Falcon was standing alone in the field, which in itself is not a strange thing as this particular thoughtful, dreamy horse often lets the herd drift away while he occupies his own little world. What was strange was that he had been in the same place for hours, and the herd was no where to be seen. I noticed without really noticing – the farm hummed with life and productivity, we were working outside with the animals, the grass was beginning to grow, and the sun was warm on our skin. A friend of mine was visiting and wandered out to the rock pile in the middle of the field to meditate. She was drawn to visit Falcon, and came back immediately. “That horse is bleeding!”
I rushed out to him, realizing now why he had been hovering in my periphery, and saw a terrible gash at his hock joint. The blood was dripping but not flowing. When he moved away, his face was strained and his gait painful. And I could see hard, shiny, white bone peeking out of the cut with each step.
When facing a crisis, or potential crisis, I find I go immediately to worst-case-scenario. It seems to help me to think clearly, to go to the most dreaded thing and work backward, so that I can accept the possibilities and use the process of elimination to know what I have to do. I’m sure I could do this the other way around and work from the best-case-scenario, which might be less alarming, but I just don’t. So when I saw bone – which pushed through the wound and gaped and ground with each step – and the pain on his face, I thought – right, might have to call the neighbour to bring his rifle. Sorry folks, that’s what life at the outskirts has done to me. That’s worst-case-scenario. Of course, this was extreme in any case. But what if he’d broken or ripped something internally? Were we set up to deal with something that serious?
When I called the vet (who took a bit of time to get back to me on Easter Sunday), she talked me through the signs and helped me determine that a) I saw bone because bone was there, just under the surface of the cut, and it did not mean anything besides the fact that he had bones and had been cut on top of one; b) if he could walk at all there was no need to think about shooting him so don’t even go there; and c) so long as it stayed cool and the bugs weren’t bad, there wasn’t much to do besides hose him down, which he would never allow, so actually just leave him be and observe for signs of infection.
This had happened all too recently, when three horses – including Falcon – had all been attacked by the boar while we were out for the day. And we had learned then the power of staying out of the process, sitting on our hands and dealing with the anxiety ourselves, instead of putting it on the horses. We had learned how thoroughly a body can heal without any intervention, and the inherent intelligence of both the horse and its body in directing that healing. As my friend wondered aloud, “but shouldn’t you be doing something? How can he be okay like this?”, I found myself asking the same questions again.
I tried to bring him in to rest in the barnyard, where he wouldn’t be forced to move by the herd and we could keep him well fed. I spent more time than I care to admit with a halter on him, coaxing and pushing and harassing him to come with me so that I could feel like I was doing something. He adamantly refused, and I had to admit that my idea wasn’t really any better than his. He could stay in the big field with his herd and move when he wanted to. We took enough hay and spread it out that he could have some without being pushed off, and buckets of water spread out similarly. And we waited.
Believe it or not, this is how I have “solved” most horse injuries over the years. Water and food placed strategically to minimize unnecessary movements, freedom to move at will if desired, and no separation from the herd, which can cause stress and pacing. The body and spirit stay strong, and the damaged part knits itself back together with that incredible persistence and resourcefulness all living things possess.
Once Falcon started moving again with more ease, I could see this was more or less a repeat of January’s ordeal – though why Falcon had been hurt again, and how, might be another story to unravel with him in the future. Given freedom and minimal stress, Falcon was able to stop the bleeding, scab over, and put on new tissue across the gaping wound. He was moving normally and rejecting offers of wound treatment, anti-bacterials, and most homeopathy besides the occasional pellet of Arnica. So far, so good.
But because of the location of this wound, Falcon was putting on proudflesh. This was something we tried to avoid with the last bunch of wounds, and Amalia showed me her method of abrading the granulation to prevent its build-up. Now he had a softball-sized lump under the wound and a stubborn pink substance bridging the gap where his hide was still parted. We waited to see if it could resolve itself – he seemed to be abrading it with his muzzle – but weeks, then months passed, with no improvement.
My mother felt it was time to intervene and wrote to our homeopath, who has treated our family for over 25 years. She suggested Silicea, at 200cc. Twice a day for a week, then a week off, and then another week on if needed.
Falcon happily ate the pellets when stuck into some apple or carrot, but then I had to bring enough for the rest of the horses and sort of choreograph the whole situation based on their varying ranges of bossiness. Falcon, being the least-bossy, is the hardest to give something nice to when everyone is present. So I tried offering just the homeopathic pellets, which the other horses quickly lost interest in – while Falcon, after a long, thoughtful snuff, would lift them out of my palm with delicacy and caution (the pellets are smaller than peppercorns), and crunch them up enthusiastically.
In that first week we saw the wound start to close again and the swelling decrease significantly, after weeks of it not appearing to change. Even more fascinating, the next week when we did not offer him any Silicea showed even more rapid healing.
We did offer him another week of treatment, which he accepted, and since then have offered the remedy to him ad hoc. Sometimes he shows interest, and even if he doesn’t manage to grab it out of my hand he allows me to slip it into his cheek. But other times he refuses it or simply isn’t interested and is left alone.
The gap in his flesh has finally closed, but the lump remains. We now need to offer him something to reabsorb the excess fluid and tissue, if that’s what his body wants. If the lump is here to stay, it really does not affect anything (other than our human egos in wanting to have completely “solved” this case). It is up to Falcon to determine what, if anything, happens next. And I’ll make sure I update this page if and when when it does.