I'm not at the point yet where I can read them when they are together. Is Helen the leader and the calm one or is Hollie the calm one and Helen getting worried? Not there yet, obviously.
Just now, with the severe storms, I went to put Ella, Helen, and Hollie in for their protection. Ella came right to me. Too much wind and swirling dust for her. In her stall she went and yes, Ella, there is some food for you there.
Helen and Hollie were munching but I knew better than to leave them so I walked up to Helen. Hollie seemed fine. I brought Helen in hoping Hollie would stay close by the door. Oops.
Hollie began her looping routine and with each loop headed farther south and east. The pace began to pick up and with each passing she was moving faster and getting harder to catch. Drats.
In I go and halter our Helen, bring Helen into the pasture and I once again have the two bookends. I throw a lead rope over Hollie and then walk - like a big sandwich - into the barn. Hollie was relieved once in the shelter but getting her there took 30 minutes longer than I wanted.
Alexius was not to be left outside. In the barn she came and asked which stall was she going into? Okay, little girl. You, too.
Something happened in the night and I've just spent the early morning trying to figure it out -
Everyone is fine except for Helen and Hollie. Helen is on full guard. Kicking at anything - literally anything! - that goes behind her: a human, a horse, or even a piece of corn stalk. And not just puting her leg back. She's wailing that leg! Full defense mode.
And Hollie is trembling although she is warm to the touch. She has a 4" surface cut, through the hide, on her right back ribs. But so nervous she can't stand still. The only one she takes comfort in is PONY!. I've tried to calm her, bring her in the barn, feed her....I'm of no use to her. In fact, I irritate her. She wants to be free and outside in the wind - with the wind in her face. Smelling. On guard.
Coyotes? A bear? I don't know but whatever it was the others in the herd are used to it and not the least bit bothered by it. But these two are worried.
Makes me think coyotes....the corn is drawing the critters, Alexius grew up with coyotes, the others have been here for years and know the routine of fall.....
Seems a good warning for deer hunting season, however. I'll put these two in the big stall for the first and last days of the season.
Gotta be a nasty place to be to be so worried and frightened. Hollie has been there before....and she is so familiar with the state of fear.
There was a spattering of rain overnight. Everyone is calm except the two girls - Helen and Hollie.
Helen continues to walk the perimeter. Hollie continues to be on edge. Is it the harvesting of the corn in the adjoining pasture? Were there deer or coyotes living in the corn? What has them so spooked?
The wind doesn't help, that's for sure. The remainder of the herd is "normal". I need to remember that these two have never experienced fall here before - new smells, the strong winds, new noises.
I'll have the students bring the two in and rub them this afternoon. Maybe that will help calm the horses - as I know it will work with the boys!
Helen and Hollie traveled into Stillwater together today, as BFF's do, for simple teeth floatings and a sinus drain. Hollie's teeth were floated and nothing troublesome discovered. Helen, however, did not get her teeth floated but we focused on her breathing difficulty instead.
As we discussed her condition, it became apparent that either Helen has a severe infection - which may or may not be treatable - or she has tumors. Either way, we did not have enough information without biopsies of the "white stuff" and her reddish tissues. So the scope was inserted into her inflamed nasal passage and the necessary tissue samples were extracted. The samples went to the lab today and results will be returned in 5 to 7 business days. Until then, our Helen has a temporary trach in her neck to ease her breathing and allow her to be home with her friends. I have her in a stall right now trying to get her used to the feeling and also to prevent something foreign from dropping down her trachea. Just fear on my part.
Enter Laddee, the Little Belgian Mare. That mare lived with a trach in her beautiful, big Belgian neck for over a year with us. Out in the pasture, sleeping in the hay, scratching with Handsome . . . nothing stopped that mare from living a good life with her trach in her neck. Those lessons have not been forgotten! I had those same fears as I turned her loose into the pasture but soon learned that she was happy there and breathing well and in love with that tall blonde horse so she taught me to release her. Let her be a horse rather than coop her up and keep her "safe" rather than happy.
As a result of those lessons learned, it seems very simple to me: Helen either goes on a strong load of antibiotics to eradicate the infection or she has a permanent trach installed in her neck and is turned loose once her tissue heals. Free to be the Herd Boss and the caretaker of the clan.
At one point in the appointment, I told Hollie, "maybe this is why Helen came to us - so we could treat her when this happened". And maybe it is. Or it may be just a simple dose of snot that needs to be dealt with. Regardless, we will work it through and do just as Laddee taught us - medically treat with the intent of making them healthier.
