Sunday, March 23, 2014

Bloody and 500 Miles Away

When we get ready for a trip, the amount of work I need to do to get the place ready for a farm sitter is insane.  

All the things my husband and I do daily, and without much thought, have to be translated for someone who has never done them at our barn before.  This was especially true for this new farm sitter, who was helping us during our recent trip to Kentucky.  Even though she has experience with farms and horses, our barn was new to her.  I was determined to make everything as easy as possible for her.  

It took hours, but I was pretty sure I left everything she needed, in obvious (and clearly labeled) locations, and then my husband and I flew to Kentucky...

...which is where we were when this happened:

Received by text from farm sitter.  FREAK OUT!
That's when I realized that a critical piece was missing: A easy-to-find, well-supplied equine first-aid kit.  Did I have wraps, antiseptic ointment, gauze, thermometers?  Well, sure.  But were they in a spot that the farm sitter could find?  Nope.  Those items were spread out all over the place, from the barn cabinets to the house basement, and she could have ordered them all from Valley Vet and had them delivered before she could have found them in their various locations at my place. 

So, 500 miles away and frantic, I relied on the kindness and competence of three key people: Dr. Megan Cox of Elite Equine, her assistant and my long-time friend, Trish Pierce, and farm sitter, Ginger.  

Dr. Cox and Trish arrived at the barn the next day, trimmed and treated the wound and injected Starlight with a slow-release antibiotic, one that would not need to be re-administered until I got home (to prevent requiring Ginger dealing with an injection).  Trish kindly brought her own polos and pillow wraps and Dr. Cox left plenty of gauze.

Ginger gamely unwrapped, changed bandages and rewrapped daily for the next two nights, a duty that went well beyond what either of us had expected when she agreed to farm sit for us (not to mention that she took care of the barn during that quick, nasty March storm that dropped temps to single digits with 35 mph winds with chills at double digits below zero).

When I got home, I got my first in-person look at the wound.  
Oozing blood when I pulled the bandage off.
Dr. Cox said it was in the best possible place for long-term success, being away from a joint, for which I'm grateful.  But I know that lower leg wounds take forever to heal, so we're in for a long recovery.  
The fact that this happened to my most careful horse is disheartening. This is the little mare that tip-toes across the ice while the others are running and bucking.  
Starlight pretty much showed me where the injury occurred.  While I was leading her by the cheek into the barn, we crossed some ice near the hinge of the gate and she pricked her ears, arched her neck and walked very carefully, while keeping her eyes the whole time on that hinge.  My guess is she slid into it in a hurry.  
Purple polo!
She's not one to hurry on ice, so my guess also is that she was driven into hurrying by DeCato, who has newly usurped second-place in the three-mare herd.   DeCato will engage in sudden threats toward Starlight, since this change of order, causing Starlight to scramble out of her way.

I'm not happy that my pasture puff is acting in a way that could (did?) cause my best riding horse to injure herself.  So, I'm going to have to think about that arrangement.

In the meantime, this has arrived at my house, and it is now filled with my formerly scattered first-aid supplies, with more on order to make it complete.  
The bag, not the cat.  The cat has been here for a while.
And let me recommend that, if you don't have your bag of horse first aid supplies gathered, complete and easy-to-find, it's high time you did, because this stuff really does happen, and at the worst times.   

Here's a good article from The Horse that can get you started on your horse first-aid kit. 

Many thanks to Dr. Cox, Trish and Ginger!  I really don't know what I would have done without your help.


  1. Your experience was a wake-up call for me, too! (Not that I'll ever get away from home again, but...) Hunting down my first aid goodies was just as frustrating, and thus I'm putting together my new kit as well. Maybe I'll get a kitty to go with my kit, like yours!
    Please know that kind, conscientious owners like you make the farm sitter, the vet, and the tech all quite dedicated to helping out in a crisis. It's a team effort!

    1. Thanks, TP. You are kind and conscientious as well, and I appreciate it!

  2. Sorry this happened. Should have had you given her my number. I have all the supplies at home. Glad that you had a competent sitter and good friend and vet to help out. Poor Starlight. :-(