Handling a horse emergency ere the cock crowed—ridiculously loudly

Handling a horse emergency ere the cock crowed—ridiculously loudly

Dr. Dustin helps a mare recover from a retained placenta—and solves a decade-old mystery in the process.
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Mar 12, 2018

Cock-a-doodle—"Dude, can't you stop for one second?" (Shutterstock.com)Dr. Dustin McElwee could hardly hear what the man was saying on the phone. Emergency calls on a Sunday are hard enough to stomach, but when a rooster is crowing so loudly in the background that it sounds like it’s sitting on the caller’s shoulder—well, you know it’s gonna be a long afternoon.

The fella on the phone said he owned the best roping mare in the world, but he didn’t have a trailer. How did he even know the horse was good if he couldn’t take it anywhere? Anyway … the man reported that the mare had had a baby 12 hours earlier and the afterbirth was still hanging down from behind. This was the best Dustin could gather between 100-decibel rooster crows.

The man wanted Dustin to drive 95 miles to remove the afterbirth. The good doctor had another emergency an hour in the other direction, and driving that far to work on a mare that lived in a chicken coop was probably not going to be productive anyway. Dustin told the fella to borrow a trailer from a friend as soon as he could and head to our clinic in Lamesa, Texas.

The man continued rambling, but the rooster prohibited any further communication, so Dustin suggested the destitute mare owner seek refuge from the obnoxious bird. A few minutes later the story continued to unfold.

“The mare had a beautiful filly with two socks and a star,” said the owner. “We don’t know exactly when the baby was born, but it had to be sometime after 10 o’clock last night because Billy Bob checked on her and everything was OK. About 5 this morning, I went out and there she was, a beautiful baby girl with legs just like her mama’s. But that confounded afterbirth was hanging out like a second tail on the mare, so I tied a brick to it and shooshed her off across the pasture.

“I figured the added weight of a brick would pull that thing on out, but it didn’t,” he continued. “So when she came back around after a good long jog, I tied a bigger brick to it and shooshed her off again—still nothing. On the third lap, I tied both bricks and a plow shank to it and shooshed her off for a third lap—still nothing. That’s when I decided to call you. But it took me awhile to find your number, and I had to cook some spareribs because Otis is coming in from out of town this evening. “

Billy Bob? Otis? Dustin was beginning to see the writing on the wall. At about 10 p.m. this guy was going to finally find a trailer and show up in Lamesa with a buddy named Billy Bob and a visitor named Otis. Sure enough, that’s exactly what happened.

At 10:15, they pulled into the parking lot of the clinic. Dustin immediately noticed that the beautiful filly was, in fact, a colt. The group included four generations of rooster-raising rednecks. Otis turned out to be the son, Billy Bob the grandson, and Billy Bob, of course, had brought his son. The trailer looked vaguely familiar to Dustin’s keen eye. Only Dustin McElwee can remember every horse and every trailer he’s ever seen.

“Looks like you found a trailer. Where’d you get it?” asked Dustin with a squinted eye aimed at the white CM trailer.

“I borrowed it from Dino, the fella who lives three lots down at the trailer park,” replied rooster man.

Dustin went to work helping out the old swaybacked mare. He had just been to a CE conference that had detailed a new way to remove a retained placenta on a mare by going through the umbilical vein. He was excited to see if it would work and immediately set about going through the steps he had learned.

The questions came rapid-fire from the four generation of chicken-roping horse raisers. They all asked questions at the same time, and before Dustin could answer, they were all asking another question. He just decided to ignore them and get the mare fixed up. The procedure worked out beautifully. The CE seminar had been worth the money—the placenta slid right out, even after having hauled two bricks and a plow shank around a five-acre pasture.

When it came out, the four generations of toothless observers went wild, like fans at a NASCAR race after their number 42 car won the Daytona. Dustin found himself celebrating with them. But still, something about that trailer bothered him. He told the guys he needed to keep the mare at the clinic for the night and flush her out again tomorrow. They all agreed that would be a good idea and they went merrily on their way back home.

At some point in the night Dustin remembered where he had seen that trailer. About 10 years ago, when he had first come to Lamesa, he had seen that trailer. It had belonged to me, and someone stole it when it was parked in front of the clinic. I reported it missing, but it was never seen again. Dustin got the serial number off of it and checked with the police. Sure enough, it was the one.

The check the rooster man wrote for services rendered that Sunday night bounced like a rubber ball. It took him 10 days to find another trailer to come get the mare since there was no way we were gonna let him have ours to take her back home.

Dino, of course, denied any knowledge of wrongdoing and swore he bought the trailer for $200 from a guy named Steve.

In the end, everything turned out OK. The mare and baby lived, we got our trailer back after 10 years, and Dustin had a great story to tell for the rest of his life.

Bo Brock, DVM, owns Brock Veterinary Clinic in Lamesa, Texas. His latest book is Crowded in the Middle of Nowhere: Tales of Humor and Healing from Rural America.