Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My Most Recent Reality Check

I've mentioned previously how everything seems to come together at once.  For me it was buying a new block of hay, getting the horses' vaccinations and dental work, and getting a visit from the farrier.  Thanks to that and a few other unexpected expenses our bank account dropped by nearly $2,000 in a hurry.  I didn't mention one other thing that was scheduled at the same time:  The horses were due for a worming.  I knew I couldn't worm them on the same weekend of their vaccinations, so I waited.  However, by the next weekend they were still ill from the side effects of the vaccinations, so I waited another week.  I finally gave them their wormer paste on Sunday, a little later in their worming schedule than I would have preferred.

In my last post I showed a picture of my mares lying down in the warm sun on Monday.  It used to be that if I saw a horse down, I automatically assumed it was colicking.  However, I've learned in recent months that horses sometimes lie down just to take a nap.  So, when I saw the girls lying down, I assumed they were just soaking up the sun and enjoying the change in weather.

However, I forgot that drastic changes in weather often bring colic in horses.  I went out in the mid-afternoon to clean stalls and groom the horses and immediately knew something was up.  Lostine was still lying down and Bombay and Gabbrielle looked as if they were in mourning.  I opened the gate and Lostine cried.  Have you ever heard a horse cry?  It's not like when a horse is screams or groans.  This was a pitiful cry for help.

I ran over to her and saw that her belly was bloated and she was in respiratory distress.  Her heart rate was elevated.  When she tried to stand, she put one front hoof right on my tennis shoe.  I was like, "Geez, why couldn't I have worn steel toed boots?"  But I let her brace against my foot to stand up, because she was struggling and needed all the support she could get. 

I administered pain medication and Probios, then walked her for about 45 minutes around the paddock and the neighborhood.  I knew that getting her out of her comfort zone would help her forget about her pain, and it worked.  She perked up and started paying more attention to what was going on in the neighborhood.  For once I was glad that a construction worker next door was banging around, because it served as a good distraction.  If she totally ignored him and laid down, I would have known that her condition was dire, but she stayed up and alert.  She wasn't interested in grazing even though I walked her on the lawn and in the pasture.

I then groomed her thoroughly, which helps relax her.  Then I released her to observe her behavior.  No more lying down.  No more pawing.  She actually started taking nips at Bombay and Gabbrielle who were crowding around her to see if she was okay.  She wandered over to the manure pile and had some diarrhea, which is better than nothing.  You have to celebrate your small victories.  She felt better after that and her appetite returned, so I put together a bran mash that included Sand Clear and Calm and Cool that should help her digestive tract and help her relax.

This is a terrible thing to say, but I made the decision to keep the horses outside during the night, because if Lostine did die, I didn't want her to die inside her stall.  We would have to take down a wall to get her body out.  I continued to monitor her, so that I could provide her with more pain killers and call a vet if necessary, but she just got better and better.  This morning she was bossing the other horses around, pooping normal poops, and eating like the pig she is. 

I was lucky, but the experience does leave me questioning whether I can afford to keep all my horses anymore.  Between Lostine's colics, Bombay's suicide attempts, and Gabbrielle's accident-prone personality, I really can't afford to keep paying vet bills.  I can keep all three as long as my only expenses are hay, annual vet appointments for routine health maintenance, and farrier visits.  Anything beyond that could drive us into bankruptcy.

I'm trying to hold out, believing that there is a job coming my way and everything will be okay, but at the same time I have to look at reality and know that right now I have little chance of getting a well paying job unless we move out of the area.  My husband would rather he take a second job than for me to just take some minimum wage job that I'm way overqualified to do with 7 years of higher education.  Being a man with his skills, he can get paid considerably more than I can.  However, I'd hate for him to overwork himself just so that we can maintain our old lifestyle and I can keep on doing my horse hobby.  Of course, we all know that our horses are more than just a hobby.  They are family. 

However, if I can find homes for my horses where I know they will be loved and well cared for, I'll surrender them with a contract that if the new owner wants to sell them, he or she contact me first and give me the chance to get them back.  I've been laid off from jobs many times before and have considered finding new homes for my horses under the circumstances, but it always worked out in the end and I was able to keep them.  I hope this time isn't any different. 


