More Western Adventures

Happy (belated) Independence Day!

What Fourth of July weekend is complete without a trip to the lake?

I’m happy to report that the fourth of July is by far my favorite holiday and I was lucky enough to have a great weekend with some great friends when couple of Michiganders made the long trip West to visit South Dakota.  So for the long weekend, I took my guests to a popular Midwest party town, Lake Okoboji, Iowa.  We had a great time lying in the sun, boating, staying in a hotel, grilling at a bonfire, and watching fireworks, after which I came back with an impressive bright red sunburn that could stop traffic!  I was truly sad to watch my fellow Albion students leave after such a great weekend.

Whew – summer is flying by!   

As for work at the clinic, the never-ending flow of horses keeps me very, very busy.  Sadly, during my favorite holiday, I fell down some stairs and tore about 3 ligaments in my ankle, which limits my working efforts.  But I’ve been helping with chores as normal and jogging horses for lameness (even with a lameness of my own).  Sometimes I think my limping is worse than that of the horses, though!

I have also been able to practice some necessary future skills, including successfully feeding a tube down a horse’s nose into its stomach.  In order to do this, you have to find the natural grove in the horse’s nostril and feed a VERY long tube down while carefully watching the throat for the tube.  To stay out of the lungs, you have to put your mouth to the tube and push air through to make the horse swallow.  Once in the stomach, you suck back on tube with your mouth to make sure there is negative suction.  (If you end up in the lungs, you can suck air all day long, which is not good!)  I am also learning how to take x-rays and have found that I really enjoy radiology!  I really like looking at the x-rays to see how a tiny little spur on a bone can make a HUGE difference in a horse’s joint.  The docs show me what part of the bone is showing and then which tendons, ligaments, and other tissues that are present.  Sometimes I wish I could take notes but it all goes so quickly!  (X-ray-wise, we also get dogs that eat strange things and have to take x-rays to find out where the blockage is.  It’s always fun to find random things in a stomach – you never know what you’re going to get!)

Essence and I practicing over fences for our first competition of the season.

In terms of basic, everyday care, I have practiced giving shots – with poor Essence as my first patient.  I gave her an IM dose of Bute and all of her summer vaccinations.  After this was successful, I gave all our other ponies at home their shots too.  I am also learning about how horses wear down their teeth – by sticking my arm inside to feel the teeth and how each of the groves mimics the top or other side of the mouth.  (Horses move their teeth from side to side rather than up and down, so the degree of which the horse wears their teeth is always unique.)  Another basic, everyday skill I’m working on is caring for foot abscesses.  I change packs on the horse’s feet and do lots of soaking.

Outside of working and visiting with friends comes riding!

As I type, I am on very bumpy I-90 eastbound, headed toward Chicago!  Essence is munching on hay and occasionally sticking her nose out the trailer behind me.  Our destination is the Lamplight Equestrian Center in Wayne, Illinois for our first event of the season and I’m very nervous!  We were finally able to make it up to Minneapolis, Minnesota a couple of weeks ago for a lesson, but sadly didn’t get to school much cross-country because of all the summer flooding we’ve had here in the Midwest.  But Essence jumped wonderfully and we were able to get out to their little course and jump some solid fences.  My trainer said we looked great and she was excited to see how we will do this weekend and next.  So we should be good – right??

I admit, I’m nervous because of my ankle.  I haven’t been able to ride since last week and my father, (a doctor), will not let me ride until I have to.  Lame right?  (No pun intended!)  He’s worried I’ll re-tear the ligaments and then will not be able to walk at all.  (Psh, I think that’s silly!)  😛

So here we are, on the way to our first competition of the season with a rider that can’t use her right ankle, a horse that hasn’t jumped cross-country all summer, and only one day to complete all phases (because, of course, it’s a one-day event).  Hopefully I won’t need to use any of my recently acquired veterinary skills on myself or Essence!


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