Monday, December 5, 2011

Red Pony.

This is a novel. If you don't want a depressing sob-story, wait for the next post. Hopefully.

It's a quarter to nine in the morning and I've just put my pajamas on for the first time since 7am yesterday. After a great ride in the cross country field with Sarah yesterday--where we did a great flat school to focus on staying calm in the field, then jumped three or four jumps as a fun reward--Red fell back into high fever lethargy--104.8 to be exact.

He got 10cc Banamine, 2g Bute, and a trip to the round pen to graze while we waited for his fever to break.

come here so i can shove more things down your throat!

munching away.
He was out for about twenty minutes before I brought him back down to check his temperature again. I put him in his stall to grab the thermometer and he dropped like a stone. Screw the thermometer, I got him right back up and dragged him out of his stall as he started biting his sides furiously.

Fortunately, BO was right there after her ride, so I told her what was going on, that there was no way I could pay a vet right now, and did she have any other suggestions so obviously the banamine wasn't helping. I kept him walking while she made a few calls to vets to see if they had any suggestions. She was inside about fifteen minutes, and in that time, Red's gut sounds were one-hundred percent normal and he had pooped twice. Hubby had taken his temp and it was 102.5--about 45 minutes after I had first taken it. However, his body was hot and he was sweating furiously. We swapped out his sheet for a cooler and kept on making circles.

BO came out with the afternoon help--who is a super nice woman with two horses of her own, one who had just had a really bad impact colic Wednesday--and together they threw around the name of every vet in a fifty mile radius, before Stacey recommended Bloomsburg Vet who gives you thirty days to pay your bill and who has one really fabulous vet. BO went back in to make the call while Red kept getting worse and worse. There wasn't a single non-sweaty part of his body, his gut sounds had slowed waaaay down, and he tried to throw himself down with every lap.

He finally gave up on walking all together and refused to budge an inch unless it was in the direction of his stall. Stacey and I got him situated up against the barn door so he had something to lean to give him a rest--his legs were so wobbly he could barely stand--but without getting him stuck or cast in his stall. Finally, BO came back down and set the vet--fortunately the one really fabulous one--was on his way and would be there in ten minutes.

We brought him down to the indoor with a whole lot of tugging and begging from my end and BO shaking a plastic bag on the end of a longe whip on her end. As soon as he got in there, he threw himself down and started thrashing and rolling back and forth violently. The vet pulled in about thirty seconds later but had to just stand there for a full minute before we could dive in and yank Red back to his feet and give him a sedative. He went back down the second the vet pulled the needle out, but the tranq kicked in pretty fast and he stayed calm enough long enough for the vet to get another tranq in.

He was rolling horribly for another five minutes while we waited for him to calm down. Finally, he quieted enough that Hubby was able to kneel on his neck and the vet gave him two bottles of fluids. He was so dehydrated that when his skin was pinched it wouldn't go back down at all--not slowly, just not at all. His gums were sheet white and there was no capillary refill at all. His breathing, which had been quick up to this point, slowed to one breath every twenty seconds or so and it was a huge groaning gasp.

However, despite how horrible all of this was, and how close to death we were all sure he was, the vet said his heart was beating strong and he wasn't willing to give up on him yet.

Another shot of tranq after the fluids, and he finally started evening out. The vet palpated him, pulling out a good hunk of moist manure, and said he couldn't feel a block or a twist. He threw out intussusception colic, but he couldn't be sure without surgery and that's not in the books for me. Without any real diagnosis, he just flat out treated what he could. His body was twitching badly in response to the tranq, but he finally  started to just relax.

The vet said he was willing to leave him in that state--not even close to out of the woods, but finally comfortable. He was an amazing vet with an amazing bedside manner. He left us, not sobbing helplessly, but laughing at stupid colic stories. He told us he was giving Red a 50-50 chance, and while it could go either way, he would tell me if he thought we should put him down, but he wanted us to keep trying. Just as he was about to leave, Red started thrashing again. Since he was right there, we called him back in. He gave Red one of the two IM tranqs he had left with us and said to wait half an hour for it to kick in. He waited for about fifteen minutes, Red started to relax again, and he finally left us.

