Life in our Foothills September 2023 – A Few of My Favorite Things
Published 2:37 pm Wednesday, September 13, 2023
Fresh pine-scented shavings,
And whiskers on barn cats,
Spotless new feed buckets,
And soft rubber stall mats,
Bales of compressed alfalfa,
Tied up with two strings,
These are a few of my favorite things,
When the horsefly bites,
When the wasp stings,
When I am feeling sad,
I simply remember my favorite things,
And then I don’t feel so bad!
Some periods in each of our lives are just a bit more challenging than others. Too much rain followed by too little. Bouts of colic and enduring sleepless nights in the normally peaceful stable wreak havoc for humans and horses alike. My life is close to perfection for a pony, but I am not immune to trouble.
For some unknown reason, I foundered in both of my front feet. This is an exceedingly painful condition. It feels like walking on broken glass, barefoot. My stall had to be prepared with deep pine shavings and my walkout paddock filled with soft sand to cushion each step. During this time, I had to focus on a few of my favorite things.
In my case, misery did not readily welcome company. However, I was happy to see Sedona, when she came in each evening to the neighboring stall. I also welcomed the gentle Australian Shepherd, Sable, and our watchful Anatolian, Dutch. He loves to come out and nap in my pasture when I am in the barn. It gives him a great vantage point for viewing all the rescue horse pastures on the north side of the ranch.
I also enjoyed the visits with Miss Kitty, our sweet tabby barn cat. She often naps in the hay, or on top of the tack trunk next to my stall. Miss Kitty is a gentle soul. She is quiet, undemanding, and a wonderful addition to our lives. We never see a mouse here, thanks to her vigilance.
One possible cause of my founder was my annual vaccinations were too hard for some unknown reason on my petite body. The founder set in a few days after receiving my shot for Eastern/Western equine encephalomyelitis, tetanus, and West Nile virus. The dosage they administer to me at 300 lbs. is the same as a full-size, 1,000 lb. horse. Then, add the rabies vaccine on top of this. I felt awful for a few days and then came the founder.
Another possible reason is that I reacted to the higher levels of sugar in the grass when mother nature blessed us with bountiful rain after a long dry spell. The grass grew so quickly throwing up rich seed heads. These seeds are delicious and high in sugar.
No one caught it at first that I was out of sorts. Since I spend a lot of my day napping in the shade, it was not immediately apparent I was in trouble. Then I started limping as it was becoming difficult to walk up to the gate.
Founder (laminitis) is inflammation of the laminae of the foot, a serious condition, caused by the pedal bone rotating and pointing towards the equine’s sole. It is also one of the most common reasons for disability and lameness in ponies and horses. The soft tissue structures attach the coffin or pedal bone of the foot to the hoof wall and the inflammation damages the laminae causing extreme pain in the foot.
My entire schedule with my pasture pal Sedona had to be rearranged. A grazing muzzle was placed over my mouth when I went out for a few hours a day on my green pasture. I hobbled to my shady corner under the old oak trees and watched Sedona graze happily while I suffered the indignity of the muzzle.
It only took me three outings before I devised a plan to break this torture device, using the fence to pry it apart and break the hardware. Ponies, as everyone knows, are far more clever than horses. I had outwitted everyone who thought that muzzle was a smart idea. My grass time had to be kept to a minimum until cool weather returned, and the grass went dormant. My hooves also required trimming every two weeks to address the angles of my feet to take the pressure off my toes and ease the pain. The dying part of my hoof was also trimmed out to make room for new growth and healthy tissue. All this labor of love was conducted by Heather’s husband, Scott Homstead, who is a trained farrier; this is just one of his many talents here on the ranch.
What I have failed to mention, up until this point, is that my devoted mistress, Heather Freeman, who cares for me was also only able to hobble during this ordeal. She had taken a bad fall off her favorite trail horse, Night Lark, and the result was a shattered femur right below the ball of the hip joint. The area and severity of the break made the repair work exceedingly challenging for the orthopedic surgeon. The operation did not go well. In total, it took three additional surgeries and lots of recovery time before she could walk without a walker or cane. So, the two of us were certainly a pair, limping along to tackle small amounts of exercise to keep our spirits up daily.
During our convalescing, Heather also installed a lovely shade garden behind the house. While I could not participate, it was good to know she had a project to lift her spirits beyond just adoring me. The garden is truly a paradise for hummingbirds, butterflies, and Heather. Because I might eat something I should not, like jasmine for example, which is toxic, I cannot enter the flower-filled oasis.
Everyone needs joy to keep them focused on the good things. So, despite all the suffering, enjoying a few of our favorite things while the two of us mended, helped us not to feel so bad. Who does not like the sound of that music?