Your prayers, of course, are asked that our Helen remain calm and strong and willing. That Dr. Terry's hands are strong and steady and his mind is clear. And that decisions are made on fact with the heart as the guide. I'll keep you posted on lab results, actions taken, and prognosis - or you can always come to see dear Helen for yourself and brush her, hug her, and take her into the lawn for some sweet grass!
Helen is such a cool cat! She does not like her nose cleaned but she tolerates me as I gently wipe the wet and crusted drainage from her nostrils. I know she feels better when we are done but I'm sure she is getting a bit sore and tired of it!
However, we are already in the "heads up" stage where she knows she needs to lift her head so I can clean and re-insert her trach. She already knows her life is easier with that thing in her neck and so she stands like a statue for me. Just as my Teacher did for me so many horses ago.
Her interest in food was poor and so I cleaned her well, gave her some rules and guidelines, and a huge hug and kisses. Then late last night, after the sun had set and the bugs were "sleeping", I opened the gate and let her find her way outside. Remember, without her nose working she cannot smell and so she needs a bit of guiding finding the doorways and the stock tank and the others. But once she hit the outside, she trotted for 3 minutes (I timed it). This girls loves to move her legs and that was very good medicine for her. With the rains I knew she would get a chilly bath and her neck would stay clean - both as expected. This morning, for the first time, she walked away from me when I came to get her. But I promised her she would be outside this evening again. She'll get used to her new routine.
And, to my pleasure, she ate her breakfast today!!! Friends and freedom can make you hungry and want to live!
I am so grateful for Laddee. Because of her, I'm not calling the vet every 20 minutes with another question. I'm calm and so Helen is confident, as well. Laddee wss a very good teach and Dr. Anne was the perfect instructor for both of us! As it should be, The Master Plan once again unfolds!
Prayers and positive thoughts still needed, please. We have a way to go yet but we will keep our promises to her! After all, Helen is standing directly below Laddee and the Fourth Promise - as was Gracie last January!
Helen continues to be a strong mare - strong in body and mind. Our routine is "old habit" now with a "heads up" and she points her nose to the roofline. I rest her chin on the top of my head and the cleaning is completed. Then it is either to the feed bucket for breakfast or out the door for the nightly wanderings with her friends. Alexius is most confused when Helen is not out in the pasture with her and no longer responds to her calls. Remember, with a trac the voice is gone as is her sense of smell. But with Helen, you truly would not notice a difference in her performance out in the pasture. Still the Herd Boss!!
This is the week we will get our lab results back. Prayers for an infection that we can pound out of her with strong meds!!!!!
Helen is a true star. She knows the routine and now waits for me in the mornings again. No longer does she run away from me. I believe she feels better after her trach is cleaned and she knows then that there are a few treats and her breakfast waiting for her.
This is the week the biopsy reports will be returned to the clinic. I'm positive it is fungus or bacteria. This girl is too steady to be fighting anything other than either of those. It may take a while to rid her of the bugs, but we'll get her there. She is most surely worth the efforts!!
Remember, she is here for your love, brushing, and tours of the lawn!
Have not received a call from the clinic regarding Helen's biopsy results as of this morning, so today I will begin pestering them on a daily basis. I am very eager to get her on the road the healthy again! Prayers still appreciated and needed!
Our brave Herd Boss will be heading into Stillwater for an exam and trach refitting on Monday. I will bring Hollie and PONY! with for moral support and to have someone to lean on during the ride. I've started to call those three "The Trio" - ALWAYS together! And always insuring they are close to each other.
Helen's surgical trach seems to be a tad smaller due to scar tissue (?) working to repair the surgical wound? Regardless, I have collected a variety of trach options and we will look at Helen, look at the options, and then set about fitting her with a different style to each the insertion during our cleanings. She is a tough girl and stands tall but the fact that she needs to brace against the uncomfortable push is something that we should be able to fix for her.
I will fill you in after Monday's appointments but wanted to get you thinking of her and sending her your support and prayers of healing before we head to the appointment.
Helen's appointment at Stillwater had to be moved out to next week since the last order of trach tubes did not appear today, as I had hoped. She will be traveling with her pals and I will have a box of six (6) alternatives to use in giving her the best fit and the most comfort heading into summer. She and Clyde Mare will both be horses that are inside during the day when the bugs are at their worst and then let outside at sunset for the night. They'll get into the routine and the daily stall with a fan will be their safety spot and will soon give them comfort and rest.
