Difficult diagnosis? No problem, just sleep on it


The psychic said to work on the horse's left front ankle and treat it with a plant extract only Granny Clampet had in stock.

I really enjoy trying to figure out the cause of lameness in a horse. It's a bit like solving a mystery. There are clues and questions to ask. You can be misled. You have to dedicate yourself to it.

Lameness diagnosis and treatment have become my passion over the years. I have spent a ridiculous amount of time studying, learning and trying to acquire the art of determining why a horse is limping. I'm not boasting or saying I'm great at it, but at least I have put forth a great amount of effort.

A horse owned by a barrel racer was brought to me, arriving at the clinic at precisely the appointed time. The lady was driving a new four-door pickup hooked to a trailer that must have cost more than the average house. She was well-dressed, well-spoken and ... absolutely nuts.

She handed me a piece of neatly folded paper and informed me that, before the examination could proceed, I needed to read the paper entirely and become familiar with its contents.

I unfolded the paper and sat down. Typewritten front and back, it looked much too wordy to absorb while standing. It was covered with strange drawings, with typewritten words describing what the drawings meant.

Before I could get very far into the details, the lady interrupted me with a warning:

"I already have taken this horse to three veterinarians, and they were not able to fix the problem. That letter holds the answer to the chronic lameness my horse is experiencing, and all I need you to do is carry out the instructions it prescribes to treat my horse."

This sparked my curiosity. What could it be? I began reading closely. There was a detailed description of how the letter writer had discovered the problem with this barrel-racer's horse.

The writer was an "equine psychic." That's right, a psychic who specializes in diagnosing equine problems using her psychic powers.

The letter explained how she does it. You just send her a picture of your horse and a brief history of the problem. The psychic lady then puts the picture under her pillow and sleeps on it each night until she has a dream that tells her what's wrong with the horse and how to correct it.

The letter said I should work on the horse's left front ankle and treat it with a plant extract that only Granny Clampet had in stock. We took the horse outside and watched it trot. It was lame in the right front leg.

What to do now?

The owner wouldn't hear of it. She told me the last three vets had said it was the right leg, too, and none of them would treat the left ankle so she didn't let them do anything.

I informed her I was the fourth vet to take the same position, so she promptly loaded up the animal and left.

Just think: 350 hours of college, only to find out that all I need to do to heal a lame horse is sleep on its photograph.

Dr. Brock owns the Brock Veterinary Clinic in Lamesa, Texas.

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