A Rattlesnake bit my baby's nose - continued 4

Beginning of this whole horrific episode here

As I picked up the phone to call DVM Dr. Randy Ward   of Powder River Vet Clinic concerning  Ebonys prairie rattlesnake bite, I didnt even bother to take off my boots at the door - I stood at the counter, and had to dial the number twice that Mr. Foresterman left ...sometimes your fingers do things independently of your brain when you are teetering on "have to think quick AND smart" overload. However, the minute he answered the phone, I already felt a sense of relief - he answers his own phone!   Not only was he friendly, but he had a very calming influence as I relayed what health status information I had on Ebony.  He also had the habit of thinking out loud, which in these type of situations is very helpful - you can walk through the process with them as they come to a conclusion on what they would think would be medically best.  But in the end, it was still my decision to trailer baby in, or have  Dr. Randy come out - he left that to me, and therein lies the heart of an excellent vet - one who helps you help your animal.  

He did confirm that he was busy with the A.I. coming in and couldnt be at our place earlier then 3:30...It was now pushing almost 12:30 pm and the sun was pounding down. Even if we left in the next 10 minutes, we wouldnt be there until about 2:15, as you cant go faster then 45 mph on these loose red gravel roads with ranging cows,  and if youre hauling a sick horse, you better not go 45 mph or you'll have to scrape him off the floor of trailer...and we are talking a 44 mile stretch of loose red gravel road, no asphalt.  If it was colic, like Dr. Randy said, go for it as you might bounce that intestine back in place or move things right along literally speaking right out the back end of them - but respiratory issues on miles of red dust are another thing.  He explained the symptomatic responses of a prairie rattler snake bite and how rarely a horse dies from the bite itself, as its the swelling muzzle that cuts off air supply thats a danger... and at that point we were starting to come to the same agreement that this bite on babys muzzle must have happened in the early morning hours, and he must be at the pinnacle of swelling right now - which could be good because he did not have his nostrils swollen to the point of closure yet. Or will he?  

And so I had another hard decision to make - trailer in or wait?

Swelling makes the nostrils almost dissappear in this photo

 After a few more questions and prompt, thoughtful answers, I decided that we were NOT going to trailer him in ; but watch him closely until Dr. Randy could come here. And so it was further in our conversation that I asked him if he could also vet our pony and update her vaccinations for the next year too when he came...this is how mentally calm I became the more we talked, with this vet's "stall-side" manner - I could think straight.  A good vet helps you help your animal - gives you the explained medical information you need to in order to make educated decisions... but a great vet also has a good attitude and manner, that puts not only the animal at ease, but the animal owner at ease, no matter what the circumstance.  I felt good about this second hard decision after I hung up the phone...

So now we had to wait. and watch.

Being on standby for hours was kind of unnerving - I ACTUALLY BAKED an angel food cake during this time, peeking out every few minutes to see Ebony's back end sticking out of the loafing shed, Sally the girlfriend pony sleeping nearby.   If he were to suffocate at this point, I was aware that theres a 5 minute window of time a horse can be without oxygen before death, and I understood how important it was for me to check on him every few minutes if he went down - in case an emergency tracheostomy needed to be done.  That same tube you would use for the swelling nostrils could be used for this - and very sharp pointed sturdy scissors can be used in place of a knife - this last chance act procedure involves grasping their air tract above the v on their chest, cutting the skin vertically, then cutting into their air tract between the rings horizontally, inserting the tube - definitely a last chance act...and since we had recently moved, I didnt have any Banamine on hand for pain and swelling, but did have some oral bute tablets for the same thing - both of these are prescriptions and most vets will not dispense that easily to horse owners, especially if they live in a populated region where a vet is only 10 - 20 minutes away (but we dont anymore!)- but Ebony was not interested in chewing anything at that point, too swollen, so I just didnt dare risk fighting trying to get it in. In fact, this whole episode just reminded me of how being prepared is definitely nine tenths of the law of emergency procedures - especially when I rely on being versed for emergencies for our own job in the woods! In hindsight I wish I had some oral paste tubes of  Banamine, as I think that would have possibly worked out okay, dosing one tube to make him a bit more comfortable before vet help  (as far as injectables go, they are great for emergency use if you are comfortable with hitting the triangle just right, but anytime you break skin you can introduce bacteria, dealing with abscesses, infection etc. gotta be a clean freak, and you have to make sure you do not hit a vein, that will kill them right there on the spot) - so guess who is reviewing everything they have on hand for equine emergencies?  I plan on doing another checklist now at least once a year to make sure we have what we need on hand, not just for the horses but for the small animals we have too...

