I Grow Weary of Horses’ Feet

I actually grow weary of just ONE horse’s feet, and that’s my buddy, Apache. It’s always something with that dude and his feet! It’s because he has a metabolic disorder that makes him prone to foot issues, no matter how hard we try to manage his food and environment.

To cheer things up, here’s a picture of baby Bess, who loves to hide under the cattle chute.

The latest episode started a week ago, when Sara texted me that he was lame and had thrush. I wasn’t surprised that he’d get a yeast infection, considering that it had been raining so much. She put the green coppery anti-thrush stuff on his feet for me.

When I got time to inspect Apache thoroughly on Monday, I looked at his feet, and they didn’t look thrushy to me, and in fact, they didn’t to Sara, either. But I slathered the stuff on anyway. It is smelly stuff, all right.

Next, Sara spotted some redness on his hoof, which made her think his lameness was due to an abscess, not thrush. The poor boy kept picking up his foot to show us, as if to say, “Help, this hurts.” Nothing we were doing was making him feel better, so we went into overdrive. Yesterday, I gave him some pain medicine, which seemed to help, and I called one of the local vets. He couldn’t come out, but he told me to go get “drawing salve” (icthamol) and put it on Apache’s feet to draw out the pus.

The red area at the top of his hoof.

He said to have the farrier look at him, but I couldn’t get in touch with Trixie.

So, the second I had a break at work this morning, I ran over to the farm and ranch store, hoping they would have the stuff. Miraculously, they did, though the helper guy had never heard of it. Then, as I was at the grocery store to pick up applesauce to worm Ace, the other Problem Metabolism Child at the ranch, it occurred to me that today was Thursday! It still is!

That matters, because the other vet we use, Dr. Amy, is in town on Thursdays. I dropped by her mobile clinic, and there was no one else there, so I was able to ask her what she thought we should do, or whether she should come look at him herself. She said we were doing the right stuff, but gave some other ideas and prescribed antibiotics, too. So, I left there with that and some iodine, in case he needed to soak his feet to draw out the abscess.

The icky abscess.

By the time I got home, Sara had found the abscess had burst of its own accord. That sounds bad, but it means immediate pain relief. Apache was walking a bit better and seemed perkier. With Sara helping, I got to work putting the salve on his hoof, which didn’t seem to hurt too much or anything. We bandaged it all up, and he seemed happy to get all the attention.

Fancy bandage.

Then, I made him a medicine-enriched feed bowl, and was a bit worried he wouldn’t eat it. But, the antibiotics smell GREAT, and he seemed to love them, even with Liver Flush (which he does NOT like) in there. (I have no idea what Liver Flush does, but apparently Trixie said to give it to him last time she was here).

It’s good, so I guess I’ll eat it.

Fiona kept trying to “help” Apache eat, and he really preferred HER tiny bowl of plain low-calorie horse food, but eventually, I got him to eat it all.

Fiona was so hungry that she blurred my photo!

Next, we went to deal with flushing out Spice’s wound from her cancer surgery, and give Ace all his wormer. This was easier said than done, because a steer got all wound up and got between Sara and the horses and the gate out. No idea what’s up with the steer. He should have a talk with Haggard, who is still sweet as pie and loves to eat his cattle cubes from my hand.

I’m so happy that Suna had to censor my picture.

By the time it was all over with, I was a MESS. It’s a good thing the only meeting I had left in the day was with a coworker who also lives out in the country. He just laughed along with me, especially when I tried to put my headphones on over my cowboy hat.

Thanks for all the love!

Let’s hope Apache’s back on the road to hoof happiness, at least for a little while! We’ll see what tomorrow brings!

My Best Accomplishment of 2020

Now that it’s getting near the end of the year, I guess we can look back and see what we’ve accomplished. I’m grateful that so many of us are still here, and sad to have lost others in this pandemic. But, in a more cheerful vein, I learned only today what my best accomplishment of 2020 has to be.

This is a hint

Happy Horse News

Yes, today at his farrier visit, Apache was declared to be in his best physical shape ever. Trixie kept repeating how good he looked. He also is in great mental shape, because she also remarked many times about how well behaved he was.

Here is Apache behaving well during a delicate procedure on his back quarters. You can see his heart-shaped chest patch.

His feet look really great, and that’s a tribute to how carefully Sara and I have managed him since he got all lame after eating spring grass in the big pasture. I’ll be able to ride him now! I’m very grateful for all of Sara’s and Trixie’s help and advice (and everybody else’s, too), because apparently putting him in the little pasture with poor fodder and supplementing with last year’s hay was what he needed.

He is at his ideal weight!

Not only did he lose the fat, but his coat is in much better shape now, too. Even his winter coat is shiny and soft. That may be the result of worming him sufficiently, for which I thank Sara very much. His mane and tail are growing back in well, too.

Yes, it’s a horse’s butt, but it’s an important image. That is a straight tail.

Best of all, now that he’s lost weight, Trixie can see what’s going on with his skeleton and musculature much better. This let her figure out what might have been causing his tail to veer to the left so significantly. So, she was able to don some gloves, put on some lotion, and manipulate some “intimate” areas to where they are looser, which loosened the tail.

Whee, my tail feels good. So does the rest of me.

We decided not to photograph exactly HOW happy the manipulation made him, but it was mighty impressive. We thought it might hurt, but apparently it was quite the opposite.

Through all the prodding, tail pulling, and leg stretching, Apache was a true gentleman gelding, albeit a happy one. In fact, when a leg stretch didn’t quite work, he cooperatively picked his foot up and angled it over to Trixie as if to say, “Try again, I’ll do better this time.” At a certain point, Trixie and I just stood there grinning at how great he was doing. She said that this is why she does what she does, seeing an animal with an improved quality of life like Apache has.

“Who am I, chopped liver?”

Not to be outdone, Fiona was quite a little lady as she got her tiny little feet trimmed. It had been twelve weeks, and all the little issues she’d had were also completely grown out. It amazes me how Trixie can sit on the ground and trim Fiona’s feet, with Fiona just standing there and picking up whatever foot is asked for. This is most un-donkey-like!

“Look, as long as someone is petting or brushing me, I can stand here all day. Treats never hurt, either.”

Even Fiona’s health seems better. Her normally pretty dull winter coat has shiny parts, too, though she’s still a bit plump. It just doesn’t take much to feed a donkey, even one as active as Fiona.

“You’re gonna WHAT?”

Trixie and I talked about getting her a little cart and sending her over to learn driving (cart, not car), if Trixie’s first donkey-cart training client goes well. I think that would be incredibly fun. However, we’re pretty sure Fiona won’t be thrilled at the idea of having to work for a living, having gotten by on cuteness for all these years.

I am SO proud of having the patience and receiving the good advice needed to help my horse friend back into good health. He’s back to cheerfully going wherever I lead him and doing whatever I ask him to. He and Fiona run happily together. And I get the benefit of the love my horse and donkey give me.