Plagues and Curses Upon the House of Hudson

The Forces of Evil Begin Smiting 

My text chimes. My email chimes. My cell phone rings. As I read the text on the way to answering the cell, our land line begins to ring.  I know.  It’s The Barn Emergency Alert System.

Bella texted:  Jim says Leo says Hudson is colicking. 

Jim says in my ear: Leo says Hudson is colicking.

Jim’s expertise is in How to Fix Things Horses Continuously Break. Which is why he’s reporting what Leo said, and calls Bella first.  He’s not sure whose horse Leo is worried about.

God bless ALL these people.

I’m 15 minutes out if I pull sweats over my pj’s, and break the speed limit.

For those not familiar with horse digestive systems: these big strong animals have the  digestive sensitivity of a cranky octogenarian. Change the pudding flavor, and cranky Octo could be bedridden for days, hammering her cane on the railing. Change her Jeopardy channel, and she could go into shock, burst a gut, and die.

Horses are that terrifyingly fragile.

While I try to focus on stopping at stop signs. Siri reads Bella’s email to me: H colicking. Can use Mo.

Mo is Hudson’s roommate, and Bella’s back up rope horse. You would LOVE him. He’s a Humvee-slash-Monster Truck in a world of sports cars. He’s so wide and bulked up, he looks like he’s been abusing steroids for years. (He hasn’t.) Despite his massive width and body-builder muscling, he has the heart of Ferdinand the Bull. Mo would very much like to find a tree to sit beneath, and smell a flower.

I tack up Mo, pry a bright and non-colicky looking Hudson away from banging on his feeder (Hellooooo…hungry…), and we pony. If I hadn’t listened to his gut sounds, I’d think he was fine: freight train moving through his bowels on his right side. Acute  and terrifying silence on the left.

we walk
Mo worries.  Hudson calculates if he can get grass out of this.

Hudson is nonchalantly relaxed while walking. A mild gas colic? No sign of pain. Twenty minutes in, he stops, lifts his tail, and produces one phenomenally long and sonically impressive Super Fart.  He poops regally, a gloriously giant deposit.

Hudson is cured! Ha. Take THAT, Forces of Evil.

I do the normal thing and take a poop photo, and text it to Bella: THANK YOUUUUUUU.

Better than flowers.

It’s gratifying to know Forces of Evil can be thwarted by farting.

Gravity Stealth Attacks 

On Hudson’s 26th birthday.  I make sure he’s thoroughly warmed up before I turn him out for play time in the arena with The Monster Truck.

I’m ridiculously proud of how good he looks and how young he acts. Ridiculous, because I have nothing to do with how good he looks. Good genetics, a sense of entitlement, and a stubborn attitude apparently help one age well.

A lot can change in 7 seconds.

Immediately after the video above, Hudson rocks back on his haunches, drops low, and rips flat-out into a dead gallop. He’s doing a speed drill. This is all wrong. My heart is pounding in my throat.  There are claws in my stomach.  He hasn’t done a speed drill in a loooong time.

Gravity hurls itself across the arena at the last second, and Hudson trips.

It devolves into the kind of crash about which horse people have nightmares. Hudson falls hard on both bad knees, his neck twists and whumps, the pipe fence is ringing bell-like from (I’m guessing) the impact of his skull. He’s all the way down, and against the fence. This is bad.  Horses need room to get up.  I’m terrified he might have broken a leg.

I ran to him as if I could scoop up 1200 lbs and carry it gently to a stall.  (Actually, it might have been possible in that moment.)  With great effort, he manages to untangle his front legs and get up. He looks bewildered and is trembling slightly. I can see this thought in his brain, though it means something different to him: this is all wrong.

I have so much compassion for believing you are still a Superhero.

I do a complete body scan, check his pupils, poll, and knees. He takes a couple of tentative, careful steps. Not lame. Fully weight-bearing on all four.  It takes awhile for his adrenaline to recede. I ask him to walk it out, so the acid doesn’t settle in his muscle.  Bute and Ice are our friends.

