Saturday, March 28, 2009
Well, Percy earned his first little boy stitches today :( The good news is that he was very, very good about the whole thing. I was so glad he has had the clicker training that he has so that he felt he had a choice in the whole matter (even though he really didn't!), but it made all the difference in the world to handling him. The vet repeated over and over what a good boy he was being.
My first trick was putting his halter on, considering where the wound was. And that was clicker training's first victory. Since Percy was trained to "self-halter", he does not try to evade the halter at all, but rather pokes his nose into the noseband when I hold the halter, and then holds it still while I do up the crownpiece. Very different from trying to stuff many weanlings into a halter while they try to wiggle away! And in this case, if it hurt, he could stop, rather than me trying to force it on him. He had no fear or anxiety about the situation. I did click a couple times for him putting his nose in just to reassure him but also knew it probably didn't feel good going on although once it was on, the noseband sat above the wound.
I wasn't sure at first how deep the wound was, but my biggest concern was that there were large bubbles coming out of the blood in the wound. That made me think that air was coming OUT of the wound....which made it seem like the wound must go all the way through to the inside of his mouth. It didn't look that bad, however, so I decided to see if he would let me clean it enough to get a better look at it. I took a bucket of hot water and some cotton out to him and put him in the round pen where it was bright and protected from the other horses. I let him investigate the things I had brought with me and C/T'd him for touching the various scary objects like the crinkly roll of cotton. Once he was comfortable with that, I dipped some cotton in the water and just wiped a little blood off below the wound where I hoped it was not too painful. He let me do it and I C/T'd but he didn't like it. After a couple times, I tried the other side and he let me scrub away at the other side of his face with no problem. That told me that he was reacting from pain on the injured side, not because he didn't like the feel of the cotton or hot water. I did not want to traumatize him at all before having a vet look at him so I decided it was time to call him in. I did not want the halter irritating the wound so I carefully removed it and let him out of the pen. I was glad to see he was willing to eat his hay.
When the vet arrived, I was in the barn and had Percy followed me- no halter or rope, out to meet him. He walked right up to the good doctor and stood for visual examination. He then followed me back to the round pen where I had left his halter and followed me in. Clicker training victory #2 (at least)- no equipment needed to get him where I needed him and proof that he was happy, confident and not fearful. He willingly put his head in the halter again and stood pretty well while the vet administered a sedative. Now you COULD say that after that, his excellent behavior was all due to the fact that he was under pharmaceutical effect, but considering how the vet kept telling him how good he was being and commented that he was a lot better than adult horses he had treated, and I have seen plenty of horses react like lightening even under the influence, I think his comfort levels and training had a huge amount to do with the fact that the rest of it went off without a hitch.
The vet did check the inside of his mouth and found a matching wound on the inside of his cheek, a little bit longer. He could not find any connecting hole, but said, considering the bubbles, there might have been a very tiny hole. The question was, HOW did he do it??? I think I found the culprit:
He and Rumer had been playing hard this morning and had managed to break this insulator off the panel. I guessed, and the vet agreed, that Percy had somehow gotten that sharp crack in the broken insulator into his mouth so that each side of it cut both the inside and outside of his mouth. We are hoping the inside will heal well on its own and not get full of food, etc. He got a tetanus booster and his spring shots while we were at it- stitches come out in 10-14 days.