Sun Pony Ranch

Diary of novice (clueless) ranch owners

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Getting to know our Vet

We've had a rash of vetrinarian needs the past few months, something quite unusal for us. *knock on wood*

It all started innocuously enough back in April with our usual spring vaccinations and Xrays for Jordan.

Then Chaco came down with a nasty chest cough. Watching that for a few days, suddenly he turned up extremely lethargic in camp one day. Ginger took him out of circulation, but when she took his temperature it was an astonishing 105.9! Over the phone our vet told us to start hosing him down to get the fever down, and then called in a prescription for antibiotics.

After a few hours of hosing and slow walking to keep his circulation going his fever was down to 103, the next morning down to a barely elevated 101.4. But the antibiotics never did much for the cough. So we called the vet out, and he prescribed something else to help repair his lungs which he thinks were damaged by the high fever. By now - two months later! - he still coughs, but nothing like before. We hope he manages to shake that any day now!

Shadow is our gray quarter horse. Most gray horses are especially prone to developing melanomas. We've known about one high inside his hind leg for a year now, but it seemed to be getting bigger so we asked the vet about it. He removed that almost 3 weeks ago. Reports say that it was about an inch by an inch or so in size. He's recovering just fine.

But, this last weekend we had probably our worst scare yet. Ginger's sister-in-law's sister was visiting nearby and arranged to come out for a ride. While she was riding Romeo, he started acting strangely - and even tried to lie down with her on him! She immediately got off, and it was quickly obvious that he was colicing.

Colic in horses is one of those things that you talk about, read about, and absolutely dread having it happen. It is often fatal. Yet in the past 10 years of working farily closely with horses - including 4 at the rescue - I've never seen a horse colic. But there was do doubt what so ever that that was exactly what Romeo was experiencing; he displayed all the classic symptoms. Was trying to lie down, kicked at his stomach. While we were keeping him walking in order to prevent him from lying down, you could just see the waves of pain hit him and his hind legs would damn near collapse underneath him. It took quite a bit of yelling and pulling to keep him up in those moments. This was scary. We actually have a stethoscope, but that doesn't mean we really know how to use it -- but use it we did and we both were unable to hear any gut sounds (gurgling). THIS - is even more scary.

Colic is a generic term for stomach pain, and can be from a variety of causes. The most severe, however, are those that cause the intestines to come to a screeching halt: either a blockage or a twist in the intestines themselves. Twisted gut isn't correctable without surgery, as far as I know, and that's very risky. With blockages you have to act quickly.

So on this Sunday afternoon we called the vet and he headed our way. Still took him 30 minutes or more to get to us (seemed like hours), and it was his third call of the day! He said he'd started out at 6 am with a 2 foot long, 2 inch deep gash on a 6 month old foal! Yikes.

Before he had even arrived, however, Romeo was already much improved. He'd pooped a few small piles - good indication that though not much was happening in his gut, it wasn't toatally shut down. But more dramatically, he stopped having those waves of pain that made his eyes roll up into his head and his hind end want to crumple. He even decided he was interested in eating.

The vet confirmed there still was a dangerous lack of gut sounds, but agreed that he look like he'd pulled most of the way through it himself. He recommended feeding him several bran mashes - wheat bran mixed with water, just to make sure any lumps of dry material got swept out of his gut. By morning he was acting pretty chipper -- and begging for another bran mash!




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