Grace Wu

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Going to the (Horse) Dentist

When Ann gave me a tour of the place, including a house/property she AirBnB's for the summer, I could see there was much to do, including garden work, feeding and watering the horses, and general property management.

So on Friday morning I decided to tackle the garden first, weeding and staking tomatoes. We let one horse, named Richard, out, so he could munch on the grass in the yard. Richard and Rascal, the English Shepherd, kept me company while I weeded.

Richard (the horse) and Rascal (the dog)

Richard (the horse) and Rascal (the dog)

In the afternoon, Ryan and Theodore, Ann’s son and grandson, stopped by. One of the mares, named Wrench, was due for an appointment to check her teeth. She had been losing weight and you could easily see her ribs and hipbones.

Wrench was in a paddock with several other horses so we had to separate them and try to catch Wrench to put her in a horse trailer. From my past (limited) experiences with horses, they have been tamed and are docile and friendly, since they are used for trail rides. Most of Ann’s horses live in pastures. They are given food and water daily but otherwise are mostly left on their own. I’m realizing this means most of the horses aren’t used to someone walking up to them and putting them in a halter, using a lead, etc.

Ann said Wrench was halter trained as a youngin’ but wasn’t sure if she would remember. We tried to lure her in with her favorite feed and she actually followed me to the trailer. But so did another mare with her foal. Just as we were about to get her into the area where the trailer was, she broke off running.

The three horses stayed close together and evaded separation. They eventually ran into the barn that was in their paddock. We were able to get them cornered and I ran to get a harness and lead rope. When I got back, they had separated Wrench by herself. But she was not having it. I hopped onto a railing to try to put the halter on her but she was tossing her head and backing up. Ryan and Ann had her pinned against the wall with a gate. After a few tries, I slipped the halter on and Ryan clipped on the lead rope. She went into the trailer without more trouble. Whew, I was dripping sweat.

Ryan, Theodore, and I jumped in the truck and we drove to the vet a few miles away. We unloaded her into the vet clinic through a garage door. The vet, Mike, gave a sedative and set up a stand under her head. And just like at the human dentist, he had a brace to keep her mouth open. He pulled out giant forceps and found that two teeth were loose. He proceeded to pull them out one by one. It was a little hard to watch since she was still awake and there was blood dripping all over. (But he had give her a second sedative.) It was over soon and Mike sent us away with an antibiotic shot and oral medicine for lice.

Ouch.

Ouch.

We loaded her back up and drove back. On the ride back, Ryan told me about his father, Robert. They used to have their own business, called Bowman Harvesting. They would travel around and harvest fields for farmers. About a year and half ago, they were harvesting in North Dakota when Bob, his father, was hit by a train while driving across a road. Oof. It was hard story to hear.

Back at the farm, we put Wrench in Richard’s pen (He got upgraded to a grassy area in the back) to keep an eye on her and give her the medication later. I don’t think she was excited about the vet visit, but she ate as soon as she was in her pen, which was a good sign.

I went to see how Richard was doing in his new area. He was galloping up and down, looking like he was enjoying himself. He trotted over and we hung out for a bit. He’s very friendly and sweet. Ann keeps him separated since he is ride-able and she’s considering using him as a therapy horse.

My inner (horse-loving) kid is happy giving him scratches and pets.

What a sweetie.

What a sweetie.