Naturally when you are a vet, "FREE" horses seem to come out of the woodwork. There is nothing about a horse that is free...that I can guarantee you. I was reluctant to even meet Abbie as we already had 2 full sized horses and a pony at the time... But one of my clients agreed to purchase her for "slaughter price" if I would take her to my house - and so...I met her. And you can see how that turned out!
She was actually quite a spicy gal. But, when I worked her in the round pen, she seemed to have quite a bit of brain in her head...despite the fact that she liked to toss her head to show her disapproval of things. My take on head shaking is that if they are tossing their head, they just need a bit more work to take their mind off of it. She was kind of fun to train, and a bit of a challenge with her "spice girl" ways - and of course - she wasn't too bad to look at. Since the majority of our horses seem to retire to being pasture ornaments and "round pen ballerinas" - it is always nice when I at least enjoy looking at the money pit!
All joking aside, Abbie is a great girl. However, she is a bit on the accident prone side. Sometimes I think she just looks for trouble. That is what happened on that fateful wintry day in Minnesota. Abbie somehow cut herself on the coldest day of winter. It wasn't any small cut - but a nice triangle shaped rip near her nostril. See the photo above.
There wasn't a lot of blood, but we could see drips in the snow, and frozen to the side of her face. In Minnesota, it can get cold. Real cold. We're talking below zero temperatures with added windchills. If memory serves me right, we were at about 20 below zero (Fahrenheit) for actual temperature, then with an additional windchill beyond that. Lucky me... I was going to get to stitch my own horse in that weather. I vividly remembered why I decided to focus my practice on small animals!
Problem number one. Winter gloves do not work well while suturing, so my hands and fingers could barely function after a while. Problem number two. Her tissue had actually frozen solid! Passing a suture needle through her flap of skin became like attempting to pass the needle through a frozen steak! Not exactly the easiest thing - especially considering the ever decreasing dexterity that my frozen hands were experiencing (not to mention that they actually froze to the metal instruments several times!)
With her tissue being that frozen, I figured it was pretty much dead. It was unlikely that any blood could be flowing through the frozen skin, and I figured that healing was basically a hope and dream. More than likely, I was looking at keeping the defect mostly covered and free of infection, while the wound experience "second intention healing" and sealed up from the "outside-in". Wounds can be pretty amazing and can contract and seal up, even when large amounts of tissue is missing. However, it can take quite some time and usually leaves a considerable scar. I actually never could place any sort of helpful suture in her laceration - as the frozen tissue didn't cooperate much with moving into place either. My frozen hands were not going to be effective at warming up the tissue flap and making it malleable again - not without a heat gun - and I couldn't even get the suture needle to pass through the tissue without it bending!
I finally gave up on trying to close the defect, and decided I would just drip some oils into the laceration to aid in healing and hopefully prevent infection.
At least Minnesota winters do not last forever - but even on warmer days - I did not attempt to suture her again. I just let the wound heal, with just a couple of drops of essential oils dabbed or dripped into the defect. Not always an easy place to get oils to fall - I sometimes would dip my finger into an essential oil puddle in my palm, then dab onto the area. I only applied oils once or twice in all actuality, as it never looked infected and insects were also not a concern in the cold weather. She was a "woolly bear" at the time, with her winter coat - and I never shaved her laceration fully - so much of her healing process was a bit hidden by hair. But sure enough, in a couple of weeks, things seemed pretty well sealed up. I did fully expect that the "flap of skin" would likely form a scabby area at some point in the future, and just fall off. But, I was really happy that it seemed to be covering and protecting the defect while this progressed.
When winter ended (it really does end in Minnesota) - and Abbie shed out - I was shocked to see that there was not a scab or hardly even a scar to be detected! I greatly attribute her healing to the application of oils that are now within RoseRamie and RoseRamie Plus. I believe that they prevented infection, increased circulation and vitality to the tissues, and helped to support the repair of the damaged frozen tissue. There is also lots of evidence that use of essential oils can reduce scarring and the formation of Proud Flesh (common in horses). What could have ended up to be a huge mess, with major healing issues - sealed up like a fairy tale. And you would never be able to tell that she ever had a laceration on that side of her nose unless I told you!
Onward to her story...
Abbie came to us through dire need. Not through our dire need of another horse, rather the dire need for her to find a home. See, she was a brood mare, and when her sire died - the owners had not completed her paperwork and registration transfers, and then found themselves in a situation where they could no longer register her. No papers for her, meant no papers for her babies. All of a sudden, Abbie was no longer as valuable to her humans. With the horse and hay market in shambles, Abbie's humans figured they would sell her to a slaughter transport instead of honoring any responsibility they had toward her. Sad, very sad.
Abbie is one of my personal horses. And, a special horse she is! As it would be rude to only show her "folly" and not her beauty - here are a few pictures of this gorgeous Palomino girl! She's half Arabian and half Quarter Horse. A real looker!
Even with a Summer coat, a scar could barely be detected!
Healed up and not a scar to be found...
The fateful day... Below zero temperatures and an opportunity to practice veterinary medicine in all of its glory!