The magazine The Horse has a great article on Knowing Your Horse’s Health in the May issue . . . and urge everyone to read this piece and to pay better attention to their horses.
I can’t stress the importance of knowing what is normal for your horse both in vital signs (temp, pulse, respiration, and capillary response of the gums), but also behavioral things like drinking water after grain, calling for you when you come home for work, etc.
If I had not known these, and had not know what was normal and not right for my mare, Bees (the one featured on the home page of our website www.good-horsekeeping.com ) she would not be with us today. After 8 long weeks of working with two vets (one of which as recently as last week urged me to put her down and was the same vet that I blame for being aggressive enough with a diagnosis/treatment and for only offering the option of putting her down), Bees appears to be on the road to a full recovery. ***Please see earlier post for initial story.
In my 40 years of horse ownership this has been the biggest test of my will and of my gut instincts. Seeing Bees trotting again and walking almost normal is better then any award we have ever won. It took everything I had in me to take care of her from hand feeding her and watering her in those early weeks when she laid down for 10-12 hours at a time to getting only 4-5 hours sleep for the past five weeks so I could break up her meds and feeding regimen as a means to prevent colic and ulcers.
The x-rays last week showed minimal rotation and now after being one-week on an antibiotic (for what my original vet thought was a shoe boil . . . . even though I said is was way beyond a shoe boil when Bee’s entire forearm, chest, and leg swelled up), she has dramatically turned around. I pushed for the antibiotic feeling in the back of my mind there had been some kind of weird infection that caused her original lameness and possible case of laminitis.
The message I want every horse owner to get from my hard and horrible experience is to know your horses, pay attention to them. Although I do, and know when they even have a hair out of place, I fault myself for not getting a second opinion earlier. Don’t be afraid to question your vet, and if you think you need a second opinion, get it! When I finally called in another vet, Bees had a fighting chance . . . .Although with the new vet’s help and my tenacity of believing something else was going on besides laminitis, she’s alive today.