Saturday, November 30, 2013

Big Change for Ben

Excellent change coming for Ben tomorrow -- another boarder is moving out, at least for several months, and Ben gets to move into her horse's big stall in the shedrow -- about as big as what he had at the farm -- and the good-size paddock, with firm, not muddy, footing, that Ben used to be in the last time he lived at Seven Acres. I know the footing is good because I personally laid down three nine-yard truckloads of stone dust in it, by wheelbarrow and shovel and rake, back when I was young(er) and strong(er).

Ben got his first turnout post-injury yesterday, for a couple of hours in a small paddock. He was quiet and totally noncavorty, so I'm hoping getting turned out into a larger paddock won't inspire him to get stupid and reinjure that suspensory.

In any case, having a larger stall, with more light and air, will be especially appreciated given we have a couple/three more or less stormy days coming up to start the week, when he'll have to stay in.

Ben in the paddock he’ll have, back about five years ago:

 photo benpaddockview_zps68657b8e.jpg

 photo benstartsnow_zpsea33c879.jpg ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Update, Sunday:

One-day delay on the new stall for Ben, as the boarder now in it won't be leaving today, but instead tomorrow. But! Because it was drizzly this a.m., most of the horses weren't turned out when I arrived in late morning, so I popped Ben into his old/new paddock, and did not remove him later when the owner of the soon-to-depart horse showed up. No way was I about to haul him out when he was enjoying it so much -- and he was. He didn't cavort or otherwise get silly, he just puttered around sniffing and looking, then dived into his hay. Having him in there for daily turnout is going to be very very good for him. And tomorrow he moves into his new big stall in the shedrow corner known as "the four-stall".

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Ben update

Unwrapped Ben yesterday and the fetlock is looking better -- in fact, looking better than before I moved him to Seven Acres! It had been puffy but he was sound on it at the farm. Now it's almost clean. He's walking well; we did our first hand walk, in the indoor ring, and he behaved no worse than pulling hard -- no eruptions, no cavorts. He also got some grooming and general loving on by a couple of little girls beforehand, which he of course inhaled with delight. It's very cold and windy today, though, so I might ace him before trying another walk -- or might not try at all, other than moving him to an open stall while I drain his swamp.

Yep, chickened out about trying to handwalk Ben today -- it's very cold and viciously blustery. He's still getting used to having to step up and down over thresholds to enter/exit stalls, is hesitant and nervous when asked to, and needs some persuasion, so when I took him out of his bog for mucking, I just led him a couple of doors down to another stall and parked him there so I could tidy up unobstructed while his lunch beet-pulp mash soaked.

When everything was ready for him, instead of taking Ben back home I led him out further down the aisle into the ring, walked him a few dozen paces in a circle, observed how snorty he was (though obedient), and said the hell with it, so took him back up the aisle to his stall. He was just as happy to get the LUNCH!!!! he expected; I was just as happy not to have to walk around the ring for the next ten minutes on alert for any nonsense while freezing my ample butt off; the beet pulp mash had nothing to say to either of us on the subject.

I'd be more willing to do the handwalking even on a day like this if my left leg were back to full strength and I could rely on it, but it's not and I can't.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The big wuss does much better today, thank you.

This morning Ben came out of his stall walking firmly on that bum leg. He stood quietly for having the bandages unwrapped, for icing, and for rewrapping afterwards – all done by the barn manager, Hilly, far more swiftly, efficiently, and effectively than I could have! The fetlock is still puffy but some of the swelling has gone down. So I don’t believe he did any major damage to himself. As I’d hoped, a lot of his distress from yesterday was from his being a sensitive soul, freaked out at the whole situation, rather than actual disastrous damage. Let’s hope the rest of his recuperation goes as well.

Monday, November 18, 2013


It was funny, at first....

Then it all went to hell. More detail later; gist now: Ben got turned out in new herd; was chased, things settled down; then chased more, and torqued left hind suspensory. Suspensory was already compromised before this, but had been sound on it. Iced while waiting for vet; seen by vet, Banamined, wrapped, back to stall for recuperation. Stall rest, icing/cold hosing, bute, Surpass till recovered.

I did not need this.

