So to the health problems – my beloved, grumpy, but lovable Tequila suddenly developed a lumpy, scaly, nasty patch on an unmentionable part of his anatomy. I took him to our local vet, who diagnosed squamous cell carcinoma and said that he couldn’t treat it, it would have to be the horse hospital. So off we went to our special, much respected veterinarian at the equine hospital in Tucson, who confirmed the diagnosis and said that before he could do anything, Tequila would have to get rid of the sand currently sloshing around in his large intestine. As there are about 100 ft. of this intestine, you can imagine that quite a lot of sand can be carried in there, with the nasty potential of a blockage, and a painful attack of colic – horrid thought. So this naturally panicked me – I took him home again (and, as it’s a two hour drive to the place, this was a four hour trip) and we set out on a regimen of getting Tequila to eat psyllium pellets.I wish you could tell horses that IT’S FOR YOUR OWN GOOD!!! as you can to kids – although they don’t listen either. I might well have foreseen what would happen. Tequila carefully sifted through a whole nosebag full of oats and, at the end of it, returned a feed bag with exactly the amount of psyllium pellets that had been put into it, with every oat gone. So we mixed the pellets with sweet feed. With an insulted look, he again picked through the bag – and again the full amount of psyllium came back. So we crushed the pellets into a powder and mixed it with the sweet feed, and then he wouldn’t eat it at all. Finally, a liberal dose of molasses over the whole thing resulted in a bit of it being reluctantly consumed, but nowhere near enough to make a difference. Finally he had to be taken back to the hospital with the dreaded “tubing”, and the surgery, looming on the horizon. To make his stay easier the second time around, I decided to take along his good friend Comanche – I figured that the surgery would be bad enough without loneliness adding to the stress.
So they stayed at their equine hotel for several days, with stalls on opposite sides of the barn so they could talk to one another, being fed good food, with hourly maid service, their stalls being cleaned out every time they as much as lifted their tails – and the dreaded tube stuck down Tequila’s nostril and oil pumped into his stomach, to flush out the sand. I wish I could tell him – that’s what you get for not eating your psyllium, you silly horse!
Finally the hospital called and said come and get him, the procedure is done, the cancer has been excised and sent to the lab for confirmation, and the area frozen and refrozen to get the last bits of it off and he can go home. So I went to get him – this making the third four hour round trip to Cortaro in two weeks. And I have to return again in two weeks, to make sure no speck of it has been left behind. Truly, the sport of kings!
And, talking of Tequila, and continuing on my theme of horse colors of the last blog, he is a palomino – and so what is that, for those not in the know? It’s a lovely shade of gold, generally with a mane and tail of a varying blond color – sometimes darker than the coat, sometimes lighter. Tequila himself is a dark gold in the summer, with dapples of a slightly different gold, very showy, and a pale gold in the winter, with the longer hair hiding the dapples. It’s a color much sought after, and looks great in the show ring.
His stable mate, Comanche, is a Paint. Paint is a color registry, a Paint horse having to be a Quarter Horse in breeding. If he is not, he is considered a Pinto. There are two kinds of Paints – Overo and Tobiano. The Overo is one color – generally sorrel, with white areas over his body, but the white not meeting over the top of the horse. When the white meets over the top, he is said to be a Tobiano. My big horse, Chikala, though two colored in black and white, is a Pinto, as his breeding is Quarter Horse and Percheron. Confused yet??
Writing about all this has reminded me of the movie “City Slickers” – remember that one? It was a very entertaining movie, but what really impressed me about it was that undoubtedly the writer(s) had been to a guest ranch and observed what goes on. The progress that the two heroes made in their riding ability was beautifully parodied, though at a very accelerated pace – what apparently took them one week would have probably taken about four weeks – but the progress was very believable, and it was an entertaining movie, even if you’re in the business! Of course, the idea of the Jersey calf, having been born miraculously (aged about two week at birth) to a Hereford cow, and which, immediately after being born, was able to trot away down the trail, stretched the imagination a bit, as did the vision of the seasoned cowboy sitting on the cow’s head while the city slicker delivered the calf (!!) – but it was fun. I was especially amused at the scene of the two city guys riding through some spectacularly beautiful country discussing – I think it was television remotes? I remember wrangling rides of my own, once riding through spectacular mountain country through the Chiricahua National Monument, hearing the conversation behind me about – the stock market. And you would be amazed at what that movie did for the guest ranch business! The phone rang off the hook, with some prospective guests wanting to know if they could do a cattle drive to Montana!
I just finished reading a book about President Ronald Reagan, written by one of his secret service bodyguards, a man who could ride, and who therefore accompanied the president when he stayed at his beloved Rancho del Cielo in California, where he spent a lot of time on horseback. It’s a great book – not only does the president emerge as a really interesting and exceptional man, truly loved by his staff, but what is even more interesting is how dreadfully unprivate their life becomes once they assume the office! It really makes you wonder why anyone would want to do it – they don’t have a moment’s privacy, everything they do is accompanied by people. When those two rode out, there were secret service with them, behind them, ahead of them, alongside the trail, hidden in the greenery, with sharpshooters in the bushes scanning the horizon for possible assassins – what a life! No wonder so many of our presidents leave the Oval Office gray headed and old! I recommend the book – it’s called “Riding with Reagan” by John R. Barletta. A great read!