Monday, February 27, 2012

I have sad news to report today, Danny is no longer a stallion. Last Friday, February 24, we gelded Danny. I think I was nearly as traumatized as Dan but then again, no where near as much. Part of my heart is broken and part is relieved. It's true that decisions should be made by the head not the heart. That's a lesson that I've learned the hard way in the past. I weighed out both sides of this issue and the scales kept leaning strongly in the direction of gelding. In the end the final decision was made because I knew that we just aren't prepared to handle a stallion (The state of Tennessee requires heavy fencing that is at least six feet tall to contain a stallion and Dan's first two years of life have sped by and left us standing in the dust, unprepared.) Spring was also quickly approaching and with the mild Winter weather we've been having, Mouse could have come into season at anytime and who knows how Dan would have reacted? On the heart side, I know that a stallion's life is one of isolation and loneliness and I certainly didn't want that for my Dan but there is still some regret whenever I look at the beautiful horse he's developing into, his easy temperament, and wonderful breeding. Still, the horse market is falling into itself just like most areas of this country's economy so from a financial standpoint, starting a breeding program at this time just wasn't feasible. So, the decision was made and the date set.

We moved the other two boys to the middle pasture and led Dan into isolation in the round pen. It was such a windy day that I thought Dan might be agitated but he stood patiently while we brushed and groomed him unaware that we were waiting on our veterinarian, Dr. Mellisa Hamilton. He seemed content until he saw Melissa's truck turn into our drive. Then, he started pawing at the ground and trying to open the gate. I don't know how he recognized the truck or realized that something was up but he did. Melissa gave him one shot to make him drowsy and a second shot which was suppose to almost instantly put him down on the ground but it didn't. Another dose did the job but its effects would linger for most of the afternoon and he would still be a bit groggy when we left him that night. He reacted to the anesthesia as well with twitching and snorting that Melissa said was caused by hallucinations brought on by the drug. Evidently, he was totally under because he did not react when Melissa began to cut. The gelding went quickly as Steve held the rope holding up Danny's leg and I pressed gently but firmly on his neck to calm him and keep him still. Melissa also removed his wolf teeth which wasn't as easy because Dan kept clinching his jaw but finally those two little teeth were out (I saved them like a child's first teeth:)

During this entire process, Danny's big brother, Django, was standing at the gate watching and obviously anxious. Several hours later, when I finally turned the other two horses out into the big pasture with Dan, Django ran to him and started nuzzling and kissing him. He has been a nursemaid to Danny since that day and never leaves his side. No one will believe this but I caught Django looking at the "surgery spot" and then Danny looked at Django. I don't begin to understand the workings of a horse's mind or even if there is any logic at work there but I hope that Django was saying, "Look, you're just like me now!" Danny did revert back to the submissive actions of a young foal for a few days, making the mouth gestures and dropping his head to the older, larger horses. He also cried out to his mother right after the surgery. Mouse also had been standing at the fence trying to see what we were doing to her baby but Dan couldn't see her from his vantage point. He's acting more like his old self today but I still don't think he's half as cocky as he was before. I kind of miss that.

Melissa stayed with us until Danny was on his feet and she knew that he was Okay. She left us with orders for his after care which include lunging and cold water baths twice a day. Last night, he finally gave in for a fight free bathing of the affected area. I have to say that can't be pleasant but it is necessary to keep the swelling down. So far, he's had very little swelling and seems to be recovering quickly. The lunging is to keep the wound open and draining. Our first attempt didn't go very well because Dan didn't have much respect for the lunge whip and even less for me as a leader at the time. The best we did was a fast walk and I was getting more of a workout than he was. The next morning, I decided to put the other two horses in the round pen with him and that worked much better because it suddenly became a game for him to keep up with the other two boys who do respect the whip and me. By this morning, it was just Django and Danny (Riley just doesn't think a small ration of sweet feed is worth all of that effort.) but both are following my lead much better. Dan still has his little boy moments when he's suddenly distracted by a butterfly, the dog playing outside the pen or people in the distance walking down the road but I think he's doing quite well....even though I do admit to being biased and going strictly on the opinion of my heart with this one not my head.

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