The Golden Carrot Newsletter's Archive
June 30, 2007 - TGC Newsletter
1. SNAKEBITE! Horse owners’ nightmare...
On June 13, Daphmar’s leg was swollen, and he stood head down in his stall, uninterested in moving or following the herd out. I was terrified, as it was obvious he would not bear weight on this limb at all. I called the vet, and by the time he could make it out 4 hours later, Daphmar’s leg had no definition at all, swollen so grotesquely that you could not identify the hock joint at all. The swelling went all the way to his sheath, which was so huge it looked like testicles. Poor Daphmar, could pass for a stallion, but didn’t have the heart to exploit it! When I spoke to Dr. Z about 2 hours after my first call he told me he thought it sounded like snakebite. I didn’t find a snake, and hadn’t been able to identify any wound, but time has told the tale. There was no injury to tendon or bone; and the course and speed and extent of the swelling is consistent with a rattler bite.
Snake bite is particularly bad for horses because they often get bit on those inquisitive noses - and the swelling will cause them to suffocate. And even when bit on the leg, and treated immediately, a lot depends on the type of venom, and how much, and the overall size and health of the horse. Dr. Z told me he wouldn’t be happy for five days - because a large dose of venom might not be fully metabolized and neutralized and excreted before it reached the heart and other vital organs, and thus do further, even fatal damage.
Dr. Z "threw the kitchen sink" at this problem, with two kinds of antibiotic, two kinds of painkiller and two kinds of antiinflammatories, all IV. For the next ten days, I was giving injections twice a day (first 4 days); then once a day plus oral antibiotics and a descending course of antiinflammatory. In addition, hosing cold water on the leg - as bringing down the massive swelling was paramount - the damage it was causing to tendons and circulation had to be stopped. During this time, Topper stayed in her stall next door to Daphmar, perfectly calm and happy to be there. Chacha also ran back and forth from the herd to Daph’s stall several times a day, sometimes bringing Ronan, to visit with the invalid and his nurse. What a help this was, as after the first day, he was feeling enough better that being alone would have caused a great deal of distress and restlessness in the big guy, and hampered his healing. Having his girlfriend with him, and his friends visiting regularly, had a lot to do with his speedy recovery and the ease with which I was able to treat him. O Topper - she has always been worth her weight in gold!
After 3 days, the swelling was much less and Daphmar insisted on rejoining the herd. We walked Topper out as we didn’t want her running out as was her norm, especially after 3 days in her stall. Daph would want to keep up with her and we didn’t know how well he would do. Of course, once we let her go, she ran from hay pile to hay pile, just to do it, and he hobbled after her. But they eventually settled down to breakfast, and he did well for the whole day. In the next few days, he would stock up a little at night, and walk it out during the day. But all the skin which had been so horribly stretched out by the swelling began to slough off, and a spot on the inside of his foot just above the coronet band was clearly the site of his snakebite, cracking and splitting with huge hunks of necrotic tissue falling off. I found him laying down one day in the field, gnawing on his fetlock! So I cleaned it thoroughly, packed it with Furasin, and wrapped it, which I’ve been doing for 3 days now. It still looks bad, but at least is staying soft enough that the dead skin can slough off without becoming stiff and dried and irritating the tender flesh underneath. When I think enough has come off, I’ll begin to leave the leg unbandaged so it can dry and heal more normally.
When I first got a diagnosis from the Vet, I had contacted Jill Phillips and her mom. You’ll remember these ladies showed up on April 1 to help me and Mike build Tango and Anna’s new double-wide stall. On this day, Jill’s boyfriend Eric was supposed to come help us, but he backed out at the last minute, and the three of us decided a little punishment was in order. So when the ladies left that day, they had me call Eric to ask him if Jill was doing ok? Of course he was confused, until I informed him that Mary and Jill had left an hour earlier, headed to the ER because Jill had been ... bitten by a snake! O lord - was Daphmar’s injury a little divine retribution? Eric freaked and called Mary immediately, who within 3 sentences remarked how amazing it was that Jill had been snakebit on APRIL FOOLS’ DAY....! So he didn’t suffer long. But we couldn’t help but wonder .... Mary and Jill both came out the next day, exclaimed at Daph’s leg and cleaned and hosed it, and fed Daph and Topper many comfort carrots. They also spent some time helping me by cleaning ½ the stalls while I went for feed. Between his equine and human friends, Daphmar is a lucky guy!
