Stampede-The long road to veterinary care


I told Boog to just bring the horse in. He said he couldn't because he had no trailer.

It was a 30-mile journey from Memphis to Clarendon, Texas, a nice four-lane highway all the way. I had made the trip many times when I practiced in the booming metropolis of Clarendon.

I was the only veterinarian at the clinic on this day, and things were busy. Boog Peacock was the man's name, and he had a "cut up" horse. His voice was frantic and riddled with worried tones. The horse got in the fence and lacerated its front leg in several places. Ole' Boog wanted me to leave right then and drive to Memphis to suture this horse back together. The problem was, I was snowed under. I could not just up and leave, it was a choice you often have to make as a veterinarian. Do you want to make one person mad or do you want to make eight or nine people mad that are already at the clinic or on their way?

I told Boog to just bring the horse in. He said he couldn't because he had no trailer. I told him to borrow one. He said none of his friends had horses or cows. I told him he was just going to have to figure something out because it would be hours before I could make it.

The morning had turned into afternoon, and I had forgotten about Boog. When you are a recent graduate, each case takes all of your concentration. It was about 4 o'clock when some elderly cowboy showed up at the clinic with a horse. He had come from Memphis and was going on with another client about some strange sight he had seen on the trip to Clarendon. I was only half paying attention when I was looking across the parking lot and saw it.

Some things are just too amazing to comment on. My mouth fell open, and I just watched as Boog pulled into the drive to the clinic. He had the horse. He made the 30 miles from Memphis on the four-lane highway. He was ready to have the horse sewed up. But I remained flabbergasted.

I stood there and wondered what I would have done if my horse was cut up and I had no trailer. I thought of dozens of possibilities, but I would never have thought of what he had done. Coming across the parking lot was a blue 1975 pickup truck with a trailer behind it. It was no ordinary trailer. It was a flatbed, U-haul trailer with a horse on it. The horse was tied to the front of the trailer with what looked like about six feet of binder twine.

Let me describe the way the horse looked. It was standing with its legs spread as far apart as a horse can manage. His eyes were wide open and his eyebrows were rounded, giving him a facial expression similar to those taken in photos they take of you dropping down on the giant roller coaster at Six Flags.

His tail was tucked between his back legs like a dog scared to death. His nostrils were flared as they slowed, I assumed this was probably the first breath he had taken since Boog broke 65 mph. His mane was standing straight up and filled with static electricity.

The horse never moved as the pickup came to a stop. It was like he was frozen solid. I examined the lacerations and decided to just suture the horse on the trailer. I never sedated him, just put a local block on the skin to keep it from hurting and went to work. He never moved. Occasionally that horse would look down at me as if to say "Would you please buy me from this man, so I won't have to ride this thing back home?"

But ride home he did. They pulled out of the parking lot at 5:30 p.m. heading straight back to Memphis. By the time I had finished, there must have been 25 people standing around watching. It doesn't take long for news like that to spread in small towns. Everyone wanted to get there in time to see Boog and his rented U-haul head home. I just have to wonder what the cars that passed him on the highway must have been thinking.

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