dancing horses

dancing horses

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

The Gratitude Post


The weather is starting to ease up and it feels like spring is on it's way. This morning I was cleaning the stalls, the sun was shining and the birds were chirping (the chickens were also squawking for their treats). I looked out at my two horses enjoying the sunshine and their morning hay and I felt a wave of immense gratitude wash over me.  

I don't usually do those '30 days of gratitude' or other challenges. I do, however, recognize how much I have to be grateful for in my life. 

First of all my friends. Everyone was incredibly supportive. Paula who travelled to the island with me twice. Julia who also travelled with me and also has been there to help with nearly every single bandage change. When she couldn't Tanya stepped in. Karen and Jim gave me and Paula/Julia a soft place to land in PEI. The food, company and support helped me when I was at my lowest. Other friends reached out, checked in  and offered support in so many ways. I love you all. Truly. On Sunday Julia and Tanya came out to change the hoof dressing because they are going to do it while I am away. I stood back and let them go at it. Then they worked out their schedule. As I listened to them talk I realized I didn't have to organize this- they had it covered. It was a huge relief. 

Other friends have reached out to me through all of this. I literally had more offers for help then I could accommodate (but if you're all available at hay time let me know, lol). Let's not forget Wade who helped me get my trailer on the road! My readers have been so encouraging, here and on fb. All of these positive messages have made a huge difference in keeping me optimistic. 

my dressing change basket o' goodies

 Back when Ed was recovering from heart surgery he received a fruit basket. He was going to throw out the basket but I grabbed it. It's great to hold the things we need for the dressing change and I don't have to put them on the floor of the barn. It's been incredibly handy.

The vets- I am sure that they have saved Quaid's life. I know it's their job but honestly, they did more than that- they talked to me, supported me and returned phone calls. I don't know if you are familiar with the 'Not One More Vet' movement, to help prevent the increase in suicide of vet professionals. I would recommend listening to this interview with Dr. Chris White on the Canada Horse Podcast. He is open and honest about the demands and the burnout on our equine vets (and non-equine as well).  When I was at the teaching hospital to pick up Quaid, the assistant was guarded when she gave me the bill. Like she expected me to rant. The surgeon also reviewed the costs and was almost apologetic. 

Look, I know it's expensive. I used to call Quaid my retirement horse. Now I call him my 'retirement savings horse'. X-ray, surgical suites and all those things are pricey.  The ultrasound the vet uses is the same cost as for humans.  As pet/horse owners we are incredibly needy and we can't always see how it's sucking the life out of the people we need the most. When I would on-board new grads to our organization I always had the 'burn out talk'. Basically I told them that the role of clients and their family were to support their person, not the clinician. Our profession is important but it can suck you dry if you let it. I told them to find what refills them in their off hours and to not get sucked into giving all their time to the job. 

funny cartoon to break up wall of text

I believe that my local vets and the college saved Quaid. I can't imagine what would have happened had his puncture and infection remained untreated. So I pay the bills and cut back elsewhere. I am so thankful to the vets I had. 

I sent a photo of Quaid's hoof from Sunday to the college. The vet called me back and said that it looked amazing. And that we can dispose of the duct tape boot and wraps and use dry gauze. This is so amazing and made me so happy I almost cried. It seems that he really is on the road to recovery. 

The last thing I'm grateful for is Ed (and my superior husband-picking skills). He has been beside me through all of this. Not once has he balked at the care or costs of anything (although I am sure he winced). Now that things have thawed, today he's going to scrape out the small turn out to cut down on the mud out there. He really doesn't like me posting things about him so I try to avoid it but he's getting a special shout out today. 

so grateful to see these two

This is my last post for a few weeks. But I will catch up on everything when we get back! 

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Galloping Galoshes


As you can see Quaid is back home where he belongs. Paula and I drove up on Saturday and stayed at Karen and Jim's for the night. Once again we were treated to an incredible multi-course meal. The next morning we headed over the teaching hospital to meet with Quaid's care team and learn what to do. 