With the help of my neighbor Jolly Martin, who lent Mike his tractor/auger, Mike was able to set four huge telephone poles in the main paddock, from which we were able to hang another shade netting. My friend Laurie Henkle found a place which sold the nettings. I was unable to afford the large one ($275), but could afford two smaller ones ($75 each). One was hung, kind of oddly but effectively, from the existing poles, and the other was stitched together with baling twine to an old ragged one, and hung from the telephone poles. So the horses now have two places in the main paddock where they can get a little relief from the already blistering sun.
In addition, a stall mat company had some stall mats of a discontinued line taking up space in a local warehouse. They contacted me, and donated 60 of these mats (4x3) to TGC! I intend to put three mats in several stalls right were the horses stand to eat - as several of these horses are digging holes to china which take an inordinate amount of effort to fill in. The plan is - fill in the holes, lay down the rubber mats, and then cover them with either dirt or shavings - so when that horse paws, it won’t dig a hole! But I need the help of Mike and his tractor to do this, and finding dirt seems to be his least favorite thing .... In the meantime, since I don’t have to do this for every horse, I took about 25 of the mats and laid down a great surface under my awning in the cross-tie area, which made my farrier VERY HAPPY! Easier for him to see the hoofs and their angles clearly, a neater area to work in, etc etc. And again, the horses who are waiting to be worked on can paw and paw, but nothing happens! I don’t have to keep filling in the holes they make and releveling the area - sweet!
Some of you may have looked at the Homeless Horses section of my website. Here I try to post information about horses whose owners have contacted me trying to place them here at TGC. With summer approaching, always a very slow time for donations and for my own work, I’ve been reluctant to fill my last stall if I can find a good home for these horses. I have partially promised Bumpy’s owner, with her promise of some support, to take him, but haven’t heard back from her in over a month, so it is possible she’s placed him elsewhere. JJ, an elderly Appaloosa, was hardly up a few days when the person who contacted me about him, having watched his depression grow after losing his old stallmate, emailed me to say she’d been able to find him a good home not too far from where he was.
With placement, there are success stories, and there are failures:
Failure: Sunny and Butch, who I reported last were going to a wonderful home with Sandy, a fellow rescuer in Phelan, continue to have the bad luck which has haunted them. Their owner, Penny, emailed me 12 hours before Nicole was to pick up the boys and transfer them to Sandy’s place to say that she had received an offer on her property, and that the people had horses and told her they would take Sunny and Butch as part of the deal. Now, she knows absolutely nothing about these people. Nothing will prevent them from selling S&B, together or separately. She has no way of knowing if they will take care of them. But you see, it’s so much easier to simply walk away and leave them to the mercy of fate, than pay $200 for Nicole to haul them to a home she has every reason to believe will take care of them, together, for the duration of their lives. Having pressed me again and again and again, crying and whining at she was SOOOO concerned about them, when a home was found, she rejected it for a fuzzy uncertainty that would cost her nothing. Let’s all hope for S&B’s sake that the new people will care for them ...
Failure: I also found a wonderful home for Flame, Amy Lovering of Arizona, who also rescues horses, but has several she is trying to place because they are untrained. She admits she is not a trainer - she simply rescued these horses from starvation and abuse, has rehabilitated them into good health and is looking to find them homes. Meantime, she is hoping to find a horse she can do light trail riding on. She spoke with the owner, and for a while, we weren’t sure what would happen because of difficulties getting a Coggins test and health certificate done, plus transport of Flame to Blythe. But on the 25th we were told Flame would be at Blythe on the 30th, with the appropriate paperwork. On the 29th, we both got an email from this wretched woman saying that she sent Flame to a vet in Apple Valley and "Amy, I hate to tell you this but the vet said, " flame was crippled and should not be transported or rode ever again. He recomended that we put her down. Thanks so much for your interest in her and again I'm very sorry".
After Amy contacted her in distress over this, she responded with this gem: "Amy, I am not going to put her down, all I said was the vet recommened it but in the same breath he said she was to good of a mare to put down . He recommended try to find a place local and with only 3or4 horses as she can't run and protect herself. He said she only had one good leg and that it would be dangerous for anyone to ride her in case she falls".