Just back from checking on the Benster. He was pointing his toe on that leg when I got there, but I also saw him put it down flat, and when I was in the stall with him he was able to sidestep behind pretty much a full circle in order to keep his nose close to my cookie pocket as I moved around the stall perimeter. He gobbled down a two-cup serving of his senior feed, oblivious to the gram of bute in it. He’d eaten about half of his supper hay – all Seven Acres flakes – so I gave him a mega-flake more of that to nibble on overnight.

Ben has an amiable companion, a little gray mare in her midteens, in the stall next to him, and they are able to sniff noses. They appear to like each other. Ben in general was reasonably relaxed and calm. I’m thinking the smallness of his stall may actually help speed his recovery since he’s supposed to be kept as still as possible and he sure can’t do marathon stall walking in there the way he could in his gigantic stall at Alprilla Farm.

I took a lot of photos today of Ben’s turnout adventures, also of the barn layout for those not familiar with it, intending to do one of my photo essays on the blog to share with you all. Then this happened. Somehow I just don’t have the heart for it – at least not for now.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Benster has landed!

And it's all good. More later.

Ben's safe and sound at Seven Acres, and is settling in well.

I went over to the farm a little past 11:00 this morning, hiked out to the far field where Ben stood on watch against any threats from the Dread Calves of Doom, slipped his halter on, and then slipped an oral dose of acepromazine into Ben. Wonder of wonders, he didn’t have a grass quid in his mouth to spit it out with, so got it all – then got a cookie for his troubles. I unsnapped the lead rope and let him follow the Cookie Human as far as he felt comfortable back toward the barn.

I left him partway into his first field and resumed removing the last of his stuff from the barn while waiting for Lael to arrive – his masseuse when he had to work for a living, and a calm, smart horse handler. When she arrived we went back out to collect Ben, and she led while I walked between him and the DCoD. The ace had had about a half-hour to work on Ben; Lael wasn’t emotionally invested in the whole situation and thus was relaxed about it all; and I discovered that a cane can substitute quite nicely as a longe whip for flicking toward the hindquarters of a horse who’s thinking about stopping. I only needed to poke his butt with it a couple of times. With very little trouble, we got Ben out the gate and up into his stall.

We left him there and departed – I to Seven Acres, to deposit the last stuff, get last-minute details set up, and await Ben’s arrival; Lael to help Brenda hitch up her trailer, then direct her to the farm and load up the traveler. Lael phoned me when they’d finished at the farm to tell me Ben blew once or twice, then loaded as if he’d been doing it every day.

Ben unloaded equally well at Seven Acres and looked around in some bewilderment. The goat pen up near the house caught his attention and he freaked a little bit, but Lael had his lead rope and dealt easily with it. We led him to the back barn and into his stall, with only a couple of hesitations to check things out. Inside his stall I pulled off his blanket, made sure (via cookie toss) he knew where his food bucket was, and left him to settle in, with a flake each of Alprilla Farm and Seven Acres hay. I took along a few more flakes of Alprilla hay to feed while he adjusts to the new diet.

I’m just back from checking on him this evening. He’d cleaned up all the Alprilla hay and shoved the Seven Acres hay around; didn’t look like he’d eaten much. I daresay he’ll change his mind when there’s nothing else on his plate. Other than wanting to see a new menu, he looked fine and relaxed. He’ll be in tomorrow since it’s going to be bucketing rain; then Tuesday he gets to meet his new daily turnout friends: two aged geldings and a couple of gelding ponies.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Tomorrow's the day! (Unless it isn't.)

Moving day Sunday, looks like. Got almost everything moved to Seven Acres* except the horse -- and the Smartcart for mucking his stall. And his little containers of supplements, all measured out into daily portions. And.... Well, it's just amazing, all the horse gear one accumulates over the years. Once we're settled in I'm going to put a box on top of my trunk (now sitting in the main tacking-up area) with various things in it and a sign: "Free Stuff! Take whatever you need."

But I'll never give away Nick's old bridles. Or my two favorites of Commander's. Or Ben's two best. Even though I'll never use them again. Heck, I've still got Nick's old grooming box in my basement, with all his tools in it still grubby from the last time they got used on him, and locks of his mane and tail from the day we put him down. Couldn't even bear to look at that box for a year or two afterwards; will never chuck it out or reuse anything in it.

Damn sentimental old fool, I am.

Oh, yeh -- both photos in upper right on the blog front page are from previous sojourns at Seven Acres. It's the Hotel California of barns!

