Wednesday, January 21, 2009

"You $#%&*#@# Horse!"

ANGRY, covered in pink goo, and spitting nails, I hurled a few well-timed expletives at Argus on Monday, our first real falling out ever. This was in response to his sudden refusal to let me syringe Monday morning's medication down his throat. He threw his head back violently, reared and struck out at my chest, shooting backward across the paddock. I was astonished. This performance was repeated for the next 20 minutes (minus the chest striking part), Argus splattered, Jackson Pollack-style, with pink paste, me eventually covered with paste (and not caring one bit if it killed me), my gloves torn, and both of us totally hysterical. What I'd taken for granted, Argus' seemingly miraculous willingness to take oral medication, was suddenly gone. Poof.

I walked away.

Not caring if my face turned orange, not caring if Argus imploded into a giant mass of pigeon fever pus and goo and died right on the spot, I marched into the house, where I bent over the kitchen sink and had a good long cry as I washed my face and tried to make sense of it all. How would I be able to do this for weeks longer? How would I pull this off? How could Argus go from totally cooperative to totally uncooperative?

I called Dr. Miller, at home on his day off. Whining into the phone, I heard myself saying "I don't know if I can keep doing this," to which he listened quietly and replied simply: "You have no choice. You MUST keep medicating him."

I thought about all my other horses, who would greedily eat powdered medication in grain. Argus will not. He's picky about feed the way a child raised on McDonald's food and soda pop looks sideways at broccoli. He's just not that normal when it comes to feed. He loves hay. He could take grain or leave it. And often does. So no matter how much I dress up that pile of yummy grain, Argus KNOWS there is an evil medication lurking inside, and won't eat it.

Which brings us back to syringing paste into him twice a day.

Dr. Miller, who seemed to sense my growing desperation, got in his truck and came to see me, hoping he could help me figure out how to get Argus to willingly accept his medication once more.

In the end, I figured it out myself, Dr. Miller standing peacefully at the paddock fence in his day-off clothes.

I blindfolded Argus.

A child's black sweatshirt makes the perfect horse blindfold, and Argus, who could not manage to LOOK at that syringe coming toward his mouth, calmly and trustingly allowed me to cover his eyes, tie the sweatshirt around his head, and deftly slip the syringe in the corner of his mouth. No drama. No cuss words. In in an instant.

So that's how we do it now. I mix up the meds, Argus gives me a long glance, and I blindfold him. I honestly can't believe he's so accepting of it.

Otherwise, Argus is gaining strength (enough to rear, anyway!) every day. The high-energy feeds I gave him during the bleak days of his illness have caught up with him and made him hyper, so I'm cutting back high energy feeds. Past the danger of having an internal abscess rupture, he's been cleared for turnout into the small pasture, where he's gone out the last few days with Odie the Mule and Half Pint the draft horse, both of whom too lazy to run much. They keep Argus grounded. He's thrilled to be able to go out and roll in the soft dirt and nibble blades of grass with his friends. Freedom and companionship are like medicine to him.

I'm truly believing that Argus is going to make it. I've allowed myself to have that hope. He's stronger now, and every day more and more of the sparkle returns to his eyes. The other day, I caught him playing over the fence with Ridge, something I haven't seen him do for about two months. Today, he and Odie lay down side by side for a nap under gathering storm clouds. This evening, after I congratulated him after he "blindly" took his medication, he stood in the stall and looked quizzically at me, as if to say "Well, I was good for that part, so where's my dinner?"

I have missed the real Argus. It's good to have him back again.


Isobella Cuan said...

You're such a strong person- you're going to make it through this with Argus. I've never even met you guys and yet I'm so proud of the two of you. Hang in there kiddo.

Rose said...

Okay, so I'm dumb. Does strike out mean he kicked you with his front foot? OMG! Were you shocked beyond belief? He's feeling good enough to argue, I guess. I'm glad Dr. Miller came to watch you figure it out. lol You and Argus are a good team and I am secretly proud that he felt secure enough to have a tantrum. Take care of yourself.

PaintedPromise said...

oh Katie i feel for you. so glad you found something that works! i was going to suggest, in light of his diet in his "former life", that you try making him a sandwich. the ONLY way we can get even wormer down our rescue mini mule is to put it on bread and make her a sandwich, but she gobbles it right up! with her abuse issues, blindfolding her would be taking not only my life in my hands, but hers as well, way too scary! so i am thrilled that she likes her little "sandwiches" lol

Anonymous said...

Hey Katie, You are doing a great job & clearly making a difference! Hang in there. We are all still out here sending positive energy for you & Argus. Katie's Colorado Mom

cdncowgirl said...

Every time you up-date us I breathe a sigh of relief. I'm so glad he's doing better, keep it up Katie you'll make it through!

Holly said...

You know the strongest relationships all seem to have their "melt-down" moments. This is what you had with Argus. He is obviously feeling better and you are obviously worn out.

I am glad you found a way to keep medicating him safely.

Anonymous said...

hee hee hee hee, I'm sorry you had such a hard time with Argus, but soooo happy he's feeling better!!

Sport's Mom said...

I have never been so happy to hear of a horse acting like a butt head before. Keep up the good work Katie!

Victoria and Sport

elaines630 said...

