Thursday, November 29, 2007

Stick It In Your Eye

I spent the better part of the days before Thanksgiving teaching my horse Scout to let me poke him in the eye with my finger. It’s always his eyes, for some reason. There was the time he ripped his lower eyelid in two, and had to wear this goofy mask to prevent him from rubbing his stitches out as they healed. (Healing stitches are itchy!) He also had to be in a paddock by himself to prevent his horse friends from pulling his mask off for him.

Then there was the time his eye swelled and started weeping. This happens once in a while, and soaking his eye with cold water usually takes care of it, but on this occasion he continued to hold his eye at half mast even after the swelling went down. The vet found an ulcerated cornea, and Scout spent five days in the hospital having antibiotic cream squirted in his eye every hour to heal it.

This time when Scout’s eye didn’t get better with soaking, I was relieved to hear the vet couldn’t find any ulcers, so she prescribed an eye cream containing steroids, applied to Scout’s eyeball once a day for three to five days.

I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to apply eye cream to a horse’s eye ball, but let me tell you that Scout can get his head over eight feet in the air and keep it there to avoid cream in his eye. And how do you explain to a horse that a) the application of cream on his eye ball really won’t hurt, despite the alarming prospect of a finger full of cream in the eye, and b) it really will make him feel better in just a few days?

Scout knows the head-down cue really well (why he needed to learn to put his head down on command without fail is another story for another day), so we went with that, me putting my cream filled finger over his eye, then asking him to put his head down. As soon as he did, I took my finger away, so that eventually he understood that all he had to do to make the finger go away was hold his head down. Then, when he least expected it, wham! My finger-full-of-cream poked him in the eye. Once this was done, we did more fingers near the eye, head down work so that he got the idea that he wouldn't always get poked, and in the end forgot about the poke all together.

This all worked, sort of. Scout’s eye is all better. My right shoulder, (the one I used to keep my fingers on a flailing horse's head, eight feet in the air) is still sore, but I think it will be all right. And I am delighted to be able to look Scout in the eye rather than poke my finger in it.


PB said...

This is an amazing and entertaining story!

Troy said...

I wouldn't let you poke me in the eye either!