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BLOG: Mischief and vet bills

13 February 2013 No Comment


Mischief and vet bills. One of those happens to be a favorite of mine, the other I loathe. Can you guess which one? I’ll give you a hint: I like my money in the bank where I can thoroughly spend it on horse treats and blankets. So, you may ask, why did I choose to talk about these two seemingly unrelated topics? That’s because where mischief tends to lurk, a veterinarian bill will soon follow. Especially if said mischief is orchestrated by horses – they can be sneaky little buggers.

Take for instance a recent news article about a horse stuck in the farm pond right down the road from The Farm. One horse was stuck in the pond and a few others were standing on the ice. I imagine that if the horses were having a conversation it would go something like this:

Horse No. 1: Looks like the pond is almost frozen. Think we can go ice hooving yet?
Horse No. 2: I’m not sure, let’s make Earl check it out. Hey Earl, go stand on the pond.
Earl: Ok. (Earl walks onto the pond) So, why am I standing on the – (Earl falls through the pond) Holy hayforks! Sweet saltblocks! Someone get me out! Oh that’s cold!

Now, I know that horses do not have human-like conversations with each other but I’m sure they have figured out who should be the “Guinea horse” in the pack. Earl happened to be the sacrificial pony for the day.

In all seriousness, I’m super glad that the fire company was able to help rescue the horse and lure the others (with food, of course) off of the dangerous icy pond. A vet was probably called out to make sure that poor Earl didn’t suffer from any injuries. In case you weren’t totally sure, vets happen to cost money. Most vets cost a lot of money, therefore proving my theory that mischief means vet bills.

My own horses tend to lead me down the same path of equine poverty but I can’t be mad for too long because I can’t fault them for wanting to sow their wild oats. Scratches and little nips only call for a super awesome Vet Gel application and a mild scolding.

Spirit, Meg B.'s injured horse.

However, the worst case of mischief resulted in a vet bill (that we are still paying on) and subsequently a new fence. Three years ago my youngest mare, Spirit, decided that a midnight mud race seemed like the perfect idea. I was away for the night when Mama Hen called me in a horrible panic and said in a shaky voice that she thought Spirit might have broken her leg.

I raced up the highway to find my poor little mare visibly shaken and missing a chunk of her rear leg. This was definitely a time to call the vet because the super awesome Vet Gel wasn’t going to be enough.

Evidently, she had slid partially underneath of the high tensile fencing and panicked. When she panicked, her rear leg became wrapped in the fencing and she panicked even more. She pulled her leg out of the fencing and as a result skinned her right rear leg down to the tendon.

It could have been worse, much much worse. A large strip of her skin and muscle was ripped from her leg and the vet was forced to cut it off because there wasn’t a way for us to stitch or repair the hanging flap.

This resulted in a large gaping wound that, for months, had to be bandaged and wrapped multiple times a day with layers of Vet Gel, special carbon bandages, wrap gauze, padding, and colorful vet wrap. We all became skilled at washing, bandaging, and wrapping her leg in under 10 minutes. And because this happened during the late fall months, it was necessary to complete this task without gloves in the dropping temperatures.

Trying to get untangled from a fence post, Spirit ended up ripping out part of her leg.

As the months went on, Spirit’s leg started to “fill in” the meat that had been butchered via fencing. However, the tissue wasn’t strong and broke down very easily.

“One step forward, two steps back” was the feeling for well over a year. Of course the extended healing time meant purchasing more bandages and medications. And the vet was always coming out for exams. The total cost of the vet bill was a little over $1,000, and that doesn’t include the cost of bandages and medications that we needed to purchase throughout that time. Yikes, I’m becoming sad just thinking about it. But the expensive part of the “Night of Hay, Mayhem, and Mischief” had yet to come.

When Spirit yanked her leg out of the fencing, she managed to break a post. Yup, she was in such a state of terror that she managed to snap a 4-inch wooden fencing post clean off at the ground. I used my tax refund that year to purchase all new coated wire fencing because I told Spirit (yes, I talk to my horses – don’t judge me) that I would make sure that she never had to go through something like this again.

It took Dad Villa, Mama Hen and I a few weeks to replace almost all of the high tensile fencing that we have on the property and fence in a new section of pasture for the geldings (castrated male horses). Only one small section remains and that will be coming down when we fence in another section of the property soon. The cost of fencing was a little over $3,000. That brings the estimated total to approximately 5,000 smackeroos.

I wouldn’t hesitate to spend that amount or more to make sure my horses were safe and healthy and to give them the ability to heal with proper professional care. I’m just going to point out that $5,000 would buy an awful lot of horse treats and blankets. Moral of the story – mischief equals vet bills. And avoid icy ponds.

Meg B. lives in Newburg, chronicling life on a small family farm with plenty of animals, fanatical family members, and loads of adventures.

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