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Posted by greygelding , 02 October 2017 · 812 views

Returning home on a Sunday evening, after an event at Varian Arabians, we went straight up to the boarding stable before heading home. I went up to feed Mayo his evening grain while Pam attended to Tess and Begonia. I was finishing as I heard, "MICHAEL, COME HERE QUICK!" I hurried down took a quick look and saw Tess peacefully eating while Pam was standing in front of Begonia's stall. Begonia was standing perfectly still, in fact too still, and was not eating. We tried to move her but she refused. Looking her over Pam saw something wrong with her hip. She ran her hands over the rear end, frowned, and gave a sharp shove. A click was audible and Begonia shifted her hindquarters and then moved her rear feet slightly. We tried to walk her but she was now reluctant to move her front feet. An emergency call was placed to the vet who came right out. A quick examination reviled founder in both front feet. My heart fell as I knew very little about founder and considered it a death sentence. We rushed her to a vet clinic where X-rays were taken and confirmed some rotation. After a few days she went home and I had spent the time researching founder. It turns out that it wasn't necessarily a death sentence after all. A diet was developed for her, a close watch would be kept on her weight, and she needed special shoes. These front shoes would be made from wood, a special design by the vet who was attending her. They would be put on with screws instead of nails which meant no pounding on the sore feet. The main drawback was they were handmade and cost $450 per set not counting installation, which ran another $100. She would require 3 sets of them and then she would need shoes with pads. My attitude was, whatever the "Be" needs, the "Be" gets. The first one was difficult to put on as she had no desire to shift weight onto the other foot. As soon as it was on and the foot was placed on the ground the relief was visible. She gladly gave them the other hoof and stood peacefully for it to be put on. Where a short time ago movement was painful now it was a joy for her. She pranced part of the way back to her corral. We had switched corrals with Mayo as his corral was right across the pay from the arena and it was all flat for her exercise periods. We were given a schedule of exercise which we held to faithfully. The only problem was the arena was used as a turnout for another boarder who would just turn her horses out and go somewhere else. They spent most of their time just standing around. The arena was for a maximum 15 minute turnout but she would leave them out between one and two hours. The path around the outside of the arena was had packed with dips and holes while the arena was soft and flat. Meanwhile Mayo hated living in Begonia's stall in the barn so I decided that it was time to move the herd.
We spent the weekend visiting several boarding places and the second one we visited was perfect. After visiting the rest of the stables on my list we called and reserved our stalls. At the end of the month we moved Tess and Mayo to there new home, leaving Begonia behind for two more months. We didn't want to change vets and horseshoers as the new place was two towns over. It was a bit of a drive but the food was first class, the place was kept perfectly clean, and the rules were enforced. We were given 3 stalls with runs on the front line next to the road. Two of them were side by side Barnmaster stalls with a covered apron in front and a run in the back. Each had it's own tack cabinet under cover right outside the stall. It was the next best thing to having our own ranch.
As we walked Tess and Mayo out of the barn for the last time, the horse stalled next to her gave a special neigh which brought Tess to a halt. Tuning her head she looked back and gave a return neigh that we had never heard before. Two horses understanding the situation and saying goodbye? I'll never know for sure but I'd like to think so. We arrived with Tess and Mayo, introduced them to the board owner, and put them into their stalls. We parked the trailer and went to grab a bite of lunch. When we returned we were in for quite a surprise. Tess, the high strung spirited one was relaxed and right at home. Mayo, the sensible relaxed one, was a solid steel grey with sweat from head to tail. Several boarders and the board owner rushed up to inform us that he had just thrown a fit from the moment we left until our return. They talked to him, offered treats which he refused, and despite their efforts he was inconsolable. I open the stall door and was greeted by the loudest neigh I had ever heard from him. Cooling him down, I rinsed him off, and took him to the arena for some familiar carrot games. Afterwards he was returned to his stall and he was good with everything from that time on. On the drive home Pam and I discussed the days events and it occurred to me that he probably had never changed locations without changing owners. That would also explain the angry gelding I brought home that first day. We had introduced him to the board owner and he probably thought we had sold him and left him at her ranch. After over two years of fun and adventure, and we had a strong bond between us, he apparently felt he was being abandoned again and got really upset. Tess on the other hand had never known another home and seemed to have the attitude of "Geldings, sheesh. They would never sell me so I don't know what's got you so upset".
Despite having our attention split between two ranches we continued to attend Begonia daily for exercise and the hoofs had to be wrapped in duct tape to cover the screw heads. The wooden shoes lasted about three to four weeks and had to be replaced. When the last set was worn out we had metal shoes put on and it was time for her to rejoin the herd. While she was happy to be with her friends she wasn't at all happy with her living accommodations. The third stall was separate from the other two and in fact stood off by itself. Despite our best efforts refused to go into the stall to eat. This used to be a stallion pen and the stall was a little smaller and dark inside. There was a window open on the side across from the door but she wasn't having any of it. We were wondering how to fix the problem when it was, unfortunately, solved for us.
Horse owners who have senior horses know that there is always the possibility of a loss at any time and it comes swiftly and unexpectedly most of he time. While dogs and cats have a shorter lifespan than horses they still leave us way too soon. For some time now we had felt that something wasn't quite right with Tess. We had her examined by several vets but each one assured us that she was fine. We had moved herald Mayo in September and Begonia joined us in late October. At the end of November, I went to work and got a phone call at 8:00 am sharp. At first I was confused. It was a call from U.C. Davis vet hospital, and it was about Tess. My cel phone was what we used for a home phone and had been giving us some trouble so it never rang that night. When I board a horse I give explicit instruction ad to what to do in an emergency. Should we be unavailable at that time they are to use their best judgement and the welfare of the horse comes first and I'll cover the cost.
The board owner heard a disturbance from Tess's stall and investigated immediately. Tess was in pain, a lot of pain. She tried to contact us without success so she called our vet, but the vet was out of town. The stand-in vet was contacted but wouldn't come until morning. She called a vet she had used in the past, when she had horses, and this vet came out immediately. They worked on Tess for quite awhile without success and determined that she needed to go to the hospital immediately. Still unable to contact us she called a friend who transports horses who came in what was now the very early hours of the next morning and took her to U.C. Davis. They did what they could to diagnosis her condition and make her as comfortable as they could. When they called we finally had the answer to what wasn't right with her - a strangulation of the intestine. The operation was very expensive and the outlook was very poor, and she was in a lot of pain, so they recommended immediate euthanasia. Following their advise I gave a tearful consent and hung up the phone. My next problem was how do I tell Pam that her girl of 23 years that was Shady's last foal, was gone. I left work and went straight home where Pam opened the door wondering why I was home. I surprised my self with the depth of emotion I felt for Tess and I could I couldn't speak. I managed to croak out about Tess and once again I was surprised at the strength of my lady. We went to the hospital, settled up, and received some of her main and tail hair for,a remembrance. Then we were off to the boarding stable to settle those affairs. The board owner apologized for not being able to contact us and about the expense but I assured her that she handled things perfectly. I still think fondly of her staying up until the wee hours of the night, arranging everything, and even escorting Tess to the hospital.
We moved Begonia into Tess's stall and she settled right in. Begonia had a direct hoof (hand) in obtaining our next horse. Mayo seemed to be sharing our grief and allowed us to cry into his mane. Begonia, on the other hand, took one look at two people with raging emotions coming at her and she would scoot out the back door and refuse to come back into her stall until we left. We were deeply disappointed about this as we like emotional horses, so in my spare time I started to look at horse ads, not seriously believing I would find anything.

July 2020

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