*Warning: LOUD music plays when you click in there; button to kill it at very bottom of each long page.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The morning report: Looks like I'll live

Aching but better, in sum.

I stayed abed till 10:00 despite starving cats taking turns reminding me that breakfast was late. When I got up I didn’t feel too bad. The right knee seems to have gotten over it; the right ankle is puffy and still sore to touch in spots but is fully weight-bearing and surprisingly not terribly achy. I have yet to unwrap the Ace bandage to see what Technicolor delights lurk beneath it; that will come later today. The first joint of the middle finger on my right hand somehow collected a bruise in all the excitement and is unhappy but fully functional.

The sorest part of me, in fact, is my left hip – yes, the replacement part. But that seems to be muscle strain, not anything more serious. If a day of icing and ibuprofen doesn’t settle it down, I’ll call my orthopedist and get checked out.

I intend to stay home today, stay off the stairs as much as possible – the air cast makes taking them difficult – and in general pamper myself.

Oh, and I was informed last night that the calves will be moved away from Ben within the next day or two.

Update, next day: I've been asked to take Ben elsewhere. We'll be leaving as soon as this weekend.

Monday, November 11, 2013

It could have been much worse

As it is, I’ve escaped anything more serious than an evening in the emergency room, a scraped, bruised and painful ankle, and a mildly wrenched knee. But I would not care to have a large, frightened horse stomp my ankle into the ground again.

This evening I arrived at the farm at about sunset, planning to bring Ben into the barn for the night. While he has come down somewhat from his original stark terror at having to pass by the calves, I knew that he would still be apprehensive, especially since his two herdmates/security blankets were staying way out in their field rather than coming along with him.

What I didn’t know till I got there was that the calves hadn’t been brought into their stalls for the night yet, and were boinking around in hungry frustration. Ben’s bad enough at going by them when they’re quiet, let alone when they’re running, bucking and calling. This was not going to be easy. But given the weather forecast and the gathering dark, I had no choice but to do it then and there.

Leaving my cane in the barn, I walked out to the gateway to the far field and called Ben. He came to me, keeping a wary eye on the distant bovine antics. I haltered him and began leading him in fits and starts across the first field, and it was immediately apparent that, despite a dose a few hours before of an equine trank, he was still tense and apprehensive.

Eventually we got through the paddock past the calves and approached the gate, but having them behind him seemed to spook Ben even more; he began slewing in abrupt jerks. I was perhaps two steps from reaching for the gate when Ben lurched forward and plunged into me.

I fell sideways, clutching the lead rope in my left hand, just too far from the fence to catch myself, and landed on my right side. Ben pulled back. I held on. He plunged again.

His forefoot slammed down on my right ankle, grinding it into the hardpacked stonedust.

I screamed.

And held onto the lead rope.

After an eternity, Ben got off my ankle. I sat up enough to find the muck shoe yanked off me in the fall and get it back on; then somehow I got hold of the fence, pulled myself upright, and tried to put weight on that foot; all while still resisting Ben’s efforts to break loose and flee back to the far field.

It held me. It hurt, oh did it hurt, but it held me. So I did what had to be done: I got Ben through the gate, up the driveway, into the barn, and into his stall – already set up, thank heavens, with hay and water enough for the night.

Then I hobbled to where my cane was and with it hobbled to the house, where Maria sat my shocky, shaky self down, wrapped an icepack onto the ankle, left a message for her husband at work, and drove me to the emergency room. (Turns out she’d been in the front of the house, practicing her violin, and hadn’t heard me scream.)

I was lucky: the ER wasn’t busy, and I was x-rayed, seen, treated, and released in under three hours. Lucky that the x-rays showed no break, chip, or separation, perhaps because my ankle was already flat on the ground when Ben crashed down on it, and so did not suffer any bending stresses that could break leg bones and rip ligaments. Lucky that Ben didn’t manage to break away and bolt back into the night with the lead rope flailing at his forelegs. Lucky that, as freaked out as he was, he managed to stay just this side of controllable while I got him to his stall.

So here I sit, an icepack on the ankle, which is Ace-bandage-wrapped and in a small air cast to protect it, with antibiotic aboard to beat off any infection that might try to set into the abrasions left by the stonedust and Ben’s shoe, or perhaps shoe nails; I didn’t happen to note exactly what was digging into me at the time. I’ve taken an oxycodone, which is helping the ankle, the mildly wrenched knee, and the left hip and knee, which began registering their own complaints at such rough treatment once the shock wore off. I’m to keep the ankle elevated as much as possible, stay off it as much as possible, for the next couple of days, and otherwise follow the voluminous instruction sheets I was released with.

