Monday, May 13, 2013

Storytime: Me & The Big Yellow Horse, Cash.


Cash came into my life a stumbling and bloody mess, literally.

I had arrived at the Ranch on a Saturday morning to see four horses I didn't recognize. The Rancher had, shockingly, gone to an auction and brought home four horses - Frank, a sorrel with an ugly head, Penny, a little arab mare so skinny and old she was surely headed for slaughter, Peso, a brown mare, tiny, with a babydoll head and then Cash - a big stout Palomino. Of course, I was told, it was my duty to ride them and figure them out. Great - because I had all the time in the world to do that.

At this point, the summer season was looming very, very close. It was more important in my mind to ride the horses I knew needed a refresher, to find my own horse who was seemingly lost, and prepare and fit tack for over 60 head of horses. These 4, who turned out, each one, to be a story unto themselves, were not my main priority.

That day I had planned another search and rescue mission for my own lost horse. A friend, Sarah, came out, and the Rancher hauled us down the road, and into the neighboring property 3 leases over - Big Coulee. We rode all day, and we never did spot my damn horse. I was dejected, and ready for food and sleep. As we winded our way home through the valley, my mind skipped thoughts like pebbles being tossed across a creek. What horse would I guide on this summer? My choices were slim pickings, and I wanted something safe and reliable. What if we never find Jingle? My stomach churned in that ever-familiar way it had ever since I discovered my horse was missing.

We arrived back at the barn, unsaddled our mounts, and planned to go to dinner in town. As we were leaving we heard the nickering of two of the new horses from inside the old stud shed, that also doubled as shelter in one of our main corrals. I found it odd that two of the horses had seemingly been inside of the shed all day - it had been a nice warm spring day. Sarah had yet to meet the new four, and so we headed over to poke our heads in and say hello.

There was an old swinging gate in the middle of the shed that you could open and close to create more run-in/stall space. It had been wired closed the last time I had been inside - somehow, the two horses, Cash and Frank, had managed to open the gate, and then close the gate onto themselves. Locking them in one side of the shed without food or water all day. That side of the shed also had old fallen down panels being used as "fencing", horses weren't suppose to be on that side. Frank was unscathed, but Cash had cut up his leg, probably in a panel, and there was thick red blood dripping down his pretty yellow legs.

I sighed, I just wanted a freakin' burger.

I haltered Cash, and Sarah grabbed Frank, and we took them inside the barn. I hadn't dealt with either of them yet, but both were acting pretty calm and respectful of us. I still worried about Cash though, it's one thing to be respectful when someone is leading you, it's another to tolerate someone scrubbing out a muddy, bloody wound.

The paddocks were a mess, it had rained for weels, the river was just starting to go down, and the mud was thick and high everywhere you stepped. It wasn't exactly the cleanest environment to doctor a horse in. I pulled out the hose and had Sarah hold Cash in the middle of the aisle. I dribbled water on his leg and he seemed fine. Sarah pet his neck and talked to him. He just watched the two of us intently, never made a move. So, I picked up my sponge and started to clean out the wound, it was nasty, he had clearly got his leg stuck between a panel and had violently jerked it out. A big deep cut was just above his fetlock, and there was blood and small cuts on the inside of his other knee. Water and dirt pooled around us, and he barely ever flinched.

I sponged out the wound the best I could and applied some vetricyn to it. We left him inside and waited for the leg to dry, we didn't even know at this point if he tied well. He did, happily, and munched away on some hay and grain we gave him, while his cohort, Frank, did the same - quietly - beside him.

Our stalls had concrete floors - they were only used for tacking up, or leaving horses inside throughout the lunch hour to feed them. The Rancher, not one to believe in "doctoring", scoffed at me for wanting to wrap his leg and leave him inside on a straw bedding. So, we led him back to the shed, cleaned up the area, made sure the gate was firmly latched, and left him and Frank for the night.

My two favourite bums in the world - Cash, and Jingle.
Cash's wound healed wonderfully, after a few treatments of vetricyn, I switched to diluted betadine, and the big gash healed right up with very little scar tissue. At this point, someone had to ride him, and since I had been handling him so much I decided to give it a go.