Trudy Andrew | Canadian Author

Pony Tails


Saving Grandma

Getting nutritious food into little, old Grandma was my first and foremost goal. It wasn’t easy, and this was in the years before senior horse feeds became popular. Whatever I fed her, had to come from experimenting with different feeds, and seeing what she liked. Because she was so starved, I couldn’t give her too much to eat either. I surely didn’t want her to colic, and as horses can’t upchuck, I had to be exceedingly careful with what I fed her. At first it wasn’t too big of a problem. Grandma was too spent, too weak to eat. It just seemed to be too much of an effort, for the little, old lady. The gruel part of the warm mashes I made, were something that she could handle. If I held the feed tub up so her nose was touching it, she would sip it up.
To take advantage of that, I fed her little bits, several times a day.
After a couple of days, she began to actually eat some of the mash, which greatly raised my hopes. When she began to pick away at soft hay, even more so. I truly began to believe that, Grandma was going to make it.
There was also Hippy to see to. She wasn’t as painfully emaciated as Grandma was, but she surely wasn’t in good flesh either. Where I didn’t dare deworm Grandma, out of fear of creating a massive parasite die-off, I did deworm Hippy with a moderate dewormer.
The little pinto had no training whatsoever, and I worked on halter breaking her. As terrified as she was of people, she thankfully loved food … a lot. No matter what, I could always coax her over with feed, then snap on the lead. For as hard as she was to work with, I was incredibly pleased with the little horse. No matter how I pressured her, no matter how much I got into her space, she never once kicked, struck or bit. I had the makings of a good pony on my hands.
Grandma on the other hand, was in far too poor shape to do anything with. Dry hide hung over protruding bones. Simply looking at her, pained my very being. Still, as the days slowly passed, she began to eat, and even softly nickered when she saw me. Things were looking up, and then they suddenly weren’t. Both Hippy and Grandma had to be treated for lice, as soon as I got them, as they’d both been infested. I was keeping a close eye on it, and had concerns about Grandma that weren’t quite the same as Hippy. Since Hippy had been dewormed, any live lice feeding on her, would’ve been killed. Not so with Grandma. I kept checking multiple times a day, for any signs of the little beggers. I treated both ponies multiple times, just to be sure.
By now it was well into spring, late spring, and Grandma’s coat was still thick, full of dandruff and exceedingly dull. Running a curry comb over her skeletal frame was cringeworthy, and I avoided it. The most I dared use was a dandy brush, a soft dandy brush at that. The coat that didn’t want to drop, suddenly came off in thick clumps that revealed bare skin. When I say bare skin, I mean bare, not a hair to be seen. That coat finally began to come off, only to leave poor Grandma, as bald as could be. Then the sores started. Dry, scabby sores that covered her whole body. Not that this was a huge surprise, the pony was incredibly undernourished. Her skin was a reflection of her health, or lack of it. The biggest problem was that it was getting warm out, and with the warmth came bugs. I had to help her heal, and keep her from being tormented and bitten by all manner of insects. Thankfully, I had an old recipe from way back when that helped rain scald, ringworm or any sort of skin problem. I made up a big batch, slathered that little horse from tip to tail, and she healed within a few days. Sure, she looked ever so filthy until it wore away, but when her new coat began to grow in, it was super soft and healthy.
Some of those old time farmers, really knew what they were doing, I’ll give them that. Their secret recipe, healed little, old Grandma.

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About Trudy Andrew

Trudy Andrew lives on a small farm just east of Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she enjoys her Morgan horses. A dreamer since she was a child, its no surprise to those who know her well that her imagination would find an outlet in writing, as it has in the past through artwork.
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 Oakbank, MB