Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Noble Update and Not Every Story Belongs to Me

Noble is doing well - he ate all his fine-stemmed hay last night and chowed down on a large quantity of soaked beet pulp/senior feed this morning. After I turned him out, he marched off to have a drink of water. A bit later I saw him cribbing on the fence. Noble used to be a terrible cribber, inside and out, but now only occasionally cribs and only out in dry lot. I was actually glad to see him cribbing, since he hasn't done it for several weeks, which supports my suspicion that something in his mouth was hurting and is now feeling a bit better. The vet called with his blood results - everything looked very good. His liver and kidney tests were completely normal, and his white and red counts were only a very slight bit low, but within normal ranges. She said there was nothing at all there to indicate a problem. It's nice to have good news like this with a horse his age!

Now here's the interesting thing - the vet - the same one I had some issues with yesterday - had kept her word and run Noble's blood tests immediately, was very nice on the phone and seemed genuinely pleased that Noble's results were so good. And then I read something on another blog that got me thinking - the quote that caught my eye and thoughts was "not every story belongs to me." It occurs to me that in every human/human, or for that matter human/horse interaction, that there are two stories, one for each participant, and if you were to ask both to tell their stories, they might give a different perspective on the whole thing.

And thinking about this also made me remember the difficulties I used to have with my farrier. I was having some trouble with him when he was working on Maisie - she was very uncooperative, and we knew that some of this was pain related due to some back issues, and, as we later found out, foot pain. My farrier's approach to this was to manhandle her and even hit her when she wasn't compliant, which didn't improve things. I told him in no uncertain terms that this was unacceptable to me. I wasn't sure that I could keep using him (farriers are hard to come by at a small barn like ours) but was willing to give it a try. I also made it clear that I would do everything I could training- and handling-wise to help her behave. He listened to me and figured out some ways to hold her feet that made it easier for her (and him). And after her bout with laminitis, she actually seems to appreciate having her feet done and has been very cooperative. I appreciate his willingness to listen and try to change what he was doing. His story was legitimate - she was being a beast to work with - but my story was legitimate, too - I didn't want my horse hit, both because I don't like my horses treated that way and because I don't think it works very well.

Now, back to that vet. Let's imagine her story for a moment - we may not get it right but it's worth the effort to think about it. She was fairly young and probably not that experienced. She was somewhat abrupt and not calming, but I think that's partly her personality and partly that she hasn't yet learned how to be calm with the horses. She was in a hurry, since Noble had been added to her schedule just the day before - and no one at the vet practice had troubled to write that down on her schedule although they told me they would. He was very uncooperative - he often is for the vet - but I knew I could manage to help him cooperate enough to get the job done and she had no reason to know that and resorted to the short-cut coercive technique she had learned. (Many people do these things, in my opinion, because they don't know how to do anything else.) She was probably frustrated and may have felt that she looked bad for having trouble with him, and worse because I objected to the way she was handling him. She may not have been sure that she could get the job done at that point. At one point I told her that I needed her to work with me on this, and I think she listened to that. When I helped hold his head, she was able to do what needed doing and her judgments weren't bad ones. Next time I see her, on an emergency call or otherwise, I think my best course of action will be to be clear about what is OK in terms of her interactions with the horses, and to be as calm and steady as I can. I will still speak to Dr. Ana about which regular vet we should use, but I'd like to figure out a way to work with this young vet as well - I don't think she's a bad person at heart and her story is her own.


  1. I think that's very fair of you to consider her side of the story, Kate. Maybe you just need to have a little talk with her, just like you did with the farrier. Also, a lot of people see nothing wrong with being forceful with horses, but that doesn't mean they're not willing to change their manner if a client brings it to their attention.

  2. First of all, you know your horse better than the vet does. Noble does not deserve improper treatment because she is running late or whatever.
    There is a practice in this area that gives a bonus to the vet who brings in the most bucks each month. If you don't know much about horses, they take you for a real ride. I have questioned many things and have changed my tune on what shots they get and worming. Over worming has really messed things up now, and it is not working. You are your horses best advocate...go for it.

  3. There may be two sides to every story and I'm glad to hear you and the farrier worked it out. But Noble is an older horse and deserves to be respected by any one who is treating him, whether they're having a bad day or not. Over the years I've become tired of putting up with people treating my horses badly at times and I don't care who they are I just don't take it anymore. In as nice a way as possible I always get my point across about how my horses deserve to be treated.

  4. You are infinitely wise and generous to look at "your story" from both sides. Not many people are able to do that. We all get so caught up in our perception of things we forget that everyone may not see things the way we do.

    I think you will be able to establish a good relationship with this vet if you decide to. Apparently she cared enough to run those tests quickly, well aware of how important Noble's well being was to you...and to Noble himself.

  5. Growth is what we are here for, sometimes we all forget that and think of ourselves as finished products.

    It's insightful of you to relook at this, however sometimes your first impression is remarkable accurate.

    She may have a story, you may have something to teach, and it all may still not be the right thing for horse or humans. It's always a balancing act - listening and being open vs. drawing lines and maintaining integrity of your actions.

    Balance is always toughest in the moment, isn't it?

  6. I'm learning a lot from you and your blogging, and not all of it is about horses. Good for you for looking deeper into your experience with this new vet. You're right, there are always 2 sides. By looking from her viewpoint you may find a way to build a good working relationship with this vet.

    There is never any excuse for rough treatment, but the definition of "rough" varies. My vet can get tough when she feels like she's losing control, so I'm learning to set things up for success by taking charge myself as much as possible. I've even offered (and she's accepted) some calming herbs for all-it made both of us chuckle, and the pony behaved well because the vibes were more relaxed.

    Merry Christmas!

  7. Your observations are so poignant. Thank you for writing about them. Yes, every interaction has more than one story, and it is so easy not to know this. I like your realization, and it has caused me to realize it, too. It is like being reminded to walk cautiously...

    Merry Christmas and thanks for sharing the wonder of your horses!


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