EMPF an implacable enemy.
The plan was to drive DiDi the 140 miles over to my friends pad on Thursday and there was pressure for me to confirm the booking with the horse transport contractor. My thinking was to get her to her new pad as soon as possible. But a bout of coughing was already making me rethink. I decided to let the driver make the decision as to whether he felt he could cope in case of an emergency. He had confidently agreed to accept the job but of course he did not know the horse. We made plans for the route. Subsequently I drove over to the vet to collect the ulcer medicine which would be needed n the coming months. Finally I drove home with a lot on my mind.
As it happened there wasn’t to be much sleep for me that night. The rain came pouring down adding yet more water to the floods already raging across Western England. Britain’s archaic road network which was laid down by the Romans and the pack horse drovers of Medieval times does not cope with modern levels of traffic on good days let alone those when Mother Nature interferes with snow, ice, hot sunshine or heavy rain. The thought of taking DiDi 140 miles in the wet when road blocks are to be expected because of localised flooding was weighing heavily upon me. Yes, DiDi has been driven thirty or so miles to competition but to get to the Home Counties would take three to four hours including some stops. If she were to stumble and fall or freak out during the journey then we might find ourselves in a layby miles from safety. .Another complication was that the driver of the hired transport was unknown to me. I decided to review the situation in the morning.
When I awoke and as soon as was acceptable I phoned the yard to check on DiDi. Again, because of the storm, she had slept overnight in her stable. She seemed a bit better but she was still coughing. The lanes around the stable yard were partially flooded because of the rain and more wet weather was forecasted. It would be only fair to the transporter to tell him of my fears about travelling. I phoned my friend who was to give long term shelter to DiDi but she had already left for the day. The Countess would not be able to make the journey with us because she had a long standing hospital appointment Once on the list, if she were to forgo her booking then it might be months before she was offered another appointment. The British NHS might be free at point of delivery but delay in treatment is endemic in the system. It would be unfair to ask her to cancel. But the result was that the Countess’s expertise which might be invaluable on the journey were something to go wrong would not be available to us.
I felt that the omens were stacking up against us. So finally after much soul searching I cancelled the move. The risk of an incident were too high. I accepted that DiDi would have to stay where she was until she had almost stopped coughing and until the spell of wet and windy weather had passed over. There was no other option open to me. Finally it came home to me that without my friend’s help with the private and safe grazing I had no other alternatives. DiDi would have to stay where she was for the time being. The question loomed: for how long?
I realised that having cancelled the journey should have to explain to my friend clearly and in detail the exact nature of EMPF and that it is a progressive lung disease with no known cure. It is only the rate of progression in a horse which is the variable. Roughing her off was to reduce stress and so help to prolong her life however now my plan for DiDi to enjoy a long .lazy hot summer in idyllic surroundings might be mere star gazing on my part
The scenario had changed, yet again. I was running out of options. Even if I got DiDi over to my friend’s property then there would be no coming home for her Hopefully she would get an extra lease of good life but for how long? No one would know the answer.
I decided to phone the vet that had originally vetted DiDi when I bought her to ask him for a second opinion. Over the phone I explained the circumstances as best as I could He listened quietly and eventually said that things did not look good. Since a couple of separate ailments were involved, the best treatment for one malaise might impact on the other health issue(s). The lung issue was the fundamental matter, and whilst the ulcers could to a certain extent be managed, the cough might induce stress on the horse and react with the ulcers. He felt that unless I could guarantee to the horse a stress and pain free life it would be wrong to perpetuate that life. Not enough was currently known about the cause and development of EMPF. Steroids were a partial treatment for relief of the symptoms but they come with side effects and the increased risk of laminitis.. The only known medication was an horrendously expensive tablet, which itself did not always work. His final words on the subject in a calm voice were that in his opinion the likely best course of action in the circumstances would be to put her down.
Despite my every twist and turn in order to find a solution the inevitable was looming. My delightful, clever, pretty dapple grey mare was approaching her nemesis. The virus was winning.