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Scott Paulsen

Playing Doctor

Playing Doctor

Got to play doctor this morning.

Not the good kind. The horse kind.

One of our horses has been limping around on a lame front left foot for a couple of weeks. During the weekly meeting of the Saturday Stable Drinking Society, it was tabled, voted and approved that the problem is a hoof abscess. In between rounds, the Chairman of the Hay proclaimed a steady diet of foot soaking, followed by rest and drugs would be in order.

I think she meant all those items for the horse, although one can never be sure before checking the meeting notes.

An abscess is a small boil or blister that grows under the horse’s hoof, the big toenail situation down there at the end of the leg. Sorry to so technical, but, as I mentioned, I have been a doctor.

This build up of fluid usually finds its way to the surface in a matter of days. In this case it’s been a couple of weeks and the horse is not too happy. So, after a plan of action was tabled and approved by the Saturday Stable Drinking Society, it was put into action.

This morning, with the wife at work, the doctoring was left to me.

Trust me, if there had been anyone else…

The trick is get a horse to place his front foot in a bucket of warm water, mixed with Epsom salts and keep it there for fifteen to twenty minutes. To help the patient relax, we’ve acquired a tube of Phenylbutizone, a horsey downer. Get him to open his mouth, squirt some in, hope he doesn’t spit it into your hair and get on with the doctoring.

Sounds easy.

The process of feeding the horse his tranq, I have estimated, creates a situation whereby I could ingest a small amount, say, if my mouth was open when he spit his dose out.

If I wanted to use that excuse.

So far, I haven’t, but...

Bute ingested, pale filled, I got the big boy to pick his foot up and place it into the bucket. By telling him many tales about all my odd friends and relatives, I got him to stand still for nearly fifteen minutes.

Just like when I did stand up.

I talked.

The audience fell asleep.

After the soaking, Madge the beautician alerts her customer she’s been soaking in dishwashing liquid and we all have a big laugh. Then, I dry his hoof, coat it top and bottom with a rancid black goo nemed Ichthemol, which feels and smells like it sounds, and wrap his foot in a diaper.

Yes, a diaper.

His hoof has to stay clean and relatively dry to allow the ichthamol to do its thing. The best way to achieve this, so the Saturday Stable Drinking Society decided, was to swathe the babe in a Huggies.

So there I was, in the grocery store, staring at the immense selection of disposable diapers. I am not a father. I have no offspring. I have never changed a diaper. I have, in fact, never been in the diaper aisle.

I must have looked the part, because as I was staring at the, literally, dozens of choices, a woman rolled her cart beside and offered some advice. “Need some help?” she asked. I said sure. She offered help. “How old is he?” she asked, then caught herself and added, “I didn’t ask. Boy or girl?”

That was a tough one. Technically, he is a boy, but his main boy attributes were lost some time ago. I almost said “gelded”, but then decided to make my life as simple as possible and answered, “He’s a boy.”

“Well,” she said. “How old is he?”

“Ohh,” I answered. “Eleven or so.”

She rolled away, quickly.

I wondered what she would have done if I’d told her his weight.

Deciding on some Luvs that looked big enough to wrap a horse’s foot, I made my way home. Thanks to the pull tab, peel and stick, idiot proof design, I’d pretty much covered myself in black, sticky Ichthamol by the time it was time to put the big boy in his stall.

I threw the old diaper into the trash, and, seeing a pile of used diapers, each smeared with black tar-like goo that smelled of an oil refinery, I imagined the bag breaking as the trash men hauled our remains away the following morning.

“My God,” the guy would comment. “What on Earth are they feeding this kid?”

Hopefully, in a few days, his abscess will show its ugly head, it will drain and he’ll be able to run around like it never happened. In the meantime, if you need anyone to show you how to put a diaper on a horse’s foot, you know where to turn.

I said “foot”.

I don’t think they make disposable diapers big enough for the other use.


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