Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Where in the world is EZ San Diego?

The EZ answer is, at home at Indian Pond Farm!

The more complicated answer is to the question, "What's he doing there, and why do you stress out about it when you should be sleeping?" And that answer is, of course, a LONG one! (Not so EZ anymore, are you, horse??!)

I, his loving but very absent parent, am far, far away in Wyoming, and it was never the plan to take advantage of the kindness of my family to care for my horse, but it is the reality!

The decision

When my plan developed to move full-time to Wyoming, work at the Equitours office, and move in with my personal Carhartt boyfriend, I decided that Senor Dollar would do best in a new home.

I'm Equitours famous
 It might be kinder not to schlep him across the country into mountain and rodeo land and but rather let him remain in the region he has known as home with a new person to take him further than my limited ambition would. The prospect of being horseless again was actually appealing; for as much as the beasties rule my heart they also rule my life. I make myself a stress case regarding their emotional and physical well-being, and I wanted the freedom to explore my new life in Wyoming and be able to be a little selfish, and not need to put my pony first (Nemo is already demanding enough). So, operation find-EZ-the-perfect-home commenced!

Of course, the perfect home in my mind meant me, but just not me. I put together fliers, studied the anatomy of an appealing horse ad, and posted on all sorts of horsey sale sites, sent emails left and right.

Finally, after no real promising leads and the summer and my departure fast approaching, I decided to board him on consignment at a wonderful barn nearby. Kait specializes in thoroughbreds and is in the business of business of buying and selling and thus has far better connections than I ever could hope to alone. Plus, her barn is super well run and adorable, with nice happy big grassy fields.

View to the arena from the barn
EZ in his own fancy stall
EZ settled in well, he had spent a few weeks before this at Ronan's for a few potential buyers so he was the horse about town. Kait rode him and liked him (like she could say otherwise!) and was generating interest in a new home.

Look how cute they  jump! (space bar won't actually play...)
Watch cute videos of Kait working him at Thundercrest! (Because I seem to be unable to upload them...)  I'm so cute number 1.

Even a small student rode him and it kills me with cuteness: dying of cuteness

Then weird disaster struck.

It's something...

EZ came in from turn out groaning in discomfort. Kait called to see if I was used to having a groaning horse, but I was as perplexed as she was. We thought maybe he needed a sheath cleaning since it had been about a year since dear, sweet, sheath cleaning pro Cathleen had done so at Indian Pond Farm. So I sudsed it up and we left him inside for the night. He had seemed to be enjoying his stall and was usually sprawled out snoring, something I had noticed since he never seemed to be laying down at home, but that was in the field so maybe he liked having his own personal shavings? It seemed in retrospect that he probably just wasn't feeling so hot. Maybe that was even why he was so laid back with his little student when he can sometimes decide to FREAK OUT? Anyway, now the odyssey of discovering why he wasn't feeling so hot began.

1) sheath needs to be cleaned/gassy? Kait and I hand-walked him, thinking after the sheath cleaning didn't solve things, maybe he was somehow gassy? He was still eating, drinking and pooping, but was obviously uncomfortable, especially when turning or when asked to trot. 

Hand-walking? When in doubt?
2) allergies/heaves? She got worried when he had a bad case of the sweats one evening and called in the vet, whose best guess was heaves. Since he was being stabled regularly for the first time, this made some sense. However, the vet couldn't trigger a full heaves attack, he wasn't belly breathing and there was no nasal discharge or coughing. We left him outside for a few days, and I even got up on him for a gentle walk outside. He groaned going downhill and when I asked him to stretch to his hip after riding, as I always do, and it just didn't seem purely respiratory related.
3) sore tissue? Another vet came out and did a full check over. She agreed it didn't seem like heaves, and her best bet was some sort of deep tissue soreness in his back. Even though he wasn't tender to the touch anywhere in his back, it was the only thing she could come up with, barring something internal, for which she took blood to test.
4) something internal!? Blood work revealed something was up. His fibrinogen levels were way high, meaning there was some sort of infection. 

