Tuesday afternoon my cousin called me and she was asking me about when Chanti was sick so I asked her what was going on. She told me Lilly, her 5 year old Paint mare was down in the pasture and she was walking real stiff and slow, not eating. I asked her if she had any gut sounds and she wasn't sure how to check for that so I told her and I asked if she wanted me to come out and she said yes.
Her friend who keeps a horse out on the 20 acres with her horses had been out there just an hour before and they fed and all the horses came up except for Lilly and Jazzy came up then ran straight back to Lilly. They had been together since Kayti got Lilly at 4 months old so they were buddies. Kayti's friend found Lilly laying down and couldn't get her up so she called Kayti and she went right out and managed to get her up again.
By the time me and hubby got out there Lilly was down again in the back corner. I quickly checked for gut sounds and didn't hear a thing so my heart dropped. There was nothing at all making any kind of noise, complete silence. Lilly's heart rate was fast, she was breathing heavy, her legs and muzzle were very cold, she was breathing hard, but laying still. Her gums were white, very long CRT. I asked if she had been fed anything different recently, if she was ok the last time Kayti had seen her and nothing had changed in her diet and she had been fine a few days ago.
There were no marks on her, no swellings.
About 15 minutes after we got there she started thrashing, trying to roll but we held her down. We had covered her with a winter blanket and we tried getting ahold of every vet in the county, every vet within an hour and the closest vet who lived like 2 minutes away from where the horses are was in Little Rock but we kept trying to call vets and didn't reach anybody. Of course we wouldn't, it was after hours and vets around here aren't vets once that clinic closes... She started violently thrashing, kicking her front and back legs, knocking her hooves into herself but she was in so much pain she didn't care.
All we could do was try to keep her calm. I had to go to the road and move our car and by the time I got back just about ten minutes later she had rolled over and was very still. When I got back I knew she was about to go. She stopped thrashing, and her breathing had slowed down. She seemed to be gasping for air and in just a couple minutes she passed.
I had told Kayti what I thought it was and I told her that if it WAS what I thought then more than likely a vet wouldn't have been able to do anything for her either and we had done everything we could.
I had hoped it was something like influenza. Atleast then we could have done something and she would still be alive.
Lilly was such a sweet girl and everything happened so fast. Things like this make me want to kick myself for not doing everything I could to go to vet school. It seems I'm always the one being called when somebody in the family has a sick or injured animal but there's only so much I can do and I had never felt so hopeless as I did sitting with Lilly.
The equine vet, who I HATE, called back TWO hours later! Kayti cut a lock of mane and hubby is going to make her a keepsake with it. He braids the hair into leather and makes a loop on one end so it will dangle from her rearview mirror.
I checked my vet books and it seems I was right in guessing peritonitis but I'm not sure what caused it. She had a Paint gelding, about 9 years old who was found dead in the pasture about 3 years ago. Colic is probably what killed him too. Is colic more common in Paints?
I hope nobody has to sit through what we did. I had never seen a horse die. It was rough and when I got home I found Chanti and had to give her a big hug because when something like that happens I'm reminded how thankful I am to have her, despite her lameness issues.