Calm, Forward, Straight

Calm, Forward, Straight

Friday, August 6, 2010

At the barn #19 - Holy s@*#!

Well I was only two days into my barn owner / landlord role and what happens? I arrived at the barn for evening feeding at about 5:30. As I began to clean Val's stall out I heard Cowboy calling out to me in an urgent way. He hadn't come to greet me as usual so I went over to investigate. He was very lame with an extremely swollen leg. I called the owners, got some bute out and started cold hosing the leg. He had had some swelling in the same fetlock just a few nights before which confused the issue somewhat.

The confusion was cleared up pretty quickly. While cleaning his pen we discovered a very dead water moccasin, who had gotten the business end of a hoof or two. He was frozen on the strike posture and cut nearly in half.

Now comes the fun part. While the owners came to grips with the reality of the situation, I contacted the nearest equine vet. I got hold of the doctor on call (of course it was after hours) and she walked me through the options. Nearest anti-venom was located about a six hour drive away. This presented several problems as it was questionable how effective anti-venom would be that many hours after the bite. It was also questionable whether we could even get Cowboy on the trailer at all, but especially without him getting agitated. We tried for about 15 minutes but it wasn't happening. The (very accommodating) vet agreed to call in the meds he would need to our "local" practice (still 1 1/2 hours drive) , walked me through how to care for him overnight and what to look out for until we got antibiotics in him.

I dreaded going down to the barn this morning, but was ecstatic to find Cowboy, super hungry, standing on the bit leg and looking bright and alert. We were able to get the im penicillin in him to my relief... besides not loading well he's also bad about shots. And you should see the size of the needle - I'd want to avoid that shot myself.

His leg looks pretty terrible but the swelling seems to have peaked. The owners have a complicated treatment and recovery to look forward to, but if we avoid infection he should be alright.

Big thanks to Dominion Equine in Suffolk, Va. for giving us the assistance we needed in an emergency. We will be recommending them in the future. (but I hope I can avoid needing their services!)


  1. Wow! That's pretty scary - glad we don't have those around here! Hope he makes a full recovery.

  2. It was very scary Kate!

    I was thankful to be the calm helper instead of the hysterical horse owner - I hid my fear the best I could.

    I'm happy to report that Cowboy looked great this morning - swelling down significantly and he took his horrible penicillin shot very calmly. I truly believe that horses know our intentions - and Cowboy is aware that we are helping him even though sometimes it's very uncomfortable.

  3. Whoa! That IS scary - but it sounds like you handled it perfectly. Sending healing thoughts to Cowboy. I wonder if homeopathy might help too - if his owners are interested, I'd contact Joyce Harman - she's an equine vet who specializes in homeopathy - you can google her name for contact info.

  4. Thanks for the homeopathy info Billie, I'll pass it along. I just got back from the barn and Cowboy's leg looked even better this morning. What a relief!

  5. I would have been so scared,especially after seeing the dead snake. Glad Cowboy got him good. I am terrified of snakes and think they serve no purpose. Hope his leg heals quickly, what a horrible thing, poor horse.


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