The 9:00 appointment morphed into an 11:00+ actual arrival date, and the dread deed was not done until 1:30. So it goes in an emergency-sensitive business.
The dog was not around to enjoy the Rocky Mountain Oysters, which she used to catch in mid-air once she figured out what was going on... But I noticed by evening that they had all disappeared, although not a barn cat showed its face while the ruckus was going on.
The four, not immediately aware that breakfast was late for a reason, came up sniffing and curious, following me into the barn, but the instant the odd clanking began behind the wall, out they popped before I could get to the door behind them. It wasn't long before the little heads reappeared, everyone stood still, and they were trapped in the double stalls. But they had their heads up, and their eyes wide. I opened the door into the tack room, and DEBE SER PANDEMONIUM, (Must Be Pandemonium) the most curious and boldest of the bunch, came right on in.
I shut the door and tried to put the halter on him, but his neck is now longer than my arms, and he was really "up". Had this been a photo session, I'd have been thrilled.
The helper came in to stabilize his rear end so I could get further up his neck without him popping out behind me. I realized I should have haltered them before anyone strange came... The only time these fellows have seen men, they've been trimmed or shot, and now it would be even worse, had them but known.
The instant I'd guided him through the other door into the main part of the barn, what was designed to be the hay mow, he began hollering to the other colts, who were only one tall native oak lumber wall away, but he felt bereft.
I'd angled one long gate so the head of it was tied to the wall at the entrance to the tack room, then it V'ed out into the open space. Carefully not pulling on his head, as he is not really halter broke, but merely guide-able, I headed him into the point of the V. Soon, he was between the gate and the wall, with the gate pressing in on him to hold him in line. I stood behind him, as he is not a kicker, preventing him from backing up.
After seeing how the haltering had gone, the vet was a bit leary about giving him the first shot.
"He's been shot before and didn't bother about it." He didn't mind this time, either. Then he reached underneath to check him out. He's been touched all over, too, so that was fine by him.
Dr. started off by scaring me: I can't find the second one.
"When we were going to do them in May, (his partner) Doc told me that he could only feel one on the Pinto, and I just assumed that he meant the little guy, who was not born until July, but maybe this was the one he was talking about."
After talking over what the various scenarios might go like, we decided to try for it when he could feel it "high".
"Drop him on his left side."
So, OF COURSE, when he went down, he flipped sort of, and landed on his right... after getting into the gate I'd put across part of the barn to give him more room to stagger out into the open after the second shot. We put it back against the wall and went on.
Dr. did pretty well for working with everything backward. The man helping him had not done castrations before, and did not apparently have a knack.
"You're on the side that kicks. You want to be behind his back."
"You're back on the kicking side. Put your knee on his head; it's safer."
"He's groaning. Is that normal?" I could not remember having them groan.
"Sometimes they do."
Soon, we turned that colt loose, leaving the big back door open. He kept wandering back in, so we had to close it, but the overhead lights were not near as good as what God provides.
STATUESQUE PANDEMONIUM exploded into the tack room the instant I opened the door, and dashed around in tight circles (all there's room for). He had his long neck up in the air, his tail up, and was sure living up to his name. He LOOKED magnificent. Casting that image at any of the poses he struck would have been extremely artistic. But, I couldn't even REACH his head, much less get the halter on it. I was genuinely regretting not haltering the whole batch first, before anyone else got here. This colt is very, very bright, but highly reactive. Super in a show horse, but for what we had planned, not the best sign. The helper came in, but could not hold him along one wall.
"Get the lariat," suggested Dr.
After trying unsuccessfully to loop the big loop over his face, he turned, unhooking it, and asked if I could lay the loose end over his neck.
"No problem," I said gamely, walking up, stroking his neck, talking quietly. I draped one end over, then caught it on the other side and passed both pieces to Dr, who hooked them together. Statuesque never budged. He did not know a rope around his neck from a pat on his neck.
"Don't pull on it; he'll fight it." Carefully, I suggested from my body position that he walk into the main part of the barn, so he did.
"We'll have to put the halter on his head."
So the rope tightened around his neck, and he instantly became airborne. He started to race backward, hitting the main front door down low at full speed, which lifted it outward, sending him sprawling backward into the corral with the four year old stallion OHMYNO PANDEMONIUM. I could have locked him in a stall on the other side of the barn, but he'd have been putting his two cents worth in whatever was going on, and I really NEVER dreamed he'd become involved with this project.
