Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Some of my best memories of growing up were of riding horses from the Williams’ farm down Johnston road. I’ve always wanted my own horse.
One big deterrent to getting horses of our own was the string of horror stories that we heard from other owners about their animals’ fussy stomachs and the unpreventable illnesses leading to high vet bills.
But we got horses anyway. We researched the appropriate care, shelter and feeding, and we gave them plenty of attention. By all accounts, Ashley and Misty are two happy, healthy Belgians.
March 1st marked our one-year anniversary as horse owners. On March 11th, the weather was so mild the horses decided not to come in at night. They stayed out in the field. The next day, Ashley was very quiet, and she wasn’t eating very much. She didn’t even finish her corn. On Saturday morning, she left the stable, trudged over to the hay beside the feeder, and lay right down. I sat down beside her and she put her enormous head in my lap. Then she stretched right out and laid her head in the hay. This was not normal for her.
Horses display all of their emotions in their mannerisms, their habits, even the way they hold their head. Misty knew something was wrong. She kept plunking me on the top of my head with her muzzle, as if to ask me to do something. I let Ashley rest, and later in the afternoon I saw her wandering down the field so I assumed she was feeling better.
Sunday came with a cool, wet drizzle and Ashley refused to come in to the dry stable. She just stood in the rain, her head hanging down. I got her to drink from a pail of water but she refused to eat. Somehow, the Farmer managed to pull her into the barn. I called Deb Williams, who gave me the number for her vet. Within an hour, a young woman was injecting my horse with penicillin and fever medication. Ashley had a fever of 103.
It’s a scary thing, dealing with an 1800-lb patient who can’t communicate in your language. But communicate she did, as best she could. We got the message. Looking in her eyes, I could see her thoughts.
“I don’t feel good. My body aches. My nose and eyes are itchy and running. I’m cold. Tired. Misty is bugging me.”
After the vet had given us instructions on how to inject the medication into the big muscles at the horse’s neck and rump, I went to the house to find a big enough blanket to throw over her.
Down in the basement, I found the heavy fleece bedcover that none of the girls would accept as their own due to its bright orange and blue colouring. It now belongs to Ashley. She seems to like it. Misty was very curious about Ashley’s new covering so we brought an old blue blanket for her too.
I’m going to be a little preoccupied for the next few days, until my horse gets better. This enormous creature is totally dependent on us for her wellbeing and the responsibility is just as big as she is.
To catch up on what you’ve missed, visit www.theaccidentalfarmwife.blogspot.com.
Posted by Diana Leeson Fisher at 6:51 AM