About this Blog

Meet my very 1st horse, Lazarus.
I couldn't wait for Santa anymore or ask one more time for a pony for my bday (after age 30 it got embarrassing). I took matters in my own hands and I finally decided to pick a pony that needed a new home. Laz found me as I contemplated with this idea. He was sweet yet very sassy, fresh off the track, Thoroughbred (OTTB).
Join us for our re-training, rehabbing from laminitis and testing all parts of mixed up horsemanship and partnership, and luck...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Colic scare

I'm writing this with red, burning eyes from lack of sleep.
Yesterday, I was unable to see Lazarus because of work (like normal weekdays) and received a phone call from "C" where I board at. She was concerned with Lazarus because from Sunday night after the horses came in to be stalled for the night, he seemed to not drink any of his evening water in his stall. Lazarus is usually quite the healthy drinker...so it was definitely strange. She made a mental note of it and turned the boys out to their paddock for the day and noticed at lunch time, Lazarus did not want to eat. Again, not normal behaviour. In fact, when she walked out to him, she mentioned he nuzzled her a bit (which he adores "C") and layed down but then got back up after a minute. She said she suspected Colic right away, like he was acting mildly uncomfortable. From there, she moved him from his herd of 3 others, into the 'sick and injured' pen so he could lay down, if he wanted to, quietly. She watched to make sure he wasn't thrashing or acting up to protect himself from injury or twisting his gut.
So, actually, when she called me yesterday afternoon, it was from the round pen where she was lunging him trying to stretch out his belly to see if some movement would help with what was seeming like an impaction colic. He was willingly free lunging and trotting for her. From there, it was a similar routine. He was not drinking, he was not eating.
Now, she starting to take action. Took his hay away. Gave him fresh and lukewarm water in his stall and a watered down bran mash to help entice him to get liquids and loosen up his gut. He took two nibbles of the mash and was done. When we talked, I was very concerned obviously and living an hour away, I sometimes feel it's an eternity. She assured me she would check him throughout the night, which she did (she is literally the greatest) and I slept with my phone next to me in case of an emergency phone call. "C" stated if she felt he got worse, she was to call the vet. (As luck would have it, the horses were due this morning for their round of flu shots, so the vet was due to come out this morning anyway.)
So, my sleep was like the following: asleep by 11:30 pm with my own stomach ache. Woke up at 1 am (did she call??), 2:30 am (ok she didn't call, he is ok), 3:30 am (I wonder if she'll kill me if I text her?) 6:00 am (1 more minute and I'm up) and off to the barn we were at 7:30 am.
So the vet (who is wonderful, calming and explains what he is doing which I really like) came and started with a procedure I guess to be normal for an impaction colic. He took some blood to test, took his temperature (a little high, 101.1), checked his gums/tongue, etc., removed any fecal he could with his hand, and tubed in some water followed by mineral oil, followed by water again. Holding Laz's head while I watched blood streaming incredibly fast out of his jugular for blood work, swallowing the tube through his nose into his stomach was nothing short of heartbreaking. I had whispered promises every time I cleaned the inside of his nose out, that I would never hurt him...and I felt like I was going back on my word. I KNEW this was helping him, I just felt his pain. He was a perfect patient, stood the most still I've ever seen him, and totally cooperated with the Vet. I was proud of his manners and I knew, he felt like "just make me feel better."
After the vet left, Billy, "C" and I hung out with Laz in the 'S&I' pen to give him some love and company. He stood alternating in my arms and in "C's" arms for about an hour, allowing us to rub his ears and forehead. He stood so still. "C" suggested we take back to the round pen to see if he felt like moving. He walked a bit, trotted a bit and we allowed him to stop to nibble the grassy edges. After about an hour of that, he seemed to feel a little better and the water/oil seemed to be absorbing into his system (his belly wasn't hanging as badly).
We are in the waiting phase right now. After moving him and allowing his nature's remedy snack (grass) per Vet's suggestion, Laz will be walked for 10 minutes every two hours and we'll see how the eating (1 flake every 4 hrs if he eats) and the drinking goes. By the time we left Laz was nibbling on his afternoon hay in the 'S&I' pen. His spirits seemed to return a little, his ears were a little more pricked and he was a bit more active.
I'm back at my home office, designing while sitting on pins and needles. Of course this week, I'm bombarded with appointments so the next time I see him is late tomorrow evening. I just feel better when I can see/touch/breath him. I know he is literally in the best care where I board him at, and I'm so lucky to have that feeling because I know it's entirely too rare. He is loved there as if he was one of their own, which is how I would treat any of their horses.
So, now we wait and hope it's a simple colic that will be healed by the coating in his stomach to loosen everything up. Mental note of this is, weather change, can quickly change the pattern of how he drinks his water and therefore lead to a colicky situation.
Last phone call update at 4 pm and "C" said Lazarus finally pooped (still dry and compacted looking) but just once, he half heartily ate parts of his 1 flake of hay (he eats three without batting an eye normally) and still not drinking. "C" thinks he will drink in his stall when they all come in tonight when he feels more comfortable. She said he is looking over the fence at the paddock wanting to be with his herd but being we need to see what he drinks/poops, etc, he has to stay in "S&I" pen. He did buck out at her Mare (the "S&I" in behind barn, in between the two paddocks where her horses are and Laz's gelding herd is) when she charged at him over the fence, which cause some gas to be 'honked' out if you will, which is a good sign that things are literally moving.
If Lazarus doesn't drink through the night, I think the Vet will want to tube him with water/oil combo again. I am praying he drinks and trying not to think of that saying "you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink." Very frustrating as I know it would help his aches go away.
More to come...hopefully with better news.


