So, the day....
The storm didn't really live up to the warnings, neither the vet nor the backhoe were hampered and by the time daylight came the day was calm, sunny and warm. The only issue was that there had been enough to have the plows out all night and, of course, the company we hired for the backhoe is the company that is contracted for that and they were all out. So the one glitch was the backhoe showing up a bit earlier than I'd have liked because the guy wanted to get it done and get to bed. While I appreciate that there was no way to rush anything so....he had to wait. We might pay extra for that (time), but that's okay.
So, I went out as I have been, gave the boys their little bit of food with an adaptogen mixture in it as I have been since getting it. It helps them deal with stress, both the whole thing of losing Dad and now a herdmate but also the physical stress from their health problem. It is supposed to help process any sugar, too. And, well, the stress of a vet visit.
I then hayed the other three outside, gave Topper some of his beet pulp and cleaned the stalls with Topper keeping me company. I then brushed Topper and Willow, letting both eat while I did. I let Topper sniff on Dad's hat, which got him quite worked up. I also cut a bit of his mane and tail, when we get the old cobwebs (waiting for the spiders to finally die..so far the big girls have survived the cold spells) I'm going to tack the hair to the support on his stall. Willow is still tender in the feet, but over all seemed to be doing quite well. I was pretty sure we'd keep him at that point, pending the vet's advice.
I fed them and went out and fed Saorsa her grain and had breakfast myself. I went out and gave Topper the rest of his breakfast and put the others back out with hay. Lots and lots of patting and fussing on Topper and Willow.
I then haltered Saorsa and worked with her a bit for the first time, really, since Dad died. My one attempt shortly after was a disaster...while a good, solid adult horse can ground out bad emotions, a young filly who is bound she should be boss mare is just going to take advantage. I had hired a trainer to help us through this time, but she only lasted two blustery sessions before letting me know she'd be happy to resume in March. *sigh* But this morning Saorsa, despite being rather hyper at that point, was quite responsive. The only problem we had was right at the damn end...I started unhaltering her as soon as the halter was untied she just blasted away. Not good. We need to go back and work on that with neck rope again. She then spent the next hour or so running from one end of her pasture to the other, getting well sweaty. I'm amazed how well she was behaving if she was that hyper.
I discussed the grave location with Aaron. I patted the boys some more and took some photos. Then as it was past time for the vet (but, you know, it's always approximate, how long each farm visit will take is always a guess even when he's been there many times...people do have a habit of "since you're here, doc, could you look at ___ too?), I went an caught Saorsa again and brushed her for the first time since Dad died. Picked out her feet so they'd be ready for inspection. hahaha The vet showed up just as I finished.
She suddenly was not as well behaved, she remembered him well apparently. But he got up to her for the first shot, but she was having none of it for the second. I asked him to go into the barn and I worked her a bit and she calmed right down and was totally responsive. But his approach switched the nasty right back. So...I walked her in and out of the barn until he got a chance to poke her from behind the door. Yeah, that means we have some trust work to do. I may see if I can give the shots under his supervision next year, because I think she'll forgive me doing them easier than she can forgive me letting the Bee Man near. Besides, the quick jab that he uses, because he's not as horse savvy as our last vet and therefore figures it's better to surprise them quick and act quickly, is obviously a lot more painful. Our last vet, a real horseman, would calmly walk up and just do it...even Saoradh who was highly sensitive to any sort of pain barely flinched when he did it.Gods, I miss him (he's still one of our dog vets, but he has retired from farm visits).
He never did look at her feet.
The boys...well, Iceman didn't flinch. "I can bite harder than that!" I'm sure he thinks. Cimmeron was shaking from the moment I took him over and bolted at each one, but being smaller it wasn't as effective.
Willow. The vet feels that Willow can recover fine...although, of course, without an x-ray knowing exactly how much coffin bone rotation there is is impossible. X-rays mean a trip, probably to Rochester to the clinic there, which is not something I'd put Willow through right now even if I was secure in having the resources...so the only way to know is to get him through this crisis and see how he is. And hope he's not stoic. I'd be more worried about that latter if I were Iceman, I have to say. I think Willow will be demonstrative if he's still sore.
