Monday, April 14, 2014

Hard Luck Charlie

Charlie is one of those horses that always seems to attract disaster. He is partially blind in one eye from being hit by debris during a wind storm, he has a huge scar on his cheek where he had a sarcoid removed, he has a large scar on his abdomen from colic surgery, and now he has been bitten by a snake.  Not just a small snake, but a snake with fangs two inches apart.  Probably the same one that bit Cal last year.  

Although Charlie's luck is poor, he is lucky in that he manages to survive the bad luck.  The snake bite was on one side of his face and the swelling didn't close off both nostrils.  He can still breath through the right nostril.  Thus, we didn't even have to put a hose up his nose in order for him to continue breathing.  

Of course, today was a day off for me and there were no military vets available.  Fortunately, Debbie was home to help me organize a rescue mission and medevac for Charlie.  I asked the pasture feeder who found him to put him in his pen and that I would be there in thirty minutes.  When we arrived, Charlie wouldn't let anyone touch his face, so we knew we couldn't treat him without sedation.  

We managed to find a civilian vet who was available, but she asked us to meet her in Palominas--a forty minute drive from the post.  We loaded Charlie by putting a halter around his neck as he wouldn't let us put it on his face.  He trusts us though, and grudgingly he climbed into the trailer.  We removed the halter and just let him stand freely, which he was fine with.  We got to the designated location in Palominas and then waited another thirty minutes for the vet to get there.  We were lucky that Charlie could still breath through one nostril and that he had been bitten by a Diamondback instead of a Mojave, or he probably wouldn't have survived.  

The vet loaded us up with medications and instructions and we loaded Charlie back into the trailer and brought him back to Debbie's horse spa for continued treatment.  He will probably be okay as long as we can keep him hydrated and fed. He has a history of colic, so we have to watch him closely.  

Meanwhile I discussed the snake issue with the Animal Control officer on post, since I'm not allowed to bring a weapon on post and dispatch the serpent in the way I prefer.  The officer said I should just call them when I find the snake and put a bucket on it until they arrive.  I pointed out that the fang marks on Charlie's face were two inches apart and that I didn't think a bucket would be large enough.  In any case, I've learned from previous experience that until I find and remove this snake, I will continue to have snake-bit horses.  Hopefully, I will find the snake before it finds another horse.