Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Worst Day of My Horse Owning Life

  Last Sunday was the scariest day of my life.  My parents had just left for their holiday, my husband is still on the other side of the country.  I got up to feed the horses, change their blankets, turn them out and clean the barn.  I had it all planned out for a lovely Sunday.  My sister and I had plans to go shopping for baby shower supplies for her in the afternoon after I had time to have a coffee and read the paper after doing the barn.  Things didn't exactly go to plan...

  I turned the mares out and had changed Archies blanket and turned him out.  I put William on cross ties to change his blanket and he was dancing around like a fool because Archie was gone and he was the last one left in the barn.  Keep in mind our very large run in shed faces into the barn and Archie was right in the run in shed, in full visibility.  I am a bit annoyed at Williams herd boundedness so I decided I would make him wait until he stood quietly before I would turn him out.  I now know this was a bad decision on my part.

  He pulled back on the cross ties and broke my halter.  Grrr....he just stood there while I grabbed another halter  and clipped him back onto the cross ties.  A few minutes passed and he was standing nicely when he decided he had enough and pulled back on the cross ties again.  This time, he broke the baler twine.  I replaced the baler twine and set him back up, yet again, in the cross ties.  It was clear he learnt the easy way to escape standing quietly.

  He stood nicely for another minute then started dancing - yet again.  This time however, he threw his head up and since he was in the low part of our barn, he hit his nose fairly hard and tore the skin off his face.  From the sheer pain I imagine he felt, he pulled back hard as he reared up and was leaning all his weight on the cross ties.  I talked softly and tried to get him to stand up right but he was too far leaning back to right himself.  At one unforgettable moment, the twine broke and William went jetting backwards onto his back.  I heard a loud "SMACK" and watched horrified as he hit his head hard onto the corner of his stall, and then the floor.

  I knew it was a bad impact, but did not realize just how bad.  He immediately went stiff and groaned.  He had a full on seizure.  I dropped down beside him, careful not to put myself in danger but had to hold and comfort him while he was going through this.  I knew it was a seizure, from the many I have witnesses with Broo.  I have never seen a horse seizure other than moments before death.  Was his brain bleeding?  Was he going to die?  I was hysterical in tears and fear.  I knew I had to pull myself together but I was just in shock as to what was happening.  I looked down at my hand and saw blood, then realized it was all over my sweater too.  I grabbed my phone from the grooming shelf and called my vet...

  They were sending the emergency vet out ASAP.  I requested the vet we have had for years...and I went back to holding William.  He laid still for what seemed like eternity.  I didn't know if he would ever  get up, I didn't know if I was going to have to say goodbye very soon.  He curled up and looked at me, then proceeded to place his legs out front.  I let him get himself up and stayed out of the way.  When he was up, I directed him to Mikeys old stall, the biggest in the barn.  He walked almost drunkenly to it, hitting the walls and stammering from side to side.  I had never seen a horse in a state like this.  I cried and tried to keep it together for his sake.

  I put bags and bags of shavings in his stall incase he fell over.  I took off his blanket and put on a cooler, at this point he was sweating profusely.  The vet called, he was on his way.  He asked me about his status, and advised to give him 10 ccs of bute to hold him over.  Banamine would have been good too but William is not good with needles, I couldn't risk upsetting him.   He circled in his stall and walked into the walls head first.  I felt so helpless and heartbroken watching my little William in such disarray.  He eventually stood by the window.  I stayed beside him and rubbed him until the vet came.

  When the Vet showed up, he checked him over thoroughly.  He looked in his eyes and confirmed his brain was not bleeding.  He cleaned his wounds and William stood so quietly while he dressed them.  He walked him around the barn and tested his functioning.  He was a little draggy still but managed a small obstacle course through the barn.  Prognosis was promising.  He was diagnosed with a severe concussion and would have a very bad head ache for the next few days.  We were prescribed bute and an antibiotic for the lesions, no riding for a few weeks.  He said he should make a full recovery, but monitor him closely for the next few days.


Puncture wound behind his ear.

  I cried the whole rest of the day.  I checked on William and he stood ever so still all day with his eyes squinted shut.  I knew he was in so much pain.  I felt like it was all my fault.  I should have just turned him out, but hindsight is 20/20.  For the next few days William could not eat off the ground.  I imagine the pressure he was feeling was severe.  He didn't want to eat hay, his jaw was very bruised.  He gobbled his grain up just fine and got a lot of extra warm beet pulp for his belly.  Every time I looked at him in his stall I would cry.  It was killing me to see him in such pain, and so not himself.

A few days after the accident. 

 It has been just over a week since the accident, and I am happy to say William is %100 back to himself. I have never in my life experienced something as emotionally draining as what happened that day.  I still feel a lot of guilt over the whole thing, but I know it was a freak accident and really these things just happen with horses.  I won't be using the cross ties in the lower part of the barn anymore, it's just too risky.  I still have my lovely William here with me and I know I am lucky to be able to say that, things could have very easily gone the other way.

Standing very still these days...

Just need some hair back now...
Just another reason to hug your horse, it can only take the blink of an eye, for everything to change.

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