Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays’ take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘veterinarian

New Information

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Sixty years ago today, before I was even born, the best thing that could ever happen for me took place. With eternal gratitude to Fred and Marie Friswold, today, June 4th, I boast to the world that it is Cyndie’s birthday!

Happy Birthday, my love!

After a jam-packed weekend of social events and more, we begin this week with new information and new energy.

First, after a scheduled appointment for our vet to visit and give the horses their spring shots, we came up with a plan for how we will proceed into the summer grazing season. Both Cayenne and Hunter are showing signs of good health with their sensitive laminitic front hooves. The diet of reduced portions has their weight under control, and more importantly, it has been achieved with minimal evidence of angst from the horses.

Going forward, we are going to work on getting them used to wearing muzzles to slow down their pasture grazing. We will then feed them dry hay in the morning to fill them up and give them muzzled access to a previously mowed (shorter grass = smaller bites of cake) pasture in the afternoons. They will be confined to the dry paddocks overnight, with no added hay available until the next morning.

Most important for us will be the attitude the horses have about their situation. If they are okay with it, that will be the definition of acceptability. If they balk over any of it, we will work to adjust accordingly. Our goal is to keep their weight down, yet give them some time to enjoy the freedom to move about in the open pasture and “graze” as close to normal as possible.

The next big thing that we learned came as a result of a visit from our local DNR Forester yesterday. My key takeaway from that consultation was the value of cutting trees beneath the canopy of mature trees we favor. Growth that reaches up to encroach on the lower branches of the favored tree should be removed.

He asserted that the primary focus is on providing the most sunlight to encourage growth, but protecting lower branches from competition will also help keep the mature trees healthy.

My first inclination is never to cut down any tree, but our Forester convinced me that cutting some will enhance others. I need to get more comfortable pruning entire trees, in the way I am comfortable pruning a few branches to shape a single tree.

He suggested clear cutting some areas, like stands of aspen, to open up sunlight and entice energized bursts of new growth to expand the grove. It seems so counter-intuitive. I want more trees, not less. Apparently, a little loss now, produces bigger gains later. In his mind, it doesn’t take that long.

Time is a relative thing. I’m not feeling that patient.

I was surprised to learn that he felt our highest priority should be to work on removing invasive garlic mustard. I did a quick Google search and the response was rich with states battling the troublesome intruder. Our Forester said we should pull the plants, bag them in plastic garbage bags and throw them in the trash.

Among the many other battles we are already waging, like vines, common buckthorn, and poison ivy, we now will move garlic mustard to the top priority.

Oh, joy.

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Warm Welcomes

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For those who haven’t been paying attention, we’ve reached the last day of February. Geez. It’s like 2018 is half over already. Tomorrow we welcome March to our calendars, historically a month when we can receive whoppers of snow storms in this region. In my youth, that was grand. Now, as a man with property and animal responsibilities, the big late-season storms threaten too much damage potential to be welcomed.

I’ll be pining for calm and boring as winter slowly makes its way into the history books.

After a couple of days back in our own bed again, things are settling back to normal. We are feeling fresh sensations of missing Fred and Marie (as well as Mike and Barb) and our meals and conversation on the lanai beside the pool, with the pond fountain spraying away spectacularly as our backdrop.

I have been enjoying a particularly warm welcome home from our cat, Pequenita. I think she missed me.

Not that Delilah didn’t, but ‘Nita just shows her lust for my attention much more emphatically. She steps right up for some prolonged hands-on contact and melts into a puddle of kneading, purring fur, regardless whatever blog writing I had in mind to accomplish.

On Monday afternoon, we welcomed a new farrier to the ranch, as George wasn’t available and the vet had prescribed some hoof trimming to treat Hunter’s laminitis. Our veterinarian provided a name and Cyndie was able to schedule the visit before we left town last week.

That was another reason I needed to have the driveway opened wide yesterday, after the two trucks had been dug free of the drift. Company was coming!

Hunter was a trooper, and suffered his way through standing on three feet, despite the pain. The new farrier, Marcus, said he tells people to imagine having migraine pain in the hoof. Today, Hunter is standing on a couple of reverse horseshoes, and seems to be okay with it, despite his otherwise having only ever been barefoot.

The reverse shoe supports the heel and relieves pressure at the toe.

We are definitely welcoming any relief Hunter can get. It’s been over a month now that he has been suffering, and pretty much everyone around here is suffering right along with him. It takes a toll.

Here’s hoping March brings calm weather and better health. It’s been a tough winter at Wintervale this year.

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Written by johnwhays

February 28, 2018 at 7:00 am

Test Results

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Our veterinarian called with results of Hunter’s blood work. High levels of glucose and insulin suggest equine insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome. I have a feeling we have slowly been building to this over the last few years of under-exercising and over-feeding our horses.

