Friday, December 24, 2010

Sick horsie....

So it happened. The C word.


But don't worry, he's ok now!!
Sorry, didn't mean to totally scare the heck out of you, but trust me, I was terrified. I got a call from my barn manager on Saturday- "Horse isn't acting right, rolling alot, not feeling well and not wanting to eat. The vet is on his way down."
She called the vet for me, and I raced down to the barn, which was the longest 30 minute drive of my life, considering in my panic to get into my car, my jacket caught on the turn signal lever and SNAP, awesome, my left turn signal was now stuck ON.
Me, driving as fast as legally possible traffic would allow, with my left ticker on the whole way.... tick, tick, tick, tick....."eye twitch".

I grabbed my husband for moral support and we got to the barn to find my kid standing in the round pen. Just standing. I walked up, and gave him my usual greeting. He didn't move.
Didn't even twitch. Just stood there, head down, tensed lips, ears back. He rolled a couple of times, and finally settled to the ground, just laying there. Thankfully the vet arrived right then, or I would've started crying, seeing my big guy like that.
The vet checked his gut, and found a huge gas bubble on his right side, and let me listen to it. He had Altivo stand, and then got the long glove out. Rectal exam time, sorry horsie!!!
He didn't feel any impactions, so he gave him a shot of pain meds, and then some mineral oil through a tube in his nose that snaked down to his stomach. Altivo felt so cruddy that he didn't even fight any of this, just stood there stoically. The vet told us to observe him, and let us know how he progressed, since he had to rush to another horse colic. We put him into a stall and offered him some food, and by now, his pain meds were kicking in, and he seemed interested in the pellets we offered. Husband and I needed to grab some food, so after watching him for a while, we decided to go get something to eat and come back immediately. Horsie seemed ok, not rolling or thrashing, so we decided to run in to a store really quick for some cat food (cats do NOT appreciate starving just because a horse is sick.) and around that time, got another call. Altivo was down again, rolling and kicking at his belly. Barn manager offered him a nice mash with tasty things in it and he turned it down. One of the barn girls was handwalking him while the vet was called back and we rushed back down to the barn. Sorry kitties, you have to wait on dinner!!

We got back and the vet had arrived shortly before us. He said his pancreas seemed a little swollen, gave him more pain meds, and another rectal exam. He pulled out some icky stinky feces and said there were still no impactions, and that things should start moving soon. If they didn't start moving, our next step would have been surgery. For those who don't know, surgery for colic is ginormously expensive. Like, more than 4 grand expensive. Yikes.

I walked him around the arena, since, oh yeah, it was storming like MAD and freezing cold to boot. We walked for a few minutes, and I hugged him and told him to get better or else.

The pain meds made him mildly loopy but he still wasn't feeling great. I put him back in his stall and we ran home to let the dogs out, feed them, and put on warmer clothing. Husband was wonderful, and even though he probably could've found a million better things to do, he insisted on going back to the barn with me. We sat at the barn for about 3 hours, watching my horse's every single move. I looked up from checking my email at one point and didn't see a horse standing there, so I peeked into the stall. It's not a great picture, but here's something showing sick pony-

Normal Altivo: hungry, mouthy (bad habit), hungry, outgoing, hungry, interested, hungry, curious, hungry, and friendly. Oh, and hungry.

Sick Altivo: listless, disinterested, sad, and sadly, not hungry.

Around 10:45 that night, I grabbed about a cup of pellets and threw them into the feed bucket. He was standing, and heard the pellets drop. He turned around, sniffed them, and then dove in like a crazy person horse, chomping and munching until they were gone. He looked up, and said, "got any more?" I gave him a little bit more, and he drank some water after eating them. We were cold and exhausted, and decided to head home for the night. Barn manager is an angel in disguise, since she got up a couple times that night and checked on him, and he was fine each time.

We got back to the barn early the next morning, and walked up to the stall. He nickered, walked up to the front of the stall door and tried to search me for food. "He's back!" we said. I walked him around and then gave him more food. He was the Normal manifestation of my horse. During the day, we had a commitment to go to, and the barn kept an eye on him. He had a relapse of rolling and unhappiness, and I was too far away to get back to the barn to be of any use (I'm fairly useless in a barn anyway, lol) so I had him walked and my barn manager gave him some electrolytes and he seemed better but still ill. We finally headed to the barn and when we got there, he was seemingly well, wanting food, and I gave him about a handful, knowing the barn staff had been feeding him small meals, and I didn't want to throw a wrench into his diet. (Though he would probably try to eat a wrench if I did give him one...)
He couldn't eat those few pellets fast enough, and was drinking and wandering around his stall, so when he finally settled down and took a nap, we went home to sleep and get ready for work the following day.

The next day, it was as if nothing happened. He was bucking during his turnout, eating like a champ- trying to eat everything and everyone, and had no issues. I went the following day to see him, and he wanted to know where his treat was.
So where does that leave us?
Well, apparently, an enlarged pancreas can either be an angry pancreas, a pancreas getting shoved around by intestines that are gassy, or perfectly normal in certain horses. This means that this issue could rear its ugly head later on, or it may never be an issue. We won't know until it decides to happen again, which could be never.

It was heartbreaking to watch him in pain, and not be able to do anything about it. I now know the signs of colic, what to do while waiting for the vet, and what to do after the vet has come. I'm grateful I have a support network of horse people to help me out during these things, since I had NO clue what to do, ask, or anything.

This is just a reminder of how much I don't know.


Rebecca said...

Glad you all made it through it, the C word can be a heartbreaking experience for sure. Happy Holidays!

cindi said...

Glad to help, Tori. It was scary! In the interests of scientific accuracy, it was the spleen, not the pancreas, that was enlarged or displaced. Typically seen with a nephrosplenic entrapment, which Altivo thankfully did not have.

BigGreenGirl said...

LOL thanks Cindi!! I was writing this, and couldn't remember which it was, so I just guessed- and I told him it wasn't allowed to happen ever again!

Shannon said...

Oh my gosh, poor Altivo he looks so sick in that picture. I would have been crying my eyes out!