Monday, 10 June 2013

Horses for Courses



    *

Lately I’ve been wondering if the ‘truth’ I’ve been recalling in my weekly blog-posts stands up to my ‘stranger than fiction’ testament? Then Lynda Hallinan, Sunday Magazine columnist (one of my favourites), confessed a couple of weekends ago that her husband thinks she sounds like a horse when she pees. And not in a, you could win a red ribbon on show day way, but in a you should put paper in the bowl beforehand way. I was impressed by her ability and by her confidence and willingness to share.

Because sometimes when writing this blog I deliberate for far too long over content that is strange but may or may not be suitable.  Like this…

The other night when I woke at 2.18am (for a pee) I looked out the window to check on a nearby ancient willow tree. Only because this still-standing-but-mainly-dead tree had been smoldering on and off for 36 hours, thanks to the errant flames of a nearby garden fire. Were my half-awake eyes playing tricks on me? Was that a gaggle of hobbits roasting a possum over yonder? Or was the tree in question cheerily aglow in the pitch blackness?

I looked again then nudged my husband. ‘Your tree is glowing. RED.’

It did cross my mind at that point whether I should wake the volunteer fire brigade as well, due to the proximity of this burning tree to our large transformer box. The one with a sign on it which reads, DANGER 20,000 volts DO NOT DIG. But I snuggled back under the duvet as my personal fire fighter stepped out into the night. The outside temperature was cruising around minus 5 degrees Celsius so the hose was frozen solid.

What’s a man to do to get the job done and back to bed? Well this is where being able to pee like an actual horse, not just sound like one, comes in mighty handy.

Talking of horses, recently one of my geldings had not been able to pee like a horse. His sad efforts were more akin to a small boy sitting on the potty. Something was up with his retractable waterworks. Up being the operative word, because his penis wouldn’t come down. All the way. And whatever was going on had caused the surrounding area to swell into almost stallion-like proportions. I felt for him.

To add insult to injury the horse in question is not hung like one. He has what my son charmingly calls a choad. Wiggling my little finger right now. Nuff said. And horse urine is very syrupy so if a horse can’t manage to hit the ground, cleanly, the result is a lot of dried black sticky stuff on legs and belly.

My ever helpful blacksmith arrived the next day.

‘Something’s up with his waterworks,’ I announced. ‘The vet said it’s the change in season. Grass and such. I don’t think so.’

He dropped the hoof he was working on and bent down to inspect. ‘Nah, you’ll need to get that cleaned out. The vet does it. Sedates them. They can get so gummed up they don’t even bother dropping them out to pee.’

‘Eek. What do they wash them with? Some kind of solution?’

‘They used to use Lux Flakes. You need a good equine vet.’

He gave me the number of someone out of town.  I dialed and explained my geldings predicament.

‘The vet isn’t due up your way for a couple of weeks. But you can try washing it yourself.’

Well needs must. So later that afternoon daughter 14 and I headed out armed with a half full bucket of warm soapy water, rubber gloves and an old tea towel.

‘Hold up his front leg,’ I instructed. ‘And if he moves around don’t let go.’

I started cleaning. And gagging. My tea towel came away blackened. My gelding didn’t budge. He must have known his public humiliation was a means to an end. Clean willy =  happy willy. Only my attempts were a bit halfcocked. It was like cleaning a snail tucked into a shell. I picked off black sticky bits and tried not to breath.

‘Why is it that I get all the penis jobs?’ I complained to my husband. ‘Cleaning them ETC ETC. I don’t even have one.’

I found an article on the internet, ‘Horse Sheath Cleaning. This should be done regularly to avoid smegma beans which can be cancerous’.  Seriously? That’s not in my, Care of Horse & Pony (1972).

I fed my gelding some windfall apples; he didn’t seem too perturbed.  Then he twisted his head back towards his tail and scratched his right fetlock (think ankle) with this teeth. I’m sure he would have scratched his willy if he could. Horses for courses I guess.

When the equine vet visited the swelling had subdued. But the poor boy still got the full monty. Glands check, thermometer, then sedation to make him relax himself. His eyes drooped, his front legs splayed. He swayed like an old drunk on his way home from the pub. I hoped he wouldn’t nose dive into the water trough. The vet assured me he wouldn’t go down as she donned her rubber gloves and waited.

‘Does he respond when you whistle?’

‘No,’ I laughed. But don’t because competitive riders train their horses to pee when they whistle.

Finally he relaxed. ‘It smells normal. Lots of smegma, but that’s normal too. Don’t believe what you read, it’s not cancerous. I can feel fat here,’ she said, pinching the folds of his sheath. ‘That’s caused the swelling.’

Post clean the gelding swooned, eyes shut, lower lip hanging, in the recovery pen.

We moved over to horse number two. He’d had me worried after having his tongue out for an inordinately amount of time the day before, like he’d just grown a cancerous tumour on the back of his throat. Turned out that was not the case. However he got the dentist gag, sedation and the battery-powered grinder for a bulbous tooth that had formed in front of a missing molar.

Gelding one looked on almost laughing now. Ha ha, I only got the willy-clean, you got the drill!

Thankfully everything was back to normal when the bill arrived. 250 bucks. I guess sometimes you have to pay, to pee like a horse. And that the truth can be stranger than fiction.

*Saskia Leek: Desk Collection. Go and see it at the Dunedin Art Gallery.

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