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Full House Farm: Harmony With Horses

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"The lasting revolution comes from deep change in ourselves."
Anais Nin


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Journals ] Annual Letter 2004 ] Annual Letter 2005 ] Annual Letter 2006 ] Annual Letter 2007 ] Annual Letter 2011 ] Annual Letter 2012 ]

March 29, 2004

Brave Boy!

On February 2, 2004, Lyric's son, Indigo Spirit Dancer, was gelded. Indie, as we call him, is one-quarter Thoroughbred, one-quarter Trehkener, one-quarter Pinto and one-quarter Friesian. I do not intend to use him as a stud. I do wish for him a life of living in a herd, no holds barred. So, gelding Indie was my choice based on this vision.

That morning, the rain was pelting down as I fed all the horses, except Indie. I went out at my usual time, 6:45, and yet the heaviness of the clouds made the barn dark and difficult to clean. The routine was completely changed, too, which made the task even more challenging. I left Brannon in her stall and Missy, too. I put Indie out in his paddock and shut the gate to his stall. I put Clancy in with Lyric and shut them both out of the stall, so Indie could see them and not get too concerned. Then I hung mangers on the piping for Clancy and Lyric, so they could eat in the paddock. Right now Clancy lives in the isleway while Indie lives in his old stall. This change was primarily to accommodate Indie's appointment this morning, because he was not to have anything to eat after last night's meal. If he had been with Lyric he would have nursed throughout the night. So, about five days ago, I introduced Indie to his new bedroom. He did not, however, understand why I was not feeding him this morning, nor was he happy at all about not being able to nurse right away at breakfast.

The rain pummeled the metal roof as I cleaned, creating in me an uneasiness that may have also been felt by the horses. Indie was already upset and the change in routine made the others wary. Brannon kept leaving her hay to paw at her gate, an unusual behavior for her. Clancy would not settle at all, going from one manger to the other and then back again. Lyric, interestingly enough, moved away for him each time. I had thought she was a rung higher than him, but in this circumstance it became clear he remains higher ranking. Consequently, Lyric was completely unable to relax and eat because she had to keep moving for Clancy. Clancy wasn't making points with me (which I am sure he did not care about) because he would yank huge mouthfuls of hay out of each manger and then spit them out onto the ground, trodding on them as he walked back to the other manger to do the same. I finally caught him and tied him at one manger, something I would not have done normally, but I trust Lyric and I did not intend to leave him that way once I was done cleaning the barn.

Cleaning the barn was a real chore, especially Indie's stall. Indie is a typical teenager in his room; very messy! I stood at his gate looking at the slop on the floor, wondering how he could make such a mess in one night. The whole thing needed to be stripped. Brannon was not in the mood to stay in her stall, so when I opened the gate to back the wheelbarrow up to the doorway, she contemplated leaving. I kept warning her away, but finally gave up and left her stall.

At 8:15, I went in to check the recorder hoping the vet had not canceled, since I had already gone to all the trouble of preparing for the event. There was no message, which was a relief. I watched out the window through the pouring rain for the vet as I warmed myself with a cup of morning faux-coffee. At exactly 8:30, the time the appointment was scheduled, the phone rang. It was the vet. His voice was sleepy and he said he thought we should wait for another day. He inquired into whether the secretary had told me the surgery should be done outside. No, I told him, she had not. I groaned and asked if there was any way we could please do it anyway. He said OK, but I know that was not what he really wanted to say.

After hanging up, I talked with Dave about the way I feel about changes in schedule. Many times in my life I have fussed and cussed over changes, only to wish later I had kept my mouth shut because the change would have ultimately been better. Working with the horses who are always acutely aware of changes, I have learned to check in with myself about a change, to see if the change is appropriate or not. This morning while I cleaned the barn I had the opportunity to imagine what I would say or feel if the vet tried to cancel. I got the clear message that the surgery should happen today, not another day. Every time I imagined it another day, I felt strongly this was not the best plan. So, when the vet agreed to come, even though he did not want to, I still felt it was the right thing. Just the same, the rain continued to drench the barnyard, forcing the plans to do a safe surgery outdoors to doing it indoors where Indie could hit his head while going under the anesthesia. At 9:00, my husband, Dave, and I headed out to the barn with a pile of towel to dry Indie off while we waited for the vet. Indie was very grateful to be out of the rain and in the isleway, although I could tell he was confused. Dave rubbed his body and he leaned into the rough pressure, clearly enjoying it. Then, he'd look away and start to paw or he'd circle me. I let him fuss around without clamping down on his need to move. The vet arrived about 50 minutes after our phone conversation. I heard his truck coming even through the drumming of the rain on the roof and the sound of the waterers filling as Dave cleaned them. Just as the vet's truck rounded the bend and came into sight by the gate, the clouds parted and the rain stopped. When the vet climbed out of his truck I asked him if we could do the surgery in the grass by the parking lot. At first he said no, rather quickly. Then, as I turned my back to take Indie back to the barn the vet wandered over and appeared to be checking it out. I turned and asked him if he was sure, saying there were very well drained places right there. He seemed to brighten a bit and said he thought it might work where he was standing.

So, we prepared Indie for an outside surgery. He received a tranquilizer and then a shot to anesthetize him. The anesthetic took about one minute to work. Indie sat down and then rolled over on his side, with the expertly helping him. The vet placed a cloth over his eyes, since the eyes don't close with this anesthesia and foreign objects can get in the eye very easily. Lyric was nearly hysterical as this was happening, although she was only 30 feet away and Indie was in plain sight. I was not watching her, but Dave told me later she was rearing and running in circles. I imagine it was very scary for her to have Indie so compromised and not be able to help him.

The surgery took very little time and within 15 minutes Indie woke and stood up. He seemed to wake up rapidly and even the vet said he was not expecting him to stand up so quickly. I removed the cover from over his eyes and helped him wobble his way over to Lyric, who was rearing and running again. As Indie reached the fence where she was able to touch him, she arched her neck over him protectively and sniffed every part of him she could reach. I know all the horses could smell the blood.

Within ten minutes, Indie was allowed to nurse and life seeped back to it's normal routine. I put all the horses in the arena and Dave brought out 4lbs. of hay for each horse. The hay was really more to keep them calm, as Indie wasn't to run and play or the bleeding could start up again. This was not necessary, though. No one seemed to want to run because just as Indie had stood back up after the surgery the rain had started again in earnest. The heavy rain had everyone wanting to just stand still with their heads held low. The vet, Dave and I all mused at the way the skies had cleared only long enough for Indie's surgery. I was so very grateful for that break in the weather and for the messages that I do the surgery today. Now it is over and Indie will soon forget the incident, I hope. I was given a reassuring kiss from him after I turned him out and was removing his halter. He ran his soft nose over my cheek and breathed gently in my ear. What a brave boy!


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Photos Copyright 2004 Barbara Bourne Photography, all rights reserved.
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