So this whole episode happened a week ago, but I kept quiet about it because it was pretty upsetting/I didn’t want a whole lot of attention from it. But I know how curious people are, so here’s the story.
My horse, if you’ve been following for a while, has almost died countless times – mostly from punctures. But this time for the first time in her 28 years of life….she had colic.
The day started out as usual. I went to work then went to see her after. I got to the barn, opened her stall door to see her eating hay and chilling like she always does. They were about to feed so I just went to the tack room to get my stuff. It had been hot, so I was going to clip her. She has Cushing’s disease, but thankfully this spring she shed out amazingly and her coat was short and looked normal. I had put off clipping her because her coat didn’t need it (last year she was a fuzzy beast), but I know she’s older and more sensitive to the heat. Clipping definitely helps, so I figured it was better to give her that extra bit to help her cool off. I had literally just bought a new pair of clippers since my last ones broke earlier this spring.
When I came back, one of the barnhands who didn’t speak English was standing with a bucket of food outside my horse’s stall pointing at her. I looked in her stall, and she was sprawled out on the ground, eyes closed. I was like oh my God.
I didn’t panic though. Obviously it was a hot day. She’s lied down before when she’s tired. I checked her chest, and it was warm but not incredibly hot. She really wasn’t sweating that much either…But I figured it was heat exhaustion, so I went and got a bucket of cold water and a sponge. I rinsed her off, and she immediately got up once the cold water hit her. I was like ahh all better. Show’s over.
The other barnhand came over who spoke English after being told probably that my horse 5 mins prior was pretty much dead. Without thinking I was like esta bien. And his face was super serious and he just looked at me like esta bien? Do you understand what esta bien means because your horse sure as hell isn’t esta bien. He didn’t say all those words but I’m sure he was thinking it. They had put grain in my horse’s bucket. She ate 2 mouth fulls but kept walking in circles. And she loves her food, so that’s when I was like…oh no. The barnhand went in her stall checked her over and felt her stomach. He was like her stomach is bad.
I was like oh shit. The dreaded colic. I called the vet while he started walking her. I still didn’t panic. I’m like it’s fine….Just have to walk her around and let it pass. I walked her around the indoor, and you could just tell in her face that she felt like shit.
When the vet came, he did the whole exam. He said nothing seemed twisted in her intestines, but she wasn’t making any gut sounds. He said it could just be a mild episode from old age or it could be the start of something serious that just hasn’t progressed yet. He pumped her with electrolytes and water, banamine and sedated her for the whole thing because she had to get the tube shoved up her nose and down her throat which gave her a nosebleed because she’s prone to nosebleeds as well.
A half hour after the vet left, she was still feeling like shit. My vet said she could lie down so long as she didn’t roll around. She lied down in her stall and was still at first. But then she kept rolling and rolling, so I made her get up. The stall was wet because it hadn’t been mucked out yet. She was also sedated, so when she got up it was less than graceful. She slipped and barely caught herself.
We went to the indoor to walk around and walked and walked. She went down, and I just let her. At one point I wasn’t even sure if she was breathing anymore and legit thought she had just died. Her eyes were closed, and she was just lying there motionless. That’s when I started crying a bit. Then she started kicking her back legs out and looked like she was seizing or something because her eyes were rolled in the back of her head. It was terrifying. I tried to get her up to wake up and stop, but I couldn’t. She was still sedated, so I figured she was just out of it. Thankfully the barnhand came over and helped me get her back up. We walked around a little bit more and then finally back to the stall. After that episode of kicking her back legs out, she actually felt better.
My vet said she could eat some grass for a bit to see how she handled it. She did fine and her stomach was making noises again. He said if she was still okay in a hour she could be turned out in her field. Once the sedation wore off, she had started getting sassy that she wasn’t able to eat her dinner. She was acting like her normal self for the last hour, so that was good. So 4 hours after this horrible ordeal, she was out in her field running around like nothing had even happened.
I have no idea what could have caused this episode from a horse that has no history of colic at all. Yeah it was hot, but she had been in her stall with a fan and she wasn’t really overheated or sweating profusely. It wasn’t her grain because she hadn’t had any prior to the colic. It wasn’t anything she ate because she had just had hay. It was like a freak thing, and her old ass age I guess.
Out of all the medical emergencies she’s had, colic was probably the most terrifying because no one knew what could happen. If it escalated, if it didn’t pass…it was scary. I think departure for Kentucky of 2018 was the most comparable medical emergency where she had the puncture so bad that the bleeding wouldn’t stop. But at least I could see that injury and know that she wasn’t going to just drop dead because she had a bleeding wound in one part of her body. With colic I was fully prepared to say goodbye that day. It was pretty emotionally draining. Like a rollercoaster ride.
I have to say I’m extremely thankful that we moved barns in November. If she had gotten colic at her old barn and I wasn’t there, it would be bad news. No one would have known what it was if they had even noticed that something was wrong at all. If I wasn’t at my current barn when she had her episode, I know the staff would have walked her around and called me as soon as it happened. Even after I left, they checked on her throughout the night. I was there until 7:30pm and it happened around 3pm. The barnhand was like you can go home. We can watch her. It was really nice. And days after, I had the staff come up to me and be like hey I heard about Eve – how is she doing? And other boarders while it was happening was like do you need us to get you anything? Do you want help?
It was just super nice to have support while the whole thing is going down, especially since I’ve never dealt with colic before. Funnily enough, colic was the only thing I had bragged about not having to deal with ever with my horse. But now she has literally had everything possible known to horse.
So a week has passed, and you never would have known that she was literally PTFO on the ground in a drug induced haze writhing about… except now she’s horribly, horribly lame. No swelling, no heat in the leg. I’m guessing she strained something when she slipped getting up. She does better when she’s walking around. I ordered liniment oil for her, and she’s already on a joint supplement. I figured it’s going to be a while before this heals up. She really did a number on it.
Since now colic could possibly be on the table in the future, we’ve taken the necessary precautions. All her feed is watered down to help digestion. Her senior supplement that she’s been on (and that she was off during the time of her colic and a week before because I hadn’t refilled it), has probiotics in it to aid digestion as well. And since she is literally 10 mins from my work (which is awesome), I’m checking on her almost everyday to make sure she’s all good.
So crisis avoided….this time. If anything this episode made me realize I have to hurry up and save for her cremation because one of these days when the vet comes, it’ll be the last time. And I’ve decided I’m cremating her entire body for $2,000+ and getting a box the size of a coffee table kept in my living room so I can stub my toe on it occasionally and be like god damn it Eve! Causing me pain in the afterlife. It will be never ending torture, but a beautiful way to remember her.