The boarding farm where I keep my horses puts great effort into providing as safe an environment as possible. Even so, Murphy has a special affinity for horses and horse people.
So when I got the call that Farrah had a cut on her side, I said of course have the vet look at it. At least she had the decency to show up injured when the vet was already there to do a vaccinate-a-thon on several other boarders' horses.
But I was surprised to find this when I went out to the barn after work.
The gash is over a foot long, and the little tan things are segments of rubber tubing to keep the sutures from tearing through the skin. Followup care includes my giving her 20 cc's of penicillin IM once a day for five days. To put it mildly, Farrah isn't real happy about that.
For those unfamiliar with intramuscular injection techique in horses, you first fill the syringe, then remove the needle and hold it between thumb and forefinger. Next you find the center third of the center third of the horse's neck, away from major blood vessels and ligaments and the cervical spine. Then you use the heel of your hand to thump the injection site sharply three or four times before smacking the needle in: thump, thump, thump, STICK. Finally you fit the syringe to the needle hub, draw the plunger back to make sure you aren't in a vein or artery, then inject the penicillin and remove the needle. Jolly fun.
And the cost associated with this little equine experiment in creative self-destruction? $255.81 for the vet bill. Baled wood shavings at $8.00 or more each for bedding the oversize stall where Farrah (and her boyfriend Max for companionship, also keeping Max from having a separation-anxiety nervous breakdown) is confined until cleared by the vet. Another $20.00 or so for extra syringes and needles to give the daily penicillin injections, since the vet didn't leave nearly enough of them. The return vet visit scheduled for two weeks after the injury will cost a minimum of $50.00.
Which brings me to a rant.
Horses are a huge responsibility. A huge, potentially dangerous, expensive responsibility. One misstep can instantly generate untold veterinary costs -- or doctor bills since horses are big and strong with excellent reflexes. At the best of times, becoming a horse owner should never be undertaken without careful consideration of the knowledge, skill, time, and money required. In this economy, buying a horse on a whim is unconscionable.
Horses need a lot of space in order to be horses and not unhealthy four-legged house plants. They need training from qualified, humane trainers, and their owners need to make sure those trainers are qualified and humane. And riding lessons, what a concept. You can't learn to ride by watching Hidalgo any more than you can learn to shoot by watching Mr. & Mrs. Smith.
Guess what, good horse care facilities, training, and riding lessons cost money, too. So does good equipment that's safe for the rider and won't harm the horse.
And if selling a horse, the seller absolutely must do everything possible to ensure that horse does not go to slaughter.
So to the idiots who wanted to buy one of my horses, no preference which one, because my horses are nice and well-behaved, never mind they have no clue what owning a horse entails, I have this to say:
Not just No, but OH HELL NO!
There. I feel better now. Time to go back to the boarding farm to throw hay and refill water and check sutures and otherwise keep my horses in the manner to which they have become accustomed.
And you thought guns were the only things I wasted lots of time and money on?