Posted by: shannonc | May 15, 2010

The language of carrot

Since we last saw our hero, he has faced much evil, and emerged triumphant over all manner of insidious villainy…

Well, not all manner.  But definitely the veterinary kind.

The vet and her associate came out (again) the Friday after UNH to see the pony after I more or less insisted that really, I swear, honest!!, Something Is Wrong – or, in my vet’s eyes, more than normally wrong.  The vet and the pony are not BFFs.  They regard one another with a healthy degree of mutual circumspection.  I am sure the last thing the vet wanted to do was to take my phone call and agree to come poke and prod that pony who has nearly run her down once or twice.  But in my vet’s 12 or 13 years’ experience with me, she hasn’t found me to be a client who cries wolf.  So she reluctantly agreed…

I was ready.  I played her the video of our UNH show jumping.  I made a timeline of saddle fittings, massage, chiropractic, farrier…I rode him for her…she agreed to do flexions.

Well, first she tried to palpate his back and stifles.  He responded with his So You Think You Can Dance routine, and she gave up and had her associate do the touching.  Stifles appeared same right to left.  No obvious back pain.  He allowed his right hind to be held for flexion and went off with a few short steps.  He would not allow the left hind to be flexed fully – it had to be held low – and his trot off afterward was positively lurchy. 

Yup, problem.  Seemed to be hock so she took a number of films, drew blood for Lyme, and told me (presuming an arthritic issue) to keep working him lightly, but to keep him on bute.

A week later, we had clean films – no visible calcification at all – and no Lyme disease.  Huh.  There is still that little matter of the positive flexion and the behavior I keep swearing is not normal…she wanted to nerve block the right hock to confirm that we’re catching an issue there pre-changes, but she was doubtful he’d allow her to needle him without sedation, and sedation would make the block useless.  Sometime during our animated discussion on the possibility of administering rompin, then blocking, then giving a new rompin-reversing drug, then trotting him off, we realized we were engaged in crazy talk and decided I’d take him to Myhre Equine in Rochester, NH for a body scan.

Nuclear scintigraphy for the pony.  Thank goodness for insurance.

I called right away and was told we’re in the midst of a technetium shortage and I probably wouldn’t be able to get him in for weeks.  Then the receptionist happened to notice that the book seemed to have a scan scheduled for the next day…hmm, but we don’t usually work on the weekends…please hold…hello?  Is there any chance you could bring him in for 8 am tomorrow?  Why yes, yes in fact there is. 

So I loaded up the pony at o-dark-thirty and took him to New Hampshire.  Not before I had a long talk with him last night, though.

Me:  *rubbing above the pony’s eyes the way he likes*  Pony, you’re going on an adventure tomorrow, and it might be a little bit scary.

Pony:  *falling asleep* Mmhmm.

Me:  *brushing his face and rubbing his ears*  You have to stay for a couple of nights, but I don’t want you to be worried.

Pony:  *hangs head and closes eyes*  Whatever…

Me:  Remember that we are just trying to figure out what’s bothering you, so we can make you feel better.

Pony:  *snaps head up*  We?

Me:  Yes, and the vets are going to be very nice, and I want you to be good, and brave, and remember that I won’t let anyone hurt you.

Pony:  VETS?

Me:  And I won’t be able to see you for a little bit…something about laws regarding radioactivity…but I don’t want you to think I forgot you.  I will come pick you up as soon as I’m allowed.

Pony:  *hides head under my arm*  I’m going to need to think about this.

Me:  That’s why I’m telling you now.  You can think it over all night.

After that, we went for a fun little hack, and the pony was very good.  This morning, he walked right onto the trailer, and when we got to Rochester, he wasn’t snorty at all.

Of course, Dr. Myhre wanted to repeat the lameness exam.  The pony was cooperative for the trotting in hand, and for the longe work on pavement.  As soon as the tech picked up his right hind to flex it, though, he began to hop around like a hobbled bunny.  And that was the right hind. 

Whereupon I called forth my ace, the language of carrot.  It turns out there is a Rosetta Stone for pony, involving a continuous presentation of carrots to the face.  I literally fed them in there like tree trunks into a wood chipper.  You know how, when you learn a new language, proficiency develops first in reading, then writing, next understanding what’s spoken, and finally speaking yourself?  And that when you begin to dream in the new language, you’re becoming truly fluent?  Well, the pony definitely dreams in carrot.

He stood stock still, even when Dr. Myrhe and his vet techs couldn’t prevent the escape of a snicker or two.

I am very glad I brought the whole bag.  See what a good job the pony has done training me?

The exam results were consistent with what we’d seen at home, so the scan was on.  I fed the pony a few more carrots and an apple and told him “be a good boy,” which is the farewell I give him when I tuck him in every night.  We’ll get the results and interpretation of both the soft tissue and bone scans on Monday.

I had a lonely ride home and arrived to find a very confused Blue.  He seemed to be wondering why I was back, and the trailer was back, but there was no sign of his pony (Blue has definitely staked out ownership of the pony).  Luckily, he also speaks carrot.  And I speak pineapple infused vodka martini.  So now we are all left to our various language proficiencies, keeping our hooves and fingers crossed for good news on Monday.

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Responses

  1. I know absolutely nothing about horses, other than they can take a dump while they walk. I think that’s awesome, but I thank God my wife hasn’t learned that trick yet.

    In any event, please update this post asap. Really hoping to read that that you guys could pinpoint the problem and work out a solution.

  2. “I speak pineapple infused vodka martini” – you make me laugh.

    My fingers are crossed for you guys, too. Hope it’s something simple, fixable, and inexpensive!


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