Azoturia [Tying Up] In Gelding
Today was the first time in all my years of having horses that I've had to call the vet out. Of course they get routine veterinary care, but I've never been so worried about one of my horses to have an on-call vet come out.
Today I figured, since the arena is back in working order, I would take my gelding out and get him a little bit of exercise since all five horses have been in a sacrifice area that is smaller than the pasture they are usually on. Due to the very wet, crappy weather and a problem with one of our other mares going a bit lame, we pulled them off that pasture. Back to today, I took my gelding, Moe, out and he seemed to be his usual self; very cheeky, persistent, and a bit strung tight. I took him into the indoor arena, and probably walked a circle or two before I took him to the larger outdoor arena. (Neither arenas are very large at all, both are square and I couldn't really guess how big, but they aren't giant.) I let him off the lead, and he trotted back and forth on one side of the fence because he saw my mare and her filly galloping around in the field nearby. I went to get my lunge whip, then came back to start working with him.
I started and things were good, he was a little wild as usual and it took a while to get in his head. After a while things started to click, and I worked him really easy, mostly walk and a little trot. I usual give him a better work out, with more trot/canter, but I like to tone it down from time to time. As we progressed he wouldn't disengage his hindquarters and would just walked away. He was also short-strided, but I wrote it off to him being a bit tender on the rocks. (One half of our arena has a few pebbles, then the other side has nice dirt with hardly any.) I tried getting him over to the softer ground, but he was the same. He just wouldn't move out, and started ignoring me. Wanting to end on a good note I tried to get him to pay attention, but I noticed even from such little exercise he was breathing heavily and very choppy. I had him rest for a few minutes and he was getting shaky, still very choppy breathing, and started sweating.
About then I figured something had to be wrong, there was no way he was just sore or out of shape. I took him into the indoor and he was just pouring with sweat on his neck. (Even in 80 degree weather he can go all day and sweat a little under the saddle, but not much else, even when he isn't in great condition.) I gave him the benefit of the doubt and picked his hooves out, to find nothing wrong there, then let him rest for a while. After about five minutes I called my father and just told him something just plain wasn't right.
Dad comes out there and was just about as shocked as I was. Moe's back legs are really stiff and he is reluctant to move, and hardly noticed when my Dad walked in the door. (That door squeals and makes all sorts of racket when you open and close it - there really is no stealth involved.) I took a sweat scraper and got some of the sweat off him, and we tried to see if he would eat. Mouthed hay a little bit, and he ate half of a treat my Dad gave him. Moe stood square and stood very still, two things he is not known for. (He is relentless and likes to test everyone and everything, he never just decides to be quiet and obedient, it was obvious he wasn't right.)
Moe would lower his head and bring his foot forward, but instead of walking he would paw, very lightly, on the ground. (He isn't a known pawer, either, he'd rather take a nibble off someone to get things going than sit their and dig.) I took off his bridle and put a halter on him, then lead him over to our stall that was sitting empty with the mare and foal currently outside. He was very reluctant to walk over, and I took of his halter and he didn't move willingly. Usually he likes to sniff any poop that isn't his, especially mare's poop, but he reached his neck out but didn't try any harder than that. I fussed around the stall and he would pivot on his back end to follow me around. When I closed the door to the outside run he was completely parked out just to reach me.
He got a little brighter as time went on, and when the vet finally came he was doing a bit better. Vet thought he was just fine, despite my worries, and gave him some Banamine to make him feel better, then said to check on him later to see if he is improving. Later I went on the internet just to find an answer, and I found mine, and he fit it to a T. It couldn't have been nothing, because it fit all descriptions of this very well. But we pretty much did the correct thing; reduce his pain, dry him off, and give him access to water and hay, etc. Anyone else have experience with this? When he is on pasture is it likely to come back when I work with him? I was so worried about him, and afterwards he didn't really care and was mostly back to his annoying self, of course. He has always been a very athletic horse with lots of stamina and drive, and for the infrequency I work with him he generally does very well and has never been lame or sore. He does not get any grain, but would usually have access to a mineral block, which is still in the old pasture. They have an automatic water, so they are never without fresh water. I worked with him last week or the week before, (can't remember), and he did trot/canter work and did not miss a beat.
All I can say is; Horses! I guess it takes a special breed of person to be able to put up with the woes of equine ownership, but I think I almost know now what it feels like to have a heart attack.
I also took a photo of him while I was working with him. By then he was already breathing like a madman, but hadn't started sweating.