First, I noticed that My Boy's sheath was swollen. He wasn't having issues urinating but the last time it was swollen (not this bad) it needed to be cleaned. Turns out it is okay and the swelling is due to severe cold weather (it was hardly above 26 degrees here for nearly two weeks!) and a lack of physical activity which causes fluid build up (edema.) It's common in geldings in cold temps. She gave me a diuretic for him and said to just keep an eye on it.
A day later I looked out the kitchen window one morning before feeding and noticed Loretta looked "off." She was standing oddly and stamping uncomfortably and shaking her head. She wanted to eat when I fed but she looked so uncomfortable that I was guessing some colic symptoms so I began walking her. She pooped while walking. A call to the vet for advice said to give her a dose of Banamine, walk her, and isolate her to monitor water intake. There was another poop. She already seemed much better and her symptoms were gone. I kept her off food for the day and in a separate pen for the day. Later, she seemed back to herself so I turned her out with My Boy and let them have a small dinner.
In the morning she seemed "off" again. I called the vet to come out. She took her vitals and said her heart rate was high (80 when it should have been 35!) Her gut sounds were okay but not like she'd like to hear. She did the rectal exam and extracted a lot of poo, and could feel a small, soft impaction. Of course, Miss Loretta was sedated for this. A tube of oil and water to the stomach followed, along with Banamine and a good med for gas.
I moved her to another pen that was larger so that she could move around. She is separated across several fields from My Boy now and of course he's been calling for her. She came out of sedation quickly and pooped four times and began pacing around. The walking is good for her! I kept her separated overnight and fed her only a small amount of hay. Today she pooped several more times (some of it looked oily) and seemed back to herself.
I moved her back to My Boy's pasture this afternoon. One small oddity. I turned her loose and after lovin' on MB she started nibbling the bits of hay he'd left from his breakfast. Within a few seconds she showed a few of the irritation signs that I'd seen the past few days~ rubbing her nose on her leg, shaking her head.....as if she was being bothered by bugs. I began to wonder if there wasn't something in the dirt that was causing an allergic reaction? Perhaps mold spores or some kind? The hay appears to be normal and is not any different from what I've been feeding.
Another call to the vet to discuss. She didn't feel like the symptoms she saw were anything but colic (she never saw the irritation or stamping behavior I saw in the pasture.) She suggested another dose of banamine for the night and said it can take a few days for the stomach and digestive system to get back to normal. I only gave her a mouthful of grain and another small flake of hay for dinner. Of course this meant MB only got a small flake too, but he is well padded for the winter and could stand to loose a few! So, we'll see how Miss Lo is in the morning. If she is exhibiting symptoms again I will move her to the other corral to see if the symptoms subside. Any ideas?? We've had bizarre weather~ extreme cold, and a few days of unseasonly warm weather and thaw. We have no snow on the ground, just frozen or unfrozen dirt depending on the day.
I haven't had a horse colic since I was a teen with ponies. I did learn one thing~ that a horse can still want to eat when they are colicing. Loretta did want to eat and the vet said that wouldn't be good because she'd be putting food behind the impaction.
It pays to be aware of what is "normal" routine behavior for your horse whether they are in a stall or in a pasture. I am lucky to be home right now and have them in my backyard so I am watching and observing them off and on all day.
In other news, we nearly finished the run-in shed, which we built to be portable! This way we can move it to other property down the road, or even around the pasture should the footing inside became muddy. We need to finish some t-post and hot wire fencing so that the horses can actually access the shed, as we are enlarging their area to get closer to water and heat sources. We are behind on this winter project, pounding t-posts into frozen ground is NOT ideal! I love my Ranch Boy for doing this for me!
I am excited for Christmas! Some of my travel plans are now post-poned due to Loretta's colic but I felt I couldn't leave town now until I know she's 100% better, I would just worry the whole time I was away that she'd relapse. So some of my Christmas will have to be celebrated next week. I hope you are all ready for the holidays and have some fun activities planned! I'll be back by Christmas with an update on Loretta and a fun holiday card for you!