Wednesday, August 25, 2010

When things go badly wrong

I had a good think today before i started writing this. Why did i start this blog? How much should i put into it? What should i with hold? Answer. more than anything i started this so that i have notes an experiences to look back on, in regards to my wild horses. because you don't remember everything, so writing it down in some form will remind me things in future so i don't go and repeat the same mistakes. So to be good for future reference, i figure i better not with hold any information, this would defeat the purpose. although it is sometimes painful, i have to put in the good the bad and the ugly, the disasters and accidents as well as the heart warming and successful parts. Even though sometimes as horse person you would rather just keep any mistakes or accidents hidden to avoid the criticism....ah well here it goes the ugly side of the wild horse project..

I talked in the last blog about the grey horse's bad feet and how she has trouble with slipping and sliding all over the place. Four days ago she slid down a slope and collided with a fence. For the second time in two weeks, she found herself tangled in wire. This time the fence came off slightly better than her.

I've read some other stories and comments from people with wild horses. About horses bolting straight through fences, jumping out of paddock and general mayhem. To myself Ive always been thinking 'what exactly did the person do to get a horse to react like that?' so maybe Ive been unfair in my judgement, because here i am having had the same horse, twice getting her self caught in a fence. At least both times they have been nothing but freak accidents (although i sure someone out there is rolling there eyes). I had nothing to do with causing either episode. Grey herself is actually very respectful of fences, never trying to push through, lean or escape any fence that she is put behind. so the first time she goes down for a roll and goes straight into fence.. Easily fixed. Second time not so easy to fix.

As a treat grey has been grazing in the orchard during the day and stabled at night. The orchard has nice fresh grass for a pregnant mare, and grey is the only horse on the farm who wont touch the fruit trees. This had been going on for about three days with no problems. but along one fence line on a bit of a slope is a 2 inch water pipe lying along the ground about a foot away from the fence and ruining parallel down a Little slope for a few metres. From the evidence left behind i guess that she slipped on the water pipe going down the slope, crashed into a post and ended on her back with all four legs in the fence, her neck and shoulder wedged against the post. i had left grey grazing, and gone to pick my family up from the airport. Coming home along driveway, i have never had such a sick feeling in my entire life. It felt like my heart dropped through my stomach. There was my beautiful grey mare, who has made so much progress in recent weeks, hanging from a fence, with what looked like a broken neck and appearing very much dead. It looked for intents and purposes that she had committed suicide in the most effective way possible....

Except she was still alive, breathing but very still and as soon as the car stopped she let out a shriek for help. all i can say is thank god this happened after i picked my family up and not before. We sprang into action, mum to the house for wire cutters. me sprinting in my high heels to the barn for a halter and lead, my brother off for a torch and extra ropes. It was a minute before we were all back. Grey still stricken in the fence. so i started talking to her and made my way to her head ' hey girly whirl, what have you done?' put on the halter 'good girl shall we get you out of here?' and slipped the halter. Mum went higher up the fence and my brother further down. one wire at a time mum cut and my brother pulled it clear. i held grey and talked to her in case she started thrashing. But she didn't she just lay there, her whole body heaving with each breath. once the three wires were clear she made a weak attempt at getting up. her head and neck being directly downhill from the rest of her body making this very difficult. But she at least managed to slide down the slope so she was lying sideways, with bum and head level. This unfortunately meant that instead of her head and neck against a post now the post was wedged against her from the fence but still stuck

Now we were in and interesting conundrum...She was still stuck because she couldn't get her legs underneath her to stand. She was also not in a good way, with very laboured breathing. Although i had only been gone two hours she had obviously been stuck upside down for a while, so must have had a bit of blood rush to the head, and looked almost like she was about to go into labour.. It was decided to let her gather her strength and catch her breath before the next attempt to free her. This gave me a chance to give her a quick look over, her neck was obviously not broken, so huge relief, her legs looked intact, another bonus, no gaping wounds so far...i was feeling slightly less sick, she might just survive this.

so since it was clear that she obviously wasn't getting up stuck against a pole. we decided we needed to get her some more room to move. i put a rope around her hind legs, a rope around her neck, handed one to mum, one to my brother and still in my high heels in the mud went and stood above her and grabbed her tale. With a couple of combined efforts, we managed to budge her a couple of inches back from the pole. Slightly more room but not much. grey still wasn't making many attempts at getting up either. Shit, shit, shit. Another pause to let her catch her breath and time to re-evaluate the situation. The pole wasn't going to move and we were not strong enough to move the grey any further.....
Plan B. now that we had given her slightly more room could we engourage her to her feet and help her stand? She was obviously in no great shape and dazed and confused. but no panicking and struggling. So this time we positioned her feet under her, took the ropes off her leg, changed the direction of the neck rope. I grabbed the halter and we all pulled. She tried to get up but just couldn't quite do it, although it looked promising. Second attempt, we let her rest again. This time my brother, who's 6ft, 16yrs old and far far stronger than me got on the end of the halter. with a bit of encouragement some muscle work, and persistence the second time she managed to get up on four legs. She was free... this didn't though mean the ordeal was over....
Poor grey looked like an absolute train wreck. Standing there and heaving for breath. after regaining her feet she just stood there not moving. Her face was covered in grazes and her right eye was pretty swollen. she had a couple of grazes on her neck, her left hock hdd a few nasty cuts around it, nothing that required stitches though. but the right hand side of her chest had big bruising and a massive hematoma starting to form as well as what looked like a deep graze on the top inside of her legs where all the loose folds of skin are, I'm assuming this is where it would have come into contact with the post. But to be honest i was surprised she was alive at all, her injuries mild compared to what might have been. We put her in the backyard for the night so we could keep an eye on her. Gave her some water and sprayed everything in iodine. It was a waiting game now. I checked on her through the night to make sure she wasn't going to lose the foal and that she was doing OK.
In the morning she was still alive and still pregnant. Yahhh!! within 48 hours her eye was back to normal and her head looked just fine, all the grazes looked okay and her back leg with the nasty cuts looked to be fine with no signs of infection. Her chest on the other hand was a massive liquid lump of swelling with fluid draining through the deep graze on her leg. with excess swelling being carried down her leg by gravity, until one leg was twice the size of the other. But she was still mobile, looked perky and had a healthy appetite. By day three swelling had almost gone completely but in the process had stretched the deep graze open and now it resembled a large pocket of flesh where it had once been tight with bruising and liquid. i kept up with iodine and washing, and hopped that it was going to heal eventually.
These wild ponies are tough. although the wound looks terrible, the vet came out yesterday and thinks that it should heel ok, nature would have to take its course, as its in an impossible place to bandage. but is going to be a long process. It breaks my heart that it happened to poor grey once again. But it if anything good can be said about it, she has overcome any fear she had of people. She more affectionate than ever. friendlier and seems, believe it or not happier than ever before. her whole expression has changed completely. this at least is a joy to see. fingers crossed her bad luck is over... ill keep everyone updated on her process