Horses Fix Everything

Okay.  Maybe not the leaky faucet. But they do make darn good therapists.

For a number of reasons (menopause, menopause, and menopause) my emotional life has been…a roller coaster of deteriorating states of angst.  Nothing is wrong.

I’m reliving puberty without the sense of invincibility and entitlement.  I think Nature made an eensy mistake with the timing.  Moms should not go through hormonal roller coasters at the same time as their kids.  That is so wrong.

Yesterday Shaun suggested we hire help for the house cleaning.  What would most women feel in this situation?


What does Jane feel?

FAIL. I can’t even keep the house clean.  I SUCK.  I don’t want no stinkin cleaning service.  I can do it!  Really!!

It’s almost like I’m looking for angst.

  • Hudson has an abscess!  On no!  I’ve only treated thousands of abscesses!!  Whatever will I do??!
  • Oh no!  I can’t get the entire house clean in one day anymore.  I’m becoming elderly!! I’m going to start forgetting everything any day now!!!
  • Friend and I find we agree on some things, agree to disagree on others.  We are not perfectly aligned!  The friendship is doomed!!!!
  • The dog hasn’t been walked before noon every day this week.  Bad, bad mom. I do not deserve to be loved.
  • I forgot to meet Micah in an online game on Monday (the family that kills together…no that can’t be right?). He’ll spend the rest of his life resenting me, and develop abandonment issues. I missed helping him maim and slay!!!
  • I have age spots.  I’m going to start forgetting everything any day now!!! (But not the age spots, those I’ll remember.) What was I saying?

By the time I arrived at the barn, I was trying not to cry, and fully aware that I was completely psycho.

I turned the boys out into the sunshine (not fully registering it’s warm and sunny, helllllooooo…nice opportunity for cheering up…), and watch them roll and kick up a bit. Hudson looks fairly sound, that’s good.  I let them play in blanket-less joy and go ready what we’ll need for today’s care.

I ride Dinero bareback, and pony Hudson.  I can watch H move, stretch Dinero out, and don’t have to hike. (Oh Lord.  I’m lazy too!  Lazy and forgetful!  What did my mom say was next?  Oh yeah, shiftlessness.  Doomed.  I’m doomed.)

Dinero helped.  He’s sweet and kind, and doesn’t ruffle easily.  He walked out happily and ignored my perfect storm of feelings about absolute balderdash.  Hudson looked sound.

I stop sniffling.  Hudson looks sound!  Dinero was making me laugh.  Part of “getting stuff ready” was putting Dinero’s grain in their paddock.  He goes in solo first, so Hudson doesn’t muscle him away from his food.

Dinero decided that the better he marched, the faster he’d get his grain.

March march march march. I half expected John Phillip Sousa to pop out of the tack room with a band. Hudson had to break into bits of trotting to keep up.  By the time Lily arrived, I’d stopped sniffling, noticed it was warm and pretty, and began to understand the real problem: I’m psycho, can’t help it; gonna have to ignore it.

I stop the boys and talk to Lily.  Dinero cocks a hoof and yawns.  He’s sleepy, warmed by the sun.  Hudson does something he’s never done with me before.  With Dinero starting in on the ZZz’s, Hudson sidled up, and lays his head across my lap, listening to Lily and I talk, looking a little sleepy himself.

Lily said “Do you have a camera on  your phone?  We have to get this!”  I gave her my cell.  And Hudson hugged me, thrilling me to pieces.  It’s the first time.

It was the best possible dose of Psycho No More.


They do fix everything.


The Young and the Liftless

I relate my conversations with Hudson to Shaun.  Normal.  They go something like this:

Jane: You’re never going to believe what happened today.  Hudson is so smart.  You know how he’s been fine with me putting the rubber boot on his hoof?

Shaun: Mmmm.

Jane: He’s convinced he will die if he let me take it off, right?

Shaun: Uh. Mmmmm.

Jane: Today he argued.  He wouldn’t let me put the boot ON, because he’s figured out he’ll have to let me take it off. Smart, huh?

Shaun: Did you say you had an argument with Hudson?

Jane: Not an argument exactly.  More like a conversation with very strong feelings.

Shaun: (putting down book)  Tell me about it.

Jane: I got all the stuff ready, he saw the boot and said: forget it. You know I don’t care if you put it on.  I don’t care if my hoof is in it.  But I don’t like when you take it off.  The rubber touches my leg.  Not working for me.  Figure something else out.  Not cooperating.

