Sunday, March 3, 2013

Adventures with the veterinarian

As most of you now know, Suki has always been a diva.  Less so that first year , but as you can see there is a look of confidence just an hour after she stepped off the trailer from her trip across Canada then down to Pennsylvania.  Quite a journey for a 3 year old horse that had never been away from her birth place....

Early on Suki was fairly cooperative with the veterinarian.  Not great, but she didn't have a meltdown when she needed to be her vaccinations.  When I boarded her at Blue Hill, vet students from Penn Vet School accompanied the field service team from New Bolton Center in nearby Kennett Square.  New Bolton Field Service was our regular veterinarian.  So she had quite a bit of experience with people doing physical exams on her and seemed to enjoy the attention.  As Suki grew in size, some of the vet students seemed a little intimidated by her.  Especially those for whom large animal was not their chosen indication with New Bolton being part of their large animal rotation.

When we moved to the area where we live now, Suki had a bit of a bad experience with the vet who came out to perform the vaccinations.  She was clearly afraid of Suki, as her first comment was "Well, she is rather large, isn't she?" My first thought was "aren't you a horse doc?  Horses are large!"  With a shaking hand she approached Suki with the needle to draw blood for the Coggins.  As Suki took all in all of this trembling I could see her brow begin to furrow followed by bulging eyes.  I ended up drawing the blood.  The vet then asked that I walk her to distract her while she injected her.  This was not a great plan, so I gave Suki her shots also.  After that experience Suki's wariness with people baring needles escalated.  Those with more skill managed to examine Suki without issue, but her fear remained.  The fire probably made it a bit worse because she was being poked and prodded constantly for 7 weeks.  With the same people treated her each day there was some improvement, but each time a new veterinarian came to work with her she became nervous again.

I am probably seriously over protective of my girls, but that's my job, isn't it?  Yes I board at a full care barn, but Suki and Nikki are MY children, so to speak and it is my job to worry about them and give them the best possible care.  Nikki is easy when it comes to veterinary stuff but she was seriously bad when she first started having her feet done.  I mean, REALLY bad!  Trying to lie down, you name it.  She is fine now.  It was just a stubborn baby adjusting to something new.  Sure she was dramatic about it, but what would you expect from a diva in the making?

Yesterday Dr. R came out to do spring vaccinations.  He is very good with the horses with a calm and quiet demeanor.  This is not the first time that he has worked with Suki.  She was excellent for him during the summer when he examined her for the mystery lameness that turned out to be Lyme's.  The first rule when several horses are to be seen is that Suki must go first.  If she sees what's going on you cannot catch her in her stall.  She just keeps spinning.  Never threatens to kick or anything, just won't let you get near her head.  Then you have to pull blood for the Coggins first because after you have given the shots you are never getting that close to her again to draw blood.  So I was holding Suki for the blood letting and she raised her head to increase her sixe (because her normal 17.3 is not tall enough!) and tenses her entire body.  But she survived.  For vaccinations we give them in the chest because she seems to tolerate it better.  When Dr. R was on one side she lifted that front foot and kind of wiggled it, repeating it for the other side.  I have not been present the past few times for vaccinations so I was not aware that ususally instead of wiggling her foot she actually tries to stomp on Dr. R's foot!  He said that was the best she had ever been.  What a relief!  Then came the interesting part.....In NJ they use photos on the Coggins, but not in PA, so there are diagrams on the form and it is required to draw all markings including scars.  This takes a bit of doing in Suki's case because of the burn scars. 

Nikki was next.  She didn't even flinch.  Must less stressful.  In fact she was lipping my jacket while she was getting them!  I hope that never changes!

Yesterday was the first time Suki and Nikki went out together, and they did well.  What a relief.  Today when I went out they were quietly grazing, although not side by side.  That may change as time goes on.  Suki is clearly the boss but did allow Nikki to take treats without trying to kill her.  I think it will work.


  1. I must admit to a great deal of surprise that a vet in training would not expose themselves to all manner of animals before approaching one for treatment! Can't blame Suki for getting hinky around nervous vets as I don't want a nervous dr. around me. Ever.

    1. Exactly! Then it makes you feel like there must be something to be nervous about!

      I truly kept wanting to ask that one "aren't you a horse doc?"