At this point there were ultrasounds which were inconclusive, and further blood testing, which were as well. I had to leave for WY when things were totally up in the air, but I knew Kait would take good care of him, and I hoped it would be a short lived illness and then he could go back on the market to his new happy home. Gotta think wishfully, right?

On bute and antibiotics, EZ didn't really improve. Kait was worried that his appetite was dropping off and he was losing weight. Being so far away made me feel even more helpless. After many conversations with the vet, we decided that the best option would be for him to go to Tufts Veterinary Hospital for more extensive diagnostics, because, for realsies, nobody in our hood had a clue what was going on. His colon looked maybe swollen? Then better? We hoped we would get some clarity if we brought out the big guns.

Keep in mind that all these decisions are being made on my end pretty much up on this big mountain. 

I always look super wistful when considering the future of my horse...
 It is the only place with service on the ranch, so during the one hour break from wrangling for lunch, I am hauling my tush up here to talk to Kait, or to vets, or to other emotional supporters.

The day he is at Tufts I try to keep in touch with Kait, driving a four wheeler back and forth to try to consult with Tufts vets and home vets and Kait.  

Finally, a tiny bit of something is found. Nothing conclusive, because that would be way too EZ, but one ultrasounder with a super special ultrasound sees something on EZ's stomach. A little...something. Nothing more than that is known, other than there's something.

The vets want to keep him overnight and scope his stomach the next day. It might be ulcers, it might be a tumor. Room and board at a fancy vet hospital is not cheap though, and part of my stress is of course the hundreds and hundreds of bucks that had already been spent on attempted diagnostics and medications. We decide that although the local vet's scope isn't as fancy, it will probably do the job, and Kait takes him home. My local vet was happy that EZ made the trip and that the fancy ultrasounds corroborated the shadow of something she couldn't catch on her own ultrasounds.

Scoping though, tells us nothing. Only that there are no ulcers, no tumors. Only odd thing is that there's some foodstuff in there, which means that he must be digesting super slow since he was kept of feed for the scoping purpose. 
So, it seems that the stomach thing is on the outside lining of his gut, a little pocket of infection...or something.

After two more months on heavy-duty antibiotics at Kait's, in October EZ was symptom-free. He was back to being fat and sassy and Kait was sure he wanted to be ridden again. But, upon retesting his blood levels, his fibrinogen levels were still much too high. 

This was a rather heartbreaking moment. I had been clinging to the hope that paying for diagnostics, hard core antibiotics, and board in Kait's conscientious care would mean a quick recovery and departure to new and happy place. Now it was clear that he was not cured. More than that, it was more questionable that he would be. I had a blubbery morning on the phone with the vet and with Kait and we decided to send him home to Indian Pond Farm. Off of meds, we would see how long he stayed symptom free and go from there.

Back home

Guilt, guilt, guilt. Feeling guilty that I wasn't there to help with the diagnostic process and his care, and now I was feeling guilty that I might be sending him home to my parents to deal with his possible decline and end-of-the-road. Cathleen of course was there daily, feeding and cleaning, and mom made a habit to check on him and be familiar with his normal behavior so she could tell if things were off. We really had no idea what we were dealing with; perhaps he would live happily as a pasture pet for weeks, months, years. Perhaps he could even be ridden again. Perhaps symptoms would reoccur, with no real antidote. The vet's best guess at this point was "hardware disease," common in cows but rare in horses, when a foreign object is ingested and wreaks havoc. Horses are usually more discriminating, but EZ is a piggy, and who knows. Surgery would be the only other option as meds weren't working, and did not have a good prognosis.

But the body does amazing things, the vet reminded me. When I was home in December for Christmas, EZ remained happy and healthy. I asked the vet if it was worth doing more blood tests to see where his fibrinogen level was, but she thought that while it would be very interesting to see what was going on in the inside while he seemed so good from the outside, we wouldn't really change treatment. If things seem to working, don't change them, and give him a full year of recuperation.

