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More Adventures of the Horse Doctor’s Husband
Justin B. Long
Publish date: February 29, 2020
Being married to a horse doctor requires a sense of adventure, and it will be tested again and again…
Justin B. Long, author of the bestselling book, Adventures of the Horse Doctor’s Husband, returns with this sequel to his internationally renowned memoir. Long might be the business brain of the veterinary clinic, but being married to an equine veterinarian keeps his life filled with chaos and excitement. Just when he thinks things have calmed down, the phone rings again.
Much like the first book, this thrilling collection of rip-roaring escapades will tug at your heartstrings and tickle your funny bone. With horses stuck in precarious positions, rental sheep exploits, and his wife’s own horse going through colic surgery, Long takes you on an unforgettable journey through the ups and downs of animal care.
More Adventures of the Horse Doctor’s Husband is a captivating collection of critter capers. If you love animals, you’ll adore this hilarious, delightful, and sometimes heartbreaking behind-the-scenes look at life in a rural vet clinic.
Click here to read a free excerpt!
The following excerpt is from Chapter 11 of More Adventures of the Horse Doctor’s Husband.
Horses poop a lot. Even though I live with seven of them and spend an inordinate amount of my time dealing with their poop in some way, I still occasionally find myself impressed by how much poop they produce. One of my jokes with the feed store people is that horse people have perfected the art of turning money into poop. It’s like alchemy, but backwards.
We compost the poop that happens in the stalls during the day, so I can tell you with a high degree of accuracy that those five horses produce about two hundred cubic feet of poop every four weeks, and that’s just their daytime poop. The nighttime poop out in the pasture is a little harder to measure. Instead of composting that, we drag it. This breaks it up into smaller particles which will break down faster. It also exposes any parasites in their poop to the heat and sunlight, which kills them off, so they don’t spread.
One day I was cruising around the back field, spreading poop. We have a little old lawn tractor from the 1970’s that we use to drag pastures. We also use it to pull the manure spreader when we empty the compost bins. It goes about three miles an hour, which is plenty, given the rough terrain. I had my headphones on, listening to a podcast. It’s a great way to make the best use of the time, if you like learning things as much as I do.
I was zoned out, listening to an organizational psychologist discussing what makes great teams function so well. At some point, I became aware of a flickering in my peripheral vision, and it finally dawned on me that Erica was parked at the gate in the vet truck, flashing the headlights at me. I swung the tractor towards the gate, but then thought better of it. It would be faster to just walk over, so I shut it off and jogged to the gate.
“Hey,” I said, pulling off my headphones as I opened the passenger door. “Do we have an emergency?”
“Yep.” She put the truck into gear and spun around. “It’s just across the street at Amelia’s house.”
I put my seatbelt on. “I hope you haven’t been sitting here long.”
“Nah. I figured you couldn’t hear me honking the horn, but you came over as soon as I flashed the lights.”
“What’s going on at Amelia’s?” I asked.
“Musique tried to rip her nose off, and partially succeeded.”
I tried to place the name with a face. I’d been to Amelia’s farm before, but it takes a lot of repeated exposure for me to remember which horse is which. Erica has a knack for that. I do not, it seems.
“That’s the older red mare, right? With the blond mane?”
Erica laughed, shaking her head. “Oh, my god. Yes, but you can’t say it like that, especially not in front of horse people.”
“Yellow mane? I know ‘blond’ isn’t the proper terminology, but I’m drawing a blank. What do you call yellow in horse-speak?”
“She’s a liver chestnut with a flaxen mane,” Erica said, rolling her eyes as if I should know these things.
“Okay, I got it. Musique is the Cobb pony with a liver chestnut paintjob and a flaxen mane.”
“She’s a Welsh pony, not a Cobb.”
I shook my head. “Alright, alright, I give up. This is too complicated.” We were already pulling down their driveway anyway, so it was time to get to work. Erica pulled the truck around back to the barn, and we hopped out. It was weird for me to climb out the passenger side, as I almost always drive, but I managed to find the door handle and point myself the right way.
“Hey, Dr. Lacher,” Amelia called. She was standing in the aisle with her husband, James. “Thanks for getting here so quick. I hope I didn’t mess up your weekend.”
