"Language, as well as the faculty of speech, was the immediate gift of God." ~ Noah Webster

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Saga of the Navajo Princess

She came to us about 2 years ago. It was November to be exact. I remember clearly the day my husband brought her home. I wasn't too sure about this. I thought the story of her life had gotten in the way of my husband's judgment. Someone my husband worked with couldn't care for her anymore and had just given her to him if he promised to take good care of her. And now here she was.

"Tennessee Walker" he had told me over the phone before they arrived. And I thought about my childhood friend and the horses they had raised when we were kids. "She's a pinto," he had informed me.
"Well then, her name must suit her," I thought in my storybook mind.

As he and his friend unloaded her, I watched eagerly to see how she behaved. She was perfect.
"Ugh", I thought to myself, "she is not the prettiest horse I have ever seen...but maybe she will grow on me."

She did.
The only advice she came with is, "She will run at you when you start to feed her. Just put your hand up in a stop motion and she will stop."

It was true. She was an aggressive eater from the get-go.

As we got to know one another, I found this horse had excellent ground manners and was very easy to love. Matt being the youngest of us, and now the better rider, rode her first. I don't really remember how she did, so it must have been fine. What I do remember, is coming home one day, (driving without my glasses) I saw a cowboy on a beautiful horse riding up the road toward me. They looked so handsome together, and I thought to myself, "There is one lucky cowboy." It really struck me for some reason, and that picture is forever engrained in my mind. I slowed down; the rider had control, but I could tell this horse had spunk. As I got closer, I saw it was our son on our beautiful Navajo Princess! What a fine pair they seemed to make.

I also learned that day, that at my age, she was probably a little too much for me to handle. I hate to admit it, because there was a time I would have loved to ride a horse like this, but I have opted not to ride her. One simply can't do the things one used to do, nor does one get it all back at 60 years old. I will leave her to the men of our household. My husband found the same thing; she loves to run and it is a bit of a challenge to hold her back. The rider gets a work-out as well as the horse.
But my not riding her has not kept me from loving her any less. In fact, she is one of the horses at the top of my list.

We have also learned she is not an "easy keeper".  Not horribly difficult, but she has required more care than any other horse we have had.
I remember the first time the vet came to look at her. They had asked her name, when we made the initial phone call. When the vet arrived, he asked me, "What do you call her, Navajo or Princess?

"Navajo." I responded, and I caught a wry smile from the doctor.
He and his associate exchanged looks. Then he laughed as he explained, "I told M. if they call her "Navajo", we are good; but if they call her "Princess", we could be in for a challenge."

They were good.
What I have come to know about this horse, is that she loves to be cared for. She loves to love and she loves to be loved. She is the sweetest thing and will patiently let you do anything you want.
It was a month or so ago, when we had a very frightening experience. I wrote briefly about it. Navajo had choked. Now I had never had a horse choke before, and I have to tell you it is NOT fun.
When it first happened, I was pretty sure it wasn't colic. She had just eaten well, and pooped and did all the normal things. We were very lucky that I was still out with the horses when it happened. If choking occurs when one is away, it can cause some dangerous complications. The horse won't die, because they can still breathe, but they will suffer throughout the day, which can later cause a restriction in their throats. This will lead to a history of continual choking due to a build up of scar tissue. Not attending to the choke quickly can also lead to pneumonia, because of getting fluid in their lungs as they lay on the ground with their throat constricted.
To make a long story short, the vet arrived in about 45 minutes, and took all the necessary steps to ensure Navajo's passage way was no longer clogged. She instructed me to moisten her hay and her grain for about 3 days and she gave me some pain medicine to give to her for 3 days.

We were lucky to have caught it early, the Dr. told me. She did not expect any further complications, but be sure to call if there were any.
I was hopeful. Maybe everything would be ok. Three or four days, later I was finding it necessary to continue watering her food. But I had run into another problem, she didn't like it moistened and wasn't eating. I had also noticed some stumbling, and something else that concerned me, ( I can't remember what that was right, now.) so I called the vet to come again for a further check.

He came in good time, and took some blood to check her kidneys and liver. He also gave her a neurological exam and checked her teeth. I told him they had just been floated a year ago, but he decided to file down a couple that he could see would be the beginning of what is called wave mouth, if he let them go. I was very appreciative of that care. In the end, all turned out clear. Phew!
However, a month or so later, baby girl still wasn't eating right. I was no longer moistening her food, because she seemed to be able to handle it and she seemed to have learned to eat more slowly. This aggressive eater is her own worst enemy when it comes to causing herself not to be able to swallow properly. The green grass had finally come up in the yard, but not yet in the pastures. I had started to let her into the yard to gradually get used to eating the green grass. Too much green grass all at once, can cause problems, too, but the tender new grass was what she seemed to most easily be able to handle.

Unfortunately one evening, without explanation, she choked again. I prayed and prayed, and massaged her neck as I beseeched the Lord in whispered prayer. Let me tell you, this horse knows Jesus' Name. Because of time and money, I didn't want to have to call the vet again. God answered! I was able to massage the blockage down. She was calm through it all.
Then a few days later, it happened again. I had to call the vet this time. He was on his way, but he was an hour out. So I continued with my routine that had worked before - massage and prayer. I was once again successful, and I am convinced this horse loves to hear the Name of Jesus. ;-)

The vet got here just as she was starting to eat again. He didn't have to do anything, because he knew when he saw her eating, she was no longer choking. He talked with us a bit, and gave us some advice. I am so happy with all the vets we have had from the clinic we use. I appreciate that my animals are in good hands and I love making sure they are well cared for.
But what I came to realize, is I have a decision to make. We will need to put a good deal more money into her, or we will need to put her down.

We have had at least one more incident of choke, since the last time the vet came. I am losing count, but I believe it has been one or two. I have been successful in massaging/praying the blockage down. I have now begun to leave her full time in the yard. She doesn't eat the entire time. She even gets tired of the green grass, seeming to prefer some dry hay once in a while. The dry grain that she loves to inhale is gone forever, I think. She instead has to eat it in a soggy mash. She has yet to finish a feeding of that. She just doesn't like it. Well truthfully, I guess she has finished one over night a few times. I have gone out in the mornings and found the mash entirely gone. And just today, as I went out to feed her, I convinced myself that she actually seems to be gaining some weight back.
So that is the saga of my Navajo Princess. I am pretty sure I can get her through the summer. We have sprayed the pasture, and will put a fence up today which will allow me to leave her there full time. With our cross-fencing, she should be able to eat green grass throughout the summer. And there is always the lawn, that will be available to her, if need be, though she has already destroyed a couple of my bushes and my dwarf cherry tree. That's ok, the Navajo will come first.

Regretfully, come fall, if not before, we will need to decide what to do. Sometimes there is just no other choice the vet had told me, as he explained the incident of an expensive colt, he had had to put down at one time due to a history of choke. Ahhh life. It is just never easy. But for now, I will let the saga continue and watch it all carefully, with apprehension, but moreover with love and prayer...in Jesus' Name.



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