Monday, April 9, 2012

Mouthy Monday

This writer didn't send me a site or blog address... hope she does if there is more story for us to read.





It isn’t Rumple’s fault that I can’t pet him.  I can’t even ride The Pony without breaking down, and he’s been with us for almost a decade. Although, a pony’s withers are still the best material in the world for absorbing a girl’s tears.

I wasn’t ready for another horse; It had only been six weeks and I was still having trouble even feeding without getting tears in my eyes.  But, horse ownership is an addiction.  Just because I wasn’t ready to purchase didn’t mean I could stop myself from looking.  When I found Rumple more than half starved in a hoarder’s back yard, I couldn’t leave him there.  Four years old and not even halter broke, I paid my $300, herded him onto a trailer, and took him home to feed him.

 Byron was supposed to be my forever horse.  I bought him as a leggy, gangly, ribby two year old grade gelding with a lot of thoroughbred thrown in.  I did everything right; he had the best nutrition, shared a large pasture with three companions, and was started under saddle slowly and carefully.  Everything was done with long term health and soundness in mind.  In two years he went from 15.3 to 16.2 hands and from ribby and awkward to a full 1200 pounds of gorgeous horse.  He wasn’t the sharpest crayon in the box; I would often have to rethink my training approach.  What I considered to be baby steps, he thought were leaping bounds.  I became good at recognizing how much he could handle and breaking things down into manageable steps.  And once he understood a thing, he GOT it.  We made a great team.

The best thing about Byron was his personality.  He was the most playful horse I’ve ever met.  I have a collection of orange traffic cones that I have… rescued … from various places.  I brought them into the pasture one day to use during a ride and left them there for the next time around.  Byron quickly realized that he could grab the narrow end, swing the cone through the air, and thump The Paint.  It wasn’t long before Byron and The Paint were having daily “cone fights,” each swinging a traffic cone around and smacking each other while The Mare and The Pony looked on in disdain.  But, my favorite memory is the day Byron realized he was bigger than The Pony.  He snuck around to The Pony’s backside, reared up to plant his knees on The Pony’s back, streeetched his long neck forward, and started nibbling on The Pony’s ears.  I had tears in my eyes watching him skip on his hind legs to stay in position when The Pony tried to spin.

On a Saturday in the middle of August, The Mare was a little off her feed.  She tends to be a bit finicky, so it wasn’t abnormal enough to do anything than keep an extra close eye on her.  On Sunday morning she was still a little off, and on Sunday evening she spiked a fever of 104.  The vet was called immediately, he told us to give her bute and he’d be over in the morning.  The next day, we started treating for Potomac Horse Fever.  PHF is caused by a bacteria that lives in moist areas like creeks and ponds.  It had been (and still is) an abnormally wet year in Southern PA and the vet had seen several cases recently.  Symptoms include a high fever, loss of appetite, diarrhea, and founder.  If caught and treated early there is a high recovery rate.  On Monday we started The Mare on IV antibiotics; Byron was fine.  On Tuesday, he started showing symptoms.

We started his treatment immediately.  Daily IV antibiotics administered by the vet, rotating between a pepto-like paste and a dirt-like paste, one dose an hour around the clock for stomach pain.  IM Banamine administered by me every 4 hours as necessary to keep his temperature at or below 102.  Byron seemed to be doing well.  He wasn’t nearly as sick as The Mare.  Everyone was worried about her – as “normal” as he was acting, he was almost an afterthought. 

We started treatment for Byron on Tuesday.  On Thursday, The Mare was pronounced cured and Byron stopped eating anything.  On Friday, we switched Byron’s IV meds up because he wasn’t responding as well as we would like.  He was starting to act depressed and his fever hadn’t dipped below 102 in two days.  On Saturday, things were officially starting to look bad.  IM banamine became IV fever reducers along with the amped-up antibiotics.  He was dehydrated and hadn’t eaten in 48 hours.  Overnight on Saturday he foundered in at least three of his hooves.  If he was responding to the meds at all we might have been able to fight through the founder, but before we could stop his feet from getting worse, we would need to cure the fever.  There was nothing more we could do; I had him euthanized on Sunday morning.

So I’ve decided to take the winter off to regroup.  In the spring Rumple will learn what it means to have a job and work for the food I’m providing.  By that time, maybe his stunted frame will have filled out a bit.  And maybe I’ll be able to stroke his nose without always wishing there was a crooked stripe bisecting his left nostril.

13 comments:

SillyPony said...

How heartbreaking. Does the author have a blog? I'd love to follow this story.

flyin'horse said...

Beautifully written, hearbreakingly so! Best wishes to you.

Scamp said...

Very sad. :( I sometimes get flack about having my horses innoculated against everything under the sun when the time for Spring shots comes around, but when I read stories like this I'm just as glad that I do. I've been told "Potomac doesn't happen around here, we're too far north", but then I read something like this. I'm so sorry for your loss.

scsarah said...

This story touched me in such a way that tears were brimming around my eyes.

Betsey said...

My heart hurts for this author. I had to euthanize my mare when she didn't recover from EPM. When her pictures flash on the screen, I feel like I let her down. I miss her a lot.

Stasha said...

Thanks for your kind words. Things have been much better recently, but it took me a long time to feel happy in the barn again. Scamp, they were both vaccinated for PHF- I learned later that the vaccine is only about 75% effective. It was incredible bad luck that I had 2 come down with it, since it isn't contagious.

Heidi the Hick said...

It's so hard to lose a horse. I can't believe it's been 5 1/2 years since Champ died. I still think about him so much, but I've stopped comparing Phoenix to him. Even though I don't think Phoenix and I have bonded like I did with Champ, I've stopped referring to him as "my new horse". Thankfully you've got your remaining horses. And give the skinny little guy time. It'll be different but he'll prove himself to be special in his own way.

It's good that horses are so good at soaking up tears though, eh?

mysanity said...

I've only just recently gotten back in the saddle after 3 yrs. Brought tears to my eyes.

KD said...

Stasha - my heart goes out to you.

Very touching post....I was smiling at the cone thumping and tearing up at the end.

Good luck with Rumple.....

deedee sonnyduo@yahoo.com said...

Stasha,
What a lovely story. I laughed and cried. I love the cone games. And the crayons in the box comment.You have a way with words.

hugs to you and Rumple.

nagonmom said...

Stasha, so sorry for your loss. We have a gelding who almost died of Potomac, and he spent several days in ICU at major equine hospital. It ended his previous career as a breeding stallion, and it took a very long time to get any weight on him. The vets expected him to die. I am sorry you lost your guy, but you were doing everything right, at least you can feel good about the care you gave him.

gtyyup said...

Stasha~I feel for your loss. Let The Pony help heal your heart.

deedee sonnyduo@yahoo.com said...

Stasha, Everytime I open Mugwump Chronicles and page past the picture of the horses playing with the cone, I smile. You have made your horse come alive for all of us. Now he is immortal. The power of hearts and words. Thank you for your sharing with us.

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