The next step

Nothing has changed since then; he continues to be bossy and seemingly healthy, benefiting from a life of leisure in the pasture, challenging Cathleen and mom's thoughtful care with his sass. 

This does not mean that I do not stop worrying, oooooooh no, I've got to try to look into the future and determine the results of his blood tests in the spring, and what they will mean and what he will do. Remain in retirement as an abandoned mama's boy at home? Be put back to work either home or in WY? How will I pay? Would he even like WY?

So for now, I try to take deep breaths and tell myself we will cross all those bridges when we come to them, with the help and guidance of everyone I rant to on this issue. The body does amazing things, and things work out as they should. Right?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Winter Fashions

Winter weather finally came.  After the crazy October Snowpocolypse, it has been very mild all winter--dry and warm.

We had a cooooold weather snap recently, and this weekend finally some more snow.  Not that I'm complaining about the lack of snow.  It was pretty pleasant actually, and the warmer weather has kept the ground from freezing and allowed me to ride at home for longer.

Now that there's freezing cold weather and pretty snow though, we get to raid Cathleen's trunks for pretty, pretty things to wear.  Look how dashing!

We just went for a little romp down to the lake.  The snow was perfect--there was enough of it on the road to cushion the ground, cover the rocks, even out the holes, but wasn't slippery or so much that it was hard to get through.

My head is HUGE

Even through the snow, EZ can find delicious things to nom.

But is still eager to get back inside and to his hay.

Since we were staying off the road, we brought the little farm dog.  He would much rather go back to being a tropical island dog on his sandy beaches, I think.  Although he does enjoy the poopsicles. 

To try to make his cold, outdoor experience more enjoyable, he is also outfitted in winter fashions.

Complete with little rubber booties.  He's Mr Balloon Hands.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Prodigal Cat and his Consequential Companion

As I alluded to in an earlier post, Scamper went missing this fall.

I do not exaggerate when I say that this is was a tragedy in my life.

Scamp had been my constant companion since moving back to Millbrook and starting my job at my school.  The first night I moved into my close-to-campus-housing and found myself locked out after late night dorm duty, I panicked because, "My kitten's in there!"  (Don't worry, I eventually found the spare key with the help of the Night Watchman and was reunited).

Growing up from kittenhood as the only other living thing in my home, Scamp made the most of being the center of my attention.  He insisted on drinking only from a running faucet, would meow insistently to be let out at whatever time suited him, and then to be let back in, hopefully as late as possible.

Then he would lay on my head.

Out in the woods where we were the first 2 years, he spent much of his time outside, coming back with an array of baby woodland creatures to leave half-eaten on the doorstep.  Occasionally during good weather he would spend more than a single night outside, and I initially would obsess about him being devoured by coyotes, but eventually came to trust that he had developed savvy enough wilderness skills to escape from such a situation.

Log Cabin in the snow

One rainy day Scamp had been outside for longer than his usual night-or-two and I ventured out to to try to find him.  I checked in the old chicken coop where he sometimes took shelter, but to no avail.  I checked the big garage/barn area and finally heard the meow I was looking for.  "Scamper?" I'd call, and hear his pathetic mewling in response.  But I couldn't find him.  It sounded like he was IN the wall.  I would go inside the building, locate the sounds, see nothing.  I would go outside the building to the woodpile area and do the same, with the same results.  This went on for about half an hour before I started to panic.  He was trapped somewhere and I couldn't find him, never mind rescue him.  He had been out for a few days and had to be hungry.  I filled my role as the cat-crazy girlfriend and called the guy I was seeing, who worked not far away, hoping he could come over and help.  He was sympathetic, but he was working. He was sure it would work out.  I didn't want to exaggerate the cat-craziness, so I turned to those who were less likely to judge: my parents.  I explained my predicament tearfully.  MY CAT WAS SCARED AND TRAPPED AND I DIDN'T KNOW HOW TO HELP HIM!!  They came right over.

