Friday, July 3, 2015

The one where Hank gets bit by a snake

Spoiler alert: As I post this Friday evening at 5 p.m., Hank is doing well. 
Remember that as I tell the tale.

It was Thursday around 5 p.m. I walked out to the barn, only to find George chasing the chickens
in the front yard. WTF and how did he get in the front yard?  I tried to herd the chickens
out of harm's way and was having no luck, so I ran to the feed room to grab a halter and lead rope
for George. I passed Hank on my way and had another WTF moment. 
His muzzle was swollen up like a balloon. I knew in a heartbeat 
that he'd most likely been bitten by a snake.

I've probably read every article about snakebites and horses that's ever been written, 
recognizing that some day I would have to deal with one of these emergencies, 
but all that knowledge didn't matter one bit. When you are staring into your own horse's 
swollen snakebit face, you forget everything you've ever learned, and the first thing you do is panic.
The second thing you do is get your vet on the phone. Then the vet talks you back from the ledge
and comes up with a plan. In Hank's case, the plan was: ice if he would tolerate it, 
10ccs of banamine, 2 grams of bute, keep him calm and quiet, and above all, 
don't let his airways close up if the swelling gets worse. That would mean 
having to stick a long hunk of hose up Hank's nostril, and I truly doubted 
if I could do that safely by myself. 

Once I got all the anti-inflammatories in him, the all-night vigil began, watching and waiting, 
hoping and praying that I would not have to stick a hunk of hose up his nose. 
I've circled the area of the bite in the picture above - there are two tiny punctures. 
I have no idea what kind of snake bit him.

I contained Lucy, George and Alan in the corral so that Hank wouldn't panic in the absence of his herd.
Throughout the night, they never left his side. I was touched by their attentiveness
until I figured out what they really wanted was to slurp up the slobber and whatever else was
coming out of Hank's nose. That's Lucy standing behind Hank, licking slobber off the pipe.
Alan is waiting for the next batch to drip out his mouth. It was all very weird and disgusting,
but it gave me something to focus on besides Hank's swollen face.

I took pictures throughout the night to help me figure out if the swelling 
was getting worse or better. 

By daybreak, it was definitely worse but had moved toward his jawline; 
Hank's left nasal passage was still relatively normal. We both breathed a little better 
thinking the hunk of hose would not be needed. I checked in with the vet, who said
I could give him more pain meds and offer him breakfast. 

Eating was difficult but Hank being Hank found a way. I felt comfortable enough with his progress
to leave Lucy in charge while I drove to the vet clinic for antibiotics, which would ward off 
any infection from the bite. My new concern at this point was that Hank hadn't pooped 
since this all started 16 hours ago. Then again, he hadn't eaten, so I figured he would poop eventually.

It was a four-hour round trip to the clinic, and even though I knew Hank would be okay
in my absence, it was still a huge relief to find him bright-eyed and standing when I got home.
But he still hadn't pooped. Ugh. I would worry about that next. 
First I had to worry about injecting 30ccs of penicillin in his butt.

I give Hank injections all the time, but in his neck and 10ccs at the most.
This procedure was more involved because of the amount and the risks,
and because I could barely get my hand around the huge syringe.
But being the trouper he is, Hank stood like a statue while I bumbled around his behind
and we got 'r done. He'll get the penicillan shot two more times, 
plus he'll also be on oral antibiotics for a week.

So now it's almost 21 hours since he's pooped. He's been eating, albeit slowly,
and what goes in has to come out, and if you're a horse, that usually happens
a dozen times a day. I decided to take him for a short walk. We hadn't gone more than
ten steps into the corral and voila! Why didn't I think of that hours ago?
Apparently Hank's a neat freak and doesn't like to poop in his stall. 
He still surprises me after all these years.

It's now 24 hours since this adventure began. I think/hope the worst is behind us.
Snake bites are a fact of life for equines who are turned out on rangeland. 
Frankly I'm surprised it's taken 10 years for us to experience our first one.
Maybe those awful grazing muzzles I force the donkeys to wear have helped improve our odds.


  1. What an ordeal for Hank and even more for you, as his human mom, because you knew the dangers. It sounds like he is healing, thank goodness.

  2. The stink eye at mention of him not pooping in his stall! I'm so glad that he's doing better

  3. Hank looks much better. Hope the first snake bite in 10 years is the last one ever. What a long 24 hours for you and Hank but you took beautiful care of him.

  4. Poor guy. I'm so glad he's doing better and hopefully he keeps pooping so you don't have to deal with colic. Sending good thoughts...

  5. Poor Hank. I'm glad he is recovering from the bite. What a scary experience for both of you. Fingers crossed this never happens again.

  6. Yay for happy endings. The difference between the brightness in his eyes in the beginning pictures and the end are story enough. Poor thing. Poor you. Now that's enough drama for now!

  7. I hope Hank is doing better!!

  8. Oh Carson!!!! Poor Hank!!!! Poor You!!!!

  9. I had hoped the lack of a post this morning was because you were giving yourself a long holiday weekend. But a little part of me was worried something was up...
    Poor Hank! Poor Carson! Glad things are looking better. Keep up the good work, Dr. Mom. And healing prayers for Hank. 😷

  10. Sending hugs and hope you go have yourself a giant margarita! You and Hank are both troopers.

  11. So far So good. Hank and you are a great team. Eating AND pooping - that's what any horse lover wants to hear. Keep up the good work!

