The Soft-Ride boots came yesterday and today they went on Commander.
What a simple little declaration. So straightforward. So easy-sounding. So matter-of-fact.
So far removed from the reality.
Oh, the boots came on schedule, and they look sturdy and well-constructed, with easy to understand and use fasteners – all hail Velcro! Just in time, too, since Commander’s left pad was inching out of position, creeping forward on his foot despite the entire roll of Elastikon securing it. So, with the vet scheduled to arrive around 11:00, it looked like we were in business.
Hitch the first: The vet had an emergency call, a fracture, and didn’t even make it to the barn till after 2:00.
Fine. Such is the nature of waiting for the vet. He’s there – “he” being Derek Cavatorta, a young fellow (at least from the perspective of my 63 years), recently joined the practice, who’d been riding along with Helen and seen Commander when she x-rayed him. Good tidings: He thought the mighty Morgan looked better today than when he’d last seen him. Bad tidings: Those lovely expensive laminitis orthotics I’d bought extra for the boots? Helen thinks they’re a bit too hard for Commander and wanted to use the same kind of pads he’s been on. Good tidings: the hockey pucks fit perfectly into the boots, and the Soft-Ride company is known for working with its customers so hopefully I can return the orthotics for a refund.
We took Commander out into the aisle and I held him while Derek, with some assistance from Vicky the vet tech, removed the left wrapped-on pad and
Whoa. Let’s rewind that.
Hitch the second: Derek began trying to get the pad off. He didn’t have bandage scissors with him; his regular scissors refused to cut easily; the ends he freed and pulled on ripped off in small segments; the Elastikon clung on like a demented limpet; it was struggle struggle struggle till at last the thing ripped free. Getting the boot on wasn’t too hard, and the mighty Morgan seemed comfortable in it.
The mighty annoyed and increasingly impatient Morgan seemed comfortable in it, all right – comfortable enough, and pissed off enough at the whole process that as soon as the thing was secured he surged forward, determined to charge out of the barn to freedom! Away from the hassle! Freedom! GRASS! The three of us just barely managed to wrestle him to a stop at the very edge of the exit.
We got him turned back and decided to do the other foot in his stall. By now Commander had decided that Derek was the Spawn of Satan and he wasn’t having any more of this jerk messing with his feet, hell no! We hadn’t given him a sedative to start with; we decided we’d better; the sharp-eyed needle-phobe spotted the dread implement in Derek’s hand, and hooeee, it was charge around the stall rodeo time. I love Commander, and I love his spirit, but dammit! When he decides he’s had enough, when he gets pissed off at being asked to do something, he turns into a monster of defiance. Even with a dose of sedative finally aboard, it took ages and some narrow escapes from the vet and myself being body-slammed through the stall walls before Derek got the second pad off.
By this point the somewhat woozy but still angrily defiant Morgan was standing with me holding his head in the corner, no longer hurling himself in circles around the stall but continuing the fight by pawing furiously whenever Derek approached his hoof, before and after the wrap-and-pad removal. “Put that second boot on me? Ha! No way in Hades!” I’ll give the vet credit: He’d already had a rough day before he got to me; he patiently and calmly kept trying to do what he had to do despite Commander’s best efforts to thwart him; but by this time he could have offered Commander a cookie and the Morgan would have flung it back in his face.
So I suggested that Vicky hold Commander while I tried to put the second boot on. I wasn’t too thrilled about putting my head and hands down into the thrashing-leg region of my horse, but it was clear this was our only hope at this point. So Vicky took the lead rope and schmoozed with Commander, who had yet to put her into the Spawn of Satan category, while I coaxed him into picking his foot up high enough to fit his hoof into the boot without triggering another bout of angry flailing.
Did it! And went to fasten it.
Hitch the whatever-it-is-by-now: The boot seemed a bit small. Oh, with a bit of tweaking I got it fastened; with a bit more tweaking I tightened it somewhat; Commander walked out on it in apparent comfort; it seemed securely in position for the half-hour or so afterwards I observed him; but we’ll see if it continues to work or whether I’ll need to get the next size up for that foot.
I’ll say this about those boots: If he could charge around the stall like that with one boot on his worse foot, they must be making him mighty comfortable all right. I just hope he behaves a lot better for me when I take them off for cleaning.
I also hope they’re still on and in proper position when I go back to the barn in a few hours for evening chores.
At least by now I’ve stopped shaking.
The evening update:
So far, so good.
At bedcheck Commander was still booted and still comfortable. I led him out onto the driveway and he moved in what seems to be the new normal mode for him: Stiff-kneed but long-strided and moving briskly, eager to keep going till the mosquitoes drove us back inside. He took one ouchy step on the right turn into his stall but other than that he did fine.
I had him out into the barn aisle again to undo and reset his right boot because I thought it originally went on just a skootch off-center. Distracted by his bucket of evening beet pulp hanging from the wall, he stood for me more or less quietly.
More or less, well, yeah; every time I picked up his foot he did flap it about, and it took several tries to get the hoof correctly back into the boot. But I did it, and got the flaps Velcroed back in place, without too much trouble. I must hope that, as we keep doing this over time, he’ll come to accept it as no more annoying than having his feet picked out, and stop the foot-flapping. Still, it was reassuring to be able to handle this alone.