In their eternal wisdom they quickly deduced that the Scamp sounds were coming from below, rather from above in the roof region I thought it did.  So we started excavating at the woodpile, and lo and behold, finally reached cat-level.  Scamper was so happy, and didn't seem nearly as apologetic as he should. He resumed his position as head-of-household--running to the door in greeting when I came home, coming and responding when called.

This September, after spending the summer at my parents' while I was at the ranch, we relocated to on-campus-housing.  I had been thinking about how this move would affect Scamp and his wilderness-cat ways.  The apartment is right next to a parking lot, between the dining hall and maintenance area, not far from the dumpsters and the old paddocks and wooded area leading to the upper athletic fields.  The latter area would be great for Scamp, the others--not so much.  He would need to navigate through the traffic and deliveries to find the apartment door, hidden in the corner of the L-shaped building.  I bought him a collar and looked into getting an attached name tag, so that if he were wandering it would be easy to know who he was.

Once we moved in and had open windows in the late summer weather, I thought maybe we could work out a cat-entrance from the window to the roofs, down to ground level.  There would be less navigating that way.

Scamp's new (scary!) home

After a week or so in the new digs, during which time he spent much time under the couch and cowering at the sounds of delivery trucks and voices outside, Scamp wandered to the windows and cautiously went outside.  I followed him the first few times, showing him the woodsy area and how to get back to the door.  The first few times he went out and stayed out alone he was gone for two nights, and I would bemoan all the things that could be happening to him out there and my friends would tell me to chill, he's a cat, he'll be fine.  They were fight, and each time after two nights I would go out to the trees and call him and he would come running as he does.

Then I had to leave for two nights for a retreat with the kids.  Scamp had already been out his allotted two nights and I looked worriedly for him in the rain (always seems to be raining in these moments, doesn't it?) before I left.  I told all my neighbors to keep an eye out for him for me, but when I came back, he was still out there.

And there he remained for two months.

I went out every night to try to find him, vacillating between increasing frustrating and desperation.  I snuck around my former log cabin residence on the other side of campus, hunting for him and left a note for the current tenant to let me know if the cutest orange cat showed up.  After about two weeks I sent an all-school email, attaching a picture and asking everyone to be on the lookout for him (yes, this did greatly improve my popularity among both students and faculty).

There was now no hiding that this was my true identity

The campus was very concerned, and every day I would respond forlornly to their questions of news.  A few times he was spotted.  Faculty who lived along the dirt road of my old house in the woods saw him in the  in that area.  I was so relieved he was out there, but also felt so helpless that I couldn't get him.  I left food near their houses and would comb through the woods after practice calling my kitty call.

One night after dark I was driving by and saw a kitty shape crossing the road.  Definitely looked like it could be Scamp.  I stopped, dug out a flashlight and went into the woods after where I saw it disappear.  I flashed on reflecting eyes, then it was gone.  I went home, feeling like I had been so close.  I couldn't stand it, and actually went back out in the pitch black to look again where I had been sure he had been, but nothing.

My faithful parents were still part of this saga--at times unknown to me, my father would come to campus, in the early morning or afternoon, and walk around and call his kitty call.  He would go to the log cabin and just sit beside that garage where Scamp had once become trapped, waiting for a sign of him.  Knowing he was out there was driving us all crazy.

I sent out another email to the staff, asking if anyone had a Havahart trap that I could borrow.  If I couldn't get him to come to me, maybe I could catch him.  Others warned me that I would likely catch a skunk or raccoon instead, so I was hesitant.  It seemed like an unrealistic option, desperate though I was.

Unlike this guy, I would not be so happy to find this in my trap.

