January 31, 2014 at 2:42 PM

The Value of Riding with a Good Wrangler

'His training paid off for the gelding on this ride, and we are all safer when we ride in the backcountry with Marty.'

By Susie Morgan

Hoof Prints in Santa Fe

Susie Morgan is a lifetime lover of horses, the outdoors and lives for adventures. She lives in Las Campanas, and is reconnecting with horses after working 27 years in New York City.

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One of my favorite places to ride is the Galisteo Basin Preserve. Recently, a group of us met at The Cowboy Shack to enjoy a great ride in diverse terrain of hills and arroyos with good company. Horses, however, can find the most amazing ways to get into trouble.

This is what happened: One gelding had been riding in this particular trailer for years without issue, but not today. As we unload the horses, the gelding got his foot hung up in a metal strip in the trailer and backed off the trailer dead lame and bleeding at the hoof hairline. The horse is sweating from pain and cannot put weight on his leg.

Las Campanas Wrangler Marty Miller knows exactly what to do. First, he gives the horse a dose of pain meds. We carry some first aid supplies, and one of those is an instant cold pack. Normally, this in case of human injury but today, it’s a horse that needs it. So, Marty applies the cold pack to the point of injury and duct tapes it to the horses’ leg.

After discussing options, Marty instructs us to head out without him, as he wants to stay and look after the injured horse as well as remove the metal strip – the source of the problem – from the trailer before putting horses back in.

Those cold packs only work for about 20 minutes, but it was applied right away which is optimal. Once it lost its chill, Wrangler Marty realizes that although it has not snowed since mid-December, there are patches of snow remaining in shaded areas. So, Marty grabs a ubiquitous plastic shopping bag, fills it with snow, and continues to apply it to the horse’s leg.

When the rest of us return to the trailer, the horse is noticeably improved in attitude and has stopped sweating from the pain. No swelling is apparent and the bleeding has completely stopped. So, we load the horses and head for a quick lunch at Blue Moon Café. Returning to the barn, Marty continues to treat the injured leg for the rest of the day. By the next morning, the horse showed no sign of lameness and returned to trail duty as if nothing had happened.

Marty carries his certification in outdoorsmanship and mountaineering awarded by the National Outdoors Leadership School. His training paid off for the gelding on this ride, and we are all safer when we ride in the backcountry with Marty.

Equine Pain Medicines: http://thalequine.com/bute-and-banamine-what-horse-owners-should-know/

Galisteo Basin Commonweal: http://www.galisteobasinpreserve.com/index.php

Blue Moon Café: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60958-d3437770-Reviews-Blue_Moon_Cafe-Santa_Fe_New_Mexico.html

Las Campanas Equestrian Center: http://www.theclubatlascampanas.com/Club/Scripts/Home/home.asp

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