Saturday, April 26, 2008
If it’s not one horse, it’s the other. I hadn’t been around most of the day, so I went out last night to check on the horses around 8 pm. Siete was rolling around in her stall and rubbing her belly back and forth. She was seriously agitated. Neither horse had finished her hay, which was odd. Was it colic or an allergic reaction or just bug bites? I dragged my husband out to the barn to be my assistant.
As we were leading Siete out of her stall, Silk went down on her belly and began rubbing herself back and forth. Meanwhile, Siete was biting at her sides and kicking herself in the belly with both back legs. I was pretty sure it was a severe itch and not colic, but the biting and kicking her stomach is a colic symptom. I got a bucket of warm water and a sponge and washed Siete’s underside. Then, I took her temperature, and it was 100 degrees, which was normal. We put her back in her stall and did the same thing with Silk. By this time, Siete was again on the floor rolling and rubbing. I decided that no matter what was going on, a little Banamine might help. So, I gave each horse a half dose (for 500 lb.). Then, I felt guilty that I hadn’t called the vet first, so I asked the emergency operator to have the doctor on duty call me.
We swept out the uneaten hay and got rid of it. Earlier, my husband had opened a new bale when he gave them dinner. I wondered if maybe there was something wrong with it. Neither horse has been drinking much water the last two days. We had taken out the heated buckets and replaced them with regular ones for the summer. Silk especially didn’t want to drink from the new bucket, so I put the heated one back, unplugged, and filled it with fresh water. The vet who was on call phoned. She’s someone that I don’t know, but she was very helpful.
One thing that I love about this equine practice is that they welcome phone calls and always believe it’s better to be safe than sorry. So, the doctor reassured me that up until this point, I’d done all the right things. She suggested giving them a little hay from a different shipment and wetting it to reduce dust and possible mold. She also asked if I had any dexamethasone. It’s a corticosteroid used for allergic reactions. I thought I might still have a packet from when Silk got the “big itch” last fall from the black flies. I was able to find some foil packets in my emergency kit, but I didn’t recognize what they were labeled: flunixin meglumine. So, I called the doctor back to see if it was the right medication. Good thing, because it wasn’t. It was more Banamine, and she complimented me on checking with her before I gave it to Siete.
By this point, both horses were calmer, so I was more convinced that it had been a reaction to gnats or something on their skin. I reviewed what was different. The bedding was the same as usual. The only new thing was that I had sprayed them both for the first time with a mix of vinegar and water instead of fly spray. Maybe it was the vinegar? Since I am the designated worrier in our family, I went in the house to fret while everyone else fell asleep.
I woke at 5 am and didn’t see Siete’s lovely head poking out of the top of the Dutch door the way I usually do. I forced myself to follow my routine of feeding the cats and making coffee. I still am haunted by a frightening experience two years ago with Silk. I went out to the barn to feed one morning in a torrential rainstorm. When I opened her stall door, Silk collapsed and fell on top of me in the muddy corral. I’ll never forget it. I thought she was dead. Even after many anxious hours and medical tests later, we never were able to determine what had been wrong with her. So, I still have a brief flash of fear as I go out to the barn each morning. I breathe easy when I see both horses sticking their heads out to greet me.
As I opened the back door, I didn’t see Siete or Silk watching for me. These are the moments when I remind myself about my faith. I am doing the best I can. What will be, will be. God and the Universe have a plan, and I will find the strength in myself to handle whatever I have to face. Filling the buckets with breakfast in the tack room, I reminded myself that I had my cell phone in my pocket this time and help was only a phone call away. Of course, when I came out and saw Siete scratching her nose on the door latch, I was filled with joy.
No one is rolling on the ground or rubbing her belly yet. I’ll keep a close eye on them today and probably use some warm water to clean them off again. Horses are accidents waiting to happen, our vet in California used to tell me. Everyone else in my house is still asleep. I’m going to check on the girls one more time, and then stretch out on the couch for a little nap. But before I do, I wanted to share with you something that a friend in San Diego sent me during the wildfires last year:
St. Theresa's Prayer:
May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us.