Silk isn’t feeling good. She didn’t drink her water last night. The temperature outdoors is going up and down and up like a yo-yo. My horse’s temperature is normal. She’s leaving mushy cowpies in the corral, not her usual nuggets. Now, her belly is itchy like it was last fall when the black flies were so bad. Fortunately, I washed her underside while it was in the 70’s this afternoon. She’s dry and seems happier. Her appetite is okay, and I gave her some Fiberpsyll (made by Select). It has psyllium, wheat bran and beet pulp which usually gets her back to normal pretty quickly.
My big fear is that we will have a replay of last Spring’s nightmare. Around this time of year, I came out to feed dinner to the horses, and Silk refused to eat. I was rushing to pick up my husband at the airport, so I had to leave her for several nervous hours. When I got back, things weren’t any better so I called the vet. Our favorite doctor was at a horse show. I spoke to the vet on-duty, and we began treating her like it might be colic. The next morning, she wasn’t feeling any better, so he came out and “tubed” her. Her temperature was a bit high, and she was really listless. For another day, we struggled along with a slight improvement.
On Day 3, I had a meeting about an hour away from our house. My husband was home, and he kept checking on Silk. As I was driving home, he called me to say that she really didn’t look good. I raced back, took her temperature and was horrified to find it was 104 degrees. I frantically called the vet again and began walking her, still thinking colic. Luckily, the preferred doctor was back. and she drove here at breakneck speed while I shoved Banamine into my poor horse. Silk appeared to be going into shock.
She went down on the ground, with a look in her eyes like she was going to leave me. Somehow, I got her to stand up and I just kept walking her in the blazing hot sun, even though it was the last thing in the world that either of us wanted to do. I begged her to hang on. I could see how she was suffering, and I kept reminding her of several other times that she had been hurt and I had made it better. I promised her that if she would just stay with me, help was on the way. My husband hovered around us, while we trudged in a circle, and I prayed. It was really terrifying. About ten endless minutes later, the vet came tearing into my driveway.
The doctor took one look at Silk and said, “She’s been bit by an Ehrlichia tick.” A what??? She gave her a huge dose of Tetracycline and explained to me that this evil bug was a mutant of the Lyme tick. She showed me that the whites of Silk’s eyes were yellowish, and coupled with the symptoms that mimicked colic and the high temperature, it was a good indication of what was wrong. We started a month-long treatment of anti-biotics, and within two days, Silk was feeling better. I felt so fortunate to have a smart vet who knew about this new tick and cared about us enough to drive 90 mph to get here.
So, tonight, I’ve done a “tick check”, and I’m being a vigilant mom. Silk drank some water and I’ll check on her again in a little while. At least this year, I know what to look for and I’ve got my vet’s home number. Hopefully, I won’t have to use it.