One afternoon, after about a month of having been missing,   I was putting up "Missing Cat" flyers after practice and saw dad's truck along the dirt road.  He was going to walk along, and I decided to go back up to log cabin.  I checked around the garage as usual and then went through the thorn bushes to the dilapidated chicken coop.  I poked my head around to peek in and SCAMP WAS THERE.  He was laying ona roosting nook along the wall, and when I startled him he panicked, running madly from wall to wall, jumping up on the screened windows and clinging there, hissing.  I couldn't believe I had finally found him.  I cautiously approached him, trying to soothe him and plucked him from the wall, where he was puffed and panicky, and held him, burying my face in his neck.  I couldn't believe I had him.  He was obviously so shifty, I wasn't sure how I would keep him on the trek back to the apartment.  I closed the door behind me and put him on the ground so that I could take off my sweatshirt to wrap him in and keep a good grip for the walk back.  He paced the floor nervously.  Too late, I saw him go for a hole in the floor.  Before I could realize what he was doing, he was wriggling through it to the outside.  I ran to try to block him, crashing through the rotten floor and further startling him, as he raced off, ricocheting off the remnants of chicken wire before he finally found a place to make an escape.

I had had him.  He was in my arms.  And he was so terrified.  He was living out there, so terrified.  Constantly feeling like prey.  And he hadn't understood.  And he was gone again.

I ran along the dirt road, looking for dad.  I breathlessly told him what had happened.  I was going to go back for the carrier and food, and maybe we could find him and keep him.

Although we knew he had to be close--I had just seen him after all--we couldn't find him again.  We went back for the Havahart trap and set it in the coop, leaving an old tee shirt of mine and a towel draped over it.

I couldn't stop crying.  I knew he was definitely out there, and definitely terrified, and again I felt helpless to do anything about it.

I checked the trap a few times again that night, and every day thereafter for two weeks.  Every time I approached the coop I so hopefully strained to see the contents of the trap, and every time it was empty and I felt defeated.  I couldn't face doing it any more and eventually took it down.  I still would wander up to it while out on walks, and once I heard scrabbling as I neared--but only to find a raccoon staring up at me curiously from its feast of cat food.  I couldn't face the disappointment any more.  Dad set the trap up again as autumn was drawing to a close, and although I couldn't bring myself to remove the litterbox and bowl of food from my apartment, I knew he wasn't coming back.

It felt lonely being the only thing with a heartbeat in my home, after having grown up always surrounded by animals and family.  I couldn't imagine getting another cat, although I browsed unethusiastically on Petfinder and Craigslists for pets that needed homes.  Since cats were still too sensitive a subject, I looked at dogs, although I didn't really think I had the time to devote to dog care.

But I kept coming back to this guy's profile.

He had a Special Care heart symbol next to his name, which said "Nemo--3.5 legs."

Described as a mixed breed (possibly of a miniature pinscher variety) from Puerto Rico, he had a tiny misshapen leg and foot but was otherwise very healthy and friendly and was just in the town next door.

I filled out an adoption application, just for the hell of it.  Then talked to his foster mom and made an appointment to see him, just for the hell of it.

Kathleen was visiting for a weekend Bitterroot Ranch reunion, and we were on our way to my JV Field Hockey team's final game of the season.  Just as we were nearing the school, dad called on my cell phone.  This had never before happened.  "Guess who I found?" he asked.

"Scamper??!!  No way."  Indeed.  His diligent persistence with the Havahart trap had paid off, and Scamp was currently waiting in my apartment.  Mind=blown.

He was skinny and a bit skittish, but thrilled to be home.  He still had his collar and flea collar, although they didn't smell too good.  He meowed constantly and followed me around, seeking as much contact as possible.

Someone lost his table manners

After two months, Scamp was back.

Kathleen and Scamp on his first night back

Kathleen may not have understood when I said I was so excited to send out another, and final, all school email to announce the return of the cat, but the reasons why became clear when throughout the evening as the movie we were watching was constantly interrupted by email dings, announcing another arrival of congratulations on the amazing recovery.  Everyone was surprised, and impressed by both Scamp's toughness and dad's patient diligence.

Since I already had an appointment to see the puppy Nemo, I thought I should still at least go, it seemed like it would be rude to the foster mom, with whom I had had long conversations.