This was a horse that this woman was having her children ride every weekend, and who ran up and down her pen calling to their other horses until she would be lame for a day or two from the activities (according to the owner). I have to admit I don’t believe any vet first told her to put the horse down, called it a one legged horse, and then told her it was too good a mare to kill. Unless he’s doing drugs. And of course, she’s been trying to find someone to take this horse for a month now - and the only home that would take Flame, she’s rejecting. The horse that was transported to the vet for a health certificate apparently couldn’t be transported. Frankly, both Amy and I believe the woman killed Flame rather than incur the expense of the vet and transport. The good part of that is - at last Flame’s spirit is free of that terrible home ....
This woman, from her first emails to me begging for my help to find Flame a home, consistently threatened to kill her if a solution to her problem was not found. She blamed her husband at least once. On the third email using that threat, I told her to stop it - why people will contact a person who rescues and cares for more horses than she can afford rather than see them die, and use a threat like that, is beyond me. So I guess we should not be surprised that when I didn’t drive immediately to her home with my trailer, and take Flame off her hands without effort or cost to her, that she would choose to kill her instead. She claims she did not have the vet euthanize Flame (of course that would have cost her about $300 between the euthanasia and disposal), but also reiterated that she cannot keep her. We can only hope that Flame will be OK, or is dead, because this woman will not allow anyone to help her. I just wish she’d never involved me, and Amy, in the matter at all, because WE are certainly devastated at this development. Amy told her that she would still take Flame, but we don’t expect to ever hear from her again.
SUCCESS!! I am so happy to report that I was able to place Mademoiselle Zippo ("Stormy") with my good friend Anjeannette Martin, ½ sponsor of Shine! I think I fulfilled a childhood dream of this good young woman, as I believe Stormy is her first horse. Anj has already received ownership papers for Stormy and is in the process of registering herself as the new owner; had the farrier out to evaluate her; and has found wonderful barn to board her at, not too far from her own home. And Anj has promised to continue her support for Shine, so I’m not losing out at all! Anj has a plan already about getting Stormy settled, starting nutritional support and proper shoeing for her OCD, and beginning a light riding/exercise program. Future plans include possibly breeding her, but as Stormy is only 7 there is plenty of time for that ....
NOT SURE YET: I also would like to report that Ben could go to Amy, but his owner is having difficulty transporting him so far (She and Ben live in Frazier Park, a little west of Gorman) - her best quote so far is $650, plus she has to pay for a Coggins and health cert also. We’re working on that, and I hope to have some success with this placement, at least, by the next newsletter. As a laminitic horse, Ben is difficult to place. With proper care, controlling the laminitis, he could have many useful years left, but it requires someone to be paying attention and working with a farrier and vet (which Amy is prepared to do after consultation with her farrier and vet). As gorgeous as he is, he could end up in a bad situation without someone willing to step up - I’m hoping we can make this placement with Amy work, particularly after the devastating disappointment about Flame.
This year, I’ve had several windfalls which have helped immensely. The Ardis family who sent Tango and Anna to TGC have been enormous supporters, both financially and with shavings, some feed deliveries, and all the help Nicole has given transporting various horses. Kathryn McDonald, who sponsors Mitey Nice and Sunny, has also donated an additional large amount which was not used to help rescue the Sunset Stable riding horses. That money has been a great help here at TGC. A local Arabian horse organization, Tierra del Norte, was generous enough to donate a nice small close contact saddle to TGC, which will help next time I have a crowd of kids visit. And Sue Friley and her family have been sending many little chunks of money earned selling M&Ms, over and above their sponsorship of Josh.
But as summer approaches, everyone goes on vacation and families are scrambling to keep their kids busy. Summer is always bad for donations at TGC. This also coincides with me not having much work. When I’m making less, I’m less able to pick up the slack in donations. Summers are usually very difficult here at TGC. Don’t forget us, OK? Feed prices have gone up twice in the last three months, so I’m paying about $1.50 per bag more (about 210 bags per month); and $2 more per bale (about 47 bales a month). Farrier prices have stayed the same for the last year, but that is not likely to remain the same for long as these guys all spend a fortune in gas getting to the horses they work on. I’m finding homes for horses that should be retiring here - I’m working hard to keep my overhead down. Please help me help these horses....
And may I remind everyone? We love visitors here at TGC. Even on the hot days, perhaps you or your kids would like to bring a swimsuit, and give a bunch of these hot horses a cool bath!? I know the horses would appreciate it.....
Happy Safe Fourth of July to all of you!