Monday, October 4, 2010

Struggling with horses...

This post won't be about the past.  I am struggling what to do with my horse.

Okay, I lied - the struggle with this horse started in the past...

In 2003, my boss asked me to watch his mare for a month.  He "helped" me fence and area for her becaues we hadn't yet done our perimeter (it was a mess), found someone to haul her up the mountain and dropped her off.  As soon as she exited the trailer, I could see that not only was she pregnant, she was due in a week or two.

You might wonder how someone might not know their mare is pregnant since most horse pregnancies involve stud fees and some complication, but he'd bought this mare wild out of Waipio Valley - the only place in Hawaii you can find wild horses.  Waipio ponies are small, have ugly heads, a nice pop over jumps if you do bother to train them, and absolutely no respect for fences.

Sure enough, two weeks letter there were 8 legs on the ground instead of two; Koa had entered the world.

Two weeks later, the mare took her baby, and my baby straight through a fence and on a long ramble.  Ironically, that was the day I had had enough of this mare breaking fences and told my boss, "Get her out of there."

When I got home from work, ready to get the mare and foal ready for the trailer - they were all gone.  I started off on what was becoming an all too common search through the land behind mine - towing a halter and a bucket of feed and calling my horse (who would have the grace to answer).  I gave up after about an hour and headed home - hoping the horses had somehow gotten there before me.

Instead, as I walked up to the house, one of my kids brought me a phone.

"Missing something?" It was the police.  Not even an hello....

"Oh, Lord, where are they?"

"On the highway.  An officer has them contained.  Please come get them."

I swear that was the bright spot of the nice officer's day. He detailed every movement all three horses had done in the last hour ("And then - that one laid down, and the fat one ate grass, and the baby took a nap..."), but it was the beginning of years of struggle with my poor little paint.

I watched the mare and foal load up and truck away with gratitude, but within a day, Ohia had foundered.  It's been 6 years of varying degrees of pain.  Most of the time, he is somewhat comfortable, even ridable on a walk-trot basis.  There have been three times in these years that I have considered putting him down.

These last two weeks have been one of those times.  Bute isn't helping.  Draining the abscesses isn't helping.  I am now trying a digestive supplement and rice bran to get some of the weight he's lost due to stress and pain back on.  As always, his attitude is good - like my son who was so sick so often as a young child and who is now the most kind and patient of teens - the struggle has trained this horse in kindness.  I have decided to give him this month to recover from this last round of abscesses - feed him with lovely low-carb, high fat treats, keep him comfortable, see if we can get to a level of comfort that we can both live with.

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