Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Ides of March

It has not been a good horse month. Last night, my barn lost their prized mare. She had delivered a beautiful filly less than 24 hours before she died and both were bright and doing well. 

We had been hanging around watching mom and baby for close to 2 hours just enjoying the antics of the little one and taking some care of her. 

Filly sleeping standing up. 
In case some of you guys can hear the voices - that's the barn/filly owner asking if I want to "wrassle" a baby and I respond "hell ya." I do not want anyone to misinterpret! She was talking about having me hold the filly while she applied some vaseline to her anus and underside of tail. I was really excited to get to hold the baby so close.

The mare went from looking amazing, to showing discomfort, to dead, in about 30 minutes. There was nothing wrong with her reproductive organs at all, so Dr. B thinks it was likely an aortic rupture or blood clot. I was consumed with trying to help without being in the way. Mostly I took the hard task of telling people as they arrived so the barn owners wouldn’t have to.  Then I assisted while they tried to get the filly to nurse from a bottle. 

That mare was the heart of the farm. 

This comes only 2 weeks after they lost a 3 year old mare to guttural pouch mycosis. Another horrible, fast, and tragic death.  The only positive is that, in these cases, neither could be predicted and neither mare would have suffered.

That brings me to my mystery gelding. Dr. B was out to see him on Sunday. I carefully described all of the behaviours that started up after he was out to see Willy in February. His mouth is fine, so the bit issue seems resolved and Dr.B wonders if wasn’t a metal allergy as he thought but perhaps a symptom of something else (given the new behaviours not present at the time). His sinuses sound clear and there are no other clinical signs to suggest what the problem is. I was assured that everything I describe is a clear pain response. He mentioned several times the possibility of a mass in his brain - I think he was preparing me.  For now, I wait for the results of his blood work (should be today). If nothing unusual shows up there he will be heading to the clinic for a few days to have a head x-ray and scope. I also want to get the chiropractor out but I think it’s better to get the vetting done first. 

*Update. Blood results show nothing abnormal so Willy will be going to the clinic for further soon as I can bare to mention it to two owners who have been up for days with foaling and then trying to feed an orphan filly...

For now, we can watch bits of our first-ever free-lunging session. He was pretty super, in my opinion. I was not so good with camera handling as I was (legitimately) more concerned about properly lunging him. *Dizziness warning - there are a few moments of potentially nausea inducing camera tilts. Sorry!



Friday, March 16, 2012

Coming up for air…

As promised, work has been rather insane this month. I’ve worked 18 out of the last 20 days and many of those days were 12-16 hour days. This included work travel which was almost 24/7 work for 5 days. I can honestly say I haven’t worked that long/hard since grad school. Dislike!

This was the bed I had to sleep in on my work trip last week. 
The food wasn’t much better.

On a positive note, I have 3 days off before starting the next stretch of almost no time off. I started last night by catching up on some email. I’ve dropped the ball on a couple things but I’m trying to pick them up again. I’m not used to making mistakes, so it’s been a hard go in that respect.

The issues I’ve had with Willy and his bit sensitivity/mouth issues have, unfortunately, not been resolved. I’ve tried just about everything with limited success. I have thought for a while now that there is something else going on and his owners agree. The question is, what? At first we were reluctant to have the vet out again since there wasn’t anything obvious or acute to report. I did manage to catch my vet while he was out for someone else and fit in a couple words about Willy (somewhat of a no-no, but I did it anyway). I said he was displaying new, worse behaviour (the head tossing, etc) and planned to try bitless for a couple weeks. He thought that was a good idea. But it has been several weeks with no change (without and with bits) so a vet will be out to see him Sunday.

Right before I left for my trip last week, I noticed a lump on his cheek/jowl area a little smaller than a golf ball. It seems superficial but was not there the day before, so I was very worried to be going away. I returned to a horse that ignored and even walked away from me when I went to get him. Will never does this. He always watches me, even if he doesn’t come to me, and he never walks away. He was also missing both hind shoes and was covered in sweat head-to-toe with just a rainsheet. The temperature was an uncharacteristic 15-16 degrees, so it was understandable, but I still felt like a horrible horse mom.

The next day, I was told that after I left Willy stood in his turnout pawing the air, often with his head cocked to the side, for about 3 hours. The owner went out to check on him a couple times and he stopped while she was there. Nothing seemed amiss and he wasn’t even digging! He would start up again soon after she left.

The riding has remained pretty much the same – not normal with his head/mouth but he seems to be trying. He doesn’t really head-toss under saddle anymore but he will do it on the crossties, in his stall, and in turnout. His temperature has been normal and he is eating well and playing like normal.

I will not divulge my secrets!

Today he had his feet trimmed and reset. I wasn’t there until a bit later and was told upon arrival that both his cheeks are now swollen. So it seems that the swelling isn’t directly related to that lump on his right cheek (which is still there and possibly bigger than a couple days ago). I couldn’t bear to ride – I just felt too guilty even thinking about it. So I free lunged instead. Although neither of us have ever done it, he was brilliant. He mostly acted like he was on a lunge line and responded well to my verbal and body cues. Good boy! 

All I can say is that I really, really hope the vet can find some answers for me.