A Veterinary Emergency

November 11 2012 051

Blood streamed from Misty’s nose as the Vet threaded the hose through Misty’s windpipe into her stomach.

“Whoa,” I soothed as the horse stepped forward.

The Vet pumped water and oil into Misty’s stomach. Several times she unhooked the pump and allowed some of the water to return from Misty’s stomach back into the bucket. Some of the grain from Misty’s breakfast slopped back with the water.

“This will help move her bowels,” the Vet promised. “She has impaction colic. I’ve removed the blockage, but now she needs fluids to move everything along.”

“She’s one constipated horse,” I said. “I used to deal with that a lot at another barn.”

For six years, I worked at Camp Anna Behrens. Red and white pines line the driveway into the camp; birds flit through the branches and chipmunks scurry through the undergrowth. One constant, wherever you walk, remains the same: sand.

Sand everywhere. It abrades through your socks and grinds between your toes. It sneaks into your sleeping bag and wakes you at 3am with creepy-crawly sensations. It sticks to horse lips as they lift hay from the ground. Ponies lick their lips, and the granules scrape their tongues.

Horses can’t digest sand. It clogs their pipes. Camp horses frequently experienced upset tummies during the summer, sometimes bad enough to call the Vet.

My first experience with colic of any variety happened at Camp. Midnight, one of the tried-and-true favorite horses, became ill. In order to push fluids in her system, a Vet inserted a tube up Midnight’s nose and into her stomach. Midnight wouldn’t drink on her own, so he made her drink.

He shoved the tube, and her nose cascaded a torrent of red. Some girls cried, some screamed, some turned green and sped from the scene. Midnight stood still. Though stiff-legged and hollow backed, she remained stoic.

Today, the Vet’s gentle hands lifted the tube, and the clear plastic pipe inched toward Misty’s stomach. Scarlet drizzled along the tube and dripped to the ground.

“It’s dry outside,” the Vet apologized. “I put lubricant on the tube before I put it in, but sometimes if you hit the inside of the nose just right, it bleeds anyway.”

I nodded.

Midnight recovered after her traumatic nosebleed. She continued on for years afterward, delighting children with her pleasant antics and kind attitude. She recovered from her bout of sand colic.

We’ve given Misty every chance to recover. She’s full of fluids, she has both electrolyte and plain water in her stall, and her nosebleed stopped an hour ago. We caught the problem early.

The rest is up to her.

Categories: Horses, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “A Veterinary Emergency

  1. jessesToons

    Thanks for sharing this article, it was a really great story. My uncle has horses and hes had problems like this but I didn’t know it could be caused by sand. Why can’t horses digest sand? I never would have guessed that. Anyhow he had to call in the emergency veterinarians Gilbert to help his horse out. It was fixable but scary in the moment for sure. Thanks so much for sharing, I wonder if my uncle knows about this sand problem?

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