  1. My mare Maisie has also had impaction colic - twice. She's also not the best drinker, and really likes her hay. Both times she was a cooperative patient and recovered well, although the first time required a visit to the vet clinic and multiple doses of water and mineral oil. I do a couple of things to help her. We use heated water buckets when the weather cools off so her water is always warm - she much prefers warm water to cold. In addition to the plain salt block in her stall, I give her supplemental salt (plain, non-iodized table salt) with her feed when the weather cools off - a tablespoon AM and PM. If she needs extra feed for weight retention in the winter, I don't up her hay as much as I used to - she still gets 3 or 4 good flakes as well as free-choice round bale hay during the day - but I use Purina Senior (even though she's only 12) as it's a very moist feed and was recommended by the vet clinic for her. I don't use electrolytes, as the other minerals in there can cause excessive urination, which is dehydrating. The instant she stops eating or seems uncomfortable, I call the vet - I don't wait in cases of colic to see how things go - it's worth it to me to get the vet out quickly, or at least talk to them by phone.

    Good luck, and hope he feels all better!

  2. Kate-
    Your regimen actually sounds like his (Purina Senior in winter for weight-which he loves)and we have heated water tanks too, however they haven't been turned on yet, but he did have lukewarm water in his stall. Maybe too late? The next step (per Vet) is to syringe an oz of salt with water down his throat to entice him to want to drink tonight. "C" is starting all the horses on the winter salt she mixes in their feed earlier now b/c of this.
    Are some horses just more prone to this? I've heard the weather change can cause a horse to not want to drink cool water, so in the future I'll be more aware of his needs. It's scary.

  3. I think some horses are just better drinkers than others. The horses that don't drink well and eat a lot of hay seem to be particularly at risk, and I expect some have internal structural differences that make them more likely to have impactions. If he's never had one before, he may never have one again after he recovers - here's hoping!

  4. Kristen-
    I will be thinking good thoughts for Laz. Sounds as if you have good care and that he is on his way to being better. Hugs for him and you.

  5. Yikes. Hope everything's ok!! Scary stuff!!!!!!

  6. Hi Kristen,

    I work for Bayer and we have a new "Enjoy the Ride Essay Contest" launching with Ashlee Bond. The objective is to write about the love you have for your horse.

    After reading your blog and seeing how well you write, I thought you and your followers would be interested in this contest.

    For more details you can look at www.enjoytheridecontest.com

    Please let me know if you have any questions!

    Megan Greve