I usually keep my blogs to the rodeo arena, but I'm going to veer off slightly. However, I'm sure everyone can relate.
I've got a horse my family raised-Badges-he just turned eight and he's a Playboy's Badge out of a Rey Jay mare. They're cutting horse bloodlines. His registered name is Blazing Badges.
After my brother broke him and my dad started him on cattle, he found his way to me. I suddenly had a really nice little three-year-old and a full-time office job. Didn't have a real good place to keep him, but I was hoping my small cattle enterprises would grow to the point I'd need a good horse. By circumstance rather than choice, I brought him along really slowly. I couldn't pay for training and I couldn't ride him all the time, but he had a solid foundation, so I wasn't too worried about it.
Slowly, he came along to the point where I could drag calves on him, then rope and doctor yearlings in the pasture with some help.
Old Badges isn't the prettiest horse I own, but he's got more heart than about any other horse I've ever ridden. Plus, he learned so fast and was just solid from day one.
He's got his drawbacks. He's not an easy keeper. He doesn't grow much hair in the winter or lose much in the summer. He's not conformed perfectly. And perhaps his greatest flaw: he's accident-prone.
It started harmlessly enough. The first winter I owned him, he stuck his foot through a barbed-wire fence and cut his heel bulb. No big deal. The next winter he stood on a log out in the pasture (I think) slipped off and sprained his suspensory. Out a few months right when I receiving cattle.
Despite it all, I grew up as a cowboy on him. I began doctoring cattle by myself on him…we learned together. He's kind of goofy. A couple time's he's gotten lazy or distracted and fallen with me at a walk, but there's been other times I wouldn't want to be on any other horse. Like the time I had a Longhorn bull in with my cows and we roped him and got him in the trailer-pretty much just the two of us.
He's a little goofy and a little ugly, but he's my signature horse.
Last winter, he got tangled up in a chicken coop and cut his hock. There's another four months out before I could ride him-just as I was getting cattle in. By the way, this coop was in a corral at my family's ranch he had grown up in and spent almost all his time in whenever we visited.
In a way, it's been good that I've been forced to use my other horse, Deuce. He's come a long way and I can doctor in the pasture alone on him, too, now. It's hard to catch the one that needs work when you're in a hurry and you've got the old solid standby ready to go. But Deuce has made a horse.
This winter I wasn't using my horses as much. I sold my cows, but was helping a friend with a couple hundred 400 lb. calves he was wintering. So I've been able to ride and rope some. Plus, I bought a couple of lead steers I've been using to work on my roping mechanics. And, most fun for me, Badges has been teaching my wife Kristen how to rope. It's actually been a good winter for horse activity.
Then disaster struck. When I went to feed yesterday morning, Badges didn't come in the stall. I looked into his run and saw feet sticking straight up in the air. I rushed out and he was alive. He had been horsing around with Duece across the fence and must have reared and struck and his leg came down between the gate and the fence. He hung up and flipped. The snow was about a foot higher there than normal, so I think that's why he was able to get up that high.
I ran and got the bolt cutters, cut the chain and rolled him over. It was bad. I could see bone on one leg, a cut on another and blood everywhere. Somehow, by the Grace of God, the leg wasn't broken, but I figured it might not matter.
I called the vet, Dr. Holly Collela, immediately. In the meantime, I started drying him off. From the looks of his struggle, he had laid there all night. It was snow-packed and icy, but the spot where he laid had melted about 3 inches down. He was shivering. I did my best to dry him off, put a blanket on him and waited. Somehow, the rascal still had an appetite.
When Dr. Collela got there she and her staff of interns went to work. They cleaned him up and we took him to my friend's place that has a washrack and a heated stall for him to recover in.
The diagnosis is still uncertain. If we can avoid infection and the bone isn't damaged in a way that the X-ray's can't detect. He might recover. There doesn't seem to be any tendon damage and somehow his cannon bone isn't even fractured or cracked.
As we got him calmed down, cleaned and wrapped, Dr. Colella said something that encapsulated old Badges pretty appropriately. She said that a lot of horses, laying upside down, trapped all night long in sub-freezing temperatures would have probably just died. There's quite a bit of pressure on their lungs and as a prey animal, some just give up.
Badges didn't, that big old heart just kept right on pumping.
Just 24 hours after the fact, he's doing well and he's been a good patient. He's extremely sore, his entire right side is swollen. His joints seem stiff and of course he's very tender on both front feet. So there's the drama. I'll keep you posted on what happens.