Crystal said...

Oh that would be a hard decision to make, and it would be pretty lonely looking out your window and not seeing your ponies out there. Hope you get a job soon so you can keep them. Or better yet your photogroaphy picks up.

Linda said...

I know how you feel. Hard choice. I'm glad the colic turned around for you. Mine usually do, too, but last year Red's required the vet out. I believe it was $400 to come out and tube him....once. He got better immediately. I had one colic years ago which required constant vet care and he still died. So, the money was lost, and I still didn't have a horse. I'm starting to become a big fan of conservative treatments. Good luck with your decision.

Emme said...

I am so sorry. Hope things work out for you adn quickly, fingers crossed here. Have you considered leasing the horses out for a while?

fernvalley01 said...

Good catch on the colic, difference between down cause they can and down cause they are sick is subtle. I sure hope something comes through for you , you have so much of your heart invested in them. As to the leaving her out overnight "in case" not cold, or awful , just practical , and sensible , also better to keep her moving in an open area , far more risk of her getting cast trying to roll if she got in trouble again

Grey Horse Matters said...

Well I hope things pick up for you and you find something soon. It would be a shame to have to find other homes for your herd after all you have been through with them.

On the other hand, horses are adaptable and I'm sure the two younger horses would be easy to place in a loving caring environment. I'm not sure anyone would want to take on an older mare prone to colic though, Lostine might be harder to find a good home for so I wish you the best in being able to keep them at home with you.

lytha said...

what no trailer loading this time for lostine's bowels? *grin*

i admire your techniques and feel bad that this keeps happening to you.

with my horse being 26, every night i worry that he won't make it to the next day. and he is perfectly healthy. i just worry. i check him every morning at 7 am before my husband leaves because if he died in the night, i don't want to have to deal with it alone all day.

not just a hobby, family. lifestyle. you said it.


Mikey said...

I have faith for you. I think it will all work out. Fingers crossed.
Glad your horse perked up and came out of it. I hate colic and I haven't had any in a long time (fingers crossed again) but it's a scary deal.

aurora said...

Glad to hear Lostine came through okay. Hoping things turn around for the better.

Breathe said...

Things are turning around here, I have a feeling you'll see it there soon.

I struggled with the same issue, felt selfish for having horses when it was clear that we couldnt manage it. Then, recently had a door open that will help us work thru.

JasperGirl said...

That sounds scary! Colic has always been one of my biggest fears. I'm glad that she is ok though!
Horses are definitely expensive. My sister's horse broke his jaw a couple of years ago and had to go into a large animal hospital to get it all wired up.
I hope everything works out for you!

Stephanie said...

I'm glad Lostine seems to be doing better.
It really is a difficult position you are in and I am keeping my fingers crossed and sending good vibes and praying that something good comes your way soon!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Tough decisions for sure. And only you know what is best for you. I'm glad Lostine bounced back from her colic episode and hope she continues to stay healthy and colic free. And I am thinking of you and saying a few prayers that some new, helpful and positive changes happen around your place soon.


Rising Rainbow said...

Boy, do I understand the place you are in. I'm there right with you. Tring to keep the faith things will work out and preparing for if they don't. It's a tough place to be.

Dreaming said...

It sounds like you are really struggling with tough decisions. I hate this economy and what it has done to wonderful people. I hate that anyone has to let go of things they love just in order to take care of their families.... when what they love is an integral part of that family. It follows the IJAR principle.... It Just Ain't Right (you have to say it with a thick, southern accent!)
Good luck. I keep hoping a job comes your way.

KD said...

Good wishes for keeping all of your horses with you. Times sure are tough.

Cheryl Ann said...

Sending you good wishes. I know that is not an easy decision for you because you love your horses.

achieve1dream said...

So scary! I'm glad she's okay.

I want to cry thinking about you having to give up your horses. :( I'm considering giving up my poultry, but I don't think I could give up Chrome. I hope everything works out for you.