Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Those Beautiful Peepers

It seemed that Saxony's tear ducts were becoming blocked again over the last week or 10 days, so I kept her in a fly mask and called the clinic when it became obvious that swelling was happening around her left eye. The eye-care specialist who came to examine Saxony today found altogether something else. Horses, just like people, have so many problems along the way; they just can't say much about them or whine about it. It would be easier if they could.


There, low in her left eye, lurked an indolent ulcer, a white, smokey cloud at the edge of her cornea. It might have been caused by her rubbing her face, but maybe not. There were no foreign bodies to be found, no bit of a burr, speck of dust or twisted eyelash, just the ugly ulcer itself. It hurt to look at it. I suddenly saw the pain she'd been in.

"Her eyes," I sometimes say to myself. "More human than human." Just like the eyes of the replicants in Bladerunner. In that brilliant film, the rogue artificial intelligence behind the robots' eyes always mirrors back a human gaze so perfect and deep, only a machine can detect it's false.

I don't mean to compare her to a robot - it's just that Saxony has such emotive eyes and she's a creature wholly different from me. I'm always arrested by her gaze, look twice and then look again. It's that very expressiveness in her gaze that has made me worry her eyes are vulnerable from the day I met her.

I want to learn as much as possible about anything involving the health of my animals, so I ask a lot of questions and take pictures, if possible, to study later. I didn't do much of either today, I just watched the vet attend to Saxony's eye. All I cared about was that the pain be eliminated. She administered a local anesthetic to immobilize the eyelids and then stained the cornea with the same fluorescein green dye that was used to diagnose Saxony's blocked tear ducts last winter. The dye adhered to the ulcer and revealed ragged edges at its rim.


I learned that protocol for an indolent ulcer is to remove the ragged matter around the rim of the ulcer. That actually increases the size of the ulcer, but it aids the healing process by eliminating the tiny tissue walls blocking the rim. My camera lens is not strong enough to have captured the blood vessels that had grown toward the ulcer in an effort to heal it, but our vet pointed them out to me.

It was a hard day for my girl. She'll receive Atropine once a day to keep her pupil dilated and free of spasm and triple antibiotic ointment three times a day to prevent infection.

I could feel her beautiful peepers fixed on me, even from behind the fly mask, when, after the sedation had worn off, I walked her slowly back to the pasture. I was hoping she knew we had helped her. German muffins? I gave her five.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

That Girl

Astride her today, sitting bareback and still, it seemed I could see 360 degrees around us, and if the 365-day year since I got her were also a circle, I felt I could see almost all of it too, with imperfect but practical vision. It was that kind of day, that kind of hour being back on my mare.

I could detail how it looked, my panoramic view of the year, but I don't think it matters. You live things, they upset you, and then you move on. In the end, you do. I've been through two crazy barns, some ripping heartache and some rage. Big deal. "Through" is the operative word. I can't mine much more from it than that. Only that it would help to know while you're in it that you'll always get through it, but that kind of wisdom proves elusive in times of crisis.

I know I lost moments, though. I could sense the empty spaces of them black and hollow at the periphery of the view from her back. My mare is a year older. I'm a year slower. Someone else had to protect her because I couldn't break free of work. The whole summer I worried, all the while freighting ever more gratitude upon the shoulders of my watchful friend. That was so hard. I can't say in words the toll of it, worrying about an animal you love, one you own. I felt I let her down. I have to say that.