So, we had one big free for all going outside, with NO protecting the mares along the fence from this strange creature with a huge piece of rope hanging off him. Statuesque would head toward the other horse for protection in the group, a tactic which had been started by his mother as she circled around him the day he was born, only now, that resulted in the mares snorting and dashing back and forth, and the stallion muscling him away into the center of the pen. I was just relieved to see he did not use his teeth to do it.
The helper got close to NO, but instead of catching a hunk of mane from the other side and using it to lead him back to the barn, he tried to shoo him away from his mares. Fat chance, with competition staring him in the face.
Statuesque, at a year and a half, is the same height as NO. Until I saw them side by side, I didn't realize that. I knew NO was small, being Louise's son, and that Statuesque was a BIG yearling, but I still did not expect them to be the same height.
NO put on several good "see how high I can trot" displays, wasted on men who only were there to do a job. The helper finally got the end of the rope around Statuesque's neck and looped it around a post. Statuesque fought bravely on as if his life depended on it.
But breath can only last so long. Eventually, he came to a halt and the first shot was given. I haltered him, and he even lowered his head for it, now. A bit late for him to remember that he knew that...
"Same size as the last one?" he inquired, filling the syringe.
"A little bigger," I said, leading the halter-less No toward the barn.
As we waited in the full sun for the colt to get groggy enough, Dr. took off his top shirt, and I shed my jacket. The morning chill had given way to summer-like temperatures.
The second shot soon did its work, and Dr. again instructed to drop him on his left.
He was going to go down on the right again, so I stepped in and tried to reverse him. Not my most successful move... he went straight down! When we went to roll him, he had to go right, as one back leg was way out and still braced on the left.
Dr. looked up and shrugged, "You tried," putting in his second new blade.
The helper went to the wrong side again. "Come over here," I suggested, kneeling on his head. "From here, you can hold him down as well as keep the foot up."
Reaching across his body, I wrapped the foot without being in any danger of getting kicked, then yielded my position to him. Just telling him he was on the wrong side did not give him the idea how to safely do it. As I went to get up, my knees creaked, and one locked for a bit before I could get upright.
As Dr. bent over to do the check he normally would have done before he knocked the colt out, I blocked the bright sunlight from hitting Statuesque's eye, thinking the blink reflex would be as deadened as others were.
"He's twice the size of the first one, and they're both right here."
No wonder NO saw him as competition!
Dr. was getting good at this backward working stuff.
"How's he doing?"
"He's getting twitchy."
I noticed the front feet moving, and saw the colt get some movement on the leg the helper was holding up out of the way. Not good.
"I can give him some more."
He seemed to expect his helper to say yes or no, but he did neither. He'd finished with the top side, and was ready for the bottom. The colt jerked his foot harder.
"Maybe you'd better, if you don't want the dread HOOF IN TEETH disease."
The awkward position seemed to be hindering, but the third shot seemed to be right. We discussed horses who had gone down on the first shot, which was not what they were supposed to do. I told about one colt who did not get up from the first shot for over and hour and a half. He had a very bad reaction to it, trembling all over... I was afraid we were going to lose him.
Soon Statuesque was up, running around the stud pen, following mares up and down the fence line, hollering for his buddies. That drew Debe Ser around to that side, which meant we might be able to get the back door's light again without the attention of the colt.
PANDEMONIUM LAMENT headed into the tack room the instant I opened the door. He'd been standing there waiting to be admitted ever since his buddy when through. I started toward him, but the thumping noises of the vet sorting out the stuff we'd used outside gigged him up. Normally, he's a quiet, sensible colt, but every muscle was tight on him, so we just passed the lariat over his neck and I tried to hook it, but didn't have on my glasses, and was not familiar with the catch, so I missed... But he was not circling like Statuesque had been -- he was more like trying to tuck himself into the corner and disappear. The helper also didn't get it hooked, so I put it over a third time, and Dr. got it right off.
"DON'T PULL," I again instructed. Walking up, I quickly haltered him, then guided him out and tried to head him into the V, but Dr. was standing too close, so he was scared to go past. NO, who had his head up as close to the action as he could get, kept nickering to him, but the colt still went where I suggested.
