Note: Years ago I had a blog detailing my experiences, as a horse newbie, learning how to be a horse owner. I knew nothing about horses, and Metro was absolutely the wrong horse to be learning on.This was long before Metro learned how to paint. So I am going to periodically incorporate some of those old posts into this new blog. This was originally published in 2010.
We have always had dogs or cats, more recently cats, and have made several trips to veterinarian. You make an appointment, show up at the appointed time and sit in the waiting room for a half hour waiting for them to call your pets name.
Well we have a cat named Puss-Puss, who we always sign in under her alias, Sadie, because I am not going to stand up in front of everyone in the waiting room, when the teenage girl in the smock comes through the door and yells PUSS-PUSS!
At the small animal clinic the only real concern you have is keeping your cat under control, so a fight doesn’t break out in the waiting room with the other cats.
With a horse, you can’t throw your horse in the back seat of your car, drive to the vet and sit in the waiting room with other owners and their horses.
An equine vet has to come out to see you. They usually charge you $50-$60 just to drive out, and if you can get through a vet visit for less then $200, consider yourself lucky.
We had a vet come out to do an examination on Metro within the first couple of days. We knew he had issues, and we wanted to find out what they were, so we could address them, and get Metro feeling better.
That was big mistake #2. If you are thinking about getting a horse, always get the vet exam BEFORE you bring him home.
Dr. Wiles showed up about an hour late, which we would find out is about the norm for an equine vet, and I proudly led out my shiny new horse for inspection.
Dr. Wiles proceeded to do his walk around on my pride and joy, pointing out every flaw like I was trying to sell him a my used Pinto.
He pointed out 2 scars on the back of each leg where he had had previous surgeries on his knees.
He squeezed each knee and informed me that he had bone chips. I had already known that he had knees like Joe Namath.
Metro also coughed a lot when he when he eats. We would find out later that he had surgery at sometime during his racing career to open up his airway and get more air to his lungs, but it was a little overdone so his airway is always open causing food to get into his lungs.
This also resulted in him making these grunting sounds when he has to work at anything harder then a walk. He is not struggling, that is just the way he breathes. He grunts.
The Doc told me Metro was way under weight, which was probably the result of having an ulcer, he didn’t have a scope with him to tell me if Metro had an ulcer for sure, but he would be more then happy to sell me the treatment, GastroGard, at $50 a tube. Apparently it is made with liquid gold. I would need to give him one tube a day for 30 days. With my 6th grade education, I did the ‘ciphering in my head, that’s $1500!!!
He removed the three remaining shoes Metro had, one of which was just hanging on by a nail, and took Metro into the arena to run him around in circles on a 22 foot line.
Watching Metro trot in a circle, even the untrained eye of a ‘newbie’ like myself could tell something was not right. He was lame.
Before I owned a horse, ‘lame’ was when the DJ played an Air Supply song on my classic rock station.
When you own a horse, ‘lame’ has a different meaning… he had a limp.
Then the vet did something that I had only heard about in urban legend. I had heard stories of this rural ritual called “Cow Tipping”, but growing up in the “burbs”, I had never witnessed it for myself.
He got a running start, slammed into my horse, and tried to knock him over. At first Metro had a look of shock on his face, that he was trying to be tipped like a cow. But by the third time, Metro just looked a the vet and just gave him a “Dude…. what IS your problem?” look.
After the exam Doc Wiles gave me the run down on everything wrong with my horse.
Possible neurological problems(balance)….Check
Then he said….. THE WRONG THING.
“These ‘cheap’ claiming horses don’t get the best of care”
Cheap claiming horse? This is METRO METEOR… stakes horse… winner of $300,000…once consider one of the best turf sprinters on the East Coast…son of City Zip…Nephew of Ghostzapper, the horse of the year!!!! I can watch the Kentucky Derby on TV and point out no less then 5 entered jockeys that have had this beautiful horse underneath them…. and YOU just called him a cheap claiming horse?
On the inside…..
On the outside…..I said nothing.
At that time, the Doc presented me with 5 tubes of liquid gold, GastroGard, to start treatment on his unknown ulcer, a can of Bute, to cure what ails Metro, and my first Equine vet bill of $600.
He then got into his truck, which I had just made the next payment on, and headed off down the the long gravel drive.
Good riddance Doc, you will never touch my horse again, because Metro and I don’t like you.
It was a big night. Metro was getting turned out in the big pasture with the other horses. For the first couple of days he was by himself in a small paddock sized pasture until he got acclimated to his new surroundings. I led him out to the large pasture and he walked like he was on hot coals. This has probably been the first time in years he had not had shoes on his feet.
I got him inside the large pasture, took of his halter, and turned him loose. He pranced around with his tail high in the air, letting out long snorts of air because he was unsure of where he was.
Then he stopped and looked around at all the room he had to run.
That’s when the fuse burned to the end, and the rocket took off.
Metro sprinted the 300 or so yards to the the other end of the pasture, made a wide sweeping turn and sprinted back to come to a sliding stop right in front of me. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.
Cheap claiming horse…my ass.