I work on his sore neck over the next week.  Better? But not okay. bizarrely, he is not lame. Sore as heck, but not limping. He needs the chiropractor. I set up an appointment for the next week. I want the acute phase over before he gets any body manipulation.

While we are waiting for the appointment day:

Locusts…? More Smiting…? WTH…?

Hives. Every. Where

One mild soap/glycerin bath later, he looks like he’s getting over the measles. The hives go down. Contact allergy? Can’t hurt to do the cowboy baking-soda purge to clean out toxins. Check. Pick up baking soda.

DETERMINED Forces of Evil.

The next day, he still has hives, but he’s better. I slather Caladryl on the big ones. Check between his front legs to see if I missed any.

I find loose, droopy, saggy skin on the inside of one leg. Mysterious lump near his breast.

Oh. No.

PIGEON FEVER? Are you kidding me?!?!?

I hit Nurse Jane mode like a stock car driver revving into a turn. No fever. No drainage. Check. He’s not contagious. Yet. I know this is too small for the vet to try to drain. I call Jamie anyway, and ask when I should call him, since calling him now is too soon.  (I’m sure he loves me for being so proactive.)

I scare the crap out of everyone at the barn.

I tell the barn manager we might have a case of Pigeon Fever.  We discuss protocol. She knows I’m onboard with strict measures.

Honestly, I’m completely panicked.  A 26-year-old mildly immunocompromised horse has a bad crash, develops weird mass hives, and then gets Pigeon Fever?  Is this the big IT? Are we there? Any one of these things alone would not rattle me (much) but all in a row, I’m beginning to wonder if something bigger is compromising his immune system.  Something more than an on-again, off-again low-grade sinus infection.

Yep. Right to: HE’S GOING TO DIE.

Carlos found me panicking. He very gently introduced me to this totally novel idea: deal with what is actually presenting: an unidentified lump, some edema.

Oh.  How…normal.

I stop being (mostly) an idiot.  We’ll stick to the default: all horses will be safe as long as we treat it as if it’s Pidgeon Fever.

Deep breath.

Day four: just a lump covered in ichthamal. Not bigger. Not softer. Not open. Not hot. No fever.

Bella remembers Hudson caught himself there once ten years ago, and developed a shoe boil. I’ve been around horses since I was twelve.  Maybe I saw a shoe boil 30 years ago.  Not on my radar.  I begin shoe boil protocol. Order a donut. Turns out, it IS a shoe boil. In a weird spot.

Forces of Evil Get to Giggle 

Hudson is convinced the donut is an ankle monitor, and he’s under house arrest. He looks surreptitiously for the orange jumpsuit. When holding the donut-encased ankle in the air doesn’t cause Jane to instantly repent and cut him free, he sighs. Walks off normally, and points his head into a far corner, his big rump angled accurately in my direction.

I guess donuts are the horse equivalent of The Cone of Shame for dogs.

Day Five:

The barn manager has a moment of panic: the old horse next to Hudson wakes up with a shoe boil AND a capped elbow, already getting infected. What are the chances…? She looks at me, then shakes her head. We both know shoe boils are not contagious.

Day six:

I’m filling in for Carlos, holding Clooney for the vet. His sheath is swollen on one side. After some examining: it’s a spider bite, on the inside of the sheath. Jamie says, “Not usual.  But it does happen.”  He looks down at Clooney’s front leg: “How long has he had this shoe boil?”

What shoe boil?

I don’t know…about an hour?

These three horses have paddocks all in a line. It has to be a coincidence, but how bizarre.

It’s a coincidence like this: I bang my elbow hard enough to leave a lump, and the next day, so does my neighbor, and the neighbor after that.

I searched the internet for ways to keep Hudson safe that didn’t involve sacrificing chickens or wearing funky clothing from the 1980’s. (Hey, shoulder pads and spandex are right up there with sacrificing a chicken.)

The internet giveth!

The following video has received Jane’s Good Horsekeeping Seal of Approval:

Hudson nixed this idea.  He’s  positive bubble wrap is a distant cousin of the shotgun.

His rump is still angled pointedly in my direction.