I'm sorry, I had to laugh a little. I have SO been there! It is so damn frustrating when you know you are just trying to help them and they continue to freak out. It gets everyone worked up and a lot of times its best to walk away and try again a little later. There are just times when you have to take a break and have a good cry! I know I have cried more because of something with the horses than with ANYTHING else!

I am very happy you came up with the blindfold! That's a great idea! One of our horses freaks out over getting any shots so maybe that will help him!

Anonymous said...

You WILL be able to carry on. Even if he gets wise to the blindfold (good trick, I like it!).

He's a smart horse, and he likes and respects you. It's natural that he'd try and push the boundaries - once or twice. He's probably learnt now that slightly hysterical and very angry Katie is not something he wants to encounter again :)

Keep going, you're doing great. If you look back a year his leg muscle was so poor he couldn't even canter - so the fact he can rear is a really positive sign, just maybe not in this situation!

I'm sure he's learnt his lesson!

SOSHorses said...

Oh, I am so relieved that he is doing so much better.

There was never any real doubt in my mind that Argus would be just fine *said smugly**giggle* A horse that is loved as much as Argus can't leave us so soon.

Besides with a mom like you what horse wouldn't want to get better?

Grey Horse Matters said...

He must be feeling better to pull that stunt on you. Glad to hear he accepts the blindfolding, hang in there, even if it is frustrating at times I think it will all be worth it in the end when he is better.

Argus said...

Yes, Rose, "striking" means kicking out with a front foot. In this case, Argus nailed me in the chest with his, although not hard enough to do any real damage.

Paintedpromise, I did actually consider trying to hide Argus' medication in bread or lettuce. Out of principle, I don't feed him those things, but he still loves them!

Thank you all for your funny messages. Yes, it's good that Argus feels strong and sassy enough to fight me!

Argus' Mom said...

Yes, Rose, "striking" means kicking out with a front foot. In this case, Argus nailed me in the chest with his, although not hard enough to do any real damage.

Paintedpromise, I did actually consider trying to hide Argus' medication in bread or lettuce. Out of principle, I don't feed him those things, but he still loves them!

Thank you all for your funny messages. Yes, it's good that Argus feels strong and sassy enough to fight me!

excaliber813 said...

"There are some defeats more triumphant than victories." ~Michel de Montaigne

The fact that you have brought Argus to this point speaks volumes about your love, devotion, and dedication. Please remember, we are all here cheering you on, through the times of elation, and also those very trying times! I am so happy Dr. Miller is on this journey with both of you.
Argus seems to have picked up a bit of your personality! Feisty, yet showing adoration for his Mom.

Continued prayers for all,

ezra_pandora said...

Everything seems better once you have a good cry. I think it clears out the madness and funnel sight to clear the way for great ideas, like the blindfold. lol That's great that he trusts you enough to let you cover his eyes like that. Really says something about you. You are one special lady, that's for sure, and there's a special place for you. And a special place for turds like Argus. Right there next to you :))

Sydney said...

I know EXACTLY what it's like to have a horse that you can't disguise things in their feed. My old gal Naigen was TERRIBLE about wormer. Her only vice was that it took at first three full grown people to wrestle wormer into a 13.3 little bag of bones (literally at that point) mare. You could put it in her grain and she wouldn't touch it. Not for anything. I started syringing her applesauce every day two weeks prior to worming. She loved it but only if she could bite the syringe instead of it being stuck in her mouth. No problems after that.
Darn I miss that old girl.

Glad Argus is feeling better.

CTG Ponies said...

Glad Argus is feeling well enough to put up a fight and glad that you found a solution!

kbryan said...

awww, you poor girl! I guess when Argus made up his mind - he really made up his mind! Great idea to blindfold him - never would have thought of it. You are doing an incredible job with him. Got my fingers crossed for Argus getting better and better!

Anonymous said...

I have found that even my horses that would be more than happy to eat someone else's food with medicine in it don't feel quite so good about it when they are sick themselves and getting their own medicine.
Argus has been very tolerant all along. I guess he just decided to rebel that particular day. He is probably as sick of the daily doses as you are.
I am so glad you found a way to dose him safely and I'm so glad you weren't hurt.
You are a very good horse mom!!

Anonymous said...

Oh, I feel your pain & frustration! I had one that gave me an argument every time, too. But I never thought of the blindfold idea! Genius on your part!!!! And yes, sometimes a good cry is just what the doctor (vet) ordered! So glad to hear Argus is dong so much better and that you are still in one piece! Hang in there, girl!

Totally Timmy said...

wow..I have followed Angus for a while but have not checked in lately. I have never even heard of pigeon fever..poor Angus..he has a strong will to live..he's so lucky to have you by his side

animageofgrace said...

Argus stood up on his hind legs and struck out! WOW! Ok, I know, bad pony, but WOW! Could you ever imagine him having the strength to do that when he first got there?

Keep up the good work Katie, you are doing a great job and I know that Argus appreciates it. You have saved his life.

Anonymous said...

Be careful, because of your expert care, Argus is going to keep getting stronger and stronger! We don't want to read about you getting badly injured!
For the record, if anybody could pull through, it's Argus thanks to you. You're a real inspiration, and he will be just fine! :)

Sarah said...

This horse is a miracle - a miracle you create every day. Keeping fingers crossed that Argus will keep making great progress! A horse that has the energy to protest getting yucky meds is a horse getting better :) On the other hand, what a great idea to blindfold him, to get the meds in him! I'm filing that one away for future reference ;)