The debate started because of George. He’s the new gelding that was brought to the farm for use with an Amish buggy. Supposedly 6 years old, George was all buggy broke. Wrong! I don’t think George had ever seen an Amish buggy in his entire life before that disastrous day we hitched him to one. Of course, we didn’t rush him into his first voyage; instead, we gave him plenty of time to get used to his surroundings and my mare, Rosie. One day, my son Jason harnessed him and drove around the yard with no problems at all.

Then, the day arrived for us to hitch George to his buggy. We pulled the cart out of the garage, and I brought Rosie from the barn, because we didn’t want to separate them. Jason and my brother Jeff were both there to help my father in case there were problems. It was a struggle to back George into the shafts, but eventually Dad hitched him. Jeff and Jason each walked on one side to guide him and grab the bridle if necessary.

Finally, Dad coaxed George to pull the buggy. He fought a little but eventually went around in a big circle. Then it was time to venture away from the buildings. Rosie and I walked in front of them and he pulled the buggy for about one-eighth of a mile. All of a sudden he freaked out. He reared and twisted and broke free of the buggy. He snapped out of Jason’s grasp, but Jeff was able to hold onto him. After my brother and George danced around, they both slammed to the ground hard. George scrambled to his feet, and Jeff just laid on the bank. I dropped Rosie’s rope to help Jason untangle George from his harness. There is nothing more challenging than trying to free a frantic horse from a broken buggy and a twisted harness.

After we calmed George down and had time to reflect on the fact that he had never been hooked to a buggy before, we noticed a huge gash on his lower shoulder. The wooden shaft of the buggy had broken and jammed into his side creating a bloody, deep wound. The veterinarian had to be called – an emergency vet visit on a Sunday afternoon.

Dr. C came and tended to the injured horse. After giving him a sedative and sewing his wounds, he told me to give him two different antibiotics for seven days. That is when the debate started. Dr. C tried to explain that the best way to give pills to horses is to mix the pills with molasses in their grain. I looked at the vet and said, “I’m not using molasses; I’m using maple syrup.” I knew what Dr. C was thinking – molasses is cheaper. He started to object saying, “But…” I interjected with, “I am not going to use this year’s crop; I’ll use some older stuff.”

Dr. C, who has been my vet for years, just shook his head and grinned. He knew better than to argue with a woman about her horse. I have tried the molasses concoction before and it doesn’t work. After a couple of days, horses detect antibiotics in their grain and eat a circle around the molasses mixture leaving a pile the size of a meatball. Then I have to mix maple syrup into the blend, and the horses lick it up like it is a delicacy. It works every time. After a few weeks, a lot of TLC and maple syrup, George healed. And I think he developed a sweet tooth for pure Vermont maple syrup!

Publisher’s note: Dr. C’s name was changed (and shortened) for privacy purposes.