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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Life Throws Everyone Hiccups...ACOs are NOT Immune

We all know life throws you hiccups. The more animals you have the more likely something is going to happen. Even for ACOs.

We had a "wonderful" lightning storm a few days ago. When it first started, I though someone was stealing our garbage can and dragging it down the road. That's happened! It was down the street and across near a field! That was the rumble that the thunder was making. I peered out the window to see a brilliant flash and another rumble. Followed by another flash. Then I heard the dogs pounding at the back door to be let in. Our rottie is one of those that is terrified of thunder and lightning. She couldn't wait to get in to be comforted by her daddy. The hound didn't seem to really understand what all the excitement was about, And the Old Retriever, stone deaf, was snoring away.

When the dogs came charging into the house, of coarse one of the inside only cats chose this chaotic moment to make a dash out the door. I don't think he realized what he was running out into. I put my shoes on to go out to catch the stupid cat and check the horses. This storm was really putting on a show. I could hear my neighbors and their kids on their back patio ooh and aah at the spectacle. I was a little apprehensive. Lightning makes me a little jittery.

I started out looking for the cat, but when the big drops of rain started to come down, and I could feel the electricity in the air, not to mention I was standing in between two very tall trees and our metal awning. The cat was on his own now.

I took a quick look at the horses, who appeared to be standing fairly calmly by the gate near the barn. All was well. So I went back in the house and watched the storm pass over from the safety of my home. I did go out on the front porch and found Mr. Escapee under my truck. He didn't seem to be all that heartbroken to be coming back inside at this point.

I went to bed and apparently missed most of the second storm that rolled through.

The next morning I slept in late. This was the first time in ages since school was now out and it was the first day of my weekend. The dogs tried to get me up at the usual time. But I wasn't budging. I finally got up at their insistent and to avoid any potty accidents. I figured since I was up I would stay up and go feed the horses breakfast and get my day started.

I got out to the barn and could see that the horses were in my neighbor's pasture. This wasn't unusual since we have a gate between pastures and our horses help keep his pasture mowed and our horses keep his ram sheep company. What was unusual was that none of them were in the barn demanding breakfast as this so-very-late 1 hour past our feeding time.

Then I noticed the gate and the fence, or rather the absence of one.

Well actually the fence and gate were there, the gate was laying flat on the ground as was the section of fence next to it.
Uh oh.
My first glance at the horses as I headed out to the downed gate and pasture didn't raise any red flags. Everyone was standing with all legs appearing to be intact. No broken legs. That is a horse owners worst nightmare, one that I experienced personally with one of my first horses when I was young.

I looked at my freaky Arabian first. She was fine and nickered softly as I approached them. Next was my husband's Thoroughbred. He too was fine. Standing next to him my daughter's Mustang, Nikka.
She's standing there with her mule-ish ears perked forward and this large flap of skin hanging from her right side just behind her elbow. Of coarse I didn't have my cell phone on me, and I hadn't even thought to bring a halter.

The neighbor on the other side of my neighbor hollered a greeting. Apparently he had tried to get a hold of me when he and his wife saw the horse a hour ago. He told me that he called my work and let them know that my horse was injured and he couldn't get a hold of me but figured they could.
I thanked him for trying and excused myself to go get my phone and a halter.

I put a call into my vet. She was busy on the other side of the county, but she would be on her way as soon as she was done where she was at.
(Tip: Especially when you own large animals, have a prior relationship with your Large Animal Veterinarian. I have my vet come out twice a year to do health checks and vaccinations. Yes, I could do them myself, but I wouldn't have the good relationship with my vet if I didn't. This can save you a lot of time and grief trying to find a vet and wondering in a emergency, how are your horses going to react to them.)

After putting the call in I went out and brought the horses in. All three were still grouped together. No one was leaving anyone behind. I haltered Nikka , and for once she didn't try to run away or kick me. She can be nasty and stubborn.

All four of us, slowly walked to the barn. I got the Arab and the Thoroughbred in the two stall side and brought Nikka over the the single stall. I knew she would need to be separated. I did a more through exam of her and determined that while it look REALLY BAD, it was not as bad as it looked. I fed all the horses, knowing that this would also help prevent Nikka from moving around.

I called my husband and he was able to get off work to come home. I had him stop at the feed store for some supplies that I was going to need before the vet got there to clean and keep the wound moist. This would be important to her treatment and recovery. I had our basic first aid kit and supplies for legs, minor injuries and " boo boo's". This was definitly going to require a little more than what I had on hand.
(Tip: You should learn basic first aid for your types of animals before an emergency occurs. Knowing their anatomy is helpful, as well as vital signs and temperatures. Also keep a basic first aid kit for your types of animals. you can put together your own, or buy them at Feed Stores and Pet supply stores.)
When the vet arrived we had her all ready to be examined. Then the work began.

Sedation. Scrubbing. Rinsing. Prepping the area. Then sewing.
It took nearly 2 1/2 hours, repeated shots of sedative and 37 stitches. we measured the top of the wound to be about 4 1/2 inches across and nearly 12 inches down. She had basically (as my daughter would say "GROSS OUT ALERT") pulled a flap of fat and skin away from muscle.

After all that she is on a course of strong antibiotics and pain meds. In the beginning she was trying to kill me. But now she figures she get a boat load of grain afterwards so she isn't being quite as bad. This horse is a food whore. That's also why she is only getting grass hay with her meds, supplements, and grain. Miss Piggy should be her name. She's also confined to a small area so she can't graze the pasture, the grass keeps her a little busy.

Keeping the area clean is the biggest challenge. Especially with the fly repellent for wounds smeared all over.

Things are going OK for now.

Just like everyone else, ACOs have catastrophes too.

Oh, and I did call my dispatcher and told her my neighbor had called. She had the call for the injured horse but it had been cancelled. My neighbor called them back just after talking to me to let them know I was there and taking care of things.
(Last Tip: It's good to get to know your neighbors, even if it's just introducing youself or saying hello. And have a way for them to get ahold of you in an emergency. And when the dogs are trying to get you out of bed, it's for a good reason!)

If your interested in the "graphic" photos you can go to :
You may need a strong stomach for these.

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