There are certain perils that come along with living in Texas. It’s a little bit like Australia in that there are a lot of things that want to sting you, bite you, eat you, or stab you, whether they be animals or plants. For animals it runs the gamut from rattlesnakes (I’ve had a horse bitten by a rattlesnake before, it’s NO FUN) to scorpions to those giant disgusting freaky feral hogs. *shudder* The plant life isn’t always much better, with lots of mesquite and those stabby little sandburs that hurt like fuck, and of course cactus.
When you say cactus a lot of people picture the big tree-size ones you see out in the desert if you go further west. Here in this part of Texas we’re kind of at the point where the west meets the east. Drive a few hours west, you hit desert. Drive a couple hours east and you’re deep in pine forests. That means we have a mix of landscape and vegetation, which gives us this interesting juxtaposition of things like super rocky soil but also pretty decent pasture grass, or big oak trees but also cactus. Mostly a few different types of little ones, which grow here and there but aren’t particularly noteworthy or noticeable. The horses tend to be very smart about avoiding them, and aside from Presto accidentally jabbing a mesquite thorn into his head once (because of course he would) I’ve never really had a horse tangle with any of the stabby vegetation we do have.
Until yesterday anyway. I went out to get Henry and he was standing by the gait very pathetically, resting a hind foot but also looking very irritated. At first I thought it was the flies – they’re starting to come out in full force – but as soon as I got closer I could see the little chunk sticking into his leg. Poor dude! Some of those thorns were really jammed in there too, at least half an inch.
First I took a good look at how many they were and where they were. Nothing in a joint or anything like that, luckily, so I tied up his tail and started the process of carefully pulling them out. There were 9 total, with a few stuck in there deeper than others. They definitely hurt, he threatened to knock my block off a couple times. I tried to just be quick about it while also trying to avoid stabbing myself in the process (wasn’t 100% successful with that, I stabbed myself once). A few spots bled quite a bit, which I figured was a good thing to help clear them out.
They stopped bleeding pretty quickly, and I scrubbed them up, ran my hands all over the area to make sure I didn’t miss any and that none of them broke off, and he seemed fine after that. I think the spots must have stung a bit because when walking through the longer grass in his pasture he hiked that leg up a bit more, but he trotted out sound and seemed no worse for wear. He’s normally pretty smart about nature in general, so I figured something must have spooked him and he flew backwards into the wrong, unlucky spot.
Then when I was grooming him I found a little swelling and a bite mark on his neck, which makes me think the neighbors horses might have been involved. There are definitely some stabby plants up near the back fenceline, and if Henry was playing bitey face with them over the fence and things went too far, he easily could have flown backwards into one.
Henry is also zero percent stoic and extremely high drama, so he milked his multiple stab wounds for all they were worth. Plays me like a fiddle, this one. I lost count of how many cookies he had, because according to him, cookies heal all wounds. At least one cookie for every stab, that’s for sure.
I can honestly say this is the first time I’ve ever had to extract so many big sharp thorns from a horse, despite how long I’ve had horses in Texas and just how many stabby things we have here. Guess it was time for nature to bite back. I gave him a little bute last night just in case, and took a good look at the area this morning by flashlight, and all seems fine. No swelling, and you can’t even see the spots anymore. He walked out of his stall looking totally normal. Hopefully he stays that way.
And, uh, hopefully he keeps his chonky ass out of all the stabby stuff from now on. Lesson learned, maybe?