Wednesday, March 07, 2007

For the last several days I've been dealing with a horse crisis. My 3 yr old gelding came very near death, and may still not be far away from that end. It all started a week or two ago when we took in a friend's horse to board while they were away on a trip. She was a mare and very very bossy toward my geldings. She took an outright disliking to the younger one and a strong liking for the older one, keeping the younger one away and forcing him away from his hay and feed. I didn't know she was also not letting him near them in the pasture or allowing him to eat in peace some distance away. It wasn't until Saturday that I got a good look at him, because I work every day during the week and don't get home during daylight at this time of year. He looked awful! So, that evening I fed him by himself and penned the other two up so they'd leave him alone. Another thing that was also going on during this time period, was that my husband was trimming the huge old oak tree in the front yard and the limbs were on the ground. The younger gelding was eating the buds off of the limbs like they were candy and I didn't think much about it at the time, other than noting how much he liked them. Well, apparently oak buds are toxic to horses if eaten in large quantities. A horse with normal access to feed and pasture will not eat huge amounts, but Spanky wasn't being given normal access because the mare was bullying him so much. By Sunday Spanky wasn't moving much and was very depressed, head hanging and not wanting to eat. At that time I still hadn't thought about the oak buds and just figured it was depression because of the other horse bullying him and not letting him near his best buddy. Monday we brought the mare back to her own pasture at her own house, since the owners were back. Spanky perked up a little at seeing her leave, but he still wasn't eating or moving or acting normally. The idea that he might have eaten the oak buds entered my mind by then and I watched him more closely, or as closely as I could when I'm not home most of the day. He would drink water if you held it in a bucket for him and he'd nibble at the hay but not really eat enough. On tuesday he started bleeding from the nostrils a little, not gushing nor even as much as a nosebleed in a person, but it was bright red blood and it was alarming, especially in light of how far down his condition had gotten. So I rushed home from work and stopped by the health food store to buy some ingredients to make him a nutritious and immune stimulating mash. I bought slippery elm powder, astragalus powder, nettle leaf, licorice root powder, and weight builder from the TSC. He would not eat this mixture willingly, so i put it in his mouth and on his tongue and he swallowed. He seemed a little better and wanted to eat his hay, so I left him and went up to the house. He was located in a thicket full of briars and small trees. I came back down to check on him and he was down, nose bleeding and breathing hard. I panicked and told him I'd be right back, so I went up to the house to get a halter and lead rope. Panicked because I didn't want him to die, and if he was going to die, I didn't want him to die there where he couldn't be buried. Odd combination of thoughts, but I was feeling both saddened and practical with equal passion. But when I got back to him, he was up! I think he actually stumbled and fell, and when I saw him he was still breathing hard because of that. I fed him a bowlfull a couple times that afternoon, and by the nightfall he was much stronger and eagerly eating hay.

When I left out for work this morning, I watered him from the creek with a bucket again, by headlights because it was still dark, and gave him some hay. But the good thing is that he wasn't in the thicket and was watching for me to come down the driveway, with his head up and his ears forward!! He hasn't looked that alert and alive for days, so I am hoping he has rounded the corner and cheated death. I'll try to post again tomorrow and give you an update on his condition then. Some things I've found out about oak bud poisioning is that it causes red blood cells to burst or deform, making them unable to transport iron. So the horse will have the symptoms of anemia, which is exactly how Spanky was acting. I thought he was "shocky" the other night and we'd been keeping a blanket on him because he was cold. I'm so happy he seems to be surviving and I hope to have good news tomorrow. One other thing, I didn't bring him to the vet because he was too weak to trailer and they don't make house calls out here. I feel really bad that I didn't notice how poor he'd gotten before it was so bad, and I wish I had known that he didn't need to eat all those oak buds. It's a terrible way to learn a lesson like that!

No comments:

Blog Archive