Monday, October 4, 2021

Milliron Monday: Spensive

Victoria Goss, the proprietor of Last Chance Corral, Athens, Ohio USA

Abbott "Pete" Smith D.V.M.
June 16, 1938 - February 22, 2010
Welcome to Milliron Monday where every Monday we celebrate the legacy of Pete Smith, D.V.M., and  Milliron: Abbott “Pete” Smith, D.V.M. The Biography (Monday Creek Publishing 2017), including his wife Jody (1938-2021). 

"...everything was going great, 
'till something went terribly wrong!

A few years ago (or more) Jody and I made an appointment to meet with Victoria Goss, the proprietor of Last Chance Corral to talk about Dr. Smith's biography. We drove up the gravel driveway to Victoria's farmhouse and arrived a wee bit early, so we waited outside by the tack room. The farmhouse overlooks the large corral where the horses play. I decided to sit on the stone wall not far from the tack room. Jody stared at me for a moment and then grinned, "I wouldn't sit there if I were you."  I didn't see anything wrong with it, the wall was sturdy and comfortable. "Why?" I asked. "Snakes!" she giggled. Well, I wasted no time getting to my feet! 

That is my first memory of Last Chance Corral. Soon I realized that I was in a magical place owned by an enchanting horsewoman who was very good with horses and great friends with Dr. Smith.  

Dr. Smith received hundreds of get well cards and letters after his 2010 accident. One that stands out is a large "Get Much More Better Soooon!! You Crazy Galute! We Miss Your Crooked Smile" with a red ribbon-tied story from Victoria...

Stuck in the Revolving Door of Life: One Foal's Journey
by Victoria Goss

Frankly, with this colt, it was love at first sight. Not only for all of us at the corral, but Spencer himself seemed to have mutual feelings. From the start, he would nicker to any human approaching. He was our emissary of love and joy. I can't tell you how many children's faces were brightened by the colt. He just had a way of making you feel that you were special. I suppose that you could say that he was something of a FLIRT. He was also very dignified and handsome. His quiet nature most likely originated from his Haflinger (draft pony) heritage.

Yep, he was something else. He stood apart from the other foals. He put me in a mind of the other wonderful draft cross ponies that we raised, most specifically, Atticus and Bruno (see photos). What wonderful, WONDERFUL little chunks of horse-love. I had no idea while still nurturing this budding love affair with our little charge that his name would rather quickly change from "Spencer" to "Spensive"! (Special thanks to Dr. Smith for the wittily renewed nomenclature).

Spencer grew and thrived like a squash plant on a manure pile. We were keeping him on board here at the farm as an ambassador, a stellar example of how well mannered, even tempered, and physically prefect a nurse mare foal could be. We had several horse shows lined up to take him to, I was sure that he would then find a perfect home. Ahh, but... "there is many a slip twixed the lip and the cup" as the saying goes. Soon enough, this was proven to be true.

One fine morning, I was working in the foal barn when Tracy came running up with an anxious note in her voice. She announced that Spencer had torn his eyelid... he had REALLY torn his eyelid. It was hanging by less than a quarter inch piece at the front of his eye. We quickly got our colt to Milliron Clinic, where Dr. Smith surgically corrected this injury. We brought him home the next day, grateful for the wonderful job that he had done. His eyelid was saved, and all of his lashes too! Needless to say, our elevated mood was short lived. The little scallywag managed to itch, rub, and render the surgery "undone". Two days later, there he stood with his delicate little eyelid hanging by a thread... just as it had BEFORE surgery! Back to Milliron Clinic we went. Spencer underwent the second surgery on his eyelid. Once again, the skilled hands of Dr. Smith MASTERFULLY restored the colt's eyelid to a more normal arrangement.

The next morning, the clinic called me saying that Spencer could FINALLY come home. Before I even got to the hospital (NO, I don't even have to make this stuff up!) that rapscallion pulled it apart again! No way... it's UNBELIEVABLE!! I was pretty sure that you can't perform three delicate surgeries on one thin eyelid, so I figured that he would just lose his eye. I also figured that instead of putting that colt under anesthesia EVER AGAIN, we would take advantage of this opportunity and just go ahead and castrate him. That would make it more difficult to raise that hind foot to itch the lid... or sutures from the eye removal itself.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch... I was bound and determined that I could improvise a device to prevent any further repeat performances by the brilliant Dr. Smith. A thick head bumper, a hard salad bowl, a foal halter, some suitcase straps, a power drill, some waxed thread, a circular saw, a woven keychain, various bits of hardware, and a  determined Victoria at the helm... oh yes... necessity is the mother of invention. I "McGyvered" a contraption that had all the "earmarks" of a professional device. It evoked enthusiastic comments such as... "Might just work!"

I fitted the "helmet" onto little "Spensive" (as I mentioned earlier, our vet dubbed him this after his third surgery). He wore it for ten days, only having it lifted long enough to medicate the eye twice a day. When the "helmet" was finally removed, we were all astounded by what it revealed! A perfect eyelid! I mean PERFECT!! It was a miracle... Dr. Smith (once again) turned in a magical performance. Using this foal's face as a canvas, he created a masterpiece.

Spencer's eyelid never again bothered him. His helmet hangs on the wall... just in case. As we all know, with horses, if something CAN go wrong... eventually it WILL go wrong. In the words of Dr. Smith, "everything was going great, 'till something went terribly wrong!"

In concluding this story, I would like to share with you that our wonderful Dr. Smith has recently suffered a terrible accident and will need all of our thoughts and prayers to buoy him him for what we hope will be a speedy recovery. Our hearts are with you, "Pete"!!!

Visit Last Chance Corral's website and connect with Victoria and crew on social media. Last Chance Corral Is a Nurse Mare Foal Rescue "Specializing in the Rescue, Rehabilitation and Adoption of Abused, Neglected, Unwanted and Misunderstood Equine".  Learn how you can help Last Chance Corral with their mission here!

Thanks, Victoria! 

Have a great week ahead.

Through captivating, powerful, and emotional anecdotes, we celebrate the life of Dr. Abbott P. Smith. His biography takes the reader from smiles to laughter to empathy and tears. Dr. Smith gave us compelling lessons learned from animals; the role animals play in the human condition, the joy of loving an animal, and the awe of their spirituality. A tender and profound look into the life of a skilled veterinarian.


1 comment:

GypsyJoy said...

Spectacular story telling Victoria!

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