Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Not Ready to Say Goodbye

Shortly before dinnertime, Faith needed to be pulled out of her stall, taken for a walk, have her wounds tended to and have her stall picked before she was put back in. After our short 10 minute walk, she waited patiently on the cross ties for me to grab the first aid kit from the tack room. I brought it over to her and went to work. A student cleaned her stall and Faith stared at her the entire time, apparently making sure she did a satisfactory job. After I was finished with her legs, it was time for the oral antibiotic. And this time I was ready.

I walked into the tack room, grabbed the syringe and headed back to where Faith was. When I left her, her head was low, about chest level to me. Now, her head was about as high up as she could get it, inches from the ceiling, her lips pinched together. She knew what was going to happen next, and I swear if a horse could laugh, she would have been. I turned around and walked back to get a bucket to stand on, and then asked my student to help out. Even though we both held onto her head as best she could, Faith wanted no part of it, moved, and nearly knocked me off of my bucket, spitting a small portion of it on my jeans. (Score: Faith 2, Julie 1)

Feeding time at night went well. Faith was sure that if she whinnied louder than the other horses, she'd be served before them. She was right. After I tended to her, I made all of the other horses were settled in for the night. I checked on her one last time and she was happily munching away on her hay.

A few hours later, around 9:00pm, I went to check on her and my heart nearly stopped. She was laying flat down in her stall, her hooves facing away from me. As she heard me coming, she tilted her head and neck back to look up at me, and she softly nickered. I panicked and called for Dan. He came down and we gave her a dose of banamine to reduce her pain. It seemed to work, and in ten minutes she decided to get up on her own - and she made it without any help.

There was a problem though - she didn't know where her legs were and couldn't stabilize herself. She crashed into the far wall and caught her balance just in time. She looked panicked and tried to step towards me. In doing so nearly fell again and wound up in the middle of the stall with no support. I immediately grabbed her head in my hands and tried to help her. I figured at least if I could keep her still, she'd stay up. Not the case. She needed something to lean against and knew she needed to do something quickly. She jumped towards me, knocking me out of the way, aiming for the wall where her buckets were. It worked. She stayed upright.

Dan held onto her and I was on the phone with our other vet, Dr. George, within seconds. He told me that it sounded as though she was just extremely weak, and that this happens occasionally with horses that are in her condition. Going against everything the vet and I had planned from the beginning, we were forced into giving her some grain. Her body needed carbohydrates, and it needed them now. I gave her a quart of sweet feed and kept my fingers crossed that it wouldn't cause her to colic again.

An hour passed and we tried to see if she was more stable on her legs. She was, but barely. She appeared drunk, aware of where her legs were being placed, but unsure how to balance on them. I was sick to my stomach. This mare had made so many strides in the right direction in one day, and now was going just as fast backwards.

Dan and I had sadly discussed the possibilities. We would keep fighting for her as long as she was. When she gave up and told us that she couldn't fight any longer, we would do what is best and we wouldn't let her suffer. Regardless of what her life was before she became part of ours, she deserved humane treatment in the end. That was the least we could give her.

Please Faith, keep on fighting. I'm not ready to say goodbye to you just yet.


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