When I go to clean her neck, she stops still and lifts her chin - posing for me so I have easy access and can take the extra time to brush her, comb her, and just fawn over her a bit . . . which both of us treasure. Helen has certainly grown into a mare that loves to be touched and groomed. Reminds me of Bonita - once that mare was cleaned (and that was NO small job!), she didn't even like to get wet let alone walk in the mud! Staying clean began her daily challenge, as it has with Helen. Loves the outside and the clean grass!
I will keep you posted on the results of her appointment. Please do keep her in your thoughts -
Every once in a while, a sight grabs you and causes you to stop and just soak in the picture and the sounds. This morning, one of those sights was put before me -
Helen pranced out of the barn into the sunshine this morning - her coat shining and her head held so high! We had just cleaned her trach and she loves to be clean so her pride was flowing out of her very skin this morning. She was the picture of beauty - total beauty from inside and out. As she took her perimeter tour, even the other horses raised their heads from picking grass to recognize and acknowledge her. So it was not just me that noticed the presence of her.
After her check of her property lines, she located her herd members and then she, too, settled down to find the new grasses as they came out of the earth. Gracie called for Miss April and Helen immediately lifted her head to insure the call was not of fear or pain. Satisfied that Gracie was only calling her friend, Helen simply settled back to eating the grass blades.
From my position, I could se the beautiful profile of Helen and was amazed that I could not tell this mare had no eyes. That she had a trach. And this made her status as Herd Boss even more amazing - with those challenges, she protects them all - those with and without sight, with and without good feet, and with and without tumors. Helen believes her role is to protect the weak . . . never once thinking she may be considered weak.
Every once in a while, a sight grabs you and causes you to stop. And just soak in the picture and the sounds. And to say a prayer of thanksgiving for being present in this life to witness the beauties of the gifts of life. Again, the horses continue to teach us all we need to know.
Yesterday (Tuesday) was the day to bring Helen in to Dr. Terry for a trach check-up. To keep her calm, I brought Hollie and PONY! with us and used the opp to have PONY!'s front teeth looked at. When I had dewormed him on Monday, his front teeth looked like a disaster! And we had just floated his teeth in November! So, of we went at about 9:45am with a quiet journey in front of us.
POINY! was our first patient and it was only a tartar build-up on his teeth although the quickness of the build-up is concerning. An article had just ben published that fast tartar buildup was n indicator of kidney problems, and so to be safe, we did a CBC on PONY!. The poor little guys HATES needles and he sure got a dose of them that morning!
Helen then came in with the assortment of trach devices that I had brought with us. Dr. Terry was pleased with how she looked and our procedure. So, we are doing well! THAT, of course, was great news! And then I asked if there was any reason not to let her enjoy a harness - "Do what you would normally do with her!" was the response. HURRAY!
Before we left, we learned that POINY!'s blood levels are al normal - HURRAY again!
A quiet ride home and everyone was eager to get back into their pasture. Trips like this are fun and so comforting. Good to know they are doing as well as you think they are!
If I hadn't lived it, I would think it was spring of 2012 all over again.
Going down to the barn, on the left is the corral and the corral shelter. Standing in that shelter either sleeping, eating hay, or just scratching and nosing each other is our original pair of 2012 - Helen and Hollie. These two mares have wandered from time to time - Helen to Big Boy and Hollie to PONY! for a tad, but when big changes come along, these two come together and take total comfort and peace in each other.
Earlier this week, I moved horses to new pastures for the summer to give the bigger horses the grass this summer and they were on hay all of last summer. Helen does not have experience in the Helen Keller pasture and so she was a bit nervous and tended to not move around. Hollie found the round bales and, having lived in this pasture before, was quite at ease. However, I felt Helen did not need the stress on top of her trach and all of her other changes in the last year and so I took the two of them over to the corral yesterday morning. Instant peace resumed.
Neither has wandered out of the shelter yet - due to rain, unending winds, and the muds. But sooner or later they will venture out and find the fresh grasses. And then they will find their way back to their shelter for their suppers, a drink of water, and the bale of hay for security.
Once again I see the security they found in each other the very first day I walked Helen down the driveway with a frantic Hollie rearing in the air in the corral. The total response by Hollie to Helen's low nicker. And the fact that these two mares shared supper out of a single tub within minutes.
I have been silent about this, but we almost lost Helen last Friday. I was walking into the barn to let Josephina and ClydeMare out after their breakfast and I saw Helen out south by the big down poplar tree. I saw her but could also hear her breathing. Something was wrong that I could hear her breathing from over 200 feet away.
I called to her and she came up to me as fast as she could. She knew she was in trouble. Stopping to catch her air every 50 feet or so, I grabbed rags and prepared to clean her trach, thinking she was in trouble with an airway blocked by the schmoo she drains. When she came into the barn, I walked up to her to remove her trach and stopped cold. There was no trach. She was trying to breath through her trach access hole which collapses shut as she breaths in. The girl was starting to suffocate.
