Originally Posted by trailhorserider View Post
I feel for you!
I had almost the same thing happen back in November. I still get upset by it and so I didn't even post about it on here, but perhaps the time is now.
I lost the best horse I ever had, John, my 20 yr old Mustang gelding. I had him for 8 years and bought him at a time I was really emotionally weak and scared to ride.....the two horses I had bought prior to him were herd bound and dangerous and they had me too scared to ride without butterflies in my stomach, even on my old horses.
So who comes to build my confidence but a well trained BLM Mustang? He was the best. He took his job as trail horse very seriously and it seemed like he knew it was his job to take care of me. So he took care of me for about 8 years. All sorts of trails and circumstances, he was just the best, best horse.
So last November one evening I fed him dinner and all was normal. He even ate all his hay (it was gone in the morning) but when I went out to feed breakfast he was the sickest horse I had ever seen. His eyes were all sunk in his head, he was sweaty and dirty from rolling, his breath stunk to high heaven and you could just tell he was a horse on death's door.
So I called the vet out and had a little trouble reaching him so I arranged for a friend to trailer him to a vet about 15 miles away. Then the first vet (who makes farm calls) called me back and he was on his way. The horse died before the vet arrived. He started to stagger and he dropped down and died. A couple minutes later the vet showed up and confirmed that he had passed and that he must have had a twisted gut to have gone downhill so fast.
It was simply that fast. One evening totally normal, ate all his dinner. By about 11 am the next day he had died on his own. It was so shocking and heart breaking to me that I still think about him daily and cry about him almost every day.
We still have two other horses, but they aren't like John. It was John's mission in life to be my best trail horse and absolutely take care of me. You don't expect a horse to take care of you. But John did.
I am so anal about my horse's care.....deworming, de-icers, the best hay and nutrition I can find, etc. that it just doesn't seem fair when there are people out there who barely seem to take care of their horses and they never loose one to colic. And I try so hard and have lost 3 to colic over the years.
So that is my story. I'm so sorry Dreamcatcher that you experienced something similar.
Trailhorserider, I'm so sorry for your loss. This kind of thing is why I posted though. I've been around horses my whole life and seen many colic and seen enough bad colics to recognize when I've got one. As soon as I saw this little guy, I told my husband he was, "A dead horse walking.", only at that point he wasn't, he was flat on the ground and breathing hard. If by talking about it, one thing helps someone else who comes up on this situation, then the posting and the pain of discussing it is worth it.
This horse had a rough start in life, was almost starved to death. When he came to me in June, at 18 months, he was 12.3 hh and he barely weighed 350 lbs. I could count every rib and could have hung my hat on his hipbones. I started carefully feeding him, until he got to where he was eating normally. We had his teeth done, dewormed him religiously, and he rewarded us by growing and gaining weight. When we took him in to the hospital, he was 14.1 and 687 lbs. His coat was looking good, he was padded a little over his ribs and he had the start of a nice butt on him. He was a fast learner, and SWEET, and he played so well with Bo, my yearling gelding, and Skippy my 4 year old stallion. In fact, he and Skip were the best of friends. Skippy would chase him around and then they'd get tired and stand hip to hip eating their hay. I don't know what, if any damage, being starved so young may have done to his digestive system, but I always kept it in mind when feeding, watering, doing anything that would affect how he might eat something.
We've had some just crazy jumps in temperatures here in OK. One day almost 70 and the next day -10 with the windchill. I was very careful to blanket him as needed, all of my horses are blanketed when it gets crazy cold like this. I stalled everyone at night and when not actively snowing or icing, they got turned back out in the morning. I have tank de-icers in their big stock tanks, heated buckets in the barn. Their feed is salted, they get well soaked beet pulp in addition to their normal Strategy HE and free choice hay. I have a very open barn set up, so no one is isolated from the others, not even the stallion. He's right next to the young geldings and across the aisle is my Arab gelding and then down that side of the barn are the mares. So they can all see, smell and talk to each other. They're all up to date on deworming, vaccines and teeth floating, my farrier has been calling off due to weather, so they all could use a good trim. They're all carrying good flesh in spite of the crazy temperature swings.
Saturday night, we went out and picked stalls, laid their dinner and filled all the waters with fresh water. Everyone came in, one at a time so they get looked over real well, and everyone was happy and excited to come in for dinner. He, and everyone else, went into their stalls, went head down into their buckets and started eating. Once we made sure all was right in their world, we went in for dinner and bed. Sunday morning we got up and debated going to church because a storm was supposed to be coming in, actually was supposed to be here already. It wasn't doing anything and didn't look all that bad out, so we decided to turn the horses out and get ready to go.
We went into the barn and he was down, flat. His stall showed where he'd been rolling and writhing and there was not one single poo ball in his stall. He had eaten every scrap of his feed and drunk almost all of his water, less maybe 1/2 gallon of a 5 gallon bucket. He was very bloated, and he'd been straining because his rectum was prolapsed. We removed his blanket, and he hadn't really started to sweat yet, he hadn't been down long. I ran back into the house and called for the vet, who got out here with a team in less than 30 minutes, amazingly fast. She gave him a large dose of painkiller and got him on his feet. At that time we made the decision to get him to OSU where we had better access to ultrasound, labs, meds and surgery if we decided to go that way.
We ultrasounded his intestines and saw a lot of distention in his small intestine, not good. His labs showed minor damage had already occurred to the bowel. He was not going to get better without surgery and it was looking rather iffy. We were discussing costs, recuperation and most important....prognosis, when he went down in pain again. At that time we decided it would be kinder to let him go and we did so. The pain, the damage and the need for such an invasive surgery at such a young age were all against him. He left us faster than any other horse I have ever had the misfortune to have to put down. I think he was ready. Rest In Peace, Little Man. He was only here long enough for us to get to know him and love him. God must have needed him in Heaven for a very special angel.