of fact, is due right now. Keep fingers crossed, say a prayer, send Reiki, whatever you can do for Jen, and lets hope that she gets this behind her quickly. She has had enough tragedy in her short life already. So, until later, signing off.

1 comment:

Pony Girl said...

Hi there, I hope your mare Jen is better! I've been reading your blog and the sad story about her rescue and of Ana, what a cute little filly, I can't imagine going through that! That video made me cry.... :(
Keep us posted on Jen!