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Horse Field Emergency, Part Two

Published: 11/15/2012
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Editor’s Note: I met Lauren Fraser last year at the Mane Event in Red Deer, Alberta. Since then, we’ve kept in touch and I recently learned of this crisis with one of her geldings. She kindly agreed to write about it for NickerNews. What follows is the first of a three-part series. She runs Good Horsemanship from her home in British Columbia, Canada. For a few Canadian phrases, the American equivalent is in parentheses.

Read Part I

By Lauren Fraser

Luckily, the horses had stopped near the gate to the arena, so it was a relatively short walk for Cal. Once there, I haltered him, and attempted to apply pressure to the wound with my toque (wool hat).

I had acquired Cal six months prior, as a three-year old from Idaho. Although he was raised right, he was still wild in many ways when I got him. I had spent a great deal of time taming Cal, but in his panicked state, me slowly shoving a toque up into his groin to stop the flow was not something he wanted to be part of.
His panic just made him bleed faster.
I dropped the toque and managed instead to find the vessel with my fingers, and applied pressure, which slowed the bleeding. My husband appeared, and gave Cal an intravenous sedative, taking into account his blood loss so far. He also took over the pressure while I held Cal’s rope.

My mother’s house faces the arena, and from her vantage she spied the two of us, and the palomino horse covered in blood. She came out, offering help, and Dave sent her back inside for the phone and some towels.
We live three hours from an equine hospital, and although we have a small medical kit, we didn’t have the additional drugs to safely drop Cal, nor the surgery kit to close the wound.

While Dave waited for the phone, he probed the laceration with his fingers, and found a finger sized stick inside. He pulled it out, examined the wound, and discovered Cal had lacerated a large femoral vein. Dave crouched next to the sedated Cal, and continued applying pressure.

After reaching my equine vet, Dave came up with a drug cocktail we could acquire from the local small animal vet to drop Cal and suture the wound. It wasn’t the best combination of drugs – Cal’s recovery could be rough. If he thrashed around the chances of opening the wound again were high. But at that point it, was our only option.
A call was made to our neighbor, an AHT (vet tech) at the local small animal clinic, and she agreed to drive us out the supplies. Dave had managed to find the magic combination of pressure and location that was controlling the bleeding, so all we could was wait the 30 minutes for our neighbor to arrive.
The slowest minutes in the history of horse ownership had passed after the phone call to the clinic, when something startled Cal, and he suddenly lurched forward. Dave lost his hold on the blood vessel. But before he could reapply it, we noticed that the bleeding had stopped.

There was still some oozing, but not the pumping we had seen before. A clot had formed in the vein. Would it hold? We all stood very, very still, hoping that nothing would cause Cal to shy again.

Stay tuned for Part III of III

View Reader Comments:

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11/15/2012 Tony
Don't stop the story there!!!
11/15/2012 Kim
This is torture waiting, but what an amazing story so far...
11/16/2012 Sarah
more more! I can't wait to hear what happens!
11/22/2012 Missy
This story is killing me!!! I'm blown away by the presence of mind of the owners for such a ghastly injury. Can't wait for the happy ending, right, Maddy?

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