Former columnist for the Los Angeles Post Examiner, the Baltimore Post Examiner, and Gatehouse News Service

Monday, August 20, 2012

Nello zips right on by



This is a post about my horse Nello, who has been dealing with a lot in the last few months.  First, an abcess in his hoof, which is basically an infection that has to "blow;" meaning it has to escape from the hoof by leaking out. Until it does blow, you must coax the infection out by soaking the hoof and packing it with poultice, and it's pretty painful for the horse.  After it blows it's painful, too, as it takes awhile to get the foot back into shape. Nello was a patient fellow, even sticking his foot in the soaking tub with a huge plop, splashing water everywhere, without being asked - as long as there were treats and hugs from passing humans.  He is a loveable guy who would climb into your lap if he could.

After that, poor Nello collicked, which means he had a bellyache.  The only problem: horses don't throw up, so a collic can be very dangerous.  And Nello had the worst kind of collic, an impaction collic, which means a vet was need to - er - facilitate things and get him going to the bathroom producing manure again.

Then, after a month in a paddock due to collic and foot, he was released back into his herd, only to have lost his place in the pecking order.  A new young gelding who had been his friend before he left the herd had a change of heart about him, and decided to charge and bite him when he was least able to respond, when he was grazing or being brought in or drinking water. (The foot is better, and he is able to be turned out into the field, but he at times will favor it and it is harder to get away from the young 'uns.)

So, now he is yet another herd, in another field, trying to get along with these horses.  The first day, when I took this short iphone video, he was busy keeping these new geldings in his rearview mirror, and didn't have time to chat.  I am the hopeless, helpless mommy, cheering him on and hating to see him go through all this, here in the waning days of summer.  But with animals you limit the over-protective love and let instinct take over; he is a horse, and he will figure it out on instinct.  My job is to give him a safe environment to do that in.

If you had told me a year and a half ago that I would hang around a horse barn cheerfully discussing treatments for collic and abcess, I would have laughed.  Now I find them fascinating!  Note: I know he looks Darth Vader-ish in his fly mask, but there is a handsome devil underneath!

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