It's cold out there, just ask the donkey!

It’s cold out there, just ask the frosty donkey.

I’ve been feeling pretty guilty towards HJU lately. I have had every intention to blog something, but it just seems like I either keep forgetting or put it off. It’s hard to say why, I love the website and all the people that surround it, but I’m a little bit stuck in a rut, and my Horse Junkie heart is carrying some bruises from a surprisingly tough last couple of months.

Now, I do lay part of the blame on the weather. As many of you can surly attest to, it has been a cold winter thus far, and here in Calgary, we have incredible amounts of snow. For example, we have walls of snow surrounding our driveway, so much that we are beginning to question where we are going to put it as our tractor cannot reach any higher. As someone who does not have easy access to an indoor, this is a bit of an issue.

The roads are icy, and it is impossible to get into the surrounding fields. Sure, there is the pasture I guess (and within it, really only the parts where there are not massive drifts), but as one neighbor put it, that is along the lines of kissing your sibling- it’s a kiss, but it’s not satisfying.

Leading up to Christmas break, I came to terms with this and made a plan to spend some time riding bareback in areas where it was still safe, focusing on my own seat and balance. Unfortunately, I was never quite able to get there, and one question began to reoccur within my mind:

Why do we have horses, again?

A few days into break, I got a phone call at about 9:30pm from my neighbour, an incredibly kind soul who allows me to keep Traveller at their place. “Hi Keara, now I don’t want you to panic, but Traveller has injured his face.” Umm, come again, his face? She continued on to explain that, when they went out to feed, they noticed that Trav had blood all over both of his front legs. Upon closer inspection, it was actually all coming from a nasty cut on the bridge of his nose. Immediately I went over to investigate, and made the decision to call the vet as I felt that it likely required stitches.

Long story short, the vet happened to be in the area, so she arrived very quickly to take a look. Agreeing that it needed to be stitched, she gave him a shot of bute to help with pain and swelling, and we arranged an appointment at the clinic for the next morning where we would be out of the bone-chilling -35 wind chill.

Luckily, the wound was very uncomplicated, and came together very well. With that said though, never a stoic animal, Traveller proceeded to feel incredibly sorry for himself, sulking in corners of the pasture, picking at his feed, and sucking on our jackets at any chance he got. Any type of riding, even with just a rope around his neck, was out until he felt better.

Rudolph? Waiting to go into the clinic.

Rudolph? Waiting to go into the clinic.

A couple of weeks later, just three days before Christmas, the stitches came out, and he was looking good except for the little bit of weight that he dropped. Since it was a busy time anyway, I continued to put riding on hold, but bumped up his daily supplement slightly in order to help him to regain those pounds. Following the holiday rush, and entering 2014, I saw a glimmer of hope on the riding horizon. He was looking good, and with just over a week left of break, I figured that I could at least get a ride or two in, but alas, I suppose it just wasn’t meant to be.

Bringing his supplement over to him one afternoon, I noticed that Trav was laying down. No biggie, I called him and he got up to come, so I continued around to the other side of the shelter to put it in the trough. Finding it odd that he wasn’t hot on my heels, I turned back around and saw that he had plunked himself back down into a snowdrift. My heart sank. Grabbing a halter, I hoofed it over to where he was laying, and his sweat soaked coat confirmed my suspicions, he was colicing. Having lost my other horse to colic, I play zero games with it, and was on the phone to the vet. Luckily, I use a large equine facility, so a vet was available to come out right away, so we wouldn’t have to wait that long. Unfortunately, when speaking with the receptionist, I had to warn them that one of the roads was impassible with snow from the most recent storm, so they would have to go around and come in the back way.

As we were waiting, Trav did start to perk up. He went from trudging along behind me, to giving me some attitude and nipping at my pockets – signs of a bad horse, but good signs for his health. Having been keeping an eye on both roads I was happy to see the vets truck come down the correct one, so I began to take off his blanket and prepare for their arrival…

A few minutes later, I saw someone jogging down the driveway. Oh boy, I guess the road even up to the driveway had begun to blow in since I had been through it, so the tech assistant ran up to ensure that things were okay while the vet carried all of her things up the snowy road, and down the driveway. Who hates winter? Everyone!

Thankfully, after examining and tubing him, it was determined that it was a case of spasmodic colic, and not an impaction.  Therefore, with the help of some drugs, he was almost immediately happier, and I was truly relieved. Since he was sedated and would need to only have a bite of hay that night, we locked him up alone in the corral, and went home to warm-up. That evening, since the road had really blown in, my mom and I trudged up to check on him a few times, and although my calf muscles even hurt thinking about it, all was fine.

A sulky Traveller.

An apologetic? Okay, just sulky, Traveller. Note the nicely healed face though!

The next morning, from the living room window, I could see that he was feeling much better, but was more than ready to be let out with his friends. Upon arrival, it was great to see him acting feisty, but then I noticed his swollen eye, and this discharge coming from it. Are you kidding me?! With any horse I take eye issues seriously, but with a one-eyed horse, I jump to code red levels. Having a good look at it, I could tell that the globe itself was uninjured, and that he had only cut the tissue in the corner of his eye, and scuffed it underneath. Having an inkling of what to do, but needing to be sure, I called the vet (again), explained the situation, and was told that my instincts were correct. Not new to eye injuries (you would think that a horse with one eye might be more careful), we had the appropriate antibiotic cream on hand, so we applied some and hoped that it would quickly look significantly better.

Again, I guess that in a way, luck was in our favour. Although I’m currently still treating it, the eye looks much better, and there has been no sign of recurring colic. Of course I’m happy about it, but wow, I can’t say that I have a bright and cheery attitude. Horses can really play with your heart, and I’m left a little bit discouraged. I realize that any of the issues could have turned out significantly worse, but the combined effect has taken its toll. What I really need is for it to be spring, and have a great jump school- that would cure me for sure!

How can something that can make life so hard, also make life worth living? Because we love them.