Cowboys, Wire Cuts, and Chewed Up Broadleaves
Jun 28, 2011
I was working at a small American Quarter Horse breeding operation when the owner asked me to look at a wound on the left hind pastern of a three year old filly. We walked up to a large 10 foot by 30 foot stall that indeed did hold a three year old filly. That filly did have a cut around her left hind pastern. That was about all I could ascertain as the filly paced the stall, occasionally kicking and snorting. It was probably the first time she had been confined to a stall since being weaned from her mother.
The owner somehow got a lead rope hooked to the halter. I walked up to a big filly that had earned her taught muscles by running with the herd. The owner muttered "she aint been broke yet". By the look of the too small halter digging into her face my suspicion was that she had not been touched by human hands since her first halter lesson. My suspicions were confirmed when I walked up to pet her neck and she immediately tried to strike me with her front hoof. As I moved along her neck she tried to bite me. Finally I got near the injured hind limb and she started kicking at me.
Somehow I got her to stop kicking long enough to smear some antibiotic ointment on the wound. I prescribed some oral antibiotics then explained to the owner that we really needed to put the filly under general anesthesia to explore, clean, and debride the wound. The owner agreed stating; "yea, we need to do that some time". With that we were done for the day.
I was frequently back at the breeding farm attending to the brood mares. Sometimes I would see the filly hobbling in the pasture. Each time I would reiterate to the owner that we needed to put the filly under general anesthesia and work on that wound. Each time he would promise to schedule an appointment to get it done. The call to schedule never came.
I didn't see the filly for several visits, I asked the owner about the filly with the injured leg? He replied; "you don't have to worry about her any more, I gave her to a young cowboy". I did worry about the filly, being given to a young cowboy did not sound like a good future for her. But in spring things are busy in an equine practice and I soon forgot about the filly.
Several months later I had an appointment to see a horse that had an old wound on the hind limb. Reportedly the wound had completely healed but the horse still moved a "little funny". According to the computer it was the same filly I had seen at the breeding farm, only this time with a different owner.
The person holding the horse was indeed a young twenty five year old cowboy. He stood in worn boots with spurs, well worn jeans, a thread bare western shirt, and a dirty cowboy hat. The filly was indeed the same horse I had known however she was no longer filled with the anger I had experienced at the breeding farm. She had transformed into a loving mare whose only desire seemed to be to please the cowboy at the end of her lead rope.
"What have you done to this horse", I exclaimed.
"Well" mumbled the cowboy, "your antibiotic cream wasn't working so I had to treat her my own way." "I worked with her every day for a month until I could hold her hind leg up." "It took another two weeks before she would allow me to pull this wire out of the cut", he said producing a fence wire from his pocket. "But what really saved her leg was an old trick my Dad taught me, Broadleaves!"
The young man led me out to the yard and picked some weeds. He chewed up the leaves in his mouth. He then gently picked up the mares leg. While the mare stood patiently he spit out the chewed up leaves and packed them into what was left of the wound. He proudly looked at me and simply said, "Broadleaves."
The young man was proud of his father's treatment. I remembered the kicking, striking, and biting; I was much more impressed with the transformation of this horse from an angry filly to a kind and loving mare. "My father was wonderful with horses, he could treat any ailment", the cowboy mumbled longingly.
If he wanted to give the credit to his father and some chewed up broadleaves it was fine with me. Some of my colleagues might point out that getting the piece of wire out of the wound was the key to treatment. In reality it was the young Cowboy that saved this mares life thru love, patience, and old fashion horsemanship.