This is an amazing story of dedication and hard work (written by Paulette to show her appreciation!). A month or so ago the usual Sunday morning horse ride set out from the Mariposa heading for the viewpoint over the Masaya Volcano. The group had only been gone about an hour when I got a phone call from Franklin, our organic farmer who also cares for the horses and guides the rides. He was phoning to tell me there had been an accident, none of the riders had been hurt but Lucero or Lucy (as us Anglos call her), had trodden on some broken glass which had completely severed the tendon in one of her back legs (just above the hoof). For those readers who know anything about horses you will know that in general they cannot survive with this kind of injury and , indeed, Franklin said he wanted to prepare me for the probability that she would not live. She might even bleed to death right where she was, out in the campo. He, however, continued with the group on the ride whilst Noel stayed with Lucy. The situation was complicated by the fact that Lucy had gone out accompanied by her 6 month old foal, Junior.
Bergman (our teacher/vet) couldn´t go with me to find Lucy as he had his hands literally inside a dog removing a tumour! So Jason, his son and number one veterinary assistant, found supplies – ie old towels and T-shirts – for an emergency tourniquet and an injection to help stop the bleeding. We raced off on his motorbike to find Lucy who was at the bottom of a steep steep path just the other side of San Juan. It was awful to see blood gushing from her leg but Noel and Jason got it together really quickly to apply the tourniquet .Lucy, thank goodness, was remarkably quiet and well-behaved, she is usually the most feisty of the horses. Junior, her babe, was anything but – he was obviously very upset by what was happening and didn´t want anyone to touch Mum at all! I tried to do my part to help by holding onto Junior to keep him from bothering Lucy but he was simply too strong for me. In the end we had to tie him to a tree which he almost pulled over! And then the rains started. Man, did the rains start! A torrential, tropical downpour followed by a hailstorm (they are becoming surprisingly common here and are cold as hell). And of course we are all wearing nothing but jeans and Tshirts! Noel cut a banana leaf to protect me, lasted about 5 seconds. We were all freezing.
To cut a long story short – two hours and a failed attempt to load Lucy onto a bullock cart to get her home to the Mariposa – later Franklin came back. The rain was ever more vicious and I agreed with him that I couldn´t take much more. He had to help me up the steep path as by then it was a pretty fierce rushing river full of all kinds of rubbish and I of course managed to lose my footing more than once.
I was back nice and dry at the Mariposa but the guys were out in the most filthy storm we have had so far this season (and that is saying something). I took a decision to phone Franklin and tell him he and Noel had to leave Lucy and if neccessary Junior as I didn´t want them catching pneumonia! I felt like I was sentencing Lucy and possibly Junior to death but just like something out of a (somewhat corny) film, at this very moment Franklin and Noel appeared at the gate of the Mariposa leading Lucy,who was somehow walking on 3 legs and followed by a very wet and miserable foal. How they made it up that hill I will never know, Franklin says they half pushed and half carried her. But she´s a HORSE for God´s sake! Up a raging waterfall!! At which point Franklin just smiles.
Then Bergman comes into his own. We take over one of the outdoor classrooms as a temporary stable and operating theatre. Bergman, Jason and Santos (the gardener doing Sunday duty) spend the rest of the day in the rain cleaning the wound, removing glass, stopping the bleeding, injecting antibiotics and I don´t know what else. Franklin took the foal back to the other horses where she bonded with another female though with no milk on offer. I set about finding food – horses eat ALL the time and throughout the entire trauma Lucy never lost her appetite, always a good sign.
A few days later and Bergman operates – see the photos.
Bergman had tried to stitch the tendon back together but it didn´t work. Then comes the awful day when Bergman and Franklin ask me to make the decison to put her down – I tried to put a brave face on it and talk about the hows and whens but just couldn´t stop the tears! A couple of hours later and B and F tell me they have been talking amongst themselves and have decided against killing her – they are determined to keep her as Franklin says the mascot of the horses.
And they have done exactly that. Lucy is now reunited with her foal, feeding out on the open grasslands and so obviously happy to be back with the group (horses are of course not solitary creatures but herd animals). Her leg doesn´t seem to be causing much pain and she hobbles about quite satisfactorily, wearing a protective sleeve over the hoof made out of an old trouser leg (designed by Bergman, manufactured by Franklin) which is changed every day. Franklin says he saw her run on one occassion! The guys have built her a special shelter and she puts herself to bed at night with Junior.
All in all – so far at least – a classic happy ending! And watch this space for pics of Lucy now!!