Shaun: So did he talk to you like this the entire time?

Jane: Oh yeah.

Shaun: Tell me.

Jane: (surprised Shaun is interested) Okay.  I cleaned out his hooves, leaving the hurt one for last, figuring he’d be in the pattern by then, and I totally expected he’d pick it up.

Shaun: I meant: tell me like you were talking to each other.

Continue reading “The Young and the Liftless”

General Horspital

I expected, on day 3 of abscess treatment, Hudson’s “hoof seam” would be open and draining, like a good little abscess.  We do not have a good little abscess.  We have a sneaky, wandering abscess.

I am not happy to be The Abscess Queen today. Because instead of telling someone else where things stand, I had to tell myself:

  • This is going to be a long one
  • He’s going to hurt
  • I have to make him work while he hurts
  • I have to withhold (within reason) Bute unless it blows wide open. If I mask the pain, I won’t be able to help him, or I might work him too hard.  It’s a balancing act.  You want blood pumping through his legs and hooves, cleaning things out, and exercise does that.  But you also don’t want to torture your horse and put them in big pain.
  • I had to reassure myself of my qualifications: You have ten years of doing this balancing act. You know what you’re doing, so relax ma’am, you got it covered. You also know when it’s time to call the vet.
  • What reassures other people is not reassuring me.  How unfair is THAT?
  • What I want to do is cry.
  • My boy is ouchy.  He has a boo boo!  It hurts!
  • This is just the beginning of the pain
  • Doctors are not allowed to work on family members?  Get it.

The abscess is migrating along the outside of the hoof wall toward the bulb. The opening closed up.  Not skinned over: sealed.  Another seam had opened an inch or so behind this one.  I soaked that sucker.  Tried gently to open the seam.  Not skinned over. Sealed.

When I was finally able to convince him the soaking boot was not a magical gravity boot, and get it off, the right bulb of that hoof was twice the size of the left.  I think that’s where it’s going to open.  Better, pain-wise, since the bulb has some ability to expand.

I’m trying not to think how much harder it will be treatment wise, given the rain, the mud, his hatred of stalls, and pray for a nice little dime sized opening up high, that will drain right out, and be easy to keep open and clean.

Hudson’s farrier, Dane, was here Friday shoeing other clients.  He really likes Hudson, so took a look. Said he’s seeing a lot of abscesses this winter.  And this year, they are being sneaky, going underground and then blowing open a week later.  At that point, I felt we were seeing the worst, and Hudson had a straight-shooting abscess.  Nope.  Proceeding just like other horses in the area.

I learned a new thing:

When it’s someone else’s horse, you do your job, know it’s going to be okay, and go home and sleep like a baby, happy you are helping save your friend a big vet bill.

When it’s your horse, you wake up at 2 am, and wonder if you soaked it long enough, if it’s draining yet, if he’s okay, if you should call the vet.

But you don’t call the vet, because the vet would tell you to do exactly what you’re doing (and wonder why you called).

Therapy.  I would call for the kind of psychotherapy only a vet can give: he’s going to be fine…

Magical words when spoken by an authoritative veterinarian.

Sucky words when spoken by your brain TO your brain.

(I hope you can hang in with me, it’s going to be a long week.)

When A Hitch in the Giddy-Up Isn’t What It Seems

Hudson has a recurring muscle spasm in his shoulder, right below the withers, but above the shoulder itself.  He hasn’t been lame.  He’s been…off.  I have used massage, Sore No More, heat, stretching, and work.  It gets better, even goes away.  Next day: it’s back. Hard and baseball-sized.

I started worrying.  Bute helped a little.  It should have helped much more.  I checked his hoof temperatures, they were even all the way around.  Looked for soft spots on his sole, just in case.  No bruising.  He’s trotting out and putting his weight normally on that hoof. Unlikely it’s an abscess.  They usually come on quickly, and are immediately painfully obvious.

But he’s not right.  I put an oversize (waterproof) heating pad on his shoulder, slipping it under his blanket.  It’s a chilly day.  He loves the heat.  I can’t leave him for a second (electricity) so I decide to thoroughly brush his legs.  Stimulate circulation as well as get the mud off. I scrape mud off his hooves.

