It’s been four weeks of pure hell!! By the grace of God, my mare, Bees (the one featured on the homepage of www.good-horsekeeping.com) is alive, but will probably never be shown again and it’s too early to judge the damage caused by what probably was founder.
I write this to prevent anyone else from going through this. In my opinion founder and colic are two things that vets NEED to be proactive with. If an owner, especially one like myself with 40 years of horse experience says it looks like something . . . regardless of there not being the classic signs, it probably is.
To say I’m mad as hell, would be an understatement. I previously had a foundered horse . . . one with 12 percent rotation. I know what the classic signs are; I pulled that horse through two bouts with founder and I managed to keep her sound for 20 years.
When Bees seemed a little sore around Valentine’s Day, after weeks of frozen ground and ice here in southwest Michigan, I didn’t sit back and just wait and see. My blacksmith immediately came out and checked her (she does have thin soles and has had minor sore feet issues in the past). He ruled out anything other then the hard ground and we put shoes on with snow pads. She stepped away great and moved like normal for the next day. When she seemed to back slide a little and I felt a slight digital pulse . . . I called my vet. Initially he wanted me to wait and see. However, I insisted (being hypersensitive about founder) and said I would feel better if he checked her and paid for the emergency call. In his opinion she was just sore and didn’t show the classic signs of founder. Give her time, he told me and soak her feet in case there’s an abscess.
That’s what I did. When she continued to get worse I had him out two additional times. . . .with my blacksmith being out of town for a week he said we would wait till he was back to pull the shoes. Upon my instance during the second visit I pleaded with him to leave me what he would prescribe for laminitis. He did, but still felt she wasn’t foundering.
In that week I questioned whether I should call in another vet. Several of my professional horse peers told me I needed to trust my vet, and that I shouldn’t undermine him by calling someone else. After all, he has been practicing for more then 25 years, just built a new, state-of –the art clinic, and had always been good about coming out on farm calls. Normally I probably would have said “to hell with it” and called another vet, but knowing that Bees is very difficult to work with (she had some former training abuse, which causes her to be very anxious around new and strange people), I decided to take their advice . . . BIG MISTAKE!
By the second week she could hardly stand . . . . An emergency meeting was set up with my blacksmith and my vet. My poor blacksmith nearly cried when he saw her. When the shoes were pulled off and my vet determined there were no abscesses he suggested we put her down, because she had foundered!
For the next 15 minutes we stood with her in our hay barn . . . as my blacksmith and I saw her look more relieved from having the shoes pulled, my vet tried to convince me that the right, and humane thing was to put her down.
With a song and a prayer, I uttered “I have to give her 24 hours”. I wasn’t sure at the time if I did the right thing, but I had to give her at least that much time.
That night we took the boards down between two of our stalls that open into a dry-lot pen. I set up small hay and water stations so she didn't have to move that far to eat and drink. I have been on a constant vigil since then . . .spacing out her medicine and Bute to help prevent stomach problems from all of this. If she’s lying down, I take her water (and yes, she does drink).
Please pray for us. She’s 200 percent better then she was. At least she’s standing fairly good (most of the time), alert, eating, drinking, and pooping. God Bless. And seeing her alive, is better then any blue ribbon she has ever won.