Thursday, May 22, 2008

One step forward, twelve steps back

Snoopy's back in the hospital. *sigh*

We think that his run-in with the stall door aggravated a cast sore on his leg, causing it to seep. Since infection is to be avoided at all costs, Tina took him back to the hospital yesterday, where they cut a "window" in his cast to examine and treat the sore. Dr. Fisher wants to keep him a couple of days to make certain his cast will still keep his leg immobilized with a hole in it. If it does, he'll be sent back home, where hopefully he won't do some other boneheaded thing to put him back in the hospital. If the cast doesn't stay together...

Okay, I don't know what happens then. I'll try to hunt down the doctor today and get more answers.

The good news is that everybody at the hospital just loves Snoopy, even if he is, in their words, "a little mouthy." A little?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

He's home!

Snoopy finally came home yesterday, with a list of instructions on how to tell if there's something wrong with his cast. Dr. Hinton (I think that's her name - she has a German accent and it seems like everytime I say "Hinson" she says "Hinton" and everytime I say "Hinton" she says "Hinson") explained it all in great detail to Tina and me. It was quite a show, like the clash of the Titans; Tina trying to tell the doctor that she's got, like animal EMT training, and Dr. Hinton trying to tell Tina that she's obligated to explain everything, even if they're a freakin' doctor, and me standing in the middle of it all.

And now comes the part where we keep Snoopy in a stall for 6 weeks and keep him from being bored and feeling so good that he jumps around and re-injures the leg. I hung a toy (Jolly Ball-Apple Snack combo) from a chain and we're doing a little free-feeding of oat hay. He'll get a few alfalfa cubes, but not much. He needs the protein to help his bones knit together, but too much alfalfa will make him too fat and energetic.

I see Ace in our future.
With horses, it's always something.

See the photo from this morning's post? Pay attention to the bottom of the picture, in particular, the gap between the gate and the stall floor.

This afternoon, I walked past Snoopy as he lay, sleeping, in the soft hay. He woke up, stretched so that his cast was sticking out of the gap, then rose, jamming his injured foot in the opening. I immediately tried to get the chain unclipped to open the gate and free his foot. It was stuck.

Thus began a frenzied attempt on my part to free Snoopy, while he calmly pulled his leg to get it out of the trap. He finally bent the door and walked away.

Three-legged. Very three-legged. Oh-My-God-My-Horse-Is-Even-More-Broken three-legged.

Tina (my trainer) was out running errands. I called her, but she didn't answer. She never answers her phone. I'm considering having her cell phone physically installed somewhere on her body, and I don't think she'll like where she has to dial from.

I called Niki (my other trainer), who usually answers her phone. Not today. I called the hospital and got Dr. Brauer's voice mail. I left messages all over. Finally, I called Brigid Murphy, the vet who first looked at Snoop's leg. By this time, I was in tears, as I hate that feeling of abandonment.

Brigid came to my rescue. She drove over, looked Snoopy up and down, and suggested that we just watch him. After that, she went to the hospital and hunted down two surgeons, who agreed with her assessment.

In the meantime, Niki called back and told me to tell the guys at the ranch to take that f*&@!ing door off, Tina came home to tell me that she'll be watching Snoopy tonight, and I stopped wanting to weep uncontrollably.

Tonight, I'm having a Margarita. A big one.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Waiting, waiting, waiting...

Yesterday, Dr. Fisher said that Snoopy could come home today. Tina and I discussed his arrival, planned for putting straw in one of the stalls, etc.

Today, after chasing doctors by phone, Dr. Klohnen informed me that Snoopy was walking a little sore today, so they wanted to keep him an extra day or two to monitor him closely.

Okay, so I'm trying not to worry...

Monday, May 12, 2008

A brief update

It's been awhile since I posted, and people have been asking about Snoopy. He's doing really well, so well, in fact, that he's trying to eat anything and everyone who comes into his stall. And who can blame him for being bored? He's a four-year old who's been standing in a stall for a week. For those of you without horses, this is the equivalent of a 1000-lb teenager.

The latest update is that tomorrow Dr. Fisher will take Snoop's cast off, take some x-rays to see if everything's still holding up, then put another cast on. If the leg looks good, they'll send him home for about 10 days, then bring him back for another cast change.

The costs, of course, just keep coming. Tina just switched the stalls over from shavings to rice hulls (they're very cushy and the horses love them), but the vet would prefer Snoopy be bedded in straw, because he doesn't want small pieces of wood or rice down in the cast.

Not only would it increase the risk of infection, Snoopy can't get a coat hanger in there to scratch any itch!

