I'm sitting on the porch of jegra
s house. Her two cats are lying stretched out by my feet. I'm waiting for it to be four o'clock, when I'll go back to the stable so I'll be there before the vet comes.
A month ago, I'd planned to be in Holland now, with cdybedahl
and Jegra and another friend. So why am I here, waiting for a vet to arrive? Simple - I'm horse-sitting Campero, Jegra's young stallion.
About three weeks ago, Campero was kicked in the jaw. He got a fracture along the jaw and lost a couple of teeth. He had an operation and came home a week later. Since then, he's been steadily getting better - at first he couldn't eat most normal horse food as they tend to eat stuff that requires a lot of chewing. He had a mixture of grains, molasses and water, and we cut grass for him as he couldn't graze. Now he's now quite able to eat normal horse food, even hay, provided we cut it into smaller bits as the long straws can be a problem. We don't need to bring him fresh grass anymore; he grazes during the hours he's out and for the rest he has hay and the grain mixture. He's gaining weight and getting more energetic.
Every morning I get up at 7 or so. It's 50 kms to the stable and I try to get there around 9. I rinse out his mouth (he *really* doesn't like that!), take his temperature, clean his wounds (he's not too fond of that, either). Then I take him up to his field, letting him graze along the way. I clean out his box, spray it with anti-fly spray, and check that there's enough food prepared for him. Around noon staff will bring him back to his box and feed him.
In the afternoon or early evening, around 6-7 pm, I go back to the stable. Again I do the rinsing, wound-cleaning and temp taking. Now I'll also give him some pain medication. This is done by spraying it directly into his mouth - that's another thing he doesn't really like... If it's late I'll feed him, if it's early I'll leave a note to the stable staff to give him his food around 8 when they feed the others.
Yesterday another horse owner had called on my mobile phone as I was driving home. There are some places without coverage on that road, so she left a message. She told me she'd notice that he was a lot more swollen this evening than two days before and she thought it'd be best to have a vet come out and look at him. Fortunately a veterinary nurse came by just then to give Campero his penicillin injection, and they looked at it together. They concluded that he'd be OK until today at least and the nurse would drop by this morning.
By then I was in full panic and tears. I'd taken on this huge responsibility, to care for a sick horse, and I thought I was prepared for it. And in most ways I was - I had arranged with another friend that she'd drive us to the veterinary hospital if necessary, I kept in touch with A, a friend of mine and Jegra's who's training to be a vet nurse and who rides Jegra's other horse, and we'd agreed that all medical decisions would be taken by her. But when something actually happened - when I needed all my wits about me - I felt completely helpless. And I felt like a failure for not having noticed the swelling - though since it'd been coming on gradually it's not easy to see... A calmed me down over the phone and everyone agreed that I'd be at the stables to talk it over with the nurse in the morning.
Morning came. Campero looked a bit less energetic than usual and there was blood mixed with the pus on his cheek. I cleaned it as usual. The nurse came and said that the swelling hadn't increased during the night, so at least it was no worse. The vet would stop by after work today, i.e. around 5 pm.
So, now I'm waiting for the vet. I've just boiled a few litres of water with salt in it, since the tiny bottles of salty water really aren't enough for cleaning the wounds. I've also fed Jegra's cats and watered her flowers. I've located a torch so I can help with the lighting if necessary. And I'm quite nervous, although not as panicky as I was last night.
I'm tremendously grateful that there are such wonderful people in the world as the vet nurse and the other horse owners at the stables. They're all willing to help out above and beyond the call of duty, they're supportive and caring and generally just lovely.
I should get ready. It takes 15 minutes to get to the stables and the vet should be there at 5. It's now 4.05 so obviously I have to hurry...