Posted by: shannonc | July 20, 2009

Timing is everything

Saturday after we left the hospital, Stephen went to his mom’s and I came home to check the horses.  I was pretty ready for serious pony hugs.  As it turned out, I got to visit with the vet instead.

Approaching the barn, everything looked normal.  The horses were out, nosing around for hay remnants.  I grabbed carrots from the fridge and went to greet them.  Blue came over first, as usual…but something looked off about the way he was moving.  He also looked really hot.  I checked his legs, then led the pony a little way off for his carrot, and Blue didn’t follow.  He spit out a piece of his and just stood there with his head hung low.  Not my horse.

I brought him in and took his vitals…temp 103, pulse 48, respiration 47.  Called my vet’s emergency number.  Sponged Blue and set up a fan on his stall.  I had no idea what kind of crisis was brewing, but I knew I felt ill equipped to cope with it.  Colic?  Laminitis?  Something neurological?  I couldn’t find any radial pulse, but then, I’ve never felt one.  I surfed up the equine hospital address on my Blackberry browser and wondered if I should hitch the trailer.  I didn’t want to leave Blue though.  I called the pony sitter – she said nothing strange happened during the week, and he was normal in the AM. 

I sat there on the edge of panic for an hour and a half while I waited for the vet’s arrival, thumbing through my first aid for horses book.  In my already shaken state, I might not have been able to hold it together, but he wasn’t getting worse.  He munched a little hay and continued to look depressed, and his temp only went down by 0.3 degrees, but he stopped breathing so hard.  I didn’t try to make him move.  He did get his tail brushed out.  In fact, he was a very well groomed emergency client by the time he met the vet. 

Blue didn’t have a lot to add for her, but she was able to rule out immediate large animal hospital-scale crisis.  We walked him a bit and he looked very uncomfortable.  She didn’t know what was causing the fever, so she drew blood, gave him some banamine, ordered bute in the AM, and set us up with SMZs.  I think she suspects tick-borne at this point.

The pony stood on his side of the aisle, peering through the stall bars with a defensive look on his face while the vet was there to let us know that the whole pony-doctor thing wasn’t getting by HIM, and he wanted nothing to do with it.

I probably checked Blue five times that night, so I did get a few pony hugs in.  Fever was gone in the morning before I gave the bute and he appeared pretty normal again throughout the day.  The vet called and ordered the bute tapered off so we can evaluate whether his good response is antibiotic- or pain reliever/anti-inflammatory-related.  Hopefully he is on the road to recovery.

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