I’m brushing the leg with the sore shoulder, all the way down to the coronet band.  Odd. A couple of hairs are sticking up funny.  They don’t brush down.  I feel the spot.  Bingo.

Abscess! I’ve never seen one on an outer hoof wall.  At first I’m not positive what I’m seeing.  Check the bulb of his hoof, a more usual abscess area.  Normal.

Definitely a split hoof where there was not one yesterday.  I shave the hair away.  Get the soaking boot, epsom salts, betadine, and start boiling some water.  Luckily, thanks to Tiny, I have no abscess fear.  I can fix this.  I call Bella to check protocol on treating an exterior hoof abscess, I’ve never seen one on the outside wall of a hoof this far from the bulb. Needed to make sure it was the same treatment.

Last time he had an abscess?  Hind hoof, exterior wall, just below the coronet band. Good to go: this is within normal parameters for him.  It also explains the recurring muscle spasm in the shoulder.  He’s compensating and his shoulder is sore.

Photo of (black) abscess seam below.  Red is betadine, not blood.

Poor Hudson.

He’s terrific about the Davis boot and the soaking.

He’s horrified when I want to take the boot off.  He’s convinced the boot May Not Be Moved for any reason.  His hoof is in there, and it’s going to stay there!  I tried everything, including an elbow in the stomach.  Nope.  He grit his teeth and planted that foot.  He moved all the others for me, to show he wasn’t being bad, he was willing to move hooves, just not THAT one.  Had I not noticed THAT one was now attached to the ground?

It took two of us to get the boot off.  One to “untrack” him, leading him forward or sideways, while I stood like a quarterback ready for the handoff. The instant his knee was bent, I whipped the boot off.

As Bella said: this is why we wait a few days, (when there is no heat or swelling), because it might be something easy, like an abscess!

Whew.  A good lesson in the thing that presents, a locked up shoulder, might simply be a symptom of the real problem: a hoof.




Adventures in Abscesses: Part 2

We finished our pre-treatment exercising.  I felt Tiny start to use that hip more as he got tired.  That’s the great thing about bareback: it’s easy to feel subtle changes.  It’s bad enough he has a sore hoof, I didn’t want him to wake up with a sore hip (from compensating) in the morning.  I got off and hand walked him the rest of the time.  His movement returned to normal.

Adventure B:

Current Treatment with documentation!

Step 1: Find horse.  (At other end of carrot.)  Try to take decent picture in the dark from a really bad angle.  ???  Everything goes black.

Pull lens out of Tiny’s mouth.  Ew.

Continue reading “Adventures in Abscesses: Part 2”

Adventures in Abscesses: Part 1

Aren’t horse people wonderful?  One can write a title like Adventures in Abscesses and know that every horse person will look forward to it as avidly as the non-horsey would approach Adventures in Austria.  How many of you are grossed out?  See?  Just the two people who were trying to find a random humor blog. (Sorry. Had to pat you all on the back.  And give the two people time to leave.)

I decided to make this as easy as possible.

I waited until it was pitch black outside, then drove to the barn with my camera, pen light, and good intentions.

Adventure A: Pre-treatment exercise

Tiny’s abscess has been lanced: walking is not only good for him, it’s imperative to keep the circulation going for the infection to heal.  The bad news: it’s the right thing to do even if he’s still a little sore.  (Not lame, not off, just ouchy) Walking outside is too rocky, walking in the arena is a bit clumsy with other people riding, so I opt for Bute and a bareback pad.  He still has his diaper-padded, duct tape boot on.

When Pops left, so did the 3-step mounting block.  What’s the big deal?  I’ll use the 2-step and leap right on.  Tiny is smart.  He’s figured out long ago that the mounting block doesn’t strain his back.  He’s totally with the program, and lines himself up perfectly.   I grab a chunk of mane with the reins and do that hop and swing-over thing that lands one lightly on a bareback horse.  I run into a slight hitch.  I may think I’m 15?  But  I passed 15 a loooooong time ago.

I don’t land on top.  I land on his side. I have my right arm over his neck, my right ankle hooked onto his right hip bone, I can see under his neck (the location of my head) and my left leg is clumsily flailing around under his belly, because it’s still convinced we made it.   The right side of my body is yelling MAYDAY MAYDAY, and the left side of my body is saying “What?  Huh?  How come I can see under his neck?”

Continue reading “Adventures in Abscesses: Part 1”