Friday, May 29, 2009

Under the Weather

Tonight I planned to have a liesurely evening at the barn, perhaps reading one of the books I just got from the library as Halo grazed serenely nearby. It was not to be so! When I pulled into the barn driveway I didn't see Halo in the field. I grabbed her halter and headed out to find this:

I've caught her lying in the pasture before, so I didn't think much of it until I got closer. I offered her a bite of the enormous apple I was eating. She refused. Strange. When I first got her she didn't like apples, but the last few times I'd brought them she enjoyed having a piece. She stood up, and meanwhile a couple of the other horses came up to investigate. While I was distracted by them, Halo ambled off a few steps and lay down again. That was decidedly odd. And then as I observed, she went flat out.

At this, I became worried. I got her on her feet and led her out of the pasture. I listened for gut sounds and didn't hear much, and also noticed that she seemed to have recently had some diarrhea. I walked her for a while and checked again for gut sounds. She seemed rather listless, walking slowly and not showing much interest in grass or anything else. Fortunately the barn owner was at home, so I let her know what was going on and then continued walking Halo. She did try to lie down on me at one point, in a very stupid place right next to the electric fence. Fortunately she stayed on her feet and we kept walking.

By the time the food wagon came by with everyone's nightly feed she seemed to be perking up. Her illness could be caused by several factors. Yesterday she had her wolf teeth pulled, and they were big damn teeth (pictures forthcoming). I'm sure I wouldn't feel that great with a sore mouth and possibly some after-effects from sedation. She also got her rabies and West Nile vaccinations yesterday since I couldn't order them from Valley Vet Supply. In addition, new round bales were put in the pasture on Wednesday, and apparently a couple of other horses haven't been feeling well either. 

Although she perked up, we chose to put her in the covered arena with another horse that was also not feeling well. She didn't poop while I was walking her, so we wanted to make sure she passed manure before feeding her anything else that might worsen an impaction. I think she's okay, but the barn owner will keep an eye on her tonight and call me if she starts acting strange again. I already had plans to go to the barn early tomorrow morning, so I'll get to check on her then as well. Horses!


Kate said...

I was very worried when I read your post - hope your mare is better by now.

Over the years, I've gotten much more likely to call the vet sooner rather than later. Horses can be very fragile creatures. For me, the main thing I look at is the horse's demeanor - any variation from normal appearance or behavior merits close observation, and any big variation means I'm on the phone to the vet ASAP - sometimes I've even called as I'm bringing a horse in from pasture if something isn't right. To me, a horse lying down, not just napping in the pasture or sleeping in a stall at night, is a big red alert - it usually is a sign of serious pain (often colic but sometimes something else) or other illness. Sometimes waiting to call the vet can result in things getting worse - even if they were to get better on their own I'd rather make the call.

I look at the horse's expression - is it dull or "looking inside"? I look at gum color and capillary refill time. I take the horse's temperature - you need to know your horse's normal temperature at different times of day, but for me anything over 101 is cause for serious concern. Is the horse breathing normally, and is the respiration rate normal - again, you need to know your horse's normal. Is the horse walking or standing abnormally? Are there gut sounds, on both sides and both high and low? - I use a stethescope to listen but press your ear to the horse's side if you don't have one. Is the horse exhibiting other signs of pain, such as pawing, rolling or head-shaking. I even have one mare that shows early stages of discomfort by small wrinkles on her muzzle!

Sorry for the long comment - I was worried when I read and saw your post.

taramariephotography said...

Is she looking or biting at her side? Poor girl. I hope she is better today.

spazfilly said...

@Kate - thanks for your concerns. I agree, it's usually best not to wait if there are gut problems! If there hadn't been the additional factors of vaccinations and recent tooth extraction at work, I probably would have called the vet immediately rather than second-guessing it.

@Tara - nope, she wasn't biting her sides, which I'm glad for. I would have been much more concerned if she'd been doing that.

I did check on her this morning and she seems 100% back to her normal happy self. I'm not sure what caused her to feel unwell yesterday, but she seems to be over it. I will be out again tomorrow morning to check on her again. Phew!

Kate said...

Great news! - all my worries were for nothing - as is sometimes (often) the case - perhaps just a reaction to the sedatives for tooth work and the vaccines.

meg said...

Oooh I'm so glad to hear she's better...I was worried looking at that second picture :( Never seen a healthy horse like that who wasn't seriously geriatric.

meg said...

Oooh I'm so glad to hear she's better...I was worried looking at that second picture :( Never seen a healthy horse like that who wasn't seriously geriatric.