Tuesday, September 18, 2012

What I Learned From Zip's Stall Rest

Farnam® Cool Pack Green Jelly Horse Liniment
Good stuff to have on hand for
learning experiences

The last time Zip was cooperative
during enforced layup.  Taken just
prior to strangles infection and his
subsequent leap over a 4-foot fence
to freedom.  He was two months old.

f there is one universal truth that lurks behind the muck buckets and dandy brushes of this horse life, it’s that it’s never the same two days in a row, and you don’t know what’s going to happen till it happens.   Try as I might (and I’ve tried mightily, which you know if you’ve read any of my books), horses defy my every effort at cubby-holing, itemizing, and otherwise quantifying their horseness.  Having an uncooperative animal on layup has been a prime experience in what not to do and offered some truly awesome insights in what should be done to keep the horse-human bond fresh and pain-free.

I learned some very valuable lessons, which I would like to share with you.

1.  I've always thought I was one medication dose this side of autistic with a hefty dose of OCD to keep things interesting.  I now get that Zip shares the same mental status.  This is both a good thing and a not-so-good thing.  The up side is that we both thrive on routine, so my obsession with doctoring his sore leg was met with an equal and opposite obsession on his side with avoiding said doctoring.  The down side is that it took three days and multiple contusions and conniptions on my part to figure that out.

2.  I've always liked Cool Pack Green Jelly.  This stuff is simply awesome for reducing swelling in a sore limb.  It must feel really good, because Zip now expects to be rubbed with it twice a day despite the fact that he hasn't had a swollen or hot leg in two weeks.  He will refuse to go out if we miss more than one or two sessions of leg-doctoring/Spanish Walk training/Peppermint Plops.  Let it be known, however, that it's not just for horses.  It does wonders for reducing swelling and heat achieved by humans in their efforts to learn lesson number 1 above.  The purple faded to yellow quickly and with little pain, leaving me looking less like a disease-ridden corpse and more like bruised fruit.  The jelly also made my arthritic hands feel better after a wrestling match with the Zipster.  Not a drop was wasted.

3.  There are more options for icing/cooling/fixing an injured horse leg than I ever imagined.  I now own several.  FYI, the ice pack inserts for the Professionals Choice SMBs work great if you already have the SMBs.  If you have to buy them, then maybe not so much.  Zip was already used to wearing the boots thanks to our occasional forays into barrel racing, so sticking the ice packs in was a cinch.   This is one item I haven't tried:
Ice Horse® First Ice™ Boots
Ice Horse First Ice boot with ice pack

It looks like it might work, but it doesn't have the support under the ankle joint that the SMB has.  This, on the other hand, I did buy:
Ice-Vibe Boot
Ice-Vibe Boot with ice and vibe

With the exception of the SMB ice packs, the other stuff is all available at Dover, which is good, because they're one of the few retailers who will take back anything you don't like without much explanation.  The jury is still out on the very expensive Ice-Vibe Boots, partly because I couldn't figure out how to turn them on.  The nice Dover lady suggested on the phone that I try it on my arm first.  The boot, similar in construction (but with MUCH stickier Velcro) to the SMB, should hold up well.  The ice packs are very nice indeed, requiring only 10 minutes in the freezer to attain a lovely level of chill without freezing solid and remaining chilly for a very long time.  But the Vibe...well, that's a crucial issue with a horse like Zip.  I haven't had the guts (or the energy, or the unbruised flesh) to try it yet.  My arm likes all three levels, but it's a very strong vibration that's not going to go unnoticed.

4.  If you're going to do an open poultice, it helps if the stuff you smear on doesn't come off easily.  This stuff sticks like glue:
Ultra® TheraBalm
Nice poultice

 I honestly can't pass judgment on whether or not it worked to reduce inflammation since I was doing so many other things at the same time, but it definitely stays on overnight and washes off easily, kind of like a high-quality mud pack.  And it smells good.  It's a natural product from Australia available at Schneider's (www.sstack.com).  I keep a bucket of it handy for everything from this particular pulled suspensory adventure to calming down poor Pokey's nethers when her squamous cell carcinoma gets in league with her heat cycle to make her life miserable.  

5.  Perhaps the best thing I've learned through all of this is that Zip will do pretty much anything for a cookie, and if I make it into a game or a "trick" (his all-time fave activity), he's game for it.  Not that gaming the process precludes his spinning in his stall, eating the woodwork in frustration, or any of the other indiosyncracies he's evinced, but we now have a whole new set of behaviors that are actually positive.  From the bad came the good, and that's always a fine thing to learn. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So that was the last time Zip was cooperative, eh? Pretty boy, though!