I think it was author Jon Katz who said something to the effect of the abnormal is the norm for a day on the farm. Once again in the category of what were we thinking, Lauren and I, under-estimated what would happen when we got ready to take Bruno back to Texas A&M Vet Hospital for his six-week check up. This horse who has for the most part calmly stood in stalls for over 45 days, accepted numerous strangers into his realm, endured tropical storm strength rain and wind, and happily watched the world go by from the inside of his stall came roaring out of it this morning. So, mistake number one, we were not ready for how strong and powerfully he would leave his stall. But we also under-estimated the other side of co-dependent relationship we had created between Bruno and Mr. Kid. As Bruno left the paddock, rearing, spinning and bucking, Kid was following suit in the stall area behind. My 31 year-old horse was running, kicking and bolting to try to stay with his BFF- Bruno.
As I locked Kid in a stall, Lauren with the aid of some horse treats and tough love got Bruno calmed down enough to load in the trailer. Bruno was pawing and neighing while Lauren started driving the trailer around in circles waiting for me to let Kid out and get the gates shut. As I opened the stall gate, Kid came out of the stall like he had just broken the barrier on the race track starting gate. However, with his 31 year-old eye sight and coordination, instead of flying out to the paddock he got caught up in his own feet and fell heavily to the ground. For a paralyzing moment, I thought he had broken his leg but he bounded up seemingly unhurt and I ran for the trailer.
Once we got a few miles down the road, Bruno settled in and trailered like a champ. At A&M, Dr. Marsh’s first orders were to see how Bruno was moving-how lame he was before he unbandaged the hoof.
In a lameness scale of one to five, with five the worst, Bruno was barely a one! It was amazing to watch the big guy trot down the hallway. Dr. Marsh’s vet student helpers unwrapped the hoof and everyone seemed to be pleased with the hoof growing progress he had achieved.
Then we moved off for the second stage of day’s events, to have his feet trimmed and his horse shoes re-set. This was a serious undertaking by one of the top horseshoers in Texas and he was definitely dressed for the part with slouchy felt cowboy hat, chaps, jeans and boots. This was old-school hot shoeing like you used to see on the old westerns. He would trim up each hoof, heat up the horse shoes and apply them to Bruno’s feet. Just like a Japanese restaurant, the sizzle and steam would be heard and seen. But the smell was more burning flesh than delectable food.
When his three other feet were done, we returned to the treatment room. Dr. Marsh wanted to cut-away some of the tissue that he felt was impairing the healing of the healthy flesh. He warned us there would be blood. I think we almost lost Lauren at this point as she huddled in the corner, her ‘Hello Kitty’ sweatshirt covering her nose and mouth (to what end, I do not know).
After Dr. Marsh was satisfied that only healthy flesh remained, a tourniquet was placed on Bruno’s leg to stop the bleeding. In the understatement of the day, there was a lot of blood. Then Jason the horseshoer was back to place the shoe on this hoof.
But in the end-after over three hours, the shoe, the surgical plate equipped with new screws and a bunch of gauze padding was all wrapped up for the ride home in elastic bandage. We will change it tomorrow. Bruno was pronounced as “doing well” and we were told-see you in six weeks. He will remain on house arrest locked in his stall twenty-four hours a day.
At the trailer Lauren and I waited as two of the vet students brought Bruno out. Much quieter than his riotous ways of this morning, he calmly and easily loaded up into the trailer. The vet student looked at me and said “I love these thoroughbreds, they always know how to load”. Lauren and I love this thoroughbred, too!
Lauren and I were both exhausted after the long day. I suspect my friend Bruno and his best-friend Mr. Kid will sleep the long sleep earned by both of them tonight.