The dog was cute.  Mom came with me, and was convinced.  I was unsure about further traumatizing Scamper after only a few weeks back at home, and also concerned about being able to leave for a night or two when I wanted, and certainly for my summer sojourn to Wyoming.

But I wanted him.

When I first brought him home, I put Scamp in a crate so that he wouldn't bolt and the dog wouldn't start their relationship thinking he was prey.  But Scamp didn't care at all.  He laid unperturbed in the crate, and later outside of the crate while Nemo sniffed around.  They both seemed interested in each other, but not in fear or like they wanted to eat each other.

Shortly after their first meeting

When people saw me with Nemo on campus many observed, "That is not a cat."  And I would respond, "No, but it's the cat's consequence for abandoning me for two months."  I joked about needed something that would not leave my sight, and that is what precisely what I got.  Nemo was instantly by my side like a shadow, and I spent much of my Thanksgiving break over which I got him with him up in my lap or close on my heels. 

And Scamp seemed quite bemused.  He entertained himself by harassing the dog and by cuddling with him.



And so, Scamp has returned to enjoy the indoor-apartment-cat life, complete with a 3.5 legged canine friend, and the menagerie continues to grow.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Many Firsts

This has been a season of firsts.  I fell off E Z Dollar for the first time, we scheduled our first hunter pace, we lived through our first freak October snowstorm and the subsequent cancellation of our first hunter pace, EZ got his first laming injury, and recovered from said injury.

Mid-October was a pretty wet month, and riding through the woods down towards the lake we encountered a nice big sloppy puddly area.  Perfect water obstacle practice!  It is dark in the woods and always pretty spooky anyway, and this nice puddle was muddy, deep and dark and filled with floating sticks.  EZ did not love it.  We walked through part of it to dry land, then ventured back in.  EZ caught sight of a board floating near his left front and did a gymnastic hop through the air away from it, and I ungracefully parted ways with him. Pro of being in the mini lake: soft!  Con: very wet.  EZ scuttled to dry land and then stood there nervously.  He seemed a bit ashamed.  I clambered back on and we hauled back and fort through the wetness some more.  It really was the perfect experience of a fall--he reacted in the best possible way, without getting freaked or sassy, just was sort of like, whoops, sorry, won't let it happen again.

This could have been me.  But don't worry, it wasn't.

Then we were off to getting fit for the hunter pace that KC invited us to go along to.  I bought royal blue stuff so we'd be matching and everything.  Would've been adorable!  I was worried about getting him in shape enough--the length of a pace is certainly farther and more strenuous than the ringwork we had been doing.  Cathleen chaperoned us across the brook to the hayfields on the other side, and we both realized it was the perfect place to exercise.  I was so proud of EZ going across the brook like a pro all by himself the next day.

Brook crossing, as demonstrated by Steve and Donovan last spring.  It's sorta higher now.

Finding the time to get a good ride in was hard though.  Coaching field hockey meant my afternoons were taken, and I have early morning classes.  A few times I showed up at Indian Pond Farm before the sun rose and we headed off to the fields just as it was making an appearance.  I had a minorly embarrassing display of emotion during faculty meetings when it was suggested we needed to spend more time during duty on the weekends, as I was sensitive of trying to find time to get off campus and ride.

Fall hay fields modeled by Kathleen and Donovan during her recent appearance

And in the end, it was all for naught, unfortunately.  October 30th, luckily right at the end of the school Halloween dance I was chaperoning, the power went out due to the extreme amounts of snow we received.  All in all our area got 20 inches and was without power (and school!) for 3 days.  The damage to trees and trails meant that the hunter pace was canceled, and with it our opportunity for getting out this season.  Now we'll have to wait until next spring!

