I posted previously about one of our horses, Nick, being injured. He was at the vet for 2 weeks, but started going a little insane being cooped up. He blew his second set of sutures, the splint rubbed parts of leg raw, and he became extremely, dangerously protective of his wound. The vet really couldn’t do much else, so he made some recommendations, and Nick came home to continue basic treatment, as we had more experience dealing with big horses and could work with him as needed to do what needed to be done. After Nick had a follow-up check 3 weeks later, the vet told us that the injury was not healing properly, and we had to choose between 3 options: euthanize him, turn him out to pasture with the other horses and let nature take its course, or spend another several thousand dollars to run all sorts of tests and treatments to get him healed–still with no guarantee of him being able to work again. As it was, we had been hosing and treating him twice a day, hand-walking and letting him graze 2-3 times a day, in addition to spending non-treatment time with him. Because he wouldn’t leave his wound alone, we tried making a “bib” to prevent him from biting it, but he used the bib to scratch it open. The vet had tried wrapping it, but he chewed the wrap off. We researched a neck cradle, but no material was safe for a draft horse of his size and strength. When we tried to get creative, he would simply bang his knee against the stall walls to scratch it, which kept making the wound worse. The final straw was when it was finally looking like the granulation tissue was filling in, and he did something during the night that caused the entire thing to split wide open, even ripping into fresh, previously uninjured tissue. Here’s a photo of the wound when he came home from the vet, after blowing the second set of sutures:
Here’s what the wound looked like 3 weeks later, after his chewing, pawing, banging, and finally ripping it open:
The simple fact was, despite our hard work and best efforts, he wasn’t improving. It looked awful, and a lingering infection just would not clear up. After much prayer and discussion, we decided for option #4. One of S’s cousins, who lives in FL, has a passion for rehabilitating sick or injured horses. It’s just what she loves to do. She had offered to take him on. We contacted him, and gave her an idea of what our vet had recommended for further treatment options. We sent photos to her vet, an equine specialist in an area known for its large numbers of high value performance horses, and her vet spoke with our vet to get his opinion. Finally, the decision was made that Nick would head to FL. I quickly got his papers in order, and left early one morning. For the sake of Nick’s wound, we decided to layover one night, about half way through the trip. The next day, I dropped him off in FL, drove back to meet my mom in GA, and the third day, drove back home. Talk about a quick trip! I have no doubt, though, that Nick is in the best place he could be, if not with us. He will be well loved, well cared for, and given the best vet care possible. We miss him terribly already, but I admit, our stress level has been reduced substantially. They are keeping us updated, and her vet is using several methods our vet never considered–such as oxygen therapy and potentially even maggot therapy. Yes, I said maggot–as in fly larvae. I am very interested to see how it all works out.
While all this was going on, it was decided we could not run the farm as efficiently with only Bud working single. He was doing great with the re-training process, but we realized we could really use another horse to fill the void left by Nick. Not to mention, Bud was going to be lost without a companion. So, after some searching, we found a replacement. Meet “Bill.”
Bill is an 11 year old Belgian gelding. He has spent most of his life doing farm work, though he was a bit out of shape when we found him. He is not Nick at all, but he is a good boy, and he is filling Nick’s spot sufficiently. Bud was thrilled to have a friend again, and they quickly adjusted to working as a team. Bill’s only real downside is that his previous owner apparently used a much stronger hand than I do, so I’ve had my work cut out teaching him to be softer on the bit. He is improving with every drive, though, and we are enjoying him more and more as the weeks go by. In fact, we recently decided he was doing well enough, that we entered our first parade! Both boys did awesome!
In addition, we have been busy filling wagon-ride commitments we made prior to Nick’s injury, which we couldn’t have done without Bill. Our wagon ride business really seems to be taking off, and we get requests with increasing frequency. We are now looking for a vis-a-vis carriage so we can branch out into offering a horse-drawn carriage for weddings and other special occasions. In addition, we decided we should venture further into the horse-powered farm work, both to keep the boys busy, and in shape, and to let them earn their keep more. We purchased a good forecart so we can now grade (without me eating dust!) and pull our gas-powered mower deck to mow the grass.
It also has a plow attachment so we can move dirt/gravel around and plow snow this winter. As if that wasn’t enough, we also got skis for our wagon, so when it is crisp and snowy out, we can replace the wagon tires with the skis, and go for our first sleigh ride! As usual, time will tell how this all plays out, but winter could be interesting this year!