Helen’s Surgery



Helen (the chestnut) and her friend, Zara.

So… Helen, the beautiful chestnut yearling filly out of Loula, has developed a very nasty club foot. The vet did surgery on her today to cut the inferior check ligament.  This is meant to release some of the tension at the back of her lower leg and allow the heel to drop into a more normal position.

Helen was really quite well behaved both before and after the surgery.  She was pretty interested in the x-ray machine.  We brought Wise Affair (Weezy) in to keep her company at first. But that bad old horse had about ten minutes of patience in her and then she started screaming bloody murder… “I am TRAPPED in here! I must go out!!! Must go out NOOOOOOWWWWWW!!! Dammit!!!!” Yeesh. Just like her mama, Exclusive.

We turned Helen around so she wouldn’t notice the mare leaving, and I jogged back down to the gate with Weezy (who was snorting and dragging me the whole way, highly indignant that I’d interrupted her busy and very important schedule).  Luckily Helen really didn’t seem concerned about losing her friend.

Helen - before surgery... having a look at the x-ray machine.
Helen – before surgery… having a look at the x-ray machine.

She stood really nicely for the vet to take x-rays of the foot to make sure there were no problems other than the clubbing.  She does have a bit of bone loss in the coffin bone. But no breaks or other issues.

Club foot
Club foot

While I did not have my good camera with me, I did manage to get some fairly clear photos with my cellphone. This is Dr. Martyn Potter performing the surgery.

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After the surgery,  Dr. Potter warned us that she’d probably wake up groggy and flail around the stall alarmingly when she first got up. But she was very sensible. She staggered up and immediately had a big pee (it looked like it took a LOT of concentration to stay upright and pee at the same time, but she managed it).  She didn’t flail around at all. Just drifted sideways a bit, then around in a circle until she could get her head over the stall door to look around.

The leg is all bandaged up. She will be able to go out in the pasture tomorrow. It’s best if she moves around on it as soon as possible to begin the process of stretching everything back to normal.



Cat at the Vet

About ten days ago, Dusty got very sick. He’s the VIC (Very Important Cat) at work. He stopped eating, and then disappeared for a couple of days. I finally spotted him under the boss’s truck, and Ana, being skinny as a rail, slithered under and dragged him out. I knew instantly that he was very sick. He was weak and groggy, and wouldn’t touch even the tasty canned cat food.

The boss, who claims to hate cats, and not to care ONE BIT about Dusty’s welfare, took one look at him and suggested that we take him to the vet right now. Immediately. I called Linda, and organized a trip to the emergency vet clinic (aka the “expensive vet clinic”… only the best for our boy, Dusty!). I pulled out the cat carrier and stuffed him in it. But in the car enroute, he figured out how to deform the shape of the carrier (it’s plastic), and pop the hinges right out of the thing. So I made the rest of the drive with a lap cat.

Once there, he was okay until the vet arrived in the exam room and started poking and prodding, with absolutely no concern for his dignity. He was quite mad about that (though he remained coldly polite to her), and once she left the room for supplies, he decided it was time to go home. I got his attempts on video…


He ended up having to go back about 12 hours later for more treatment. The vet thought it was a virus that became a throat infection. And since the antibiotics did eventually work, I guess she was right. Today he was back to galloping around the courtyard, rolling around in the dirt, climbing my leg at inconvenient moments, enraging the barn swallows, and sitting on my shoulder with his tail up my nose. How could you not love a cat like that?

New Vet

I had a new vet in today to look at King. Doc Watt was going to come this week to test his selenium levels, but of course, that wasn’t possible. I called in a vet that I’ve used in the past, Dr. Potter. He’s very calm and takes his time, which is nice. He had a really good look at King. Checked him over, watched him trot, listened to our tale of woe, etc. King has actually seemed a bit worse over the last couple of weeks, not better. So I’ve been worried. Dr. Potter is going to run a full blood panel, check the selenium, and also do a thyroid test. He has some other ideas for things to check out if the blood work doesn’t show anything. So at least I feel like we are doing something anyway.

I’ve started riding Dressy. I’ll take her to the training ride next week and do the 15 mile set speed ride. Then to Seoul’s Corners and we can do the 25 miles there. I guess I’m going to have to sort out booting issues for her too.

Ares had another session of lunging today. This time with the saddle on. He was very good, but I could see that he was a little weirded out by the feel of the saddle. He was a bit more inverted, and his gait got a little choppy as a result. But after a few minutes he gradually relaxed and dropped his head some. As soon as that head comes down, he smooths right out.

After we were done, I brought him back in the barn and got up on a stool beside him. Flapped around the saddle, rested my arm across him, flopped the stirrups around, pushed and pulled sideways, etc. He was watching me pretty carefully, but he stood like a rock. He really is a nice little soul once he gets over thinking that I’m prepping him for my next meal.


Doc and Phoenix

Here is a photo of Doc Watt with Phoenix (Garock) taken in 1999. Phoenix was Di Regendanz’s lovely old Arab gelding. He and Di competed in many OCTRA competitive trail rides and were extremely successful.  Phoenix passed away a few years ago at the age of 31. Doc Watt’s funeral was today. He was 81. He was Phoenix’s vet for most of the horse’s life (27 years).

Doc Watt

So I heard through the grapevine that my horse vet passed away in his sleep yesterday morning. Doc Watt was an old-time rural horse vet. He graduated from Ontario Veterinary College in 1960. And he literally practiced until the day he died.

I happened across an article in the OVC newsletter that quotes Doc Watt at an alumni function:

“I’m still working because I honestly don’t know what else I’d do,” said Watt, who celebrated his 80th birthday in February and has operated an exclusively equine practice for 30 years. “I guess my practice is my life. I don’t play sports. I’ve never learned to golf. I’ve made a lot of good friends through my work and enjoy a good relationship with my clients, and I still feel an obligation to be there for them.”

He was a very wise old vet. Not too modern of course. And some of his equipment looked like it had been around as long as he had. But he always had simple, common-sense, and usually inexpensive suggestions to try before going the expensive and/or invasive route. He didn’t talk a lot, but what he had to say was to the point, and occasionally pointed. He once treated two horses with simultaneous bowed tendons. In talking to the owners, the story came out that they had galloped around in deep snow for several hours the day before. His only comment was “buy a snowmobile”.

Two years ago we had a very serious, and ultimately tragic colic in one of our foals at work. He knew she was in deep trouble and suggested we take her to his son’s clinic (his son is a very good veterinary surgeon, and Doc was very proud of him). When she staggered and went down going up the trailer ramp, he picked that filly up (she was not a newborn – had to be well over 150lbs, maybe more) and carried her on. I was in total awe that a man over 80 still had that kind of strength.

When King was stolen and later recovered, Doc Watt came out to check him over. Unfortunately he arrived right after the news reporters showed up. Doc was not a chatty guy. And very understated. The poor man was not particularly thrilled to be on camera. But King turned out to have a high temperature and a respiratory virus so I’m glad Doc tolerated all the attention and carried on with the exam.

He was a good vet, and a great many people and horses are going to miss him.