  12. What Even Song and everybody else said! Thanks for the spoiler alert; a big sigh of relief here, and a ton of good healing wishes for trooper Hank. Breathe, eat, and poop on, Hank, and do repeat your valiant statue act for your mom during the remaining penicillin shots!

  13. Oh poor Hank! Glad you both are done with the worst part of this. Wish for you not to have to go through this ever again.

  14. I had a WTF moment with my white sheep last year. Completely swollen eye and forehead. It wasn't red or indicating any kind of liquids. 24 hours of HUGE. Since then, I have discovered that she is allergic to wasp stings as I was able to witness one sting her and see the attendant swelling occur. Oh, yea. Cause we don't have wasp condos every ten feet here...

    Glad you weathered the storm together. I look forward to seeing the selling go down and the margarita festival you will have after it is over!

  15. Whew! Good job. Hard to do what you have to do sometimes. Hank's trust and love shine through. He knew you would take care of him. I'm thinking that the exhaustion will help you begin to relax a bit.

  16. So glad it turned out so well. The only pinto I ever saw who had been bitten by a rattlesnake had blisters break out all over the white area of his body. Killing rattlesnakes, will also help increase the odds of your herd not being bitten. A den of rattlesnakes is very prolific, multiply like bunnies.

  17. Wow, how scary for you! Thank goodness he is on the mend....the poor boy. That nose was so swollen....geesh! Hope your blood pressure is back to normal!!!

  18. Oh my! I checked in early yesterday, but saw no post, so I thought you were taking the weekend off. Poor Hank, and poor you! I can only imagine how worried you were, but it sounds like Hank's quite the trooper (as are you), and he'll be fine. As for you ... should I send a bottle of something to calm YOUR nerves? :- )


  19. What a harrowing ordeal. Hope this Saturday morning finds you and Hank back to normal. Wow. Just wow. Aunt Jean

  20. My horse learned from her rattler bite (lower lip, much less worrisome). She avoided any snake after that, doing a lovely head-high passage around the hay room she saw one crawl in there. I had to alternate sides for the rump shots, as she would tense up one side and the needle would just bounce off. So glad Hank is better. I feel your stress!

  21. Wow! What an experience, thanks for documenting for us.

    I am glad that Hank (and you) are on the mend.


  22. He is such a good boy, he knows you are trying help him get better. He trusts you and loves you just like you do him. Always something with those em' all

  23. You're a born story teller Carson. What a tale!

  24. OOOOO! Decided to peek in on the ranch and DAMN! I HATE snakes!!! Poor Hank!!! GOD BLESS YOU and YOURS this 4th of JULY!!! YOU all will be in my prayers!!! XOXXOXO

  25. Omigod! Carson, you did so well!

  26. Congrat to you Linda. What a tough time you had. and Hank of course. Have a relaxing and well deserved 4th of July weekend. (I was slighty worried too not seeing a post on Friday)

  27. I've heard similar stories from my daughter who has 3 horses. She does the same - first panic, then call the Vet, then do what needs to be done. Then pray it will turn out alright. Usually does... but then my daughter has to take something to calm her down. Glad all is well with Hank.

  28. What a harrowing experience - thanks for the spoiler at the beginning! So glad Hank is doing well - good job Linda.

  29. Wow, my heart stopped when I read that headline, but I bet it was nothing to the jolt you got when you found him that way. Thank you for the reassuring subtitle. I'm glad Hank's weathered the aftereffects. Later when he's past all his symptoms, you could maybe find an old photo of an equivalent pose to compare that swollen nose photo to! You took such good care of him!

  30. An American in Tokyo7/5/15, 12:13 AM

    Omigosh, glad that Hank is okay and you, too!

  31. How is your boy doing this morning? Maybe next time you're in town you should stop by the vets office and get some of that tubing. Or did you do that already? I just pictured you trying to shove a garden hose up Hank's nose and thinking he'd probably protest.

  32. Wishing Hank, you and the rest of the herd well.

  33. Another one here bidding Hank well - although logic says how much worse - say - it would be for you to get the snakebite not one of the herd, where's logic when you need it?

    Whilst on the subject of animals and their poop - or lack thereof; a couple of weekends ago I was worried about Domino cat's - er - output, and confined him indoors for 48hrs and dosed him with liquid paraffin, per vets instructions. On reflection, I suspect that for the sake of my house interior, my methodology of could have been better thought through. The cat's good, though - as it transpired - so all's well here too.

  34. Good thing you'd read up on what to do, at least you were forearmed with some knowledge!

  35. Fingers crossed that he is over the worst of it!

    Might the vet have some surgical tubing that you could keep in your supply cabinet?

  36. How terrifying! I'm glad to read that he's doing ok (thank you for the spoiler alert!) I would have been stuck in that panic mode I think....

  37. Starting to worry again, Carson. Hope all is well...

  38. Have you given them a snakebite vaccine?

  39. Just reading this makes me feel like i went with the whole ordeal with you. so glad Hank is better.

  40. I am so glad you are so smart and competent!