I put her in her stall and FLEW to the house to retrieve the trach that was soaking. Grabbing it, a towel, and a bottle of water, I flew back down to her to give her some air as quickly as I could. Once in her stall with her, I did not stop to clean the access but instead simply inserted the base of the trach device to open her airway and let her revive herself.
Once she knew she had air, she filled her lungs several times and then hung her head. With the stress relieved, she began to shiver and sweat. The girl had been holding herself together but now that she had air she let go and her body began to collapse. I put a blanket on her, rubbed her flanks to generate some heat, and started to sing to her. In less than ten minutes, her color had returned to her gums and the shivering was subsiding.
Only then did I begin to clean her access and gradually worked to re-insert the full trach device. I fed her and brought her some warm water from the house. She seemed "normal" on the outside but I kept her confined, warm, and calm for another hour before I let her move out on her own. When I finally released her, what did she do? She lifted her head, walked to the doorway, stood on the knoll and "called" to her herd, then she trotted out to the pasture to account for everyone. Once a Herd Boss, always a Herd Boss.
Lavonne Solem, you saved Helen's life last Friday. Without that second trach, I'm pretty sure she would not have made it while I dropped the trailer and we traveled all the way into Stillwater for their trach device. I have the emergency trach Dr. Anne made out of a syringe but that one is too large for Helen and we did not have another spare device on hand to hold her airway open until a new trach is located.
We do now! Once I released Helen, I called Jorgenson Labs and ordered TWO trachs for our girl - one alternate and a spare that is already in the barn, wrapped in a towel, and stored in a Ziploc bag.
We almost lost Helen last Friday. Lavonne Solem saved her life by sponsoring the purchase of a second trach device for Helen last summer. Thank you, Lavonne. Thank you more than I can express! This mare has more work to do. More children to educate. More adults to motivate. It is my job to keep her airway open and now, we have the extra devices that we need. Thank you, Lavonne Solem! Bless you for supplying us with the device that saved our Helen's life last Friday afternoon.
PS - The box from Jorgenson Labs arrived today with the two new trachs inside. NOW, we can sleep and let Helen be a horse again instead of checking her neck every hour!!
Helen is having a bit of a difficult winter with this continuing and severe cold, too. Her trach access in her throat has been difficult to clean since any water I bring to the barn chills by the time I get it in to the barn and I risk the water freezing on her when I try to clean her access. Hence, I dry clean it 2 or 3 times per day but we haven't been down to her skin in quite a while.
Doesn't sound too bad but picture a human with a snotty, runny nose and you can't wipe it and get the upper lip cleaned down to the skin for months. Ick...and thick....and smelly.....and, it seems, it tends to cause her metal trach devices to sit more outward than close to her throat and thus catch on her blankets, the feeders, etc.. The end result of this winter is that we have lost two (2) trach devices in the last 45 days.
One fell out of her as I was standing next to her but the other two, I believe, are either in the hay pad or in the pasture. Regardless, I'm very grateful that I was here to notice the difference in her behaviors and fly out to her to insert another device as quickly as I could. This grateful mare stood next to me and inhaled deeply until she was at her normal breathing rate and then I would adjust and finish the installation.
Helen tells me when her trach is missing by bobbing her head deeply from the ground way up in the air . . . not a natural movement for a horse and bound to catch your eye as you scan the herd for any issues. She puts herself right in the center of the white pasture and begins to bob until she hears that human coming to her with the tube to allow the air to be inhaled.
Two new trachs were ordered and will arrive (should arrive) tomorrow. And this weekend with the warmer air, I will bring warm water out to the barn and deep clean her as gently as I am able. It may take multiple cleanings to get down to her skin, but we'll do a layer at a time and get her clean and more stable once again. Add this to the fact that 40 degree weather is the most irritating to her trachea, and we have a snotty mess. However, none of this is affecting her appetite! The girl is eating and has taken to staying 50% in and 50% out of her tie stall for the daytime. I think, this is to be safe and minimize her incidents. But maybe it is to be handy and ready for the feed!
This lovely mare is a "dier", for sure. A draining trach is not an easy condition in this climate - cold in the winter and bugs in the summer. But if Helen is willing to endure the cleanings and the fussing, Refuge Farms is willing to provide the cares. Her love of driving in harness is too great to just push her aside. And this summer, we are going to take wagon rides just for the fun of it! We'll put some hard pads on her feet and off we will go! I've told her it will be her reward for being so tough and willing this winter.