It was 115 degrees that day in sunny Southern California. I arrived at the caller's property and was escorted to a "round pen" made out of lightweight portable stall panels. Inside the roundpen was a stunted thoroughbred who definitely had gone through some sort of trauma. He had dried blood under one of his eyes, no fly mask, was thin and seemed somewhat lost. The owner jumped in the round pen stating that this horse was a good mover. He proceeded to make the horse run around the roundpen to show me his movement. I was horrified! I immediately told the man to stop what he was doing and said, "Why are you running this horse? Can't you see that he has broken ribs on BOTH sides and his vision is impaired!!" The man said he didn't know that the horse had any broken ribs and that he could see okay. I had to point out the obvious.
I approached this young horse cautiously as I did not know how he would react due to his obvious vision problems. The little guy was quiet and accepting. I realized that both eyes had been injured and the ribs on both sides were protruding in an unnatural way. I asked the owners (husband & wife) how he sustained these injuries and they said they didn't know. They had purchased him at an auction for 60 and were hoping to fatten him up for resale. They stated that they had bought him 1 month ago. I asked what their vet had said about his injuries and they told me that a vet had not seen him. I asked them what treatment they were giving him for his injuries/trauma and was informed that they were feeding him good quality hay. Period. Nothing else. I just about lost it!
This horse was so obviously in need of help. I told the owners I would call my vet and see when he could come out. They stated that they would not pay for a vet visit!! I was thinking that this poor little guy would most likely need to be euthanized due to the severity of the injuries (I wasn't sure how bad the rib damage was) and lack of care so I told the owners we would pay for the vet visit. I called my vet, told him what was going on and he indicated he would be there within 30 minutes. I just couldn't walk away and leave him in that situation with no relief.
When our vet arrived we haltered the little guy with no problem and the vet began his examination. The vet checked his ribs and said, "Yup, they're broken. Both sides. The breaks are healing, but he is in pain. He's had trauma to his whole body and probably needs chiropractic work." Upon examination of his eyes the vet indicated that &ampampampldquoThe orbit over the Left eye is broken and there is corneal scarring. He has vision in the eye, but it is compromised. Right eye is ulcerated and without medication, the ulcer will most likely break open. Hopefully we aren't too late for that." The vet asked the owners about what medications they had been using and when he was informed that they had not treated this poor little guy the vet turned to me, stared for a minute, and then told me to follow him.
We walked to the vet's truck and I could tell he was fuming. I said something to the effect that "at least these idiots weren't responsible for the initial injuries and that it was a case of another ignorant horse owner." The vet spun around, looked at me and said "They may not have done anything TO him, but they sure didn't do anything FOR him." He grabbed some eyewash and optical ointment from his truck and we headed back to the little red gelding.
We again haltered the little guy so the vet and I could show the owners how to apply the eye ointment. This little red horse was understandably put off about anything near his head/eyes and it took a little while before we could apply the medication. The vet explained to the owners how to treat the eye twice a day and administer the painkillers. They were told to put a fly mask on him, that he would get better about being treated as he got used to it and that despite his injuries this was a good natured little guy. He told the owners that this horse and their other horses needed to be fed a little more and gave them information on proper feeding. The wife immediately jumped in and said "My husband works all day and I cannot do the treatment." I stood there stunned! We were paying for the vet to help this horse, we would pay for the medication...all she had to do was put some ointment in his eyes and give him a couple Bute tabs in the recommended feed! Once again the vet looked at me and said, "Let's go to my truck".
Once we got to the vet's truck, he proceeded to pull ointments & medication out of his truck and started handing them to me saying...."When you get him home you need to put this ointment in his eyes twice a day, give him some Bute twice a day for two days and then once a day..." I was dumfounded! I thought he would recommend euthanasia! The vet said that the ribs would heal and if the ulceration in the right eye wasn't too far-gone we could possibly save this boys sight in that eye with some scarring. The broken orbit would heal, but there would be scarring in the other eye due to the scarring already present.
By this time the owners had approached and started telling us that they had bought the horse for resale. They hadn't planned on having these kinds of expenses and could not afford to spend any more money on this horse. (What??? We were paying the vet bill, not them!). They thanked us for coming out and said they would just take the horse back to the auction. The vet told them they wouldn&ampampamprsquot even get their 60 back on the horse and that they should just donate him to TIER. Sigh. After a few moments the owners agreed to donate the horse and said they would bring him over the next day, as I needed to get a stall ready for this boy.
The next day the owner trailered the little red horse over to TIER. I explained to the owner that he needed to go to the end of the road where there was a turnaround and then pull up next to the pasture gate. The guy drove down to the turnaround really fast. As he made the turn I could hear the horse hitting the sides of the trailer and I could see the trailer rocking. I could only imagine the pain this boy was going through with those broken ribs and hitting the sides of the trailer. I don't know how, but I kept my mouth shut. I just needed to get the youngster off the trailer and into a stall. The owner pulled up and swung the trailer doors open. The floor of the trailer was rotted and the horse's hoof had gone through. He now had an injury to his right fetlock that was deep and bleeding all over the place. The owner's comment was "Stupid horse. Can't even stand up in a trailer." I swallowed real hard, grabbed the lead rope and started walking our new friend back to his stall. The owner zoomed off.
I immediately treated the new injury, applied the ointments to his eyes and gave him some pellets with the Bute in it along with a good helping of Orchard hay. He is such a good boy. No problem whatsoever. I was surprised that he allowed me to handle his feet without any issues. He is really a good-natured young boy! Vet estimated his age at a little