33 thoughts on “Plagues and Curses Upon the House of Hudson

  1. More horsefart stories please. A .gif animation could refresh the memories of those who have not experienced one in a long time, but you might have to stand there awhile to capture the moment. Justify the time spent as a public service announcement.

  2. Just checking in to see if you’ve written lately… Miss you out here in the blogosphere! Hope all is well with you.

  3. Best use of the English Language in 2015 Award Nomination:
    “Twenty minutes in, he stops, lifts his tail, and produces one phenomenally long and sonically impressive Super Fart.”

      1. Hi Mary, he is fine-ish. His latest adventure in disaster involved a very large tree falling into his paddock, across the fence, reducing it from 5′ tall topped with electric wire, to a shockless 12″ tall, with a (to him) clear sight line to freedom. Of course, he’d have to climb through the downed branches (check), maneuver his bulk with an eye to easing through the V (check), and decide it was worth the risk to stick his hoof in the crumpled mess of fence. (It wasn’t) This was all sometime around 3 am, when he wasn’t feeling sleepy. He could not figure out why TONS of people didn’t immediately show up to cut him free. (This is why I keep an “emergency fence box” with heavy duty wire cutters and horse drugs outside his gate.) With fearless rope horse pride, he set about experimenting different hoof to wire angles to ease himself free. By 6:00 am, he was…bored. And hungry. He yanked it free. Big old bruise on his heel bulb. Temporary damage to his hoof. His farrier said it was one of the worst overreach strikes he’d ever seen, and he the heck did he get that without shoes on…at what was likely a walk?!?
        I swing very quickly from “Oh no, poor baby” to “I. Could. Kill. Him.”

  4. How did I just find this? Oh, fly that flop sweat flag, my sister. I got older just reading this! and there is a shoe boil thing in my barn, the first ever. Thank you, Jane. I’ll go back to my regular breathing now.

    1. All is well in Hudson world right now. Though we have had two more horses come up with some variation on shoe boils. Making five total. Very strange. (Horses without shoes, I might add!) Maybe the drought is making the ground much harder? Sorry to hear you are dealing with it as well. Donut to protect the horse. Remove donut to protect the horse (from donut rub)…but anything is better than Pigeon Fever!

  5. Dear Hudson, you told me that you are tall dark and handsome. I gotta admit the vid shows you got moves.

    However, you failed to mention that you are also elderly and accident prone. We may need to re-negotiate the terms of our long distance romance. I don’t want to be saddled with a good looking busted up geezer! (“Saddled”–see what I did there?)

    Perhaps if you send carrots I will reconsider.

    All my love,
    Fiddle (age 13 and fit-as-a. Just so you know)

    1. ARGH. Humans! I am not elderly. Or accident prone, (Jane, you idiot, you are going to wreck it for me with Fee by telling people this stuff, knock it off!) Jane makes everything so dramatic. My dear Fiddle, I was fighting the Forces of Evil, which humans seem unable to comprehend. I valiantly smote every last FOE until none were standing. I am unscathed (mostly) just a dashing scar. Granted I am older than you, perhaps a younger suitor incapable of smiting stuff would be more suitable? In any case, I made Jane go to The Palace of Fruit for the 20# bag of carrots. She’s Fed Exing them to you right now. Please accept them with my compliments. Love, Hudson (the whole saddled thing? Genius. But you know that.)

      1. Dear H, I am familiar with Fed Ex, as that is how the electrolytes arrive. Are you suggesting that the carrots with which you would gift me are heavily laced with salt? Is this another geezer thing?

        Your sweet young friend,

  6. wowza, i’m borderline stressed out just reading this – but very relieved that all horses are well despite their best efforts to convince us all otherwise!

    1. Everyone is good! Phew. Still think the shoe boil epidemic is bizarre, but hey, it’s a benign problem, thank goodness. (Thanks, it was a rough week.) 😉

  7. Yeah I would also have concluded that my horse was dying when all those things happened at once. Hudson please stop terrifying your mother? We’ll bribe you with carrots if you don’t have any vague and concerning symptoms for a while? Also, not that you asked for it but I’m going to do the horse-person thing now and offer unsolicited advice anyway: when Tucker breaks out in hives, sponging him down with white vinegar and cold water does the trick instantly. Just in case Hudson decides another plague is in order.

