Saturday, October 27, 2012

Injections not a concern for horses

As featured Saturday, October 20, 2012, at
It took nearly a day to work up the nerve.
Intramuscular may not sound so bad to those in health professions, but to a layman reading the instructions on the back of a plastic wrapper, it can sound downright horrific.
And it was enough to get the package shoved in the fridge for the evening  — a stalling, feet dragging case of,  “have to, but really don’t want.”
It’s hard to tell how he did it, but the theory was the gelding had gotten a nail stuck in the toe of his hoof, though the offending nail was never located by the time trouble surfaced.
He started acting strangely, not wanting to put his foot down, but a check of his leg revealed nothing out of the ordinary.
Then a couple days later there was some swelling and he couldn’t put much weight on it, and still no sign of a wound.
Several hoof checks and leg and foot soaks later; there was still no explanation as to what was going on.
Finally the farrier found the source of the trouble, a puncture wound hidden in the hoof had gotten infected.
The wound was easy enough to address once it was discovered. A good cleaning and some iodine did the trick and he showed immediate signs of relief.
But there was still a lingering concern — tetanus.
With parting instructions to clean and flush the wound, the farrier recommended buying the shot and administering it.
It was a great idea, extremely economical and efficient and it was about time to learn how to administer shots, a skill that’s always good to have when there are animals  — and the occasional rusty nail  — around.
In a community where many people give their own injections to pets and livestock, finding a single-use shot at a local store was simple enough.
It was even pleasantly surprising to see how inexpensive it was, but catching a look at the shining needle in the package tainted the savings almost immediately.
The woman who helped with the purchase sensed my reservations as she gave some parting words of advice on how to go about it.
“Got to learn to do this sooner or later,” I said when she offered to come out and do it for me, but I took her number just in case something went horribly wrong.
And the list of things that might go wrong causing pain, too much medicine, poor placement of the shot, oh, and just giving a shot in general — all accompanied the syringe into the fridge.
The next day, the dreaded needle in hand, I hopped the fence and made way towards him, half expecting he would sense what was in store and run, but of course he approached with curiosity as always.
Step one down, we weren’t out of the woods yet, and images of how horses stomp and swat at the light touch of a fly dominated the next few seconds of rubbing the skin on his neck.
Then it was time.
Grabbing a chunk of skin and shaking it, the needle was in and out in a fraction of a second — and he never so much as flinched, not even a little.
Nor did he look back or side-step or even move.
In fact, it was so easy, it didn’t even come close to earning the apprehension that went into it and almost immediately all the other immunizations that had been beside it on the store shelf came to mind.
Best of all, tetanus free, wound healed, the event was a non-event to the horse who still flinches when a fly lands on him but isn’t likely to notice all the shots in his future.

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