Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Long-Haul

In my previous post, I had alluded to the fact I would be trailering a horse to the Vet. And subsequently, after I had posted, I realized some of my readers may not actually realize just how far a Veterinarian is from me.

This little snippet of British Columbia is very veterinarian-poor: (pretty sure this link is going to imply as to where I live... but I suppose that's okay) we have no emergency clinics, and no specialized clinics (ie. large animal, reptile, etc). The majority of our medical assistance when it comes to our pets is in the form of small animal vets - which is just fine when it comes to cats and dogs - but becomes a race against the clock when you own a horse or otherwise.

Below is a super awful and terrible graphic that I quickly drew up to show everyone just how far a horse owner needs to travel to receive veterinary care for their horses. In most emergency cases, horses will not willingly partake in a 3 hour trailer ride. It is literally the difference between life and death in many scenarios, and the reason most owners in my area have another option pre-planned, should euthanasia be required immediately.

You will note that I have included the Traveling Vets in the drawing. Yup - their practice is a 6 hour drive away.

And if we did not have this Vet traveling up North to us and providing us with routine veterinary care (floats, vaccinations, lameness evaluations, castrations, PPEs, and the like), we would literally be up Shit Creek without a paddle. In addition to the routine care, they also assist on emergency calls during the 2 -3 weeks they are up here servicing all of our animals.

But during the remainder of the season, we are on our own.

A bit scary to think, but it has been something that has just been common here for close to a decade. From what I have heard, there are plans in the works for an equestrian veterinarian to settle in the area after she completes her final years of veterinary school. Whether or not that actually happens? Time will tell.

So back onto the topic of this journey to the vets and how we got it done.

Have trailer, will travel.

This past weekend, Suzie, myself, and the BF made a 14 hour round-trip journey to one of the most thorough and well-respected clinics in the area in two days - add the fact that both of us were horrifically sick and it's nothing short of impressive.

Several friends and acquaintances of mine have utilized the clinic in the past and have had nothing but glowing reviews, so I had high hopes of obtaining the answers I so desperately was searching for.

While I realize Suzie's "regular" Vet is closer, it all came down to the amount of tests I could do, including the almighty $ figure. Being able to run more diagnostics (if necessary) and at a lesser price was much more appealing to both the mind and wallet.

Before I get into the logistics of the trip, it is important to remember that with any long-distance travel, it is imperative to ensure everything is in tip-top shape and in good running order.

My preparations began last week wherein I checked over the horse trailer - ensuring all lights and cables are in working order, the tires are in good condition, the spare is ready to be utilized if necessary, and the insurance was up to date and paid (it had run out mid-October). I also ran out to the feed store and picked up shavings to bed down the trailer floor.

Once the trailer was looked over, I moved on to the truck. Summer tires were pulled off and Winter tires were rolled on. Air pressure in the tires was topped up in all four tires as well.

After this was completed, it was time to set up for accommodations - both human and horse. I sent a note to a friend in the area who owns a boarding barn (the same barn Spud had a lay-over at!) and asked if she had any stalls available for Suz. We set up the dates and I confirmed all the details again on Friday to be sure things would be set up when we arrived. (I also confirmed my appointment with the Veterinary clinic - it would suck to drive out 7hrs and find out there was some kind of miscommunication.) The hotel room was also booked for me and the BF.

I hunkered down and began to furiously pack on Friday afternoon (I normally don't leave things till the last minute!) - bales of hay were loaded into the trailer, emergency supplies tucked into the rubber bins, buckets, grain, blankets, wraps, and even extra halters were packed up and neatly tucked into the trailer. Shavings were spread into the bottom of the trailer, and the truck was cleaned out (ie. dog blankets removed, extra garbage removed). And once the brunt of that was completed, I started to pack my own clothes and toiletries.

Initially, we had planned on leaving Saturday morning to have a day for rest and shopping (Suzie's appointment was Monday morning), but the flu hit our house-hold HARD and I was down for the count and didn't join the land of the living until 6pm Saturday night. With both myself and the BF sick, it made for an insanely miserable drive, especially since we didn't necessarily get a "rest" day in between.

So on Sunday morning, we headed out to the barn to scoop up Suzie. We arrived shortly after 9 am, which would give us the benefit of traveling during the light hours. I haltered Suzie and fed her her grains/ Previcox, and outfitted her with a BOT knee boot and standing wraps. At this point, things started to go to Hell in a handbasket when the BF remembered we hadn't retorqued the wheels or brought any tools to change a spare tire on the trailer (d'oh). I attribute our lack of thoughtfulness due to the high levels of cold and flu medicine we were hopped up on (pretty sure we shouldn't have been driving...).

Once we got the extra things squirreled away, we were able to finally leave and start our road-trip. It was a quiet and non-eventful drive. Suzie traveled like a super star and I was super impressed she didn't have an ounce of extra fluid in her legs or a sore muscle to be seen.

We arrived to the lay-over barn around 6:30pm and tucked Suz into her stall for the night before unhitching the trailer and running back into town for some food and blissful sleep. Our alarms were regrettably set to ensure we'd have time to hitch up, load, and travel to the vet's clinic come morning.

I realize this post doesn't give much insight as to why I chose to haul to the Vets - sit tight, because that will be unveiled in the next installment of posts.


  1. Crossing my fingers the trip was worth it and gave you some answers. Also, hope everyone there is feeling better!

  2. hoping that everyone is feeling better and that you got good answers from the trip!

  3. Hope you're recovered and Suzie got all the tests she needed and you came out of this trip with answers.

  4. Oh wow! I can't imagine the struggles associated with being so far from a vet. We have half a dozen equine vets within 20 minutes of our place.

    1. It can be very alienating and scary at times.

  5. I really enjoyed this post - it's so interesting to read about the process that you went through!