We had noticed our blind mare Lena was lying down more than normal in her corral this past week, but it was usually in early afternoon when it was warmest -- and she wasn't showing signs of any other problems. So we weren't sure what to make of it. But by Saturday afternoon she was gimpy and ouchy on her feet, and our first thought was founder, or laminitis, a serious and sometimes life-threatening condition. Having been through this before with other horses, we knew what to do for initial care: get her in a dry stall with a thick, soft bed of wood shavings as a cushion for her feet; control her diet; and get bute, an anti-inflammatory medication, in her. As Alayne led Lena out of the corral and down to the barn (named, appropriately enough, Lena's Barn), I called one of our equine vets, Dr. Angela Langer, and left her a voicemail.
While we walked Lena down the drive, we noticed that suddenly she picked up her pace, she didn't seem ouchy at all, and she had a nice little swing to her gait. Hmm, we thought, maybe she's not foundering. When Angela called back, she said she suspected what we were starting to wonder ourselves: Lena may have just been standing around too much on ice and snow. Angela said she'd seen a number of "ouchy" horses in recent weeks for this reason. Lena has a very nice, fully enclosed shed in her corral, where there is no ice or snow on the floor inside, but for some reason she's not spending enough time in there and too much time outside. And the more she stands on the ice and snow, not moving, the stiffer she gets.
So the "treatment" is pretty much the same as it would be for laminitis: Stall rest on thick wood shavings, a controlled diet (just in case), and bute. Which brings us to the subject of this post: beautiful blind Lena getting her medication today. I don't care if it's apple-flavored or molasses-flavored, some horses won't fall for the flavoring trick and instinctively know it's just medicine -- and they want nothing to do with it. In the photo above, I had just started squirting the bute paste in Lena's mouth.
Next came the "squeeze play" -- holding her mouth closed to keep her from spitting it out:
And finally, the "hold 'em high" maneuver to help get it swallowed:
Frankly, I'd rather medicate a horse any day than try to get a pill in a cat. But that's a subject for another day.
For those who missed blind Willie's return, you can read it here.
Please vote for the ranch in the Shelter Challenge -- and you can vote every day! Enter "Rolling Dog Ranch" and our state postal code, MT, for Montana, and it will bring up our listing.Vote in the Shelter Challenge here.
Last year we won $3,000 in the first round and then won the $20,000 Grand Prize in the second round, so your votes really do add up and make for a wonderful gift for the animals here.