Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A close call

I walked into t he barn again this afternoon around 3:30 with plans to ride Johnny and do some more canter work with him. The barn lights were off, so the stalls were dim, but as I came in I could just make out Johnny's silhouette. He was sprawled out on the floor of his stall. "Oh how cute!" I thought to myself "He's sleeping!"

This is a usual habit for Johnny. He sleeps a lot during the day, and so I thought nothing of it until I walked over to his door and he didn't get up as usual when he sees me coming. Instead, he let out a low moan when he heard my voice and I suddenly realized that his sides were heaving like he had just run the kentucky derby.

"Oh how cute" suddenly turned into "Oh shit." I flung open the door and he picked his head off the ground to look at his side.


Sliding my finger under his lip I checked his capillary reaction time. His gums were pink and his CRT was normal...a good sign meaning that he probably had not been down for too long. "I'll be right back" I told him. He just grunted and put his head back on the ground. Into the tack room I went, flinging open the cabinet doors and hauling my meds box down from the top shelf. Electrolytes, tranqs, bute, vet wrap, cotton....where the hell was it? From the bottom of the pile I pulled out the banamine, measured a dose and went back to the stall.

Johnny got up when I came in, and I admisinstered the banamine, then slipped his halter on and took him out to walk. We only made it a few laps around the barn before he started to try and go down again. No way was I going to keep a nine hundred pound horse on his feet by myself. I took him back to his stall and he collasped into the shavings.

For almost two hours I sat with him, listening to his shallow breathing interspersed with grunts of discomfort. I was flashing back to Emmy last autumn when we almost lost her to impaction colic. I remembered her shallow breathing, the way her eyes became slits and glazed over for a moment, a moment when I am certain that my horse was standing at the pearly gates of the big pasture in the sky, and suddenly decided that she wanted to live. Johnny wasn't nearly as bad. He was resting quietly in his stall, all 16 hands of him sprawled out and yet looking like a little puppy crumpled at the foot of a bed. His eyes closed as he layed his head back in the sawdust, and together we waited for the drugs to kick in.

An hour later there was still no improvement. I went back to the tack room, and dosed him again, watching silently as the minutes ticked past on the clock.

Forty minutes later, his eyes suddenly snapped open, and he rolled up onto his knees, flung out his legs, and heaved himself off the ground. When he stood up, he shook the shavings out of his ears and put his nose into my lap. "Your welcome" I told him. The brightness was back in his eyes, and he ambled over to nose at his empty feed bucket. Then he turned his head sideways, slapped his lips together and asked if he could please have dinner now.


  1. I hate colic! You are lucky! Why did you not call your vet? Just curious! :) I would have called after an hour of no improvement.....I am a baby when it comes to colic!

  2. I hate it too! I've honestly only called a vet three times in my entire life...once when my mare tore her suspensory, once when she poked her eye, and once when I was at school and she coliced really really bad. Our vet is the track vet, so she is very expensive, and since I've always payed for my horses myself, I try to handle whatever I can without veterinary assistance. Plus, after Emmy was so sick for almost 3 months, colic became very routine. I have all of the tools that any vet would use to treat a colic case (my vet stocked me up incase Emmy ever had an emergency again) So, since Johnny was not violent (i.e. rolling and trying to kick at himself, or otherwise putting himself in danger of twisting something) I figured that there wasnt much else that a vet could do that I couldn't. Had he gotten worse, I would have definetly called, but after dealing with Emmy, I've learned that if the horse isnt trying to kill himself or you, then its best to just sit tight and let it pass.