Monday, March 19, 2007

Accident-prone horse

As part of doing morning chores on March 7, I looked at all of the outdoor horses in their paddocks. I saw that Cairo, our now 3 year old purebred Arabian chestnut gelding had gouged his back right leg on its front side and it was open and red. Cairo is the first horse we bought, so he’s very close to my heart. I got Ian from the house, rounded up the First Aid kit, some of which was frozen in the barn, and brought Cairo into the barn. I could see it hurt him to stand on it. He was not too happy with me cleaning it out either. I had a small bucket of warm water that I soaked a square of cotton dressing in, and then I cleaned out the cut by first pouring peroxide on it followed by betadine (brown antiseptic stuff) and rinsing clean with warm water. I got it cleaned as best I could and with a two-step dancing horse it ain’t easy. When clean it looked like a deep scrape and did not require the vet visit.

Last year Ian and I became quite adept at dressing leg wounds when Whisper cut himself on a metal gate panel, so this looked like something we could handle. I slathered the cleaned wound with triple antibiotic ointment and wrapped it with cotton dressing cut to fit his lower-leg size and then wrapped it with red-colored vet wrap. Cairo was able to walk on the leg, although it looked sore. We gave him some herbal painkiller paste orally, which he wasn’t too happy about either, but in the scale of unhappy it was on the low end. I put him in the extra fourth stall to promote rest and healing that he wouldn’t get being turn back outside with his two buddies Jay and Whisper.

Cairo was well on the way to being healed and back to freedom when he cut himself again on a different leg on the 21st. Maybe he doesn’t like Wednesdays! I went out as usual to feed breakfast to the horses in the barn – all was well – but when I returned 45 minutes later to turn them out (Cairo was able to go into his own paddock during the day) there stood Cairo with his right front leg drenched in blood! This cut looked bad and I once again got Ian so we could assess the situation together.

I turned out the three mares from their stalls and with my bucket of warm water, cotton dressing, betadine, etc. began cleaning the cut. I was rinsing it out when it began to spray blood like pinprick holes in a garden hose. Freaked me OUT! Ian told me to put the wet cotton dressing on the wound; he’d hold it while I wrapped it with vet wrap as a compress. Good idea and Cairo was cooperative! I did that and then bolted for the house and the phone. I called the vet and she arrived about 45 minutes later.

Unusually, Heide and her youngest son Pierce (4) were also on hand that morning. Pierce got to see the horse’s owie. Heide usually comes on Tuesday and Fridays to clean the barn, but it was lovely to have her on hand just in case.

The vet gave Cairo some happy juice, put five stitches in the cut above his right knee, gave him a tetanus shot and after complementing me on the leg wrapped dressing on his rear right leg suggested I dress the new one too with a bandage that extended over his knee joint to help restrict movement. I did this and for two days Cairo walked the stall like a peg-leg pirate. I felt so bad for him because his leg was swollen up into his shoulder. We dosed him twice daily with the herbal painkiller paste, fed him lots of hay, a handful of grain when the others were fed and all the water he could drink.

Yesterday, I took Cairo out for a little walk. He’s feeling pretty good and decided he’d try crowding me a little and added in a bit of rearing for good measure. I gave a couple of good yanks to jolt him back to reality where that behavior is not acceptable and then the time out of his stall was pleasant for all involved. He’s on stall rest until Thursday and we’ll see how the wounds look before he can be turned back outside.

Putting on our Crime Scene Investigator hats and following the blood spatter that was at human eye-level, Cairo must have gotten impatient after breakfast and reared up in his stall where his right leg reached out over the top of the panel and caught the edge of the metal light switch cover (a good six inches away) and after cutting himself he then traveled along the top of the stall, sliding until he could get his legs down again. What a nutball. He is now in a stall that has wooden planks form floor to ceiling. Its window to the horse pasture keeps him occupied and connected as each horse in turn comes up to greet him sometime during the day.

It’s never dull on the Auld Macdonald Farm.