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Saturday, November 03, 2007

Near Death Experience

You might gather from the title that the diarrhoea got out of hand, but this time it wasn't mommy, daddy or little Wolf that got a nasty bug. This time it was Hearty, Julia's foal, that got into serious trouble.

Yesterday morning, the owner of the horse stables were Julia and Hearty are staying, called us up to say that the little filly had a severe case of horse colic. Now colic is no laughing matter for a horse, in fact it is one of the most common causes of death. Horses are beautiful creatures, but under the bonnet their design is not all that great. Their intestines are quite delicate, and it doesn't take them much to get in trouble.

Mrs.B drove over to Heartie and Julia, while I stayed behind and tried to stuff mashed potatoes in Wolf's mouth. K, the owner of the stables, had already called in a vet. He couldn't locate the obstruction, it's much more difficult with young horses. To make things more difficult, Hearty rolled about in pain and kicked with her four hooves to anything in range.

In the end, the vet gave her medication that should work within two hours. If it didn't, Hearty'd be in big trouble and the only option would be to drive her to the horse clinic for emergency surgery. But even with surgery, her future would look bleak.

Filly Hearty and mother Julia

So two hours later, we drove back to the stables. Unfortunately, Hearty was not feeling better. In fact, she looked dreadful, lying on her back, rolling over and over in pain. Her eyes were bulging, she was covered in sweat and dirt. This foal was staring death right in the face.

It took us a lot of time and effort to find someone with a trailer to drive her to the horse clinic. Then it took four strong men and a strong lass to Hearty out of the stable and through the paddock to the waiting trailer on the road. Meanwhile, I tried to calm down the frenzied mother and succeeded in pursuading her not to leave her stable over the – six feet high – door. Once she was near her filly again she allowed the team to carry Hearty out.

We managed to cram mother and daughter into the horse trailer, Hearty even stayed on her four feet – more or less. An even bigger surprise awaited us when we arrived and we opened the loading door. She was not only standing up, but she'd also managed to turn around in the trailer. She even managed to wobble inside on her own power.

But any optimism was too soon. The vet did an endoscopy and said that the blockage in her intestines was severe. We had two options: let her undergo major surgery with a very hefty price tag and uncertain outcome, or just let her have a drip with medication to ease the pain and hope for the best. We didn't have the money for the surgery, and we knew that her chances would be very very slim with only the medication to help her.

We had no choice, we left her in the capable hands of the staff of the horse clinic who gave her the medication drip. They'd call us if things took a turn for the worse again, and in that case they'd have to put Hearty down.

When we arrived back home, the call hadn't come. An hour later, the phone did ring, but it was a friend asking how the horses were. Then another friend called, but by the end of the evening no word from the clinic. We took the phone up to the bedroom, but all remained quiet until the next morning.

Then Mrs.B called and she got the good news that Hearty was better. She was up and running around as if nothing ever happened. But we were not out of the danger zone yet. She hadn't eaten yet, and when she did we'd have to wait to see whether she really was ok. There was a very real danger that she had permanent damage to her lower intestines, because they'd been cut off for so long.

But again our little sturdy filly proved her worth and strength. So she's all healty now. Tomorrow we can go and get her at the clinic. She won't return to her old stable, instead she'll go to a breeding centre were young horses can grow up in groups of other foals of their own age. She'll leave her mother and learn how a horse should behave from other horses. It's like a primary school for foals. Julia will move back to her old horse riding centre, where they have an indoor paddock so Mrs.B doesn't freeze in the winter. It is a bit sad though that we have to leave the good people of the stables were they stayed for the last couple of weeks in such a way. They really did a tremendous job helping us out and saving Hearty. I must drive by one of these days and drop a couple of bottles of wine or something.

Posted by Bart at 8:44 PM
Categories: Animal Farm

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