It was an awful experience, for sure. But it could have been much worse.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Is our Benster learning?

Learning not to be quite so ASKEERED of the Dread Calves of Doom? It certainly looked like it today.

For the last couple of days I’ve been bringing a few cups’ worth of grain in a bucket out to Ben in his fields at midday/early afternoon, partly to add to his caloric intake beyond his breakfast meal (also only a few cups), since he’s fretted himself thinner than I like, and partly to lure him closer to the DCoD in an effort to desensitize him. After all, how bad can things be with a mouthful of sweet feed?

So out I’d go, gimping my way across the first field to the gateway into the second with bucket plainly visible. The first day I had to go some few yards into Ben’s safe place to get him moving toward me. When he’d walked up and gobbled a couple of mouthfuls, I backed up to just inside the first field. He checked out the DCoD, came on, got another mouthful; I backed up another few yards; he hesitated, worried, came on; and so forth till Ben was midway across the first field. Then the grain and his tolerance for THEM both gave out and he trotted back to safety.

Yesterday I waited within the gateway and he walked right up to me. Again it was mouthful or two, back up, Ben advance, mouthful, repeat. This time I got him, with some wary pauses to look for THEM, all the way through the paddock/first field gateway and a few yards farther on. He was nervous going that far and finally chickened out, turned, and trotted back to the first field; dithered; walked back to safety.

Today was even better. Ben was less tense the whole time and made it several yards into his paddock before I ran out of grain and he decided to leave – but at a walk, and he stopped in the first field, perhaps to chat with the white boys, who were both in the lane during all this, gazing hopefully at the bucket. I hurried back to the barn, got a couple more cups of sweet feed, and went back to the first field gateway. After one look to locate the DCoD, Ben came strolling over readily and allowed himself to be lured more than halfway across the paddock – and this with the calves up nibbling grass and moving about! When the grain and his tolerance gave out, he walked back out calmly a short distance into the first field and settled down there to investigate whether there was any edible grass to be found.

We still haven’t reached the WhaddayaGonnaDo? state yet, but Ben’s gotten past “I’mGonnaDIE!!!” and I have hope now that he’ll adapt to living with monsters.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Ben books it

So there we are, Ben and I, yesterday afternoon, emerging from the barn at midday so that the mighty Thoroughbred, having sheltered from the storm overnight, can rejoin his white buddies in the freedom of the fields. As we march down the drive toward the gate to his run-in, Ben is up-headed but otherwise relaxed and happy to be going out. Cholla is way out in his field grazing intently; Counterpoint is watching Ben’s return from the lane.

Then as we near the gate he sees them. THEM. The Dread Calves of Doom. Not merely lying in their shed next to the paddock he must traverse to freedom, oh, no. Now they are outside and standing! Even moving around, nibbling grass! Aaaiieeeee!

(As seen earlier this week, the Straits of Doom:)  photo 102713014_zpsd5b308dd.jpg

Ben snorts. He blows. He gets up on tippy-hooves. He sidles, dithers, lurches forward by inches as I one-handedly open the gate. A quick dash gets him through and he slews sideways to the DCoD just long enough for me to undo the throatlatch and tug the halter off his sky-high head. SNORT.

Okay, Ben, you’re loose. Freedom lies through the gateway to the paddock, through the paddock to the first field. Will you dare the danger of passage past the DCoD?

Dither sidle slew tippy-hooves to the gateway. As he passes into the paddock he surges into a nervous trot. By the time he gets to the field he’s running for his life.

The DCoD, after a curious glance, have ignored him.

Ben runs about in the first field for a bit, pausing now and then to stare and exchange bitter comments with Counterpoint. He flings his right foreleg up and out as he half-rears. After a bit he settles down to staring, striding tautly about, snatching mouthfuls of grass here and there. Eventually he says the hell with being so near THEM and trots out to his far field. A good wallow in the still-wet grass – down on his left side, roll roll roll (but never all the way over; no, he never does that), up, shake, down on his right, roll roll roll, up, shake – and Life returns to Good.

Until the next time Ben must make his fearful way past the DCoD.