He does believe in Pergolide, but not in the feasibility for most people for the cost. I hate that it comes to that, but it simply does at this point. I need to feed all these guys and keep their home. If it were a cure, if it could turn things back, I might be more inclined. But...instead we'll try supplements to slow the progress. Try vitex again, which didn't work for Topper but others swear by....one thing that seems true about Cushings is that it varies. Also I'm going to check out a chromium/magnesium supplement that the vet suggested...he's on a supplement with both, but this balance might be more dead on. And be more careful about the diet. Um, also reinforce the fence, they discovered that they could get some grass under the snow on the other side of the fence...unfortunately snow seems to be a bit of an insulator making the fencer not really do much. Or anything. Oh, the immense amount of hair probably helps too.
Willow DOESN'T hate beet pulp as I had thought...as when he was finishing the bit I gave him, quite enthusiastically and I had turned my back to get something for grooming, he grabbed a container with one of the others' in it. So, likely it's one of the things I'd been mixing in, as I didn't mix it in with what I gave him at that time. So when I fed everyone I gave him his low-carb pellets and supplements separately before giving the rest of the beet pulp. He didn't finish that. He did eventually, which he will if you leave it long enough. And as he's on ordered stall rest that might not be a problem (as the bute might make him exercise more than he should while on bute...as it loosens things up a bit TOO much), except that as he's shown no real sign of self-exercising (even healthy 20something horses seldom do, really) and they all need each other, I'm going to take the chance to let him out the next few days as I just think it will be too hard on him to be in the barn alone, with no Topper (who frequently returned to his stall when let loose...and whose diet meant he was locked in a lot so the others wouldn't steal it). But, I will try feeding different things separately until I pin point what he's not wanting to eat...then see if he either can be off it or substitute something else or find another way to convince him to eat it (obviously, the usual "put it in something sweet" isn't an option).
So, yeah, Willow stays with us. For awhile, at least. So he got his shots, which resulted in a rodeo. Probably was the most exercise he's had in years. No forward or backward bolting, he went up, either both feet or the front. Again, it's a good thing he's little.
The vet certainly did not debate the decision on Topper, he felt Topper was ready to go too. So, I fed Topper a bunch of grain and molasses and had him sniff Daddy's hat some more. Then we took him down, with the backhoe guy now waiting in the driveway, and did it. I will spare how it goes, just note that no matter how humane a large standing animal means it can be really hard to watch.
I was split, dealing with how hard it looked, even if it wasn't really, and then Seeing his spirit get up and go over to where I could See Daddy waiting and head into the West together. Topper morphed for a moment. All this time, as many of you know, that I have believed that our animals often return time and time again, it never occurred to me that that might explain the connection they had. But I now realize he was 'Rocco, the Morgan/TW that Dad nursed back from a broken leg in the early 1960s when that was virtually unheard of. That he came back and needed Daddy to take care of his health problems, while, of course, he was taking care of Daddy, certainly wasn't surprising. They are together again. We brought the three boys down together to say good-bye. Then he was buried with the hat Daddy was wearing the night he died (actually, I put this to his nose as the vet did his thing) and one of the shirts he wore in the barn, with a roll of Neccos which Dad liked so much and might share with Topper, in the pocket. And food, all sorts of food, heavily sweetened because that's okay now.
I did my best to comfort the other boys. They're pretty hurting, it will take awhile. I'm going to spend time with all of them in the morning, fairly soon now, actually. Brush them, maybe exercise Cimmeron and Iceman.
I then slept an actual 8 hours for the first time, well, I think since Dad died...at least at once, I slept during the night and day that first week, but I don't think ever got 8 straight through. I'm strung out, distraught but also relieved. I know he's with Daddy, I know it was right. I still will miss him terribly when he's not keeping me company when I clean stalls this morning. If he had gone when Dad was still alive, I'd have felt bad for him but would have been focused on Daddy's grief, as well as the rest of the herd, but in this past month+ I got very attached to him. They all have/had their unique personalities, his will be missed greatly in the herd.