Sunday, April 22, 2012

Charlie's Sarcoid Removal

Charlie has had a sarcoid on his face for a long time now.  The mil vets tried to treat it by surgically removing part of it and treating the rest of it with a type of cream that kills the cancer cells.  However, after several months, it was obvious that the treatment had not worked and had, in fact, made it worse.  An ugly cauliflower-like growth appeared on the right side of Charlie's face making him essentially unusable for ceremonial work. 

Last Thursday we received approval from the mil vets to take Charlie up to Arizona Equine for treatment.  AZ Equine provides the best horse care you can get in this state and we frequently take the Army horses up there for treatment.  Our mil vets are good, but AZ Equine deals exclusively with horse issues on a daily basis and sometimes you just have to go with the experts, even though it is much more expensive. 
Charlie at home after the surgery

Charlie was moved into the operating area stocks as soon as we arrived, sedated, and prepped for surgery.  Once Charlie was sedated, the surgeon made a circular incision all the way around the sarcoid on Charlie's cheek.  What happened next was like a scene from "Silence of the Lambs."  They peeled back the flap of skin and snipped it loose from the underlying tissue with a scissors.  It was like watching someone getting scalped in slow motion.  Once they removed the "scalp," they cut some of the suspicious looking areas from the sub-dermal layer.  It was pretty grotesque, but fascinating at the same time.  Charlie pretty much dozed through the whole thing with his chin resting on a specially designed horse-head prop. 

After they had finished, the wrapped his head up in bandages and then Debbie put on his Mexican-wrestler hoodie to help keep the bandages in place.  It will take a couple months for the skin to grow back and Charlie will always have a bald spot on his cheek.  The bald spot will mostly be covered by his ceremonial tack, so he shouldn't look to unsightly as long as the sarcoid doesn't come back.   

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Rose Thorns

Photos by Kelly Paige

Today was my first attempt to participate in a public event since my riding accident back in January.  We participated in the Rose Festival Parade in Tombstone.  I guess I should have realized by the dark storm clouds in the sky that I was better off staying home.  It was a cold and windy day.  Not much rain, thankfully, but unusually cold for an April day in Arizona. 

Our preparations at the stables went smoothly enough, or at least I thought so.  We elected to keep all the horses in last night because of the weather, but still everyone was able to tend to their steeds and be ready to roll at the appointed time.  The weather was lousy, but not lousy enough to result in the cancellation of the parade--something all of us would have accepted without complaint.  We had two new riders participating in their first event since passing their final riding tests last Wednesday. 

Heading up Allen Street

When we arrived in Tombstone, things continued to go smoothly, until I overheard someone saying that our new sidesaddle rider had forgotten her bridle.  This was a problem since we couldn't just leave her behind by herself.  One other horse and rider (me in this case since I was her escort) would have to stay behind or her horse would have panicked when the rest of the herd rode away.  Some people began to suggest that I just tow her along by her lead rope.  I rejected this idea on the grounds that if her horse broke away she might end up being dragged up Allen street by her stirrup. 

Instead, we decided to get someone to bring us another bridle.  I called my wife, who was only 30 minutes away to bring a bridle from our tack shed.  Meanwhile someone else called a friend and asked them to go back to Fort Huachuca and get a bridle from there.  It turned out to be a fortuitous phone call as we soon had another problem on our hands. 

Lady escort

Somehow, we managed to lock the keys to one of our trucks inside the truck. Unfortunately, the three troopers who had been in the truck had left their uniform in there.  We then contacted the individual who was on his way to the fort (thank goodness for cell phones) and asked him to get the spare keys to the truck and bring those along with the extra bridle.  Fortunately, all the tack and keys made it to us before we had to step out on the parade. 

The parade itself went fine.  We had the usual incidents of audience interaction with the denizens of Tombstone.  One guy actually walked up to a trooper during the parade and started asking questions.  Another individual decided to argue points of historical authenticity with our Executive Officer as we rode through town.  These kind of incidents seem to be unique to the town of Tombstone.  Maybe it is something in the water...or the whiskey. 

Parading past a few brave souls

When we returned to the fort and released the horses into pasture, we gathered on the porch to review the day's events and assign appropriate beverage fines for what had transpired.  Both the nubes had forgotten an item of equipment.  Although all the goof ups had been pretty exasperating, no one really got angry about it.  In fact, we all had a pretty good laugh about it.  We are just fortunate to have people in our outfit that find ways to overcome problems, no matter how ridiculous they may be. 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

More Cavalry Charge Practice

On Saturday the troopers took the students out for more charge practice except this time they took pistols along to enhance the experience.  The horses typically get a little more excited when the pistols come out.  The weather was perfect and the field was in good shape.  

The riders forming up into a skirmish line. 
Last week they worked at mostly a trot and slow canter, but this week they moved up to a full gallop.  It is a much different kind of experience when the horses are really moving. 

The riders trying to hold the line while charging.

Things were going pretty well until one of the students was bucked off when they transitioned to a gallop.  Fortunately the rider wasn't hurt except for a few bruises.  It just goes to show how dangerous this business can be.  The student was wearing a helmet which likely saved her from serious injury. 

However, the practice session ended fairly well and everyone got back to the stables safely.