I'm going to show a photo of his hoof (sorry if you're squeamish). When this saga is behind us I am going to put all the info in one post- maybe it will be useful for someone. 

The surgery carved out the abscess and derided the coffin bone to healthy bone. 

This photo was sent by the farrier to my farrier the day
he put the shoe and plate on. 

 It seems huge but not as large as I was expecting. 

the medical plate

While I was being shown how to do this, Paula took a video. It's a good reference to have:

Once again, Quaid hopped on the trailer like it was no big deal and was great for the ride home. Carmen was happy to see him, until he breathed on her and then she was all 'I hate you'. Mares. 

The instructions are to remove the plate every 3-4 days, replace the old gauze with fresh soaked in diluted betadine.  Julia and I have done one change and the hoof was looking better already. I had so much in my head that I forgot to take a photo but will for the next change. The biggest danger right now is to keep water and dirt out of the open wound. The plate is not enough. The shoe is also wrapped in duct tape and vet wrap. 

It is, of course, the wettest time of year. 

fresh snow in March is pretty but it's pretty slushy.

Poor Quaid has been on some version of stall rest going on since February 3. For 2 he's handling it extremely well. Hell, he's handling it great for any aged horse. I hate keeping them in, I feel that they are happier when they can be outside. 

I had bought an Easy boot zip when this  all started and it seemed to work great. But I've only had it on him maybe 14 time and it completely disintegrated. 

10/10 don't recommend

I contacted Easy care inc and they said that it was not 'intended for this use' but acknowledged that it wasn't clear about that on the website (they have now changed their website).  But honestly, it's for horses, why would it be so fragile? Have they met horses? Anyway, on their recommendation I have contacted the vendor. I suspect that it's going to be fruitless and I will be out $115 (Canada pricing + shipping). *shrug*

There was too much snow for me to turn him out with a duct tape boot. I was worried that water would seep down. We had some nasty weather so both horses were in anyway while I figured out a solution. Which ended up being this: 

This boot is for soaking but I figured if it kept water in, it should keep water out. I drove to the tack shop in the city and picked it up to try. Do you remember wearing galoshes as a kid? Putting it on is like that. You wiggle it mostly on and then ask your horse to put his foot down to get it the rest of the way. It's pretty open at the top so I put a bell boot over top: 

It works, but I'm going to need a bigger bell boot. What is more money at this point anyway? 

Quaid is not in the larger paddock. I'm pretty sure if he runs around he's going to haul that boot off. So I have him in my small paddock right outside the barn. It's about 36 x36 (which, for the record, he was in with the easy boot too). It's enough to let him walk around and eat some hay. He can come in and out of the barn which he likes. Carmen is in the bigger paddock. So far it's all working. 

I just need to get him to the point of the hole being covered with fresh horn and then he can have more freedom. 

People ask me how he's doing and I always say the same: 'he's good right now'. I just can't let myself think that we're out of the woods. No matter what the vet says. I've been here twice before. I'm trying to be optimistic. Intellectually I know that we should be fine, this time we dealt with the underlying issue (infected bone). But emotionally I 'm not there yet. 

Just keep telling me it's all going to be fine. 

Friday, March 10, 2023

Let the Light In

There is a crack in everything, that's how 
the light gets in (Leonard Cohen)

 Things are beginning to look up. The vet has been calling me every day with updates:

Wednesday the X-Rays looked good and he was feeling good. 

Thursday the farrier came out and put on the shoe with the medical plate. He and my farrier have been in touch. They also began to reduce his pain meds. 

Friday (today) she called- he's doing great. They've stopped the pain meds and he can come home on Sunday! 

He'll need the dressing changed under the plate (about every 3 days) and some restricted turn out but that's all manageable. 

My friend Paula is coming over and we're heading over tomorrow to get him bright and early on Sunday. I really don't want to do a 5 1/2  hour drive, 1 hour at the vets and 5 1/2 hours home in one day. 

In other news: 
I was worried about Carmen being alone but she's been great. The first couple days I gave her trazodone but I weaned her off and she's being herself. A little lonely but not fretting. 

