Saturday, August 24, 2013

My turn to be brave

I arrived at the barn Monday morning expecting to drop the feed and head to work. As I drove up the road, I saw Harley standing down in the pasture; unusual for him. The gang tends to wait for breakfast at the top of the hill by the gate. I grabbed the buckets and whistled for him, but he didn't move. I ran back to the barn, grabbed my phone, a halter and lead, and returned to the field, talking to Harley, but still seeing no apparent reason for his behavior. When I got closer, I saw contusions on his head, and he was shivering. "Oh God", I thought, and called John, then the vet. She said it sounded like he'd colicked and hurt his head thrashing about on the ground. She was on her way. My poor boy.

Harley followed my up to the barn where I put a sheet on him and slowly walked up and down the aisle until the vet arrived. She did a rectal exam and removed a bit of manure, but nothing that indicated an impaction. Then she intubated him and drained a lot of bile. I held Harley's head while the vet discussed my options. She recommended he go to one of the nearby clinics where he would most likely need surgery, or euthanasia. He was in a lot of pain, but his vitals were strong and good still, if we wanted to try surgery. My heart clenched and I held back a sob. John and I had always said surgery was not in the books, but with euthanasia the only option, I swallowed my tears and asked what the process would be and about how much it would cost. Hell, it's only money--I could pay the penalty and cash in a small CD/IRA. The bank isn't paying squat, but Harley has brought me so much joy he deserved the chance to pull through. I felt it was worth a try.

We have no truck or trailer and needed find a setup to borrow pronto. Our wonderful vet offered up her rig at home. Her husband drove it over and sent us on our way to the clinic, after helping us load Eeyore (doped up, he still hates trailers as you may remember). At the clinic he was immediately set up for surgery while the vets ultrasounded him, did another rectal, and pulled more liquid through the tube. I stood there, holding Harley's head in my arms, whispering "You're going to be ok, my boy"
During the ultrasound his stomach began to rumble and gurgle. This was good and we all hoped Harley would rally round and keep improving. It was hard to leave him that day and go into work for the evening. My mind kept drifting off--I was pretty useless. No calls meant good news, so I assumed.

When I called the clinic Tuesday morning, he was much better. They wanted to keep him another day to get his fluids back on track and be sure he could eat without issue. I went to see him on my lunch break, and again, got all teary eyed telling him he'd dodged the big one. We brought him back home Wednesday (after another go-round of hauling Harley onto the trailer), but he's on light turnout for a few days until he's back to eating full rations. My poor boy has contusions under his eye, his elbow, and his stifle. I keep imagining what he must have been going through down in the pasture and wish I'd been there much sooner. This is convincing me all the more that we need to have a place where the horses are in the back yard--where I can keep tabs on things more closely.

Thankfully all turned out fine and I haven't had to close out the CD fund. I'm giving him a few days to settle back at home before resuming exercise. He was quite happy to see his girls again!

The 2 patients in a small enclosure

Harley and Rolex are the two patients now. Amidst all this, Rolex cracked a rear hoof badly and needs time to grow it out. St. Butch tried to put on a special shoe to hold in the edges, but she promptly threw it out in the pasture. So it's back to the Easyboots for her until we can get a shoe to stay on and the hoof grows. Harley has recovered, but he dropped some weight, so I'm trying to put the pounds back on him. Nobody likes a skinny Thoroughbred with winter approaching! I rode Harley for about an hour today--just a walk up the road and in the woods. He was feeling good and pranced a bit, spooking at silly things, just to show me he's A-ok!

Last weekend we took Ruffy and Harley for a jaunt together. Here's Ruffy looking dashing in her white fly bonnet! She was very good today, a lot less stressed about footing and branches touching her. Although I still think she prefers open fields, close to home!


  1. OH MY GOODNESS!!!! I am soooooooo happy he is OK!!!! Poor baby, poor you. Oh, this was a terribly difficult post to read, but it ended happy. Hugs for all of you there. Kisses for the big boy. Oh, what a scare. Harley, we all love you here!

  2. It was a hard post to read for sure... nothing like living through it. Super glad that Harley's on the mend! Bless his heart, and yours. (((♥♥♥)))

  3. OMG how scary!
    Isn't it different when you're faced with the reality of the choice - euthanasia or surgery? All the rational arguments go out the window, all you can see is a choice of life without your best friend or spending a few thousand on surgery. And suddenly a few thousand seems like nothing at all.
    So glad it didn't come to that and Mr H pulled through all by himself. Have you any idea what caused him to colic, had he been eating different stuff in the paddock maybe?

  4. When you started talking about euthanasia in your post, I almost burst into tears. Funny how attached one becomes to animals one has never met. What a scare you gave me. I am breathing better now. Thank god, oh thank god for those gurglings!


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