Thursday, April 10, 2008

Baby Boomer Dreams - Dandy's Story - Albuquerque

Part 1

Even when we pulled into the fairgrounds at Albuquerque after 7 am we still had to wait for a veterinarian. He was running late and had not arrived at his post. There was no way they were allowing any horses on the grounds that hadn't been inspected so we sat in the parking lot for at least a couple of hours waiting to get authorization when we could have been eating breakfast.

I was so excited I could hardly stand myself. It was impossible to sit still. I had been hearing about this place for years and now that I was finally here, I was locked out because of a tardy vet. I was afraid to leave my rig and go look around for fear I would miss the vet all together so there I sat. It's sure a good think Dandy is comfortable in the horse trailer. I felt as sorry for him as I did for me.

Once we finally got approval from the vet, we headed off to the barn office to find the location of our assigned stabling. With over 2000 horses entered in the show, stabling was a complex maze. It was soon clear to me I was going to be spending a lot of my time lost.

In case I haven't mentioned it before, I am geographically challenged. Can't find my way out of a wet paper bag. The way these grounds were laid out and all those green portables with, of course, no street signs, there wasn't much hope for me. Not until the big barns began getting their stall decorations up would there be any kind of landmarks to help me out.

Thankfully, the Alcorns knew exactly the location of our stalls so I followed them. Actually, I spent a lot of time following them for that two week period. I was with them, but I wasn't. I felt like the new kid at school with no friends and no prospects of making any anytime soon. It was clear that Larry intended to punish me for NOT really belonging in their barn. So setting up and moving horses in wasn't much fun. My poor horse got the brunt of things being left to stand in the horse trailer for even more hours while Larry figured out where it was ok for me to put him.

We spent that whole first day moving in it seemed. We had to buy bedding, shavings by the bag, run water lines and power lines. Everything seemed to be somewhere away from where we were located and trips were required to get essentials.

I can't believe all the miles I put on my poor legs that day. By the time we finally left to have dinner it was after dark. I was exhausted and too tired to eat. I couldn't wait to meet my new bed. I was sure that Dandy was going to thoroughly enjoy being able to sleep in a stall instead of the horse trailer. It was going to be a good night with real sleep in a bed instead of on the side of some freeway.

In the morning we stopped for breakfast before going to the fairgrounds. I was feeling pretty good about things for Dandy and me until I opened up his stall door. Poor Dandy stuck his head out and it was all swollen up. Both eyes were closed and the rest of his head was contorted from the numerous swellings.

One spot on the side of his face was so huge it looked like someone had cut a grapefruit in half and stuck it underneath the skin. Larry laughed and said the horse looked like he'd been in a fight with Mike Tyson. I wasn't amused. I was really worried about my horse.

The good thing about Nationals being such a big show is that there are veterinarians on the grounds from the time that horses move in. The vets actually have their own little vet office up near the little cafe that's there so that's where I headed.

It was a couple of hours before the vet could even see my horse. Colics took precedents over masses of bumps. In that two hours the horse continued to swell up like a balloon. His entire body was covered in huge, huge swellings. I had no idea what was going on with this horse.

When the vet finally arrived he took one look at Dandy and pronounced the problem, allergies. That's right, all of this abrupt and extreme swelling was caused by an allergic reaction of some kind. The vet gave Dandy a couple of shots, banamine and steroids if I recall, and left instructions for his care.

Also there was the matter of what had caused this allergic reaction. The prime suspect was the shavings. While Dandy had been bedded on shavings most of his life, the shavings here would be from different types of trees. So I striped the stall of every last wood chip and went back to the show feed store to buy straw. Bedding the horse in straw and a few days of steroids and we should be good to go. The vet expected to see a change within a matter of hours.

Wrong! Twenty four hours later, there was little if any change. Dandy's eye's opened only slightly and the huge swelling on his face shrank a tad but Larry was still chortling about Mike Tyson fights every chance he got. Things weren't looking good for my first trip to Nationals and my poor horse was miserable.

The vet couldn't believe his eyes. He went back to his office and did some checking on more drastic measures to treat Dandy. He also began looking for places to find paper bedding for my horse.

Dandy had experienced a mild allergic reaction at home earlier in the year, much, much milder I might add. We had bedded him on paper to get him through that so I believed that paper bedding would work. The problem would be finding it. There are few areas in the country where paper bedding is made for horses and New Mexico isn't one of them.

Fortunately the vet did find someone who could get me bales of paper for animal bedding. It wasn't the bigger pieces designed for horses though. It was cut for small animals like hamsters, rabbits and rats but it would have to do. Also he came up with more powerful drugs to treat Dandy for this reaction. By now he was worrying about anaphylactic shock and the possibility of fluid on his lungs. I can't even remember what that fluid was all about. I was clearly rattled by this whole ordeal.