James and I had gone out riding motorcycles several times in the past, and we get along famously. As Amelia was explaining everything to Erica, James caught my eye and tilted his head toward the stall, and the smirk on his face caused me to chuckle. He didn’t need to say anything. I knew what he meant: horses.
I stayed outside the stall as Erica went in to examine Musique, ready to run back to the truck if she needed something. Musique backed away from Erica, a string of blood trailing from her nose to the floor in front of her.
“I can’t imagine where she would have cut herself,” Amelia was saying. “We’ve been all over the place trying to find something sharp, but there’s no nails sticking out of the fence, no broken water bucket, nothing.”
“That’s horses,” Erica said, putting a hand on Musique’s neck. “You could put them in a bubble wrap room, and they’d still find a way to hurt themselves.”
She bent forward, squinting as she stared at the bloody muzzle before her. The horse’s left nostril was torn in a jagged semicircle, and her whole muzzle was red on that side. The other side was mostly gray from old age.
“You did a number on yourself, kiddo,” Erica said. “But that’ll heal fine.”
Amelia’s hands went to her red hair, tightening the ponytail in frustration. “This horse is trying to kill me! First it was a colic, then it was an abscess, and now this. That’s enough stress for one year!”
“She’s exhibiting all the classic symptoms of a kid that’s dying for attention,” I said. “She needs to be the star.”
James burst out laughing. “That ship has sailed, man. She’s a hundred years old.”
Amelia gave him a mock frown. “Oh, she is not, don’t you say that to her.”
“She’s got to be, what, twenty-five years old? Thirty?”
Amelia frowned, tilting her head back for a moment as she counted. “I guess she’s thirty-one, but we don’t talk about it. It makes me feel old.”
Erica walked out of the stall and beckoned to me. “Come on, let’s go hide behind the vet truck while they hash this out.”
I opened the liftgate and pulled the tray out as Erica began drawing up a syringe of nerve block. I grabbed two suture packs, the clippers, scrub, and lube, and jammed a hand towel in my pocket.
“What am I forgetting?” I asked.
Erica capped the needle and put it in the tray, glancing over the other items I’d put there. “I think that’ll get us started. I’ll just push the needle through the thick horse skin with my poor fingers, I guess.”
“Needle drivers! I knew I was forgetting something important.” I opened the center drawer and pulled out the instrument pack. “Needle drivers, tweezers, and scissors, right?”
“Forceps. We’re using forceps on the liver chestnut Welsh horse with a flaxen mane.”
“I’m never going to learn all this,” I said, grinning in spite of myself. “I think you have to start learning it when you’re two in order to get it all straight.”
“Well, that certainly makes it easier,” Erica said. “But you’re doing pretty good for an old guy.”
“Alright, alright, none of that,” I said, bumping her hip with mine. “You’ve got work to do. Let’s go sew up this red and blond pony.”
Amelia and James stepped away from the stall door as we walked back over. James opened the door and pulled a halter off the rack, holding it out to Erica. “What do you think, doc? Is she going to make it?”
“It’s looking pretty good,” Erica said. “But I can’t put a halter on her while her nose is ripped in half.”
James snorted. “Well, yeah, I guess not, huh?”
A frown of concern crossed Amelia’s face. “How are you going to manage her? She might not stand still. As you well know, she can be opinionated sometimes.”
“That’s what we have drugs for,” Erica said, grabbing a needle out of the tray. “And husbands.”
I set the tray on top of the water bucket and waited for Erica to give Musique a shot of sedation. As Erica approached her, Musique backed up to the corner and followed the wall around. I reached out and put a hand on her flank as she backed into the corner in front of me, keeping my body back out of kicking range.
“Do you want me to manage her head, or stay right here?” I asked.
Erica stuck the capped needle in her pocket and put a hand on Musique’s neck, scratching her withers with the other hand. “Easy, girl. Let me get this shot into you, it’ll make you feel better.” She glanced at me as she pulled the needle back out of her pocket. “Stay right there for now.”
Erica clamped her thumb down on the vein in Musique’s neck, and readied the needle. Musique tossed her head a few times, snorting loudly.
“She hates to get a shot,” Amelia said. “Are you sure you don’t want a lead rope or something to put around her neck? She’s being very naughty about all of this.”
“I’ll take a lead rope,” I said. “I might need to rappel out the window before this is over.”
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