Friday, February 13, 2009

rafer johnson's progress

I haven't mentioned this specifically lately, but something that happened yesterday made me stop and think about how well he's doing.

After his broken leg mended, and he got his first post-break hoof trim, he has literally not taken an off step, and I have not seen him resting a hind leg. He walks, trots, and does the fast donkey run. He lays down. He rolls. He jumps, he rears when playing with Redford, he pivots, and he has no qualms about going through a certain part of our fencing that is not board or HorseGuard tape. Fortunately the part he goes through only leads to the big barnyard, which is secure. But in all ways I can see, he is back to his normal Rafer self.

I went out yesterday with my big dosing syringe and Salina's Lubrisyn gel. It is clear gel, and has no smell I can discern, but neither she nor Keil Bay like it. I suspect it's the consistency - gel not being something horses really encounter when grazing or nibbling.

So Salina sees the big syringe, and although she doesn't walk away from me, she looks disgusted. I give her dose. There's a little bit left in the syringe.

Rafer walks up and as clear as can be, asks me for some of the good joint lubricant stuff. I thought maybe if he smelled it, and realized it wasn't a treat, he'd back off, but he smelled it, licked it, and asked for his own dose. So I gave him that little bit left over, which was about what a donkey dose would be, and he was satisfied.

The last medicine I had to give him with the big dosing syringe was what we named the "applesauce antibiotic" and he came to hate it. He came to hate the dosing syringe, and he came to hate the halter. About the time we got him over that, he broke his leg, and then the halter meant vet, and needles. So we've worked off and on during the months since making the halter only come out when good things are happening. He considers getting his hooves trimmed a good thing, and taking a walk with one of us, and going into the arena to "work."

I generally give medicines, including injections, without halters, using a lead line draped over the top of the neck if necessary just to let them know they should stay with me.

Rafer hasn't had any issues with dewormer pastes, but I was so happy to see yesterday that the big fat dosing syringe is now a neutral thing again, and that in fact, he is not only happy but seeks out something he thinks might be good for him.

The funny thing is Redford, who huddles up with Rafer, and so far I just let him lick the end of the syringe, and see that Rafer likes it, in hopes that when Redford has his own encounter with the "applesauce antiobiotic," post gelding, it at least won't be scary to him. Just yucky for a few weeks and then we'll let him come back to neutral with it like his brother has.


ponymaid said...

Billie, donkey brains are large, orderly and full of useful information. Rafer has quickly worked out the syringe puzzle. Redford is studying at his knee and is absorbing all sorts of things he needs to know. Redfords's, ummm, unpleasant procedure will go just fine and he will be his old self by end of day - just a tad ouchy in the pertinent area. My operating physician had never done this procedure before and make a right bollocks of it, if you'll pardon the obvious irony. Are you still gnat-free? We're back in the freezer today.

Grey Horse Matters said...

He's so funny. I'm happy that he is completely healed and looking for a way to keep his joints lubricated and mobile. Wonder if he kind of knows that what Salina's getting is good for his joints too, what a smart little monkey.

jme said...

ha ha, i wouldn't be surprised if he knew it was good for him - he does seem a clever little donkey!

i know what you mean about getting to neutral - we had a horrible situation where the electrical line running underground to the automatic waterer's heaters was damaged and could, at times, shock the horses as they drank. as a result they were all understandably terrified of their waterers long after they were fixed, and i did everything from hanging their water buckets next to them to filling the empty bowls with treats, to filling the bowls and holding them while the horses drank until they were all comfortable with their waterers again...

it's such a relief when you can finally alleviate those fears. glad rafer has moved on and healed mentally as well as physically :-)

Victoria Cummings said...

Time is a great healer, but you should pat yourself on the back for bringing Rafer back to good health. I enjoyed your story about the big syringe since I went through a similar drama with Siete. We've reached the point now where she loves the big syringe and every time I need to use one with her, I feel a great sense of accomplishment.

billie said...

Sheaffer, thank you for the reassurance. We're enjoying watching Rafer's knowledge reveal itself, and seeing Redford studying so closely at his side.

We are not gnat-free, but close - the wind gusted in and blew many of them away!

billie said...

Arlene, he is so serious and assertive about the Lubrisyn. I think he does know, and he, unlike Salina, doesn't find it disgusting at all!

billie said...

jme, that water thing sounds scary! It's amazing how, with patience, they will come back around, isn't it?

billie said...

Victoria, we're very happy that Rafer is doing so well. He's taught us a lot about donkey resilience and how important the equine bonds are. It's still amazing to me how Salina stayed by his side for so many days, and then when she needed a break, Redford came over and took the reins. (pun not intended, but I sort of like it... :)

Janet Roper said...

Hi billie,
It's nice to know that everything is so peace and beautiful at camera-obscura. Love hearing your animal tales!
Happy Valentine's Day &
Janet & Shiloh

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

This is all such wonderful news, Billie. Thanks for the updates :)

Isn't it time for a Rafer or Reford photo?


billie said...

You too, Janet!

billie said...

Thanks, Lisa - we've been so focused on riding since I got home, the camera has ended up sitting on my desk, unused. They are as cute as ever, I assure you. :)