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A Boy, A Girl, and The Marine Corps: A Love Triangle: The Horse Rescue

A Boy, A Girl, and The Marine Corps: A Love Triangle

"I cast my lot with a Marine and where he was, was home to me." ~ Anonymous.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Horse Rescue

Please forgive any typos you may encounter during this post, my fingers are still thawing out.

We started at 1pm and didn't get done until after 6. Oh, and did I mention it was freezing? My feet are completely numb and my hands aren't working very well, but it went so well!

We started by haltering the horses. This should be easy, but they use rope halters. I have never used one and it was a bit tricky to get the hang of it. I've always used a standard halter and that is what we learn in class. We led our horses into the arena and formed a circle so our teacher could watch us all. Haltering is a skill we have to have signed off, so we all had to do it for her.

We did physical exams on all the horses; things like heart rate, respiratory rate, pulse, temp and gut sounds. I was lucky enough to have a rather temperamental horse. When it came time to clean her hooves, also a skill we needed signed off, she flat refused to let us do her hind legs. Normally, I wouldn't take "no" for an answer, but I will never see this horse again, so I let it go. When my partner was doing her front hoof, the horse got irritated it was taking so long and just walked away from her. Well, she tried to walk away. I was holding her pretty tight because I knew she would try that, so she didn't get far. We also had to practice bandaging the leg, which went pretty well. I could have gotten mine a bit tighter, but it's hard to gauge tight versus too tight.

We also had to show all the places we would do an intramuscular injection and their pros and cons. Then we had to draw blood. We had a slight interruption during that time. A horse was feeling colic-y, so a vet had come to treat it. We all got to watch the vet place a nasogastric tube (tube through the nose and into the stomach) and watch her give treatments to the horse. It was basically a mixture of electrolytes, laxatives and mineral oil. Then we all headed back to draw blood.

It was considerably more difficult than drawing from a cat or dog. The vein is much more to the right than you would think and is fairly deep, compared to how it feels. It took me a good six sticks to get it. I couldn't believe me teacher let me try that many times! In small animal medicine, you get three tries and that is all. Large animal medicine is just weird that way. In the end, I did get it, and was pretty proud of myself. I'm not afraid of horses in the least, but I was nervous about getting blood from one. Quite a few of the horses were very difficult to draw blood on because they kept running away. The trick is the poke the horse and draw blood while moving with the horse as it backs away. Not easy to do. My horse, surprisingly, stood rather still for the whole thing. She did move a few times and turn her head, but she wasn't running away.

We didn't really have a ton to do, but it takes a while to get 17 people through all the tasks when they have to be watched. We had two teachers and a fellow student helping with that.

Oh, yeah, we also had to administer dewormer to the horses. My horse really did not want that dewormer. I had a draft horse, a Percheron. So it's already quite a feat to get the syringe in her mouth and follow her head, but when she rears up and tries to run away, it makes it harder. She was so big. Not Clydesdales big, but big. She was also trying to bite at the syringe. Basically, you hold them by the bridge of their nose, to control the head, lay the syringe along the edge of their cheek (tip pointing toward the mouth) and as quickly as possible, shove the syringe into their mouth, as deep back as you can get it and inject the liquid in so they have no choice but to swallow it. My horse was trying to bite the syringe, and thus was almost biting me. The syringes are not big and your hand is practically in their mouth. So I'm fighting, on my tippy toes, to keep the syringe in her mouth as she pulls her head up and away from me (she was slightly rearing and backing away too), my other hand trying to force her head back down, my handler pulling her back toward me so she can't get away, while trying to keep from getting bitten. It was so much fun... It may sound crappy, but I loved it! It took two tries to get all the dewormer in her mouth, but I did it, and she didn't manage to spit any of it back out.

I love large animal medicine. It sucks to have it during winter. It was so cold today. When we go to the dairy, it will be even colder, and it's usually pretty muddy because of the rain. I can't wait for the dairy though. I really want to work on the cows. Our last field trip is to a farm with goats. I am most excited about that. I love goats and really want to own some some day. Pigmy goats to be exact. They are super cute and fairly easy to maintain. Plus, they make great companions to horses, which I also want to own someday.

I originally went to back to school to do large animal medicine. I want to be a tech for a doctor who does farm calls. That would be awesome. I have been thinking, lately, that I might want to go into research. I have lab animals/procedures next sequence, so I will know for sure which one I want to do soon. I feel so torn about it.

Here's my favorite part of the day: I talked to the girl who owns the rescue (and I mean girl, there is no way she is much older than me) and she is looking for volunteers. I can go help with the horses and muck out stalls and the likes. She also needs volunteers to ride the horses. Her horses are a bit green. I don't know if I'm experiences enough to ride them yet, but I will be someday. So I'm thinking about going out and helping there. It would be great experience to put on my resume, and would really help me get my foot in the door at a large animal hospital. So cool. So, not this sequence, but maybe next, I want to start volunteering there. I can't do it with three classes on my plate, but once I'm down to two, it should be do able. YEAH!!!

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