Wednesday, July 30, 2008

bad news

Yesterday we had Blondie put down.

I have had this horse for 23 years (I bought her as a 4 year old), she gave me two beautiful babies, one of which I saw being born. We have shared many many rides, and she has been a favorite with all our neighbors for all that time. Except for the two trips to be bred, she has never been away from home. When she ran and kicked up her heels, she was poetry in motion. She never offered to bite or kick, and anyone could ride her.

We still don't know exactly what was wrong with her; the only way to find out definitely would be to take her to the equine facility in Ohio, and by then she could neither stand nor walk, so a trailer ride was out of the question. She did have a hoof abscess, and both the vet and the shoer were unable to find "the spot" from the sole of her foot to relieve the pressure. Two days later the abscess broke through above her hoof, at the coronary band, and usually once that happens the horse is sound immediately. But she still was down, only rose briefly to relieve herself and then she tried to lie down, but actually collapsed to her side. It was unsafe to be with her in the stall once she was up, since she could fall anytime and anywhere, including on top of us. I used epson salt poultices on her foot, but each time I changed them they gagged me, and the smell would linger on my hands for hours. It was draining on both sides of her hoof and at the heel, and as the days passed, it became apparent that she would eventually slough off the entire foot. bloodwork showed her kidneys were failing, although she ate and drank all the time, and would nicker at us. Her pupils were unequal in size, and she had mini-spasms for no apparent reason. And a horse who lies down all the time can't live. I think she had either spinal or brain damage or had torn up her hip in a fall while running, and at the same time formed the abscess from a stone bruise, puncture, something. She developed pressure sores on her hocks, elbows, thighs, stifle from pawing and spinning herself around while laying prone, so no matter how much bedding we forked under her, she would end up laying on the bare stall mat. I know the sores hurt terribly, but they were largely in places impossible to bandage. Late Monday night I gave her another shot, and as she lay there, it struck me that she would never be better, not even to amble around the paddocks; that I could see the weariness and pain in her eyes, and I realized she had given up. When the vet came last night, I stroked her and rubbed her ears, and it was over very quickly. N and I left, and a friend with the equipment came to take her for burial.

I feel very fortunate to have been owned by Blondys Girl.
But no, 23 years isn't enough time, for such a friend.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


We're feeling a little down for some time about Blondie, the grand dame equine of our barn. Back in late June/early July, while bringing in the horses from the paddocks, we noticed that Blondie's "gimpy" leg, the left hind fetlock and pastern, had become more swollen and she was pretty lame. When I checked her in the morning, she was putting weight on it very gingerly, so I gave her two butazolidin tablets. Later in the day, I saw she was down and we couldn't get her up (outside of foaling, I've never seen her lying down). When the (replacement) vet arrived, he gave her banamine, dexamethazone, an antibiotic, and took two xrays of her pastern/fetlock. Temp was up a bit. But the hoof itself showed no tenderness, so probably not an abcess. Maybe a snake bite? He left me banamine and syringes/needles, and said to keep up the bute and give her two IV injections of the banamine a day. Her stall had just been cleaned (in fact, that is why she was out) but we raked the sawdust level and then bedded her down in hay. The next day the vet said the x-rays showed no ringbone, best of all no bone cancer, not even much in the way of arthritic changes (exceptional in a horse 27 years old). We kept on and also wrapped both hind legs with standing bandages. As soon as our regular vet got back from vacation, we called him. His thought is that Blondie had been dashing about and slipped, and did a partial split damaging her hip, and also twisted her foot, but rest is the only cure, and keeping her comfortable. It is, of course, brutally hot just now, the flies are thick, and I don't care what the ads say, there is no fly repellant worth a hill of beans. We put a stronger fan in her overhead fan support.

But today she seems much improved! She is up and standing on both hind legs (well, those and the front ones, too) the swelling is way down, she drank half of her water bucket, and nickered when I came in with fresh hay and grain. She got pretty tired, and laid down again, which for the legs/hip strain is the best, if we can avoid GI bleeds caused by the meds, and pressure sores from laying down, and colic because horses need to stand to help digestion and elimination. Keeping our fingers crossed.

Do you think a little cool weather would be too much to ask for? Well, maybe so...