Saturday, February 16, 2008

Our Crazy Saturday

Today, Argus decided that he was not satisfied with his pipe paddock as it was. "What this place needs is....some remodeling," he mused to himself as he strode around his mini pasture. "I think I will run into it at full speed and see what happens."


So that's what happened today, making today, which was supposed to be a blissfully quiet day of me schooling horses and mowing grass, and my husband enjoying his 46th birthday, feel more like "Survivor: Horse Property."

Argus exited his paddock and happily nosed around his little private pasture, while I absentmindedly closed his paddock gate while I cleaned. Bad idea, especially if you are the caretaker of one slightly agoraphobic gelding who panics at the thought of not getting back into your "safe zone."

Before I knew what was happening, Argus turned back toward "his" paddock, picked up a canter, and plowed full-steam-ahead into his pipe panel gate. It was a wild few moments, with me reaching for my cell phone, imagining the call: "Uh, Dr. Miller, Argus has broken his leg. Please come put him down."

I watched in frozen disbelief as Argus extricated himself from the wreckage of the pipe panels, then hopped away on three legs. I was horrified, but resigned. The racked fencing seemed to smile at me, as if to say: "I win."

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Throughout all of this, something someone once said to me kept running through my mind: "Horses are born to commit suicide." In this case, it seems we had come close.

Time passed. I checked Argus out. All seemed well, although I was already reaching for my trusty tub of bute, knowing that this Saturday madness would ease into one crippled Sunday morning. Ken, my husband, rolled his eyes, saying things like "What the hell was this horse thinking?" and "He was trying to do WHAT?"

To my GREAT relief, he did not utter the dreaded "Where did we get this horse, anyway?" or even the equally frightening "When is this horse leaving?" Ken is not a horseperson, and even after 16 years with me, he still cannot believe how capable horses are of destroying things. Still, he is there --- as always --- with his tools, scratching his head and methodically disassembling the panels. I am lucky to be married to this guy. He simply never complains.

A visitor drives up. In the excitement, I have forgotten a 3pm appointment. It is an old friend of Argus', a woman who has known him since he was born. She is a relative of Argus' former owner, and for years she tried in vain to help the horses at Argus' farm. This is the same person who halter broke a very wild Argus more than 10 years ago. I learn more about her today. She is a former Pony Clubber and competent horsewoman. I feel lucky that she is here. Today, of all days, I really need some support.

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This gal is a stranger to us, yet she rolls up her sleeves and stumbles alongside us as we lower pipe panels down to the ground for a session with Ken's sledgehammer (we are trying to straighten them out). She grabs the wheelbarrow and finishes cleaning stalls for me, and even though she tells me she hasn't kept horses in a very long time, I can tell by the confident way she handles a wheelbarrow and rake that she's cleaned many stalls. We talk about our lives, finding out we have much in common. She tells me about Argus, about teaching him lead, and pick up his feet. About all the weekends she came to clean up after him, and give him some care.

Ken is fixing fences, and we are grunting and shoving pipe panels, occasionally exchanging polite yet terse words. We start to notice a troubling thing with Argus: There is blood dripping down his face.

He will have absolutely nothing of my attempts to brush his forelock aside to see the trouble. I wait, hoping for a minor cut.

But two hours later, the mystery cut is still dribbling, so Dr. Miller (who is blessedly on call this weekend) is summoned. I am embarassed, thinking that perhaps I am asking the vet out for a superficial scrape. He is goodnatured, saying "Oh, I will just come up and see."

Argus is glad to see Dr. Miller. They are becoming friends, and Argus is learning to trust Dr. Miller to do pleasant things to him. This time, Argus stands nicely for sedation (a real shift from the rodeo-like scenes in weeks past), and Dr. Miller gently parts his forelock. All I need to hear is Dr. Miller uttering a "Oh!" and I know that my call to him was not in vain.

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Argus has a gash under his forelock. There is very little flesh in this area, so exposed beneath is his skull. It is one of those injuries that make you feel just a wee bit funky when you look at it. It is a good thing Dr. Miller is here to help.

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A handful of staples later (no, I didn't take pictures of that), the sedated Argus receives another chiropractic adjustment. He has plowed head-first into the pipe gate, and has really messed up his poll and neck.

Two steps forward, 15 steps back.

In a funny way, the whole scene is comforting. I am struck by just how "normal" it all feels, that Argus finally has the freedom to do stupid things like blow through fencing, and get a big gash, and have his mom call out the vet on a Saturday night for stitches.

This is normal horse stuff, good or bad. And Argus, for all his quirks and challenges, is learning how it is to be just like everyone else.


SB&C said...

That's some owie!

But because of you, he will live to do much worse I'm sure!!
Your remark about "real"ness is very true though - remember what the Skin horse says to the Velveteen Rabbit?

"It's only when your joints are loose, and your fur has ben loved off, that you become real."

Anonymous said...

Reading about Argus has been so heartwarming. As scary as this is, you are right. He is starting to become a normal horse. Thank God you are here for him.

Anonymous said...

Oh boy! Well, hopefully he found out that is NOT the way to redo your digs! Poor baby, I hope he feels better soon.

Thanks for taking such good care of him.

Pets and kisses for Argus.
Hopefully your Sunday will be much calmer day.

Horses do get themselves into some messes!!


L said...

Argh... born to commit suicide. Yes, it is frustrating how good they are at injuring themselves, and usually on weekends! My mare is still recovering from a serious cornea tear that we have no idea how she did it. Meds every 4 hours, etc...

I guess it's nice that Argus is strong enough to run around full speed now, though!

only1fugly4me said...

My very non horsey husband of 11 years is always comforting me with the line about "testing limits" that kids and horses do. In December he had to fix the neighbors fence in a blinding snow storm (of course, it blew over the mountain and down on us within 5 minutes of my horse running through it) and I had that funny feeling all horsey people (wives) get when the non horsey husband has to do something to fix the "lastest" example of "testing limits". He, of course, just told me to see to the horse and he'd see to the destruction. He then came and helped sooth a very frightened horse (mountain lion apparently came out of the brush near the pasture).
Prayers from Wyoming for a speedy recovery. I can't tell you how much I look forward to reading more entries in what I call "Argus's babybook".

StableBabe said...

Poor Argus. You're right, he's learning to be a horse, but I especially think he's learning to be a TB. I love them to death, but I swear they'll find every little thing they can to injure themselves on/with. :-)

Anonymous said...


Amanda said...

This reminds me of the time one of my mother's German Shepards was chasing a squirrel in the yard. The squirrel jumped from a low hanging tree branch to the roof, and the dog tried to catch her in mid air. Unfortunately, the dog ended up crashing through a floor to ceiling window into the living room. My sister didn't even have a license and had to drive to the emergency vet while my mom held onto to her dog's front legs, where she severed an artery. That ended up with a lot of stitches!

Poor Argus! Have some brushings and snacks and feel better! Make friends with your gate instead of crashing into it!

Anonymous said...

You have such a loving way of writing about Argus....he is lucky to have you to love him.
Thank you for sharing his journey with us.

PaintedPromise said...

oh boy i have a new quote! and isn't it the truth... silly beasts. but we love them to pieces even when they are tearing things apart, don't we...

had to laugh, your hubby (and the one described in one of the comments) sounds a lot like mine... always fixing things for me!

unfortunate that Argus was injured but hey, like we always say around here - IT COULD HAVE BEEN A LOT WORSE!

Claudia said...

Poor Argus! I hope he feels better soon!