I took these photos on the 14th to show you how filthy my little piggy boy is... little did I know two days later I would come home to a colicking horse. I guess I jinxed myself with the "boys are good" post. I won't scare you guys, he is fine now, but it was very scary when it was happening.
So on the 16th when I got home from work Chrome was out in the front yard (he eats his ration balancer and beet pulp outside of the pasture so Rocky can't run him off) and he was goofing off, running around and being a dork. I parked my car and took my stuff inside, then came back outside to find Chrome standing in the driveway, frozen like a statue with his head down (he wasn't staring at something, he was staring off into space).
I thought that was really weird, but I put a halter on him and put him back in the pasture. Rocky still had some beet pulp left, but Chrome didn't show any interest in it at all. He also wasn't showing any interest in me, which is weird because normally he's a pest. That set off alarm bells. I went back inside and brought a peppermint out. He pricked an ear at the sound of the wrapper and I started to breathe again, but then he wouldn't eat it, even when I stuck it in his mouth.
At that point I was in full on panic, even though he was just standing there. Hubby thought I was overreacting up until Chrome wouldn't eat the peppermint, then he agreed that something was wrong. My first thought was colic so I told hubby I was staying out there until Chrome pooped.
No sooner was that out of my mouth then Chrome walked to the barn and pooped (yes, inside, they are brats and intentionally walk to the barn to poop). Again I was breathing a sigh of relief when he turned around and laid down right next to me. Again, alarm bells went off. He NEVER just randomly lays down next to me. Then he started pinning his ears and jerking his head back, then he would look at his stomach. At that point I knew it was colic.
I called my vet and left a message, then I called my trainer at the dressage barn where I used to work a decade ago. I explained the situation and she agreed that it was colic. She said I could come get some benamine from her, but said that I shouldn't give him any until I talk to a vet, because it's only helpful in certain circumstances. I told her who my vet was and that I had left a message. She said my vet is notoriously difficult to get a hold of (which is true in my experience), so she gave me her vet's number. I immediately called him and left another message.
At that point I started crying. I was freaking out because I was terrified I wouldn't be able to get a vet out and the engine just went out in our truck recently so I didn't have a way to haul him to an emergency vet. I was going to go get the benamine, but we'd just had the first snow of the year which had turned to ice and the roads were scary.
Finally my trainer's vet called me back. He was on his way to a different emergency and told me he would be there, but it would be two hours. I broke down at that point. He apologized, but said that it sounded mild and as long as Chrome was resting quietly and not trying to roll to just stay with him and keep him calm. If he started rolling I would have to walk him. He also said to go ahead and give the benamine. I hung up and told my hubby what was happening (he had gone inside to warm up, it was so cold it was painful that night... in the single digits if I remember correctly... the coldest it's been in years).
Just as I was trying to figure out how I was going to go get benamine from my trainer (the reason I didn't have any is because mine expired and I threw it away and then forgot to replace it... don't let that happen to you!!), when the vet called back and said the other person canceled and he was on his way. He said to hold off on the benamine and he would be there in forty minutes.
A picture to break up the wall of text. So I ran inside, pulled some sweats over my jeans, added a couple of layer on top, an extra pair of socks and some gloves. Then I ran up the driveway to open the gate and then went out to the barn to wait with my horse. He had turned around and laid down facing the other direction. Rocky had probably disturbed him. I was having to chase Rocky and Zep away. I cried while I stood watching my horse. While waiting he actually dozed off!! He had his nose on the ground and his ear was doing that twitching thing it does when they sleep.
I was shocked because I had never heard of a horse falling asleep during colic. I calmed down a little thinking it must not be too severe if he was able to sleep. When the vet texted to say how close he was and asked for a bucket of warm water I ran inside to tell hubby (my phone was almost dead and I didn't want it to die since that was the only number the vet had). Then the vet pulled up and I asked him if he wanted to drive out to the barn or if he wanted me to bring Chrome to him. He asked me to bring Chrome out of the pasture if he would get up since there was snow and ice everywhere and Rocky was being a brat.
I went out to the pasture to get Chrome and he was up.... eating hay! I was shocked, but also scared because if he had an impaction, eating could make it worse. I took him to the vet. The vet took his vitals. His heart rate was 36 beats per minute, he had gut sounds present in all four quadrants, but slightly decreased in upper right GI quadrant, his mucus membranes were pink and moist, his capillary refill time was under two seconds and his respiratory rate was 12 breaths per minute. If you think I have some super brain and remembered all of this in the midst of panicking, you're wrong lol. This vet emailed me all of this information after he left!! I love this vet. I've never had a vet provide so much information.
So he gave Chrome benamine, lightly sedated him and tubed him water, oil and electrolytes. It probably wasn't necessary since the colic was so mild, but I told him to do whatever he needed to do and that I didn't want to take any risks. He told me that he has a horse that used to do this several times a winter whenever it would get really cold because he was free feeding off of a round bale, so he stopped feeding round bales. He said it's because they stand and gorge themselves to stay warm and don't bother to go drink. So we immediately ordered a round bale slow feed hay net because we don't have the means to feed square bales. The net will slow them down so that they can still eat all day, but they can't overeat. I've heard really great things about them. I'll give an update on that when I can.
So I put a blanket on Chrome and separated him from Rocky and Zep. I'm going to start blanketing him when it gets below 20F (pretty rare in this area) just so he doesn't have to work so hard to stay warm and hopefully won't feel the need to gorge himself. He doesn't shiver at that temperature, but the vet said it definitely can't hurt him. I left him overnight with no food and plenty of water. I was up off and on during the night checking on him, but he was fine. He didn't drink, but the vet said that was normal after getting tubed all the water and electrolytes. In the morning there were eight poop piles and his pesky personality was back, so the vet said to give him beet pulp every three hours and watch how he handled it (the vet quickly answered all of my texts even the next day). So I called in sick to work so I could stay home with Chrome.
I fed him the beet pulp and he did great, so that afternoon I was able to start easing him back into eating hay. He continued to poop so the next day we put him with Rocky and Zep. While waiting for the hay net we've been feeding them hay two or three times a day. I'm not using square bales. We opened up a round roll outside of the pasture and I peel off the hay, put it into the wagon and haul it out to them. I've been putting it in multiple piles around the pasture so they move around between them. I looked up how much hay they are supposed to eat in pounds a day and then weighed the hay to see how much I needed to feed them, so they are only getting what they should be getting. So far, so good. Everyone seems to be doing well, even though they are angry about not having hay 24/7. I just hope they don't develop ulcers.... they will be okay once the net gets here....
Dirty boy was watching hubby dump water into their heated water tank.
Chrome has lost some weight since these pictures were taken, but he actually looks really good!! I forgot what he looked like when he isn't overweight. So the net will help with that too. They really do eat way too much with free access to a round bale.
He covered both sides evenly lol. My gray horse is brown again!
So as you can imagine I am ecstatic that he has recovered and is still doing well. I know you guys will understand what it was like when I was waiting for him because you love horses as much as I do, but it was terrifying. I kept telling myself if he died I would never get another horse because I couldn't go through that again. I'm very thankful it didn't go that way.
Anyway, I have a more fun update for tomorrow. Sorry updates have been so sporadic. Things have just been so hectic this winter. I hope all of you are doing well and that all of your horses are safe and healthy.