By day three the paper bedding had been delivered and Dandy's swellings finally began to respond to medication. He still had so many bumps that riding him was impossible. The only kind of schooling we got to do at all was a bit of in hand trail and I did that just to keep us both from going crazy. This was clearly not the way I had envisioned my first trip to Nationals would be.

To be continued...................

The Warm-Up

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  1. Poor Dandy!! :(
    Yeah I'm sure that guy really had the horses best interest at heart by making fun of him during his allergic epsidoe. A horse is a horse, even if I didn't get along with someone I'd still be concerned for the horses sake.

  2. First of all Larry sounds like a real jerk. I've seen allergic reactions before, but Dandy's sounds like a really bad case. I hope you and the vets found the solution for him.

    I just can't believe the luck you have at shows and one of the worst parts of the whole experience is to not feel welcome by the barn and have virtually no support from anyone. It is so hard to feel as if you and your horse are on an island surrounded by a sea of indifference and animosity. Will be back tomorrow to see how it all turns out.

  3. HOLY HANNAH. I think I would have packed Dandy up and hauled butt HOME. Then again- thats because I also have some stage one anaphylactic reactions, and I KNOW all too well how Dandy must have felt.

    I really serisouly hope the poor boy is not plauged by them his entire life!!

  4. This story is breaking my heart!

  5. Oh my...I hope things started going better and that was the worst of your scary!

  6. Oh my! Glad you all figured out what it was and got him some comfort! I agree you should write a book, you have a way with writing!

  7. The suspense.... oh no, the suspense. I am hanging on for dear life here to hear the end of the story.

  8. Poor Dandy, and poor you for putting up with such inconsiderate people.

  9. inkeq, poor Dandy is right! He was so miserable. I still feel bad for him when I think about this experience.

    Yeah, you have a great point about Larry. Fortunately, Kelly wasn't on the same page with him but his presence was big enough for both of them.

    grey horse, you're right on the money about Larry. I believe the vet at the time, Dr Sparks, said that Dandy was one of the worst cases he had ever seen. I know it had me freaked.

    While the circumstances were difficult, I learned a lot about myself and people on this trip. There's a lot of value in that.

    mrs mom, I think I might have done that too if I hadn't been so worried about having something bad happen out on the road without access to a good vet. I knew Dandy was in good hands, that part was comforting. There were no long term problems with this, some short term ones though.

    onthebit, the beginning of Dandy's story is hard but then that's how I learned so much. It will also tell you volume about the heart of this horse.

    equinespirit, it was a very scary time.

    kris, thanks for the vote of confidence. I hope to write a book someday, we'll see if I actually get there. lol

    lovelee, it's going to be a ride, so you better hang tight! lol

  10. kathy c, parts of this experience were difficult but not all the people were inconsiderate. It was really just Larry and maybe my history of abuse made it so he pushed my buttons easily. It's hard for me to be around people who are passive agressive and angry. It was clear that Larry was angry with me most of the time I was there.

    Kelly and the groom both treated me fine. But Larry is this big massive guy and he could be intimidating so his behavior over shadowed theirs by a long shot.

    I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Kelly. She did wrong with the hock hobbles and she knew it but she took responsibility for it too. That counts a lot with me. I still count her as one of my friends despite some mistakes she's made along the way.

  11. Speaking from experience, hives like that can be horrifying. At least my horse never got them at a show, much less Nationals! It must have been so frustrating to finally get there and not be able to school. And I'm sure in the back of your mind you were wondering if you'd even be able to show him...

  12. Wow, that is so scary! Poor Dandy :(

    And that Larry sounds like a real jerk. I'm glad you left that barn, and I bet you were happy to be done with them for good after the show!

    I can't wait to hear what happens tomorrow!

  13. I believe that I would have been in tears and thinking that this horse showing lifestyle isn't for me.
    My poor Megan seems to have the same kind of luck-her little paint horse has such a tendency to have something happen to him every time we take him somewhere important.
    I am on the edge of my seat to see if you get to show Dandy or not...

  14. Oh poor Dandy!!!!! I have only had one horse do the swelling thing and not nearly as bad as that. Larry was being as asshole at your expense (does that statement sound familiar LOL). I would have been frantic, and he must have been feeling like hell.

    The swelling on his leg at the last show could it have been caused by hock hobbles? I dont know about these or what they look like.

    Looking out for the next instalment, I hope you whipped their butts in the ring, their treatment of you was very rude.

  15. I've had two horses have allergic (hives) reaction to neoprene. It took the second horse - about 6 years later- for me to realize that was the cause.

    Larry IS a jerk. I don't care how mad I would get at a person; a true horse-person CARES about the horse.