Sunday, January 10, 2010

Rescue Ranch

In the Northwest, any winter day without rain is a reason to celebrate. So yesterday, since the sun was (sort of) shining, I decided to finally get my old horse Buddy out of the pasture and take him for a walk. In the process of giving him a good brushing, I noticed he had lost a back shoe. It must have happened quite recently, because I'm in the habit of giving him a good once over every time I feed or clean his stall, and I hadn't noticed it before.

Usually I have my horses' shoes pulled for the winter and allow them to go barefoot for a few months while I'm not riding very much. Then I have them shod again when the weather gets nice and riding season begins in earnest. But because Buddy seemed to do so well with shoes, I decided to keep him shod all winter. This also allowed me to ride him on gravel roads if I wanted, which can be hard on a barefoot horse.

For those of you that don't know Buddy, he's an old quarter horse gelding that came to live with us last August. He was a couple hundred pounds underweight and pretty much on his last legs. In the process of feeding him up, I was almost embarrassed to have people look in the barn.

Beside Buddy, the only other equine I have at the moment is my old donkey Josie, who I have had the privilege of owning for nine years. And Josie has, for the last few months, been suffering from an almost life-ending bout of laminitis, which caused her to lie down for long periods of time because it was too painful to stand on her hooves.

So my routine for the past few months has been (twice daily) giving a round of medications to Josie and feeding Buddy (we call him the Old Man) extra supplements and grain to build him up. And while we tongue-in-cheekily said it looked like a rescue ranch around here, it really was not that much of a stretch.

I'm happy to say that Buddy has not only gained all his weight back, but is on his way to becoming chubby. And Josie is being weaned off her meds and seems to have (for now) kicked this bout of laminitis and is once again sound on all fours. Hallelujah!!

Today I decided to look for Buddy's missing shoe, which had to be in his pasture since he hasn't been anywhere else in the past couple of months. So I began the process of combing the pasture inch by inch. I walked the back pasture thoroughly before breakfast. Nada. I searched through all the mud in the paddock, which with all the rain we've had would be a good culprit to suck a shoe right off. Nothing. Later, I poked carefully through the front pasture. I found a piece of aluminum, a beef jerky wrapper, a broken piece of glass and a 3 inch bolt. I have no idea how these things got there, but I stuffed them carefully in my jacket pocket.

All the while, the old people (Buddy and Josie) were placidly munching their hay inside the barn. I was at the very end of the front pasture (and still hadn't found the lost horseshoe) when I noticed Josie striding towards me. Confidently, quickly, her humongous ears pricked forward and walking out sound, she was coming out to see Mom and get some scratching time. It thrilled me to see her moving so well, obviously pain-free.

Then I heard a funny sound behind her - something halfway between a nicker and a neigh. The old man had discovered me at the far side of the pasture. Buddy broke into a gallop and raced towards me, making a welcoming noise in his throat the whole way.

Galumph, galumph, galumph. If you've ever seen an old arthritic horse gallop - trust me, it's comical. He cut Josie off at the pass and slid to a stop in front of me, letting out an old man cough with the exertion. I put my arms around his neck and laughed.

I haven't yet found the missing shoe, but all-in-all, it's a good day here at the rescue ranch.


Lunar Amyscope said...

I love reading about stuff like this. Having a sick or hurt pet can be so stressful, I can only imagine the relief and happiness you felt! Josie is so adorable I can't stand it. I want to hug her.

Vonna said...

Linda, I love reading about your animals and you days on the ranch, and thanks for posting pictures of of Buddy and Josie. I'm glad you are all doing well.