The tranq did seem to help--after thirty minutes, Red got up on his own and I got him as far away from the wall as I could before he laid back down. I don't know if he was aware that he was way too close to the wall or what, but once he got to the middle of the arena, he laid back down. From there, it was just a waiting game. The tranq is supposed to last 2-4 hours. He stretched out on his side and slept for an hour straight without moving. He finally sat up and I was able to clean off his face--we had put his head on his cooler, but he was really dirty from rolling around. His left eye was swollen shut from him laying on it, but he was able to open it once I dug most of the dirt out.

four hours in...
He fell back asleep like that for ten minutes, then all the sudden just stood right up. I got his sheet buckled in about five seconds flat in case he went back down again, but I didn't need to worry. He stood wobbling for five minutes with his head in my arms, then decided he was over it and marched off across the arena to smell a pile of poop. I walked around with him to make sure he didn't ge too close to a wall, then Hubby took over while I grabbed a couple of handfuls of hay--the surefire test to see how Red's feeling: will he eat?

When he heard the hay, he left Hubby and with his ears pricked, he strode right over and started slowly but surely eating. BO and Stacey came down after taking care of BO's dog and barn chores to see Red looking woozy and tired, but on his feet and not interested in getting off of them. We debated if we should let him eat, debated if we should leave him in the indoor for the night in case he went down again, but in the end--with the vet's tentative blessing--we put him back in his stall so he wouldn't get stressed when he realized there were no other horses around and gave him one flake of super soft hay to nibble on.

Hubby and I stayed with him for another hour before Stacey offered to take watch duty for an hour while we went home to let the dogs out and get something to eat. We came back with his heavy winter blanket and a candy cane as a peace offering. When we finally left for what we thought was going to be good, it was 8pm and he had downed his candy cane with gusto. His gut was moving slowly but steadily. and while he seemed completely exhausted, he didn't seem to be in any great pain.

back in his stall for the night.
We went home with BO's promise she would be down in an hour to check on him again. Just as I was finishing a really belated dinner of canned soup, BO called and said to come back. He was rolling again and obviously in pain. I told her to give him the last shot and we were on our way. At 9:30 we got there and he seemed okay again. We called the vet and he said it might just be residue pain or a bad cramp. If we needed him to come out again, he'd be there, but to wait for the tranq to wear off again and see how he felt. In the hour and a half we were gone, he'd drank a full bucket of water and his gums were a normal, healthy color.

Hubby, the puppies, and I set up camp in the truck at 10:30 and passed out for two hours before checking on him for the last time. He was bright and alert and had finished another full bucket of water. He hadn't pooped, but he also hadn't eaten even half of his flake of hay. We decided to head home only to get back up four and a half hours later to get there to meet with the BM.

BM said when she got there, he was standing at the front of his stall demanding his breakfast. He had two normal piles of poop in his stall and his water bucket was almost empty again. BM gave him a handful of oats to shut him up, which he licked clean, then waited patiently while I fed him peppermints and took his temperature until it was time to go out.

licking the wall after morning cookies.
Vet and BM thought he would be better off outside so I hesitantly let him out, even though he was totally gung-ho. He waited for BFF Spyder to get a drink in the stream, then herded him up to the hill to get some hay.

If you've Red this whole post, you're probably insanse. But thank you anyway. Writing/journaling/'s really theraputic for me and I actaully feel a little calmer now that I have that whole mess out. Red's not a sure-thing still, but at this point I'm no longer sick with worry and I'm hoping I can get in a few more hours of sleep.

Red is the bravest, strongest pony in the whole wide universe. If he'd gotten a 1-100 chance of making it, I think he would still have had a strong heart-beat and a will to live. I won't let him suffer if we ever get to the point where he stops fighting, but I'm so greatful for the vet to have faith in him and keep working after the horrible scene he walked in on. I'm also super greatful to the barn staff who went above and beyond normal helping--it was long hours of waiting for a horse that was gasping for each breath and not moving for an hour before he repaid us for our vigilance.

And of course, besides Red being the best pony ever, Hubby is the best hubby ever. He wouldn't even let me question if he was driving the half an hour back and forth from the barn to the house with me multiple times, or if we were going to spend the whole night in the truck, or if he was going to take the day off of work if Red didn't get better.

So jingles for Red Pony. We have another eventing season we need to look forward to next year!


  1. Jingling for red!

    Have you guys tested for Potomic? Sometimes the high temps can be from of luck xx

  2. Oh no!! :-( Poor Red. Poor you guys. I'm so glad he's pulling through, but my thoughts are with you. :( Hope things continue to improve.


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