Sunday, November 29, 2009

Gray-Horse Melanoma

Gray horses are born dark and grow lighter over time. They also account for nearly all of the melanoma cases that occur in horses. Roughly seventy percent of grays have at least one visible melanoma by the age of ten. By fifteen, the rate is up to eighty percent.

Many years ago, I saw several aged gray horses die very unpleasantly after their melanomas suddenly went crazy, growing and multiplying wildly. I told myself I would never own a gray, so of course now I have two.

Beau is 14 years old and has the same five tiny tumors that haven't grown at all in the six years I've had him. Almost-10-year-old Judge was cancer-free until two years ago. His first melanoma on his tail grew from about the size of a 00 buckshot to over an inch in diameter since then. A second one appeared down inside his left ear back in April, and rapidly grew to about half an inch.

Based on the rate of cancer growth, my vet said Judge would need to go to a university teaching hospital for treatment. None of the currently available treatments are particularly successful though, none effecting a cure. All too often, they only "wake up" the cancer which then returns far more aggressively, leading to death.

While searching the web for any new progress with equine melanoma, I found references to research at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine using frankincense essential oil to treat this frustrating disease.

My holistic vet gave the idea of treating Judge's tumors with topical frankincense oil a thumbs-up. The oil is non-irritating to normal tissue, and the worst it would do is have no effect on the cancer while making him smell nice. She said if the straight oil proved to be well-tolerated I should add some DMSO to help it penetrate better.

In the clinical environment, researchers treat the tumors as many as five times a day. There was no way I could match that schedule, so I tried once a day for starters.

To my delight and amazement, the tumor inside Judge's ear began to respond immediately. The tumor had originally been very hard to the touch with a smooth surface. After I started applying the oil, its consistency became much softer. The surface is becoming crumbly and starting to flake away.

The much larger tumor on his tail hasn't shown any noticeable changes yet, but now that I've added the DMSO, I'm hopeful. If only one is going to improve, I'm glad it's the one inside his ear. The tail is a much easier surgical site if it eventually comes to that.

Frankincense has been used in medicine from the first milennium BCE. So-called "modern medicine" likes to denigrate anything outside itself as harmful at worst, quackery at best. If that were true, we never would have survived as a species to this day.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

I'm The Fun Police

After over forty years with horses, I have been well-trained in how to behave around them. My instructors were merciless in demanding strict attention to safety around the barn. Failing to give these large, powerful, highly reactive animals the respect they deserve can be very dangerous.

Now, though, the vast majority of horse owners don't have the benefit of proper training. Oh, it's still available all right, but they either do not know or do not care. They know little to nothing about the huge responsibility they've undertaken. Somehow, neither they, their barbarian children, nor their hapless horses get killed for the most part. Damfino how they accomplish that.
Today was a perfect example. It was a nice day, albeit windy, and I hoped to work with Sarge on Foot Handling 101. He's still a very green three-year-old who can be quick with his heels, and needs to know how to stand like a little gentleman for hoof trimming.

But no sooner did we go into the barn to start training than several other boarders showed up. Ignorant boarders. Ignorant boarders with ill-mannered children and loose dogs.

Enter four running, screeching, arm-waving little girls and a bouncing sawed-off little rat-dog-thing. Fortunately I was working on Sarge's front feet at the time, and thanks to the trust we've already built up, reflexes honed by much defensive training, and a lifetime spent with very quick critters, I managed to keep the situation from going seriously pear-shaped.

Now if I had ever acted like that in public at their age, I would not be alive today. My parents did not tolerate such behavior at all. But with the exception of one still-memorable scene when I first encountered a down escalator at about age four, I knew how to conduct myself in a polite, respectful manner.

The kids continued to run around, jump and shriek, throw things at each other, open trash cans storing feed that belonged to other boarders, and (only once) tried to play with my plastic tote full of grooming tools outside the stall.

That was when stopped I gritting my teeth and told them quite firmly they had better stop fooling around with other people's property, settle down and be quiet around horses, and take their noisy games outside. They froze in their tracks, wide-eyed, and hustled their butts out the door where they switched to throwing screaming tantrums when they all couldn't ride the same horse at the same time.

And the parents' reactions to the noisy play and tantrums? Absolutely nothing. Obviously this crap is perfectly normal and expected to them.

News flash, people. You're the grown-ups. The whole world is not your children's playground. There's a time and a place for everything, and it's your job to teach this to your precious darlings, not mine.

You chose to have horses. Nobody forced you to do this. Learn something before you take on a potentially dangerous activity. HORSES ARE HORSES, not Disney cartoons. The 230 grain +P Hornady XTP I keep in my carry gun delivers 461 foot-pounds of energy out of a five inch barrel. A thousand-pound spooking horse can hit you with well over 7,500 foot pounds of energy.

And I will not hesitate to put the heavy thumb on your offspring to protect myself, and them, from experiencing that first-hand.*

* I've already been splattered by horses plenty of times during the aforementioned forty-plus years when being as careful as humanly possible. Every experienced horse person knows of somebody who was killed or nearly killed doing everything right. I am in no hurry for a repeat.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Ordered A Rifle

When I got my first paycheck from the new job, I almost fainted. Recovering quickly, I decided it was absolutely time to get that precision rifle.

So I did my homework, talked to lots of people, fondled a bunch of very nice guns, and ended up ordering one of these:

Now I need information to help me select an appropriate scope. Any suggestions?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Crazy Busy

Starting my second week on the job, I have to say this gig is awesome.

To paraphrase Crocodile Dundee, the network where I was working before wasn't a network. This is a network.

Data centers in 27 countries, 60,000 employees worldwide. And these people actually treat their network like it's important.

I have management tools I could only dream about before. Oh, I could write up business cases, do cost analyses, bring in vendors to put on dog-and-pony shows for management, and hope I'd actually get somebody to buy off on getting us what we needed to do our jobs.

Fat chance.

Once again, those idiots did me a favor when they laid me off.

The workload is enormous, but I don't mind a bit. It's acual, real work, not make-work dreamed up by admin-weenies trying to justify their existence. A second new hire started today, saw what he was getting himself into, and quit on the spot. Didn't even make it to lunch time.

What kind of lazy slugs are these people who expect to be paid big bucks for doing nothing? Oh, wait . . .