"Oh, I forgot our plan," he said, moving behind the gate so the V was open as I made a second attempt. Lament went right in. He was still hard as a rock, every muscle tense. The vet had commented on it before he went to stick him. I suggested rubbing him a bit in a circular motion, but we could not get him to relax and work his mouth. He took the first shot like a trouper, but would not allow the vet to feel him.
I started the helper around the opposite way as I moved the gate out of Lament's way so he actually fell on the left side in response to the second shot, and the helper reached across the colt's back from the safe side. Working on the proper side, Dr. was noticeably faster.
When it came time to start on the second one, the knife did not cut cleanly through the first time, nor the second.
"Is that blade still sharp enough?"
"I guess not," replied Dr., getting up to change it. NO kept his eye on the whole procedure, which was facing directly toward him.
"His eyes are all bugged out," commented the helper.
"You're not on the list today," Dr. said to him, just as if that would reassure him. It was funny. It really did look as if his wide-set eyes were overly open in the dim light.
He quickly finished. We reset the gate. Lament was still down, his tongue hanging out the side of his mouth. I began to worry. Dr. had not asked me how big this one was, and he was not as large as either of the first two. I leaned on him a bit, but couldn't get any response except his groaning, which had been constant as soon as he went down. (I actually found that a bit reassuring, as it was not from the pain of the gelding if it began before they'd been cut on...)
"Let's get the next one caught," Dr. suggested.
Since he was in the end stall, I suggested that I try it alone while everything was still. When he wanted to circle, I asked the helper to keep his rear end up to the wall. He's enough smaller that he could hold him, and since that also means the neck is smaller, I could reach to halter him, even though he stuck his nose out. He did not panic when the halter clanked, nor did he try any airs above the ground. I was thankful, as in the past, he'd been very reactive with strangers.
Once he was in the tack room, we left him alone, as Lament was still not up. With everything arranged for the last colt, Dr. went over and thumped on Lament's side. He pulled his head up, and the colt rolled upright, legs still curved under him, tongue still out the side. He was obviously not firing on all the cylinders yet. He put one front foot out in response to more encouragement from Dr., then the other, and went to pull his rear end up, but the end of his penis was caught under his hip... He stopped, rolling over on his side again.
"He's anchored," I said, knowing they could not see what had stopped him.
"Poor fellow," commented Dr., again suggesting to the colt that he rise. Again. Lament went upright, legs still curved, tongue still out. Dr. stabilized him, waiting while he began to lick his lips a bit, finally drawing his tongue into his mouth all but one last pink side just barely visible. Dr. leaned forward, touching one front leg.
Lament moved it out into the proper "getting up" position, slowly following it with the other. Then the heave, and with a few inches of daylight on the front side, he paused. I thought he'd collapse back to earth, but he went on and got to his feet, spraddled all around. It was another few minutes before he could guide himself through the wide open barn door.
"This next colt is really small. He's the one born in July."
We guided PD PATRIOTIC STARBURST (born July 3) out into the V the first try, but he panicked at the sound of the gate being moved. Three times, he backed out. Finally, the vet blocked him, and we were able to get it closed enough to work on him. The first time the vet touched him, he popped up, but the circular rubbing calmed him... He didn't react to being given a shot at all.
We all knew how to do it by now, so he went down on the left side, again giving NO something to think about.
"How long should I wait to be safe before turning them out with the mares?"
"That varies. In one case, a pregnancy resulted after six MONTHS."
"Surely that was not on an Arabian," I laughed, as they mature very slowly compared to some other breeds.
"Two weeks might be good."
PS was still down, still groaning, when everything was packed up, so I saw the vets out. "Three out of the four groaned. I don't remember that from other years."
"Horses do it more than other animals."
They headed out with their arms full. I looked around to be sure they weren't leaving anything behind.
Passing the pen door, I paused, giving NO back his pen as I let Statuesque out with the other three. Then I came up to answer the phone. By the time the call was over, PS was out with the other three, huddled over in the corner toward NO's stud pen, close to the mares, which they've been separated from for quite a few months, now, as I was afraid someone would get fertile. By the looks of things, it would have been STATUESQUE, who is not even a true Pinto, with just some parti-color roaning in the flanks and along the barrel.
Opening Debut's stall door, I started into the wide open back door, sure he'd follow me. He took off around the corner of the barn. "Oops," I thought, but he came back at once and followed me around the end of the gate, through the tack room and into his former stud pen. I shut all the gates and doors, and things were at a calm state once more, mission accomplished.