Sunday, March 22, 2009

Stori: well at least nobody is dead

Then there's Jake. Meet Big Jake, he is a coming 15 year old Appaloosa gelding horse. He is one of the prettiest appys I have seen, he's called a bay blanket appaloosa which means he has a reddish brown (bay) colored body, black mane and tail with a white patch with brown spots on his rump. Jake is the world's best babysitter with small kids. He taught my oldest daughter Paige how to ride. He'll teach my son Colt how to ride in the next couple years. He has perfected the art of looking completely grouchy at all times, except for when he has his tongue hanging out like a big ol dog after he has eaten a horse cookie. Although he likes folks to think he is a grumpy old man, all it takes to prove otherwise is to hold out your hand for him to lick. As a total package, Big Jake is one heck of a good horse, but nobody is perfect. Like most appys, Jake sees bogeymen behind every bush, he's very spooky. Jake is petrified of blue tarps, earplugs, pig noises, and gunfire. The fear of gunfire is what makes him a pretty pathetic mounted shooting horse. He's very patient with me when it comes to my short comings. He's allowed me to use him to learn how to ride side saddle, and he loves to swim in ponds. There's very few family events that have happened in the last 5 years that Jake hasn't been a big part of. He's not a tool to me, or a piece of equipment, not even a mode of transportation. Jake is my friend. He and Heidi accept me more so than any human has. I love that stupid horse.

Big Jake is a total character, and he almost died tonight. Although they are amazingly beautiful, graceful, intelligent animals, horses have the crappiest plumbing of any creature. Their gut is flawed in a way that allows it to twist itself, impact easily, and are prone to colic. Colic, simplified, is a gas bubble in the intestines. Or as my mom would put it, a fart turned sideways. Some horses never colic their whole lives, others colic at the drop of a hat. I have owned and have been around horses all my life and have never had a horse colic, Jake has done it twice. Colic can kill a horse pretty easy, but it's not the gas that gets em, they die from stress and pain.

We were just sitting down to supper tonight at about 6 when I first noticed him hurting. The majority of the windows in our cabin face out at the barnyard, and this was done on purpose. I find myself watching the animals most the day. I know when they nap, or play. When they move from this patch of sunshine to that part of the pen where the wind can't hit. I know how long Heidi sleeps for and in what position. Jake never lays down. He's a stand up and nap kinda guy, very business like. He was laying down at supper time. I watched him get up, paw at the ground, move aways, lay down again and roll. I thought, uh oh. When he started biting at his side I knew he was starting to colic. That's a sure sign of pain. I called the vet, let him know what was going on, agreed to call back in an hour if it hadn't cleared up. Got some winter gear and prepared myself for a long walk. Walking, or leading, a horse is one of the ways to rid colic, or at least distract the horse from the pain long enough for the gas bubble to pass. If he isn't able to get over it within an hour or so, it's a good idea to get some meds in him. So ol Jake and I got to walking. After a solid hour of trudging through snow past my boots, leading a 1,300 pound horse that only wants to lay down, in 10 degree weather, without any progress getting rid of his pain, it was time to call the vet in. Since we live about 45 miles from the vet clinic, it took the Doc about an hour to get out to us, which made another hour of Jake and I dragging through the snow. Within 15 minutes, 3 injections, and $450 later, Jake is back to his old self. He's better, but tired, I'm exhausted and closer to broke, it was just another day living with animals as an extended part of my family. Although stressful and extremely expensive, I wouldn't miss it for the world.

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