I've been beginning to celebrate my pending retirement. I've had a lunch and 2 dinners with various colleagues. It feels good to celebrate. I'm calling it the 'Teresa Farewell Tour'. 

I have worked with the best people.
Retirement is going to add 10 pounds I think

In a couple weeks Ed and I leave for a trip to Europe: Zurich to Paris on a river cruise. I am so excited. Even thought there's a lot I'll have to organise for Quaid, it feels like things are brighter. 

And in final, awesome news- my son is being posted back to Nova Scotia. We're all very excited.  Things are turning a corner. Finally. 

Monday, March 6, 2023

Quaid Update

 Hi guys, I am not feeling creative enough right now (too tired) for a catchy title, so I just settled for saying what it was about. 

I had a call on Sunday from the resident. It seemed that once Quaid had his Easy Ride boots taken off he became decidedly lame. They decided to go in and found a huge abscess that they drained. There was, to quote the resident, 'lots of pus'. 

I headed home on Sunday and went to work Monday morning. When I arrived my work laptop was acting up. Then I had an email from the college saying that they were trying to reach me. I tried to call on my cell but had a message that I didn't have a plan. Like what the actual fuck? I used my work phone and spoke to the surgeon who just wanted to let me know her plan. 

I then spent an hour sorting out the cell phone thing. There was an error with them registering my auto payment. It was affecting a few users. And of course it was mine. Honestly, with luck like this I should be buying lotto tickets. 

Later in the afternoon the resident called me. They have carved open his foot and derided his coffin bone to get rid of all the infection. They believe they got it all. They also perfused antibiotics into the joint. He'll be one some strong (and expensive) antibiotics to make sure. Wednesday they will x-ray again to make sure.

 If all looks good they will have a farrier put on a medical plate. This will protect the hoof while it heals. I wrote everything down and also double checked because I was sure he said that the shoe would only be on for 3 weeks and then it can come off and he'll be fine. I asked about that because his hole did not heal. He said that it was because there was an infection and that was impeding the healing. 

My farrier and I talked as well and I'm going to try to find out out who the farrier is they use so that he can call him. I am so not fucking up this recovery. 

I asked and the resident said that his prognosis was good to  have a good career. I told him that that was not my concern. My concern was that he be pain free and reasonably sound. The rest I could deal with. He seemed surprised by that. 'look' I said 'I have learned with horses that plans and things that happen are two different things. I love this horse and want him to have a happy life. The rest we'll figure out.' 

That's all I know for now. If anyone has experience with a medical plate I'd love to hear about it. I'll share updates as I get them. 

Old photo from before. Not gonna lie- I'm not going 
to miss the wrapping. 

Saturday, March 4, 2023

A Lull

 Quaid is now at the Veterinary Hospital. 

Thursday night we were hit with a crap ton of snow. Easily a foot. That night, in the middle of blizzard my vet showed up to drop off some Easy Ride boots. She thought that they would help with the drive. 

Ed spent Friday plowing so I could get the trailer out. I usually turn it around so I’m facing down the gentle slope driveway. but it was so slick that I couldn’t get any traction. Ed came and put sand down so I could pull it up but that meant I’d have to go down the steep driveway. It was so slick we had to put chocks behind the wheels. I was freaking out. So I reached out to sone friends. He’s a class 3 driver and within 5 minutes had my truck and trailer turned around. I gave him a huge hug even though we probably weren’t hugging friends (we are now). 

On Friday it looked like he had an abscess pop on his frog. It was tender but he was putting more weight on his foot. I tried on the boots and he was immediately comfortable. I’m decided to leave them on overnight. 

In the morning the boots were off- one even flung into the barn aisle. But he was weight bearing and much perkier. I had made a cocktail for him (๐Ÿ˜€on veterinary advice) of bute, Tylenol and trazadone.  Julia came bright and early and we put the boots on. 

This horse guys.. I don’t deserve him. He walked out and on the trailer without batting an eye. 

The drive was completely uneventful and the roads bare. Other than some restlessness part way through I wouldn’t even have known he was there.

