On Thursday, the vet came out to see Haven and Cullen. It was a bit confusing for the secretary when I called, because I wasn’t sure if Cullen would have gained enough weight by then to get the shot, and I also wanted the vet to assess Haven’s knee, and see if maybe injecting it would be helpful. I also wanted the vet’s honest opinion about Haven’s potential for recovery; I don’t want to put any animal through needless pain, and I wanted to make sure she wasn’t suffering.
Thankfully, the vet said that Cullen and Haven could get their vaccination. Although some people will give four or five vaccinations at one time in order to save a vet visit, we do not- it puts undue stress upon the horse’s immune system, and the vaccinations can also cause some discomfort, especially in the older horses. Not only do we break up the vaccines (flu/rhino in one visit, and their other vaccines the following visit), we often will give our older horses a little bute with their grain to help alleviate any muscle soreness they might feel due to the vaccine. Both Cullen and Haven are both on Equiiox, and had already received their pill that morning, so we didn’t give them any bute after their shot.
After the horses got their vaccines, the vet did a general assessment of each. Both horses obviously are in need of weight, and both need their teeth floated- Cullen’s teeth are in more desperate shape, but unfortunately he just is not at a safe weight in order to sedate him long enough to get them floated. He is on pellets, however, which don’t really require much chewing, and he is gaining weight, so we are hopeful that he will be strong enough in a few months.
The vet also looked at Haven’s knee and said that we could at least try to inject it, which would alleviate some of her pain, and make her more comfortable. She will always have the arthritis on her knee, the vet warned, and said that it would always be a bit weak. Basically, she was letting me know that even with the injection, the knee would never be 100%- it probably would maybe be 50%. We do what we can, but sometimes we just can’t fix all of the abuse that is done by others. Sometimes the abuse and neglect are irreversible.
“Well, no one has bothered to give her a chance before,” I said slowly. “We may as well be the ones who will.”
The vet nodded- clearly that was the right answer, and proceeded to inject Haven’s knee. After she started, it was apparent that Haven was a lightweight, and was much more affected by the sedation than she should have been. Even though the vet gave her a very light sedative, she acted as if she had been given something 10 times more potent (I made a note in her file for when we float her teeth). I pushed against her rear so the vet could finish the injection, which was quickly done. Unfortunately, Haven had difficulty even balancing, so we had to hold her head an counterbalance her by holding onto her tail for about 20 minutes- eventually, we maneuvered her next to the arena so she could prop her hip against the pipes.
Around 35-40 minutes later, Haven was finally awake enough for us to walk her back into her stall. We were concerned about choke, however, so she didn’t get her 4:00pm meal- and she was so mad! Cullen munched his pellets happily while Haven kept looking at us, then her feed bucket, then back at us again, letting us know that we were doing it wrong. Having experienced a horse choking, and determining that was the one and only time I ever needed to experience such in my entire lifetime, I was stern in my proclamation that she get at least another hour away from the sedation before she was fed again. Since her next feeding was at 6:00pm, she probably gave everyone dirty looks for about two hours, but then was happy again.
It will take about three to five days for us to know how effective the injection was. Haven is also getting light therapy on her knee, and both Haven and Cullen were massaged last week, and will be massaged again this weekend by Lisa, who has generously donated her time to help them.
Both horses, however, look better almost every single day. They are bright, happy, and interested in people and what is going on around them. Cullen enjoys playing with his rope- especially untying his rope, and then playing with it. They both are still being fed multiple times a day, and get short turn outs everyday. Debbie, their current foster person, spends quite a bit of time with them, and our volunteer Leslie goes down to see them for several hours almost every single day. With so many people caring for them, we know that they will continue to improve!