We’ve had hints of the situation before and made some loose attempts to moderate things over the years, but it appears our efforts have fallen short. The prognosis now is calling for a shift to an extreme that we are struggling to reconcile.

There is a high likelihood that Hunter will need to be confined to the paddock and fed a tightly measured amount of hay that needs pre-soaking to reduce the sugar content even more. It is no way for a horse to live, as far as I’m concerned, but it may be what we have to do.

I can’t imagine what it will do to Hunter’s spirit to confine him to the paddock, surrounded by acres of lush green pasture in the summer.

Honestly, our heads are not in a good place right now to frame this with oodles of positive possibilities. In fact, this news just serves to expose how little I have moved from the cloud of grief that descended upon us on the day Legacy died.

This week the horses are spending most of their time in the barn. Well, Hunter has spent ALL of his time in the barn, and the mares get a little break outside each day while Cyndie mucks the stalls. Even this routine feels so wrong, but it is the immediate treatment required to get him beyond this situation of extremely painful hooves.

They are tolerating it well enough.

Everything here seems to be hanging in limbo. I’m wondering if we shouldn’t just let Wintervale have a break for a year, like we did with our hay-field last summer. Let things rest while giving it a chance to become re-energized for a new season of unseen possibilities after some reflection and re-planning.

We are seeking peace with all the new developments, and making time for reflection is going to help. Despite my inclination to want to immediately escape it all in order to put the challenges behind me, I am trusting in the logic of staying put to discover where this all leads.

For our own good, it is best that we not make any rash decisions in the midst of grief and uncertainty.

Now would be a really good time for me to practice some of that procrastination I’m always bragging about.

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Written by johnwhays

February 7, 2018 at 7:00 am

‘Nother Day

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It’s a gorgeous Saturday morning here on the ranch, with snowflakes flying and a fire dancing in the fireplace. Wish you could be here to take it all in with me, but since you are not, I’ll try to enjoy it enough for all of us.

I’m afraid Hunter is going to see this as another day of imprisonment. Despite our belief in an equine sense of the world that is heightened beyond our perceptions, I all too often fall back into a common thinking that we are outsmarting him.

The doctor’s orders are for full-time confinement in the stall with extra bedding for at least a week, plus daily doses of an anti-inflammatory. Whether or not Hunter recognizes our efforts are aimed at relieving his pain, he is not accepting the regiment willingly.

The way Cyndie describes the relative futility of injecting medicine into the mouth of a horse who doesn’t want it reminds me of raising kids. However, there is a big difference between imposing your will on a helpless little baby and a 1000-pound horse.

Watching Hunter battle his forced confinement by biting on the top board of his stall that is just barely out of reach for him breaks my heart when comparing this option to the acres of rolling open fields he is longing to gaze upon.

Our exercise becomes one of searching out a flavoring agent that might loosen his clenched teeth when medicine is delivered, and testing all manner of gimmicks for him to “play” with that will pass his time within the four walls.

We bought a two-burner heat fixture that is mounted atop a small propane tank in hopes of throwing a little heat into the barn during the veterinarian’s visit. Only one of the burners worked. The valve on the second one wouldn’t feed gas unless the starting button was held in.

The instructions said to hold it for 30 seconds. I tried, 3o, 40, a minute, two minutes. Yeah, I’m that patient.

No, it wouldn’t work.

At least the below zero cold is on hold for the days this week, and we are at a balmy 15°(F) with all this snow flying today.

We don’t need no stinkin’ heater.

Luckily, Hunter has received a room upgrade at the inn. Due to a recent vacancy, he has moved from a stall with no window to one on a corner that has two windows.

Here’s hoping he is enjoying the view of the current snow-globe landscape and not wasting his energy gnawing on the top board.

Send our sorry pal your love!

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Written by johnwhays

February 3, 2018 at 10:33 am

Bold North

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There’s a new slogan in town that arose from the committee responsible for landing this year’s Super Bowl game and coordinating all the related local events around it. The motto being brandished everywhere we look is, “Bold North.”

I like it. It speaks of the harsh reality we face in carrying on with our everyday lives regardless the extremes of weather our northern location dishes out. I take pride in being able to tolerate the ridiculous cold or the stifling heat which we face, both happening within a span of mere months from each other.

However, and I really hate to whine about this, there are times when the bitter cold can really become an excessively excruciating pain in the butt, …and the ears, toes, fingers, nose, and even eyes.

We haven’t even received a bill yet for the last time the vet was here when the extreme cold contributed to ending Legacy’s life, and now we need the doc back this morning to take a look at Hunter at a time when it is again so cold that the tools of an equine veterinarian barely function.

It’s hard on the horse and hard on the doctor trying to help him.

That makes it hard on us.

We ran an errand last night to pick up a propane heater in hopes of taking a little of the edge off for the vet while he is working in the barn.

