Today was awesome!
We headed out to the prison at 6:30am this morning per usual. We stopped and picked up some supplies at the warehouse and then headed on to the work area. We met up with equine field services and got our equipment ready to castrate some colts. I was super excited to have the opportunity to do castrations because I hadn’t done a horse yet and it’s going to be an important part of my practice after I graduate.
We had about 15 yearling colts to do today, so we divided up into three teams of three to get them knocked out. I wound up castrating two myself, and we all made a point of doing everything ourselves so that we will be confident in our abilities later.
We did a quick physical exam on each colt, palpated them for two descended testicles, and then sedated them. Since we were working essentially “in the field,” we gave them the drugs to induce anesthesia and then helped them into a controlled fall to get them on the ground. Most horses go down relatively gracefully if you can get their head up and get them to dog sit before rolling onto their side.
Once on the ground, we put a towel over their eyes, for protection and to decrease stimulation from light. Then we took a long rope and passed a loop around their neck, and tied one hind leg up to get it out of the way and give us more room to work.
This isn’t exactly the way we did it, but pretty close. We didn’t hobble the other three feet, and we tied the leg up a lot more securely than shown in the picture, but you get the general idea. Then I scrubbed the area between the hind legs over the two testicles and rinsed it well. I clamped the skin of the scrotum over the median raphe with a hemostat, and held it up away from the body. I used a scalpel blade to remove the majority of the scrotum without damaging the underlying tissues. One at a time, I pulled each testicle out and incised the vaginal tunic. This allowed me to pop the testicle out and strip the excess tissues away. I clamped the cord with an emasculator and cut the testicle off while the cord was crimped. After removing the emasculator and repeating the process on the other side, we gave them a rinse, a tetanus toxoid and removed their wolf teeth (if present). The horses were allowed to recover on their own, with just a little support on their head to get them to their feet. Everyone did a really good job and all of the colts recovered uneventfully.
After castrations, we headed to the local barbecue place and had some lunch. I ordered the salad with grilled chicken and honey mustard on the side. I also had a small bowl of pinto beans and a teensy sliver of buttermilk pie that one of my classmates made for Pappy’s birthday. We sang “Happy Birthday” too, much to his enjoyment :)
On our way back to school after lunch, we stopped the school truck on the side of the road so that our group could get out and take pictures in the bluebonnets. We had been joking all week that we needed to take bluebonnet photos like those ridiculous parents do with their children.
Tomorrow I’m headed out to a horse show with one of the equine field service clinicians, so today was my last day at the prison. I’ve had a ton of fun on this rotation and I’m sad for it to end.
To my clinicians, Pappy, Dr. Django, and Beaver Nuggets, and to my classmates, Purple Rain (aka the Fruit Fly), Sacagawea, Crazy Eye, and Squatting Dog,
Thank you for making the last two weeks some of the most memorable I’ve had since starting vet school.
Love, the Sperm Fairy.