Last month was difficult in more ways than just dealing with COVID-19. About three weeks ago, I got a call at school (My “day job” is I teach high school) from Javier (our on-site caretaker) and Kelley (one of our board members) saying that Grace had cast herself in her stall (casting is when the horse’s legs get caught under the pipes of the stall, and the horse can’t get up).
They called the vet because Grace had gotten her legs wrapped around some of the pipes and had kicked the stall so much that her legs were bloody and it looked like she was starting to colic(!). I asked them to keep her quiet and to try to take the stall apart. Then, I called Lori (our Treasurer) and Dave (a helpful friend to Hanaeleh), and Kelley called one of her mentees to try to come out to the ranch to help because there was no way I could leave the classroom at that time.
It was incredibly frustrating trying to teach class while I knew one of our horses was down and in pain, but they kept me updated every few minutes with phone calls and text messages.
After about an hour, they finally got Grace up and stable. Her legs were not broken as they feared at first, but there was a large gash where she had kicked into a bolt- it went into her leg all the way into her bone. The vet asked us what we wanted to do, and warned us that if the leg got infected, there wouldn’t be anything we could do- if it got into her tendon, there would be no way to save her. She could still die in a few days, even though she was standing now. After all, Grace is about 32 years old. Did we want to euthanize her and spare her that possibility?
Lori called me and told me what the vet said.
“Well… but we need to at least try,” I said.
“That’s what I told the vet,” Lori said. “I told her we needed to give her a chance.”
“Exactly,” I said. “We can at least give her a chance.”
This has always been our philosophy at Hanaeleh- we give the horses a chance at life. We don’t want our horses to be unnecessarily in pain, but we do what we can to at least provide each horse a chance.
And so the vet wrapped the leg, and left us with bandages, banamine and antibiotics. The bandage needed to be changed every other day for weeks, and, of course, it started raining the next day for like two weeks straight (we are in SoCal and rain is welcome but causes a lot of trouble at the ranch).
We weren’t able to keep Grace in the paddock where she lived with Hope, but when we tried to move her to a different stall, Hope freaked out because Grace was too far away, so we put her in Venus’ stall next to the paddock. Hope seemed to accept that short distance (literally right next door), and Grace didn’t seem to care one way or the other. We don’t have any extra stalls, and since Grace was now in Venus’ stall, we moved Venus down to Tamahome’s stall, and put Tamahome back in with Sapphire and Ruby (it seems more complicated that it was).
The rain made things difficult and we were very concerned for the first week that the bandage would get muddy and wet. We had to make sure her stall was always dry, so we put fresh shavings in constantly, making sure it was cleaned thoroughly everyday. Thankfully, our efforts seemed to work, and the bandage stayed dry throughout the two weeks of rain.
The first few days we were hesitantly hopeful, but Grace refused to eat her antibiotics or pain medication, so we had to go out several times a day to give them to her orally. I am not her favorite person right now, because it came to me to give her both the antibiotics and banamine. We changed the bandage every other day, and we were cautiously optimistic as we cleaned around the wound, but weren’t sure if there was any actual infection. Grace was very good through this process, however, and was patient with us every time we had to rewrap the wound.
When the vet came out a week later, however, she was very happily surprised to see the improvement of the wound, and said it looked like it was healing well and there was no infection! Three weeks later, and it has almost healed over completely and Grace is walking on it well, with no limp at all. We still have to keep the full bandage on until the wound is completely healed, but it is almost completely healed. Yesterday was the last day of her second set of antibiotics, and there is no indication of any infection.
We are very thankful for everyone who was able to come out to help Grace not only on the day when she cast herself, but also to our supporters who have helped us financially so we are able to call the vet whenever we have an emergency like this. We are so happy we were able to give this spunky little Arabian another chance at life.