BTW, we'll send out announcements for the cast signing party.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Speaking of horses and injuries -

Ironically, just as I'm so cautiously optimistic about Snoopy's progress, I read about the tragedy at the Derby on Saturday. Eight Belles broke both ankles and had to be euthanized. I'm not a vet by any means, but I think what she broke were her pasterns; in one article, the vet also mentioned her sesamoid bone, which is what Snoopy broke.

According to the research that Niki and I did about Snoopy's type of injury, broken pasterns and sesamoids were most common among thoroughbreds, and on their front legs. A lot of people have commented to Niki and Tina that they have had horses with these injuries, but the bone has been crushed, resulting in euthanasia.

In other words, we were lucky.

I have mixed feelings about horse racing. On the one hand, it's thrilling to watch. Having read all of the Black Stallion books as a child, I spent plenty of hours imagining myself on a speeding horse, flying around the track to victory.

On the other hand, it's just cruel. These horses are babies, for Pete's sake, they're only 3 years old. Yes, they're as big as tanks at 3, but their joints, their muscles, are all still growing. The pounding of slender hooves on the hard track takes its toll on all of them. Not to mention what some trainers will do to "get more speed" out of them. From diuretics to "make them lighter", to cattle prods to "urge them forward", don't ever think for a moment that trainers love their horses too much to hurt them.

"But they love to run," is the common response. Yes, race horses love to run. But we have bred them to love to run, the same way that we have bred certain dog breeds, like bulldogs, to love to bite things. Does that make it right?

I confess, when I was looking for a suitable stud for breeding Frostie, my mare, I studied bloodlines and temperment, so in a way, I meddled with Snoopy's birth as much as any race horse breeder. But, at the end of the day, have we really been fair to any of these animals by tampering with their family trees?

Saturday, May 3, 2008

He's ba-a-a-ack!

When I visited Snoopy yesterday, he was much perkier, altho not in a bad, stall-spinning way. He began trying to chew on me again, just like his old self. He's also getting used to the cast on his leg, half-swinging and half-dragging it to get around in his stall. There's a lovely view of the stable next door outside his window, and he seems to enjoy watching the jumping lessons.

I decided to bring a curry with me when I see him today to give me something to do, besides smack his nose and tell him to quit trying to eat me!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Day 3 of Snoopy's accident...

Day 1 of his recovery.

His surgery was very successful. I still haven't talked to the surgeon, but one of the vets who witnessed it said "everything came together" well.

I visited Snoop last night. He was alert, if wobbly from the anesthesia, and eating. He's got a big cast on his left hind leg - I'm hoping that, once he's feeling better, he doesn't try to eat the cast. He's such a land shark!

When he was in surgery yesterday, I tried to think about how the vet reassured me. It's an easy fix, a simple surgery, they do them all the time. But in the back of my head was the worry: anesthesia. Anesthesia is what screws things up.

Once I heard Snoop was in recovery, I suddenly discovered that my appetite had returned.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The beginning of a bad year

Yesterday was a bad, bad day.

I arrived at the ranch for my lesson, cranky as hell. My trainer, Tina, had called my cell phone to tell me that my lesson needed to be finished by 3 p.m. because she had a dog client coming in. This wouldn't have been a problem, except that I turned my cell phone on as I got into my car to go to the ranch - at 1:45. I didn't want to hurry, and I wanted to get a good lesson, since I was planning to show Snoopy for the first time ever this Saturday.

So I raced to the ranch, then ran around trying to get Snoopy ready and ridden before 3. I lunged him in the roundpen for 10 minutes, which wasn't enough, but I got on him anyway. It took less than once around the arena for him to throw a tantrum, so I got off and we went back to the roundpen for more running.

Niki (the other trainer) joined me, and together, we kept him racing around.

And then it happened. His back end started moving "funny." Niki thought he had just tweaked a muscle, so we slowed him to a trot, then a walk. But he didn't trot or walk it off. He just kept limping.

Dr. Bridget Murphy, a friend of Tina's, came out and looked him over. She thought he needed x-rays, but optimistically told me that it might be a weird abcess.

Yeah, right.

Chino Valley Equine Hospital is just down the street from the ranch, so Tina loaded Snoop in the trailer and took him for x-rays. I joined them a few minutes later, just in time to go into the examination room and look at the x-rays.

"See this line?" the good doctor asked, pointing to a white line across a bone. "He broke his pastern."

"What do you do for that?" I asked, hoping the answer wasn't, shoot him.

The doctor took out a model of a horse's foot and explained how they would open the leg up and fuse the joints with metal plates. He probably said a lot more, but my mind got stuck on "fuse the joints."

The upshot is that Snoopy is currently in surgery, he'll be on lay-up for 6 months, and I don't have to worry about whether I ride in the show on Saturday.