He unloaded at the hospital and walked right in. I met with the intern and resident. The plan of Monday to do the surgery. I won’t know how extensive until then. It could be just another hole or a big hole requiring a special shoe. I did tell them that I didn’t want him saved to live a life of chronic pain. 

It’s such a relief to have him there safe and sound. I can relax and not worry about his care- is he okay in his stall? Is his bandage okay? Does he need his meds?  Know others will make sure he’s fine  

Thursday, March 2, 2023

The Hard Stuff

 It's morning and it's time for yet another dose of medication. Antibiotics this time. I have crushed 12 large pills with sugar using my coffee grinder. I then add in a little maple syrup and some water. It still tastes awful. 

Quaid sees me coming in the stall, eyes the syringe and tries to run away from me. It's heartbreaking to watch him struggle on 3 legs in a small space. I go back out and grab his halter. Up until now I haven't needed it. But after repeated doses of awful stuff  (four times a day) he is done with this crap. 

I stand in the stall holding the halter while he eyes me warily. 

I know,  I saw softly. this stuff is shit and you hate it. Those are totally valid feelings. And you need to have this. 

I stand waiting, not approaching, not feeling anxious. Just breathing. 

After a few minutes, he gives a big sigh and comes over, gently touching his nose to the halter. I slide it on and fasten it slowly, murmuring quietly. I uncap the syringe and put in his mouth giving him the medication. I rub his neck telling him what a good boy he is. 

He swallows and again gives me a reproachful gaze. I drop the syringe in my pocket and offer him an apple piece. He takes it gently and then returns to his hay. 

 In the past I would have rushed to get it in. Now I know better. Rushing a horse will only add to the stress. He has no idea what this is about and it reminds me of when I had to force medications into my children when they were young. It's hard- physically and emotionally. But it's necessary. 

I don't know what this will do to our relationship. I honestly don't. I do know that when he comes home I will be spending a lot of time just being with him and re-establishing the bond we had  before all this hell. 

Horses are resilient and he will respond. I know that. 

It's just hard. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Stop the World, I want to Get Off

 Have you ever felt like you just want to curl into a little ball in the back of a cave and just pretend that nothing is happening? 

Really cheery start, I know, but it's honest. 

When I wrote last, Quaid was feeling great. Good enough to almost break my arm. Fortunately, he did not and, while it is a spectacular colour of black, purple and yellow, it is healing quite well. I had even started turning Quaid into the larger paddock and he was great. A little groundwork and greater turn out and he turned back into his sweet self. 

Until yesterday. 

Monday evening he seemed a little foot sore. But it's been really cold and there are a lot of frozen ruts out there. I was a bit worried but decided to wait until morning. By morning he was 3 legged lame. I wasted no time getting the vet out and she did some more x-rays. 

The good news? the bone chips are gone. They have been absorbed or flushed out or whatever. There was an old, dried up abscess (she poked it and nothing came out). This is the only good news. 

What she did see is some erosion of the coffin bone. She used a more technical term but I cannot remember it. Likely, this is because of the damage of the screw. The only treatment is to take him back to the Vet College for him to have surgery. They will open his foot, scrape the bone and (probably) put a medical plate shoe on him. 

Of course, winter has decided to start, so the earliest window for me to take him is Saturday. My vet assures me that this will make no difference in the outcome. And that the prognosis is still positive. And expensive. I have pretty much exhausted my insurance on the earlier treatment. 

She did say that if that screw had went in further back he would have been put down by now. 

All of this I understand. 

And still, FUCK. 

We think that he's got another abscess coming because of the bone issue. He's in so much pain. I have him on bute and acetaminophen. It's not helping at all. I hope that, if it is an abscess it blows soon. He's spending most of the day laying down. I don't know how to trailer him if he's that sore. I have asked my vet for advice. Maybe we could block it or something. I don't know. 

he's in too much pain to stand for long

I describe myself as optimistic by nature. But the past 2 months have emptied my resilience to zero. Or below zero. What is the term for negative resilience?  

send me all the positive, uplifting support you can.