So, since I am not domesticated, baking a cake was like the sure sign that I WAS in distress in all of this (Mr. Foresterman was now worried that I was worried about Ebony worrying) - just thinking about having to do an emergency trach on  Baby made me bake - when it involves using the oven, thats extreme distress on my part. But at this point the most important thing we could do to help was keeping him calm, and quiet, which why we DID NOT HANG around him - no matter how much controlled we were on the outside, horses can sense when you worry ; its a given. Letting him have a sense of normalcy without interference keeps a horses heart rate down and with us knowing that he likes to take naps in the early afternoon (how important it is to know their days off "schedule" !!) we let him be. Sometimes as humans we just feel if we do enough everything will be better, and that we are in control of the universe - but this was one of the times that waiting, and backing off was the best thing to do - Ebony was sponged, fly sprayed, and let be in the shade, totally unaware of the feral baking woman with burnt forearms from the bake oven rack peeking through the screen door every few minutes. The most important issue though is that he actually was able to rest, lowering his stress level and heart rate so that the venom wouldnt spread faster and further, until Dr. Randy could come with DMSO for the swelling, Tetanus and Penicillin for preventing infection, and of course Banamine for the pain/swelling. No anti-venom. I'll explain why in the next post -

 and so we waited.

continued finale


  1. what a great mama you are to that horse baby!

  2. You really need to know a lot about horses to own one, don't you?

    This is edge of the chair reading!

  3. i'm relieved you didn't trailer him. i was worried about the stress on his body and his respiratory system. and again, i like this new/unseen vet!

  4. Very interesting story and I can't wait to read the end! We have rattlesnakes up in our mountains where I board my horses and the ranch owner keeps an eye out for them! I've had 3 non-poisonous snakes emerge from the water faucet next to the room where I store my tack and she did see a sidewinder one time, but she has 5 dogs and snakes don't stay long! I'm proud of you for remaining so calm...I'm sure I would be a basket case!

  5. I'm with Cheryl Ann, you sound so calm...I'm betting you had a bit of excelerated heart rate yourself.Well I'm sure hoping the next post is great news.

  6. Feral you are very strong and when I am stressed I bake too. Your vet sounds wonderful. I have had good and not so good vets and you are right on what to look for. I am still praying for Ebony. B

  7. ... and so we wait...
    Good decision, by the way, to not trailer.
    I want you on my side in stressful situations. I love angel food cake.

  8. SOunds like you are the girl to have around in an emergency! One random thought , But tabs can be crushed and sort of disolved in water (screaming hot water) then let it cool , if banamine paste would have been tolerated a slurry of ground up bute might have worked as well .Not saying you should or could have done anything different , just a thought , that formed reading this. After all if we can learn from each others experiences, it all helps

  9. And you made a cake??? wow , just wow !

  10. fernvalley_ I thought of that too, but the reason the vets use banamine and not bute for a rattler bite is that bute has the tendency to suppress white blood cells, what they need to fight off infection from the dirty fangs...and the cake? it was either that or some other household chore to keep my body away from ebony so he wouldnt get nervous off of my nervous energy lol we did sit down afterward with Dr. Randy and had strawberries on top - it actually turned out pretty good except for it kind of stuck to the bottom of the pan...but it was edible with the strawberries!

  11. We always feel so helpless when our animals are in distress. I'm glad you have a vet you can speak freely with.

    Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and leavng a thoughtful comment. I truly appreciate it! :)

  12. Hope the horses are feeling better.

  13. Wow just read the story of this, pretty scary! That sounds like a good vet to have around, and the decision not to trailer was probly the right one, cant wait to hear how it turned out.


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