View from my apartment window the morning after the storm
A few weeks later  I went home at around lunchtime on an unseasonably warm Wednesday to ride before our field hockey game.  When I went to get EZ from the field I thought something was wrong immediately.  He just seemed weird.  He was sweaty and downtrodden seeming, but I thought it was probably just the warm weather after growing out his winter coat.  I tied him up in the barn and stood studying his heavy breathing.  I unclipped him quickly and brought him down to the house, where Philippa and John were having lunch--I wanted to catch them before they left and get a second opinion if they thought he was acting weirdly.
John took a look at his breathing and sweaty self and agreed that most likely it was just the weather; probably he'd be ok with a light ride, we could see how it went.  But as I turned to walk him away John said, "You know he has a big cut on his right hind, right?"  Nope, no, I did not know that.  John took a look at it and pulled out the remnants of a barb from a wire.  Ouch.  I cleaned it up, and it was pretty gross.  One deep slash on the back of his fetlock, near the bulb of his heal, sourrounded by more superficial scrapes.  His leg was slightly swollen about halfway up and he wasn't putting full weight on it.  It didn't seem infected though, so we agreed that a regiment of cleaning and antibiotics would clear it up.

I found some SMZs belonging to Cathleen to feed him, and knew it wouldn't be a problem to get him to take them in grain--dude is pretty food obsessed.  He was anxious during the cleaning process, being away from the rest of the herd, and when I finished he absolutely jetted off, carrying his injured leg aloft.  The whole thing was a bummer, but on the scale of injuries, a pretty lucky one--shouldn't be any lasting damage.

We realized that the antibiotics had expired years ago, and I called the vet to see if we could get some more.  After describing the injury she thought it best to come out and check it out.  Only the best for EZ boy.  Of course though, it was the day of our last field hockey practice and team dinner.  I hated missing it.

Field Hockey Practice, when it was warmer.

While waiting for the vet to arrive I did a search of the field and found the offending string of barbed wire.  The old cow fence was obstructed by brush, except up at the very corner, where brush had been removed to separate the old pasture.  Of course, EZ had found it.  I found bits of his hair on the wire, and even where the missing barb came from, and immediately alerted Mr. Dad Fix It.  The vet concurred with our current treatment plan and gave us fresh SMZs and jumped back in her car to get away from the cold as soon as possible.

Two weeks later, I was concerned that the thing was still not better.  It was no longer swollen, it didn't look infected, it just looked like it had not closed at all.  It was in an awkward place, constantly flexing when he moved, so I didn't want to ride him until it looked better, and I wanted it to look better!  I called Ronan and asked if he would take a look at it when he came to pick up Aiofe from mom. I sent him a picture of the wound and he came that afternoon armed with all the supplies.  After a thorough cleaning he applied a topical penicillin cream and wrapped it, and recommended putting him back on SMZs for another week.

Not for the faint of heart, right?  Kinda gross.

Even with a poop ball for scale!

Two days later the improvement was amazing--fresh, pink healthy skin was already appearing.  It was really interesting what a difference the new treatment plan had.  Ronan had told me that if it looked like proud flesh was developing, to add a paste of aspirin, so I incorporated it into the routine.  It was becoming quite the process!  I wanted to send a picture of the nearly healed wound to Ronan as proof of the healing, but it was Thanksgiving, and that seemed like it might be a little offputting to the eating of the turkey, as appropriate as it would've been, seeing as how thankful for it I was.

Much improved!

I rode EZ the next day, and he seemed happy to be back in work, and the perfect gentleman.  He even gave a pony ride to my 9 year old niece afterward.  When she left following the holiday she instructed me to let me know when he was all healed up, as she as acted as my apprentice in the complicated healing process--stirring the SMZs into the food and reminding me not to forget the aspirin.

Medicine mixer: All action shots courtesy of Kath

Doctoring it up

Dad took up Project Remove All Barbed Wire with a vengeance, and I sort of helped him a few days over Thanksgiving break.  It's all officially out! (Except for a tiny section impossible to reach until we--the royal we--pull out some bushes)

Mr Fix It strikes again, hauling out old wire and poles.

Now that fall has drifted away it's time to make some winter plans!