The Eventing Vet

A Whirlwind Winter

A very smart little horse all set for his new home

A very smart little horse all set for his new home

Doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun? Tempis fugit and all that. It is a month for anniversaries. I’ve been in my new job, in my new house, in my new county for a year, our new equine practice is celebrating its first birthday and the E-venting site is a year old. Our ‘Unbroken to Eventer’ protege has just left for his fabulous new home and so I have only one horse to do, which obviously means that I am mostly lounging around twiddling my thumbs and sipping champagne cocktails in a foppish manner. Or not.

As we were hoping work has finally picked up and I am now most likely to be spotted flying around Nottinghamshire in a blur of activity, simultaneously peering at my satnav (which was bought in 2003 and has some rather old-fashioned ideas about things like bypasses that don’t exist), speaking to clients on my handsfree and trying not to spill my coffee. I seem to be morphing into a female version of the horse vet I used to see practice with when I was a teenager, who terrified me by chain-smoking and pouring coffee from a flask whilst steering with his knees and driving round bends on the wrong side of the road at wholly inappropriate speeds. I guess the only blessing was that the mobile phone hadn’t been invented in those days. He managed to live to a ripe old age and as far as I know he didn’t kill any students along the way so perhaps life in the fast lane has its benefits? I just have to remember to lose the racing changes when my husband is in the passenger seat. He’s not wholly appreciative…

Spot the diagnosis... yup, another pony with laminitis

Spot the diagnosis… yup, another pony with laminitis

Winter, such as it is, seems to be a never-ending progression of plump ponies with laminitis and ponies with weight loss… and laminitis. Most of these seem to have Cushing’s Disease or Equine Metabolic Syndrome as a complicating factor and it is an art trying to balance medication, diet, farriery and exercise to keep them at a sensible weight and with happy hooves. Sadly with some of them we just get in on the act far too late and a lot of the changes are irreversible.

Winter also seems to be the season for suturing. Maybe it’s lots of bored horses standing around in muddy fields kicking the bejaysus out of each other for a little entertainment, maybe it’s the inevitable hunting injuries (lots of bored horses standing around in muddy fields kicking the… yes, you get the idea). Either which way my embroidery skills have been severely tested. I was really quite pleased at the job I did reattaching the lower lip of a mare who decided to jump out of her field, but forgot to take her front legs with her, faceplanting the ground on the landing side. Amazingly she maintained a good appetite and ate well despite the patchwork effect on her lip, even if, in her case, the grass turned out not to be greener on the other side.

Half way through repairing it - the tricky bit still to come!

Half way through repairing it – the tricky bit still to come!

On the occasions that I have got bored of needlework class I’ve turned to DIY and got my staple gun out – they make a very neat job of small wounds and have the advantage that the owner can’t try to be clever and take them out a week too early. They are surprisingly speedy too compared to all that faffing about with a needle and thread, which is useful on a Saturday afternoon when you’re desperate to get back to the sofa to watch the racing on TV.

Unfortunately all the extra work means stacks of extra paperwork, which really is the downside to the job. For every hour out and about on the road saving lives and performing intricate cosmetic surgery there’s another hour billing work, chasing lab reports and getting updates from clients on the phone. I think it’s fair to say that I rarely have time to get bored!

'Enjoying' bloodhounding in the torrential rain on New Year's Day

‘Enjoying’ bloodhounding in the torrential rain on New Year’s Day. Is that a grimace or a grin?

Sadly I have just cancelled my BE membership for the first time in about 12 years. I’m not saying I won’t event this season, but realistically it’s just getting out of my reach financially. Costs have been creeping up year on year and at some point you just have to sit down and decide whether it’s viable. The big horse and I have been having great fun out with the bloodhounds and my competitive demons have been assuaged by the promise of more team-chasing, which takes us into April anyway. After that we’ll have another think. We also have a very new and exciting competitive venture planned for next month which involves lots of canter work (and no dressage!) in preparation so we’re both getting pretty fit. I’ve also entered a half-marathon so am upping my time spent wobbling round the roads and byways scaring passers-by with my wheezing, scarlet face and day-glo lycra. It’s not a good look.

It’s all go go go round here and I’ve been shamefully bad about updating The Eventing Vet, but I promise I will fill you all in next month after our exciting outing, providing I’m still in one piece!  Got to run….

And the big horse doing what he does best. Bottoms up!

And the big horse doing what he does best. Bottoms up!

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The Eventing Vet