Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Itty bitty, Moose

For all those who have asked about my little orphaned colt, Moose.

Moose is doing well. He has been affectionately nicknamed "bitty".

Mmmm, nom time

The night Rocky died we left to get foal lac, a powdered milk replacer for foals. Unfortunately the only place open on a Saturday night that had it was a vet's office. Can you hear the dollars flying out of my pocket? It cost me twice the amount, as I found out later. I had bottle fed a baby before at a farm I worked at so this would be a piece of cake!
WRONG. Moose strongly informed me that Foal lac is indeed poison. It tastes, smells, looks like poison. We tried everything and finally resulted in basically force feeding him the poison because he was obviously fading. Later around midnight for another feeding I was tired and at my whits end I decided to soak some grain he had received with his mom with the foal lac. As long as the foal lac was pretty much strained out of the grain he would get some of it down. I went to bed for what seemed like seconds before going back out to force feed him again.
Moose obviously had started to lose strength. He spent most of his energy on escaping several fences we had decided should hold ANY horse as some were built with high tensile wire and telephone poles. Apparently we never figured colt's into that equation because he managed to wriggle right through with a few good scratches on his hind legs. We would find him taking a stroll through the yard in random directions, calling for his mama.
Eventually he became too exhausted to escape yet another pen (4 fences later) and fell asleep in a tired heap not too far from the other horses.

Moose loved strait grain and ate it well because his mother and him had been eating it twice a day since before he was born. He resented people for a few days, evading capture as best he could when it came to feeding time. He did have hay to eat and did eat hay but it was a roller coaster for the first couple days. He would be strong and fight then he would be obviously weak and tired. He still called with his heart wrenching nickers for his mama.

 I looked high and low for a goat that was milking to hopefully feed him cheaper than the foal lac. No luck. I did not jump up and down at the thought of milking a goat but hey, it was cheaper than foal lac. Luckily a friend of ours has goats for milk and her son's 4-H. Shes been giving us a couple milk jugs full a day! What a wonderful lady! We have been helping her out as much as possible. I trimmed all her goats hooves for the 4-H fair that night, in shorts with my farrier chaps over them and cowboy boots on. I was sylin'.
Finally Moose ate. I really wasn't sure if he was starving or if it was the goats milk. But he ate. Only if the milk was mixed with grain out of a bucket. Voila! I had to sit with him so the other horses didn't push him off it (PEPE!!) He ate slow at first but now he sees me coming and is at the gate before I come out of the shed with his bucket then proceeds to inhale it as fast as possible, which came to a sort of scary scenario.
I am not sure how many of you have experienced this. As Moose proceeded to snarf down the grain at one point when we were fighting with him to eat the foal lac and he choked. Choke happens when something lodges itself in a horses throat in which they cannot a) Throw up, well because a horse cannot throw up or b) swallow. He had just taken a large mouthful of his poison foal lac grain and suddenly his eyes bugged out of his head, he stopped swishing his tail and had a sort of convulsion. I knew immediately having seen horses choke before what was happening. The lucky thing is that horses systems are designed so they do not breathe through their mouth so they will still continue to breathe, unlike a human who could quickly die from lack of oxygen. Each time he would try and swallow he would lean back and his whole body would stiffen and he would shudder violently. The sudden pain scared him and he took off across the pen at mach 5 finally stopping dead in his tracks with another scary convulsion. I got a hold of him and started massaging his throat and neck. I also called the university vet. Just a quick note here: If you don't have the number to the closest university vet, get it! Most will answer your questions for free and are very knowledgeable, especially when it's late and your vet may not be available for a wile. None of the local vets answered but the emergency line at the university was prompt and told me I was doing everything correctly and it should hopefully pass.
Luckily as I was talking on the phone to a very nice lady vet and massaging Moose's neck his little tail started to swish and he relaxed, knowing the grain had dissolved in his throat. He smacked his lips and looked eagerly at the bucket for more. Scary for sure.

But as the days have gone by Moose has decided the reason I was put on earth; to feed him and to scratch his whole body, all over, all the time.  He prefers his goats milk cold and his scratches after he has finished eating. Then he will wander on over with the rest of the horses and stretch out like a corpse on his side in the sun and digest.

Moose, you are a pest. Let me finish my work. Here, wear this hat

He doesn't mind being mauled by kids, the dog, cat's, chickens or all shorts of machinery like tractors and weed eaters. They have been part of his life from day one. He also had his feet trimmed for the first time a couple days ago and was a complete doll due to him being imprinted a few hours after birth. I held him and Maverick trimmed him. It's very important to trim a foals hooves when they are young, especially if they are toeing in or out. Especially before three months, when their knees will pretty much permanently set in which direction they grow. Moose was unfortunately a slight bit toed out when he was born. A toed out foal will wear more on the outside of it's hooves and less on the inside, allowing the inside to grow longer which will only accentuate and worsen the toeing out. The opposite is true for a toed in foal. So we have been lowering the medial (inside) and leaving the lateral (outside) longer to make him strait again and it has worked. In just a few days after trimmings you can see definite improvements. We take little, often to ensure he will not be sore and so his tendons and ligaments can adjust to the new position.

So for all those worried, Bitty, I mean Moose, is doing a lot better than expected. So much that when I was at a farm last week shoeing a horse the lady had a colt twice his age there that was his size. Moose is going to live up to his name and be, well a moose if he continues to grow like a weed.

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