    1. I love advice. That’s how I learn stuff. Vinegar water is an excellent idea. I’ll keep that on file for future reference. Never avoid sharing great tips!

      I actually forgot to write about one of the curses (Plagues?).

      The chiropractor adjusted Hudson’s neck, and turned to me casually, giving Hudson a moment to recover his dignity (Hudson was struggling with wanting to kiss the chiropractor, give him all his carrots, jump into his arms…totally uncool.), and says “So. How long has he had this mass?” MASS?!? What mass? What I thought was slightly overdeveloped muscle on one side of his neck, the chiropractor thought was a tumor. At this point, we just have to laugh. A mass doesn’t worry me. That won’t kill him. I once bought a grey OTTB that had two obvious masses. Tested benign, and we had a lot of years together!

      1. You have a very, very good approach to horses and I am impressed by your ability not to panic about a mysterious “mass” as well as everything else H has decided to throw at you. Since I have a hypochondriac for a horse, I have had to train myself not to panic when he acts like his leg is broken and/or his heart his failing.

    1. Arlene, I know you are part of the choir, and we are all saying “Amen”. Wow, can they! I like Carlos’ message. It’s helpful to stay a bit farther from….psycho…when something happens!

  8. Bad luck comes in threes so I think you’re safe now. Seriously, Hudson looks terrific. Take all the credit. As for the lump, when I had Sheldon he developed one in the same place. I absolutely panicked because he’d spent time at New Holland and then in the pseudo-rescue AC4H. I worried that I’d brought typhoid Mary into the barn! The vet decided he’d probably gotten a small scrape or puncture lying down and it went away in a couple of days. Whew. Those horses sure know how to make us panic.

    1. I’m so glad Sheldon was okay, and there was no need to panic, Typhoid Mary style! It doubly painful when you are worried about your horse, and worried your horse might have brought the plague into the barn. Whew is right!

  9. Nothing to add. Just want to say I loved this post. Last year I got my forever horse. He’s only nine. I hope that in 20 years he’s around to scare the **** out of me, too.

    1. Of course you have something to add here, it wouldn’t be the same without you. 🙂 Here, have a donut! (the edible kind…) Here’s to your beautiful wonderful forever horse scaring the **** out of you at 26. Terrific way to look at the situation.

  10. Gosh! He looks terrific! I can only imagine the horror though. Wow! I’m glad he’s getting through it all. Very Strange coincidences. Mo’s pretty cool too!

    1. I’ll pass that along. He loves compliments. I hope I can get a few Mo stories up before he leaves. Alas, his lease is running out, and he’s (sob) for sale. Hudson has only enjoyed being paddocked with three horses over the years. He loves Mo.

  11. Oh Dear God! How much can one woman take? Obviously this much, and hopefully this is the end of the Forces of Evil visitations. Seriously, give the large handsome dude a scritch right between the ears from his devoted fan.

    1. He’ll definitely get a scritch between the ears from you. Thank you in advance! I have a theory: when the Forces of Evil giggle? It ruins the whole Force of Evil thing, and they move on. We’re good. No hives, shoe boil almost gone, chiro got every last thing to go in.

  12. Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry you’re going through all this. My mare is 28 and though she is (to use the entirely appropriate cliche) healthy as a horse, every little thing is just a little more fraught than it used to be.

    Oh, and I once saw her fall so hard that she flipped over. And I was on her at the time.

    Not good times.

    This line however, is brilliance, and will now be my guiding principle as I move deeper into middle age: “Good genetics, a sense of entitlement, and a stubborn attitude apparently help one age well.”

    1. This line is brilliance: “It’s all more fraught than it used to be.” If here were six, my eyes might be rolling nearly out of their sockets at how ridiculous it is that these things happened all at once. I have to hang on to he THINKS he’s six, therefore he will recover as if he’s six. Which seems to be the case. Twenty eight is impressive. Your mare must have good genetics, a superior sense of entitlement, and quite the stubborn attitude. (And she has you!)

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