It was a warm, sunny day in May. A perfect opportunity to get the horses out of their new corral they had moved into during the winter, and have the chance to get familiar with their new surroundings. The footing was good, and the weather was perfect for enjoying a nice leisurely stroll around the neighborhood. We had no idea about the tragedy which was about to strike….
(To skip the story and head right to the yearly wrap up, skip down now to the “*”).
To play it safe, we paired the two youngest kids with the steadfast donkey, and took out only him and the flightiest of our racetrack reject horses. All was well for the first 15 minutes of the expedition. Dominic the Donkey was being exceptionally well behaved with the kids, and Oliver the chestnut gelding was calmly taking in the sights and sounds of his new surroundings. Wanting to avoid crossing a heavily trafficked road, we decided to cut across a friendly neighbor’s property in what appeared to be a safe path through a small ravine, where the grass was not as tall and the gravel was more obvious, allowing us to scout for potential dangers on the ground. We warned each other to be cautious of barbed wire or any other dangers in our path.
Just then, multiple noisy cars passed by on the nearby busy road. Oliver tossed his head up and stepped to the side, just to be cautious and get a better look. In an instant, he flew into a blind panic, as he realized that his gentle side step had put him right on top of a down stretch of barbed wire fence, which was now impaled onto the bottom of his left front hoof. His panic quickly escalated to terror, as, while attempting to free his entangled hoof, the rest of the entire stretch of three strand barbed wire fence popped up out of the grass. Suddenly a significant length of fence, underneath and on both sides of him, began to drag across the entire hillside towards him more frighteningly with each panicked backward step he took. The children screamed. The donkey panicked, broke free and fled out of control toting a horrified 7 year old child in the other direction, towards potentially more hidden barbed wire.
Only through an excellent bond of trust, was I able to, with gentle words of soothing encouragement, able to break through the panicked horse’s backwards explosion, and get him to stop and stand still, side’s heaving, blood pouring, holding up his front leg, now with an unknown stretch of fencing securely embedded in the flesh and hoof wall of his lower limb.
Luckily, having many years of training already under her belt, the 7 year old overcame her own panicked screaming long enough to reach down and perform the emergency stop she had been taught. Luckily, our trusty rescue donkey, also with many hours of trust-building training, complied, and saved them both. To learn more about our proven trust-building methods, and our “No saddle, no bridle, no problem” philosophy, stay tuned to our updates here https://funds.gofundme.com/dashboard/w96q4v9w.
Oliver suddenly panicked again, fought and struggled backward some more, embedding a strand of barbed wire nearly 2/3 of the way through cutting off his hoof from his leg. Again soothing words, and amidst blood now all over the hillside, finally submitted to my encouragement to be still, and stood quietly in pain, panting heavily, waiting for help.
I tried in vain to remove the wire. There was no way to remove it, it was embedded too deeply in the hoof tissue. Bravely, the 7 year old held the donkey secure, while the 9 year old crossed the busy road, alone, and began to run the significant distance to the nearest rural home, knock on doors, and beg for help.
Luckily, good neighbor help came quickly with wire cutters, and without further incident or injury, we were able to cut and remove the wire, get Oliver some pain medication, and then slowly bring him limping back to the corral. With each step the top of his leg sickeningly threatened to slip off the fragment of hoof underneath.
Then began the most difficult part for me as a veterinarian. Being able to objectively evaluate the situation, and make a good decision about the extent of the wound, and determine if treatment was even an option, or if euthanasia should be the choice.
With the support and encouragement of a long time good friend who reminded me to think of the situation in such a way as to what I would do if it was ‘his’ horse, and not mine, I was slowly, finally able to swallow my own fear and horror, and began to formulate a plan to evaluate the horrific injury. I injected sterile yellow dye into his coffin joint deep in the hoof, and when none leaked out of the horrific wound, decided that it was worth at least trying to save his him.
Then began months of cleansing soaks, bandage changes, antibiotics, pain medications, acupuncture treatments, and solitary confinement. Luckily we received generous donations to help offset the cost of all the treatments. All the while unsure if Oliver would be able to lead any sort of normal, pain free life again.
