Friday, January 25, 2008

Sick Day

I woke up today with a splitting headache. All morning, it didn't go away. I was feeling kind of stuffy, so I thought it might be a sinus headache, which is something I almost never get. Hoping to clear it up, I took one of my husband's decongestants.

All midday, the headache didn't go away. I took ibuprofen, without any noticeable effect. Finally, even though I had a lot of things I really should have been doing, I went to lie down for a while, hoping a little nap would help.

I dozed for about an hour, and felt somewhat better when I got up. For some reason, I decided to cook dinner early, so Ken and I could eat before we did evening chores. It's a good thing I did, because it turned out I didn't get back in the house for the evening until almost 9:00 o'clock.

When we went out to do chores, we noticed one of the fillies, Libby, was lying down and was extremely filthy. It was a little unusual, but didn't strike me as extremely odd, since the baby horses lie down all over the field to nap all day, every day.

But after we'd finished chores, I was walking back through the paddock and saw that Libby was collapsed on the ground beside the hay feeder.

A chill went through me. Colic!

Colic in horses is a very serious and sometimes life-threatening thing. Because horses can't burp or vomit, any digestive disturbance has to make it all the way through the horse. Anything that causes a lot of gas or anything that causes any kind of blockage, causes a lot of pain. A horse that is in a lot of pain will sometime roll on the ground, which can sometimes cause its intestines to twist, which leads to more problems and pain and sometimes death.

So any horse person who sees one of her horses with any symptoms of colic knows that fast treatment is imperative.

I went and forced Libby to her feet, and though she was reluctant to even move, I dragged her out into the yard so I could walk her and prevent her from rolling. She had laid down in a puddle, so she was wet, chilled, and shivering, so I got a blanket and draped it over her.

I took her temperature, which was normal, and listened to her belly for gut sounds. There were almost none. Not a good sign. Horses' guts should always be gurgling, an indication that things are moving along inside as they should be.

I got some warm molasses water and tried to get her to drink, but she refused. I gave her a dose of Banamine to ease the pain, and had Ken call the vet.

We walked her around the back yard for over an hour, waiting for the vet to arrive. Eventually, the Banamine kicked in, and she started feeling a little better. Shortly after that, her belly started gurgling a lot. A little later: a giant, liquid burst of diarrhea!

Okay. Well, at least that meant she wasn't impacted. After dealing with Scylla's impaction colic two years ago, which led to a trip to the horse hospital and several thousand dollars worth of vet bills, I had been fearing the worst again.

But by the time the vet arrived, there wasn't a lot left for him to do. He took blood samples to test that it wasn't some kind of infection, but we agreed that it seemed more like Libby was simply having a hard time adjusting to our new hay, which was supposed to be a grass/alfalfa blend, but turned out to be almost entirely alfalfa.

We transitioned the horses over to the new stuff over the course of a week, and we thought they'd all adjusted just fine. But apparently Libby had a bit harder time with the change.

She's resting now in the run-in bay, with clean dry bedding on the floor for her to sleep on, and a hay bag full of grass hay to sooth her upset tummy. With any luck, she'll be on the mend and feeling better by tomorrow.

But me... after a day like today, what I need is a drink!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness you caught it in time and she is OK. -- Kris