I don’t think I was as grateful as I should have been for the relative luck we had in the prior four years of being first-time horse owners. I basically had no idea what I was doing when it came to being responsible for the ultimate well-being of our herd. Some days I would return from feeding them and realize, if asked how they were doing, I hadn’t really even looked them over all that closely.

I guess that set me up to have a sense that problems were few and far between, and I came to see that as normal.

This past year it feels as though it’s been one issue after another.

Instead of things getting easier with time and experience, we are in a phase of experiencing just the opposite, and it seems to be reaching peaks of difficulty that coincide with drops in temperature.

It’s got me feeling not so bold, after all. In fact, I caught myself having thoughts last night of the type that snowbirds express, like wishing to be somewhere warm during winter.

It’s a blaspheme of what I hold sacred!

I’m from Minnesota! The bold north! I love winter!

 

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Written by johnwhays

February 2, 2018 at 7:00 am

Remembering Legacy

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He was a consummate leader, our Legacy. He arrived to our care in September of 2013, master of this group of 3 chestnuts with which he had been matched. We quickly came to recognize his gracious control of the herd as their benevolent dictator.

In the last couple of months we noticed signs something might be up, hints that maybe he was aware the end was near.

Yesterday morning, Cyndie found him in very bad shape out in the pasture. He had been so uncomfortable he had wrangled out of his blanket, and thus ended up matted with balls of iced-up snow.

Whatever was causing him pain, it was now exacerbated by his nearly freezing in the overnight sub-zero cold. Cyndie was able to get him up and walking back into the paddock before coming to get me and contact our vet. Legacy was heroic about letting us attempt to get him warmed up and responding to some meds, but his age, and condition, and the cold all conspired to keep the interventions short of being able to extend his time.

After a couple of hours waiting to see if he would feel better, his behavior was very clear. The vet returned and gently guided us through the process of helping Legacy through this transition.

Before the vet arrived, we had walked Legacy out of the paddock to open space in front of the barn. He was pawing the ground in response to pain and so Cyndie walked him to pass the time. He did really well for a brief span, but then picked a perfect spot to stop and calmly lay down.

He curled his legs underneath him and sat quietly, no longer needing to paw in pain. He accepted our hugs and condolences and patiently awaited what was to come.

When the truck pulled up, Legacy laid his head down, as if fully aware of what came next.

His amazing spirit is threaded indelibly throughout every single aspect of Wintervale Ranch, right down to the outline of his face in our logo. There are so many amazing, beautiful memories we have and hold of his time with us. He is irreplaceable and we will be challenged to figure out how to manage the days ahead, guiding Dezirea, Cayenne, and Hunter through their grief, while struggling to cope with our own.

Thank you to all of you who are supporting us with your love and kind condolences. Send our horses love. They are visibly disturbed by his departure, yet they mustered strength to provide some loving equine understanding to Cyndie as the vet drove away.

Legacy, (7/18/1996-1/14/2018), we send you off with all the love you fostered here, and more. May your spirit soar!

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Written by johnwhays

January 15, 2018 at 7:00 am

Vet Visit

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It’s like going to the dentist for an annual cleaning and checkup, only it’s horses and the dentist comes to them. The tools involved are a little bigger, too.

Unfortunately, it was ridiculously freezing cold yesterday, but that is when the visit was scheduled. We learned that Cayenne’s eye isn’t scratched and the vet flushed her tear duct just for good measure. She may simply be displaying symptoms of an allergy. The swelling could well have been a reaction to getting something in her eye after rubbing it against her leg in response to itchiness.

Beyond that, the bulk of the fall horse health care focused on their teeth.

Before we owned horses, I had no idea that filing their teeth was something that had to be done, just like I didn’t realize their hooves needed to be regularly trimmed. Horse’s teeth keep growing, and they can develop sharp high points on the molars that become uncomfortable for them and interfere with chewing.

There is a cure for that. After administering a little injection of a calming potion, the vet gets out a big drill with a fancy adaptor on it that spins an abrasive disc. While the horse is becoming woozy, they slip on a barbaric looking apparatus to hold the jaw open and start grinding away.

I expected the horses to react with a big startle when the sound and feel of the procedure resonates in their heads, but they each accepted it calmly, albeit druggedly.

It’s as if they understood it a necessary evil and tolerated the invasion of their space with grace. Well, not all of them were so graceful. Legacy is a total lightweight when it comes to sedation. Even at a half-dose, his legs get hilariously (and somewhat scarily) rubbery.

Yesterday, he spread his front feet wide and got the back legs awkwardly crossed a couple times as he teetered against the corner of his stall. Then he slobbered a big ugly drool just for good measure.

When the doc is done filing away, the horses tend to fade off into a snoring nap until the sedative wears off.

I felt like we should give them each a sticker and a new toothbrush when it was all over.

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Written by johnwhays

November 11, 2017 at 10:07 am