Today, I am happy to report a Christmas miracle! Not only is Oliver’s hoof completely healed, but he walks, runs, bucks and plays with hardly a limp and only a small deformity in the hoof wall left to tell the terrible tale. I am grateful to my friend who encouraged me not to give up on him, but to give him a chance. Sometimes in life when things seem most hopeless, amazing things happen, and even thousand pound animals who nearly severe their lower limb off can walk normally again. This is why I encourage my children, friends, and clients, to never, ever, give up!
* I can hardly believe how quickly this year has passed, and all the positive changes in the practice despite all the extra time it took to love, care for, and nurture sweet Oliver through his injury. Can it really already be the end of the year?! The year started with me spending 4 days in Vail with a board certified behaviorist continuing to hone my skills and special interest in all things animal behavior. Hiring some much-needed help to implement some changes such as our new on line booking system which will help to serve you, our clients better by no longer having to play ‘phone tag’ to schedule an appointment. To building a brand new website for http://www.resqranch.org to help continue to promote and build our dream for the future. Having our trusty student intern Katie join us to help provide loving care for the horses. Spending time with the racehorses at Arapahoe Park Racetrack and trying to find homes for good horses so they don’t end up at the slaughterhouse. Getting to travel to South Dakota with my family to see one of my favorite clients and her kitty. Getting my feet wet doing multiple live internet interviews, events, and recording helpful videos. I really enjoyed another year with my admin role in one of my favorite free animal advice sources on the internet, a Facebook group called https://www.facebook.com/groups/PositivePetAdvice/. If you are an animal lover and on Facebook, this is the group to belong to!
It was great attending the VegFest again and getting to speak to all the animal lovers there. As well as being asked to speak at other events, one being the Animal Rights Event in Colorado Springs (although I am not much of a proponent of animal rights, but rather animal welfare). However, the one which honored me the most, was being asked to be the keynote speaker at a vegan Thanksgiving event with over 100 people in attendance.
Opportunities to travel to California three times on business presented themselves, (twice with my children), for such varied reasons as testifying as a veterinary expert in a court case against Purina, to speaking to the South California fish enthusiasts, to prospective veterinary students at Soka University, and culminating with being invited to speak at SeaWorld San Diego (we were lucky enough to be invited there twice in less than 2 months) to exchange ideas with the aquarists and about my experience with fish medicine practice. Along those lines I was also honored to be contacted this year by the local aquatics wholesaler Tropaquatics, to come in and evaluate their facility and help them provide healthier animals to their clients.
Then in fall of this year, I was asked by a local veterinary hospital if I could lend a hand as they attempted to recover from the sudden loss of a full-time veterinarian. So now I find myself being a new 3 day a week regular addition at the local Aspen Park Veterinary Hospital. So far this has been a fascinating learning opportunity to hone and practice my holistic medicine skills, and learn many new modalities I had never even hear of before! Not to mention, volunteering on various committee’s at my children’s school, unfortunately attending court more times than I care to mention to defend the children from my ex-husband’s antics, and of course all the while caring for my busy caseload of clients and their pets, YOU!
No wonder the year flew by so fast! Although Oliver’s story ended up a happy tale, we did suffer some tragic losses this year here at the Resqranch. We lost Steve the cat to a urinary blockage, and my beloved TRex the bearded dragon. Few can imagine the deep bond a person can share with a reptile, or the deep cutting pain from their loss….
Overall the year was, what I would call, a success. A strong foundation was set in place for an even stronger year in 2017, with looking forward to finally acquiring 501 3 c status for the http://www.resqranch.org, and pushing ahead with the dream of opening a world-class education center, children’s museum, and animal sanctuary, right here in Colorado.
If you care about the plight of suffering animals’, please subscribe to our updates about the Resqranch here https://funds.gofundme.com/dashboard/w96q4v9w/share/menu.
Thank you to all of you who placed your trust in me in 2016, and donated to the Resqranch. I encourage you to stand with me in 2017 as I bring a first of it’s kind, world class animal rescue facility into existence. After all, they say, if your dreams don’t scare you a little bit, then they are not big enough!
Wishing you all happiness, big dreams, and much success in 2017!
THANK YOU FOR BEING YOU! AND FOR CARING AND HAVING A VOICE FOR THE VOICELESS! BLESS YOU IN ALL IN 2017!
Here is to making it even bigger and better. see you next year!
DrQ and the crew at the Resqranch