Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Old Friend Said Goodbye

 Oh Mud Puddle... 

In the summer of 2006, I spent a lot of time working young horses for a breeder of pintabians and Arabs.  That year, I took a couple youngsters for training as halter babies.  My mom had decided she wanted her own young horse again.  But it needed to be something that was HERS, that I wasn't going to take over training and want to show.  I knew if there was a part-bred Arab filly that was solid coloured, I'd want nothing to do with it.  

There was just one that year.  Her name was Mud. 

Ok, she was registered as BG Coal-B, but she was a little stinker from the beginning.  Her name was Mud Puddle and that was that.  She was exactly what Mom wanted.  I had very little to do with her over the years - except to tend to injuries (she is a big reason I became an equine first-aid instructor) and other unpleasantries (vaccines, deworming, etc.)  I commonly referred to her as the bane of my existence, although I loved her because she was so loved by my mom.  She was part of the family. 

Mom aboard Mud with me leading.

Recently a young friend of ours who recently found herself horseless had taken on Mud, riding, adventuring, loving on her, everything a horse should enjoy and it seemed Mud did just that.  

Monday last week, Mud got herself stuck upside down in the shelter in her pen.  Not sure why, or for how long, but it seemed pretty evident that it was a fair amount of time.  I was at work; Mom got her out on her own.  Right away, Mud was showing discomfort, disorientation and was not quick about recovering.  She was laying down a lot, not eating or drinking.  

I came out right after work, with a 5 litre bag of ringers in hand.  We didn't have the equipment to start an IV, but I felt comfortable doing subcutaneous boluses, so that's what I did.  Her body wasn't really showing dehydration and she was passing some small amounts of loose manure.  It didn't look right though, not well digested and the colour was wrong.  We put in a litre of fluid into her neck over an hour or more, then got her up to start walking.  We had given her Flunixin earlier and started alternating walking with resting breaks where I piled syringes of warm water with electrolytes and mineral oil into her mouth.  She seemed tired but stabilized.  

As we got ourselves ready for bed, we talked about doing night checks and who would get up when.  Mom decided that Mud needed to make a decision if she was going to try to improve or if she was going to quit.  It was up to Mud.  

She spent 2 hours with her that night, out of the pen. Mud didn't have much fight to stand, drink, take the syringes of water, just laid down and was obviously uncomfortable.  

I got up a couple hours after to go check on her.  We'd left her out of the pen - just in case she decided to expire, it's sadly more practical to not have to try to move a body out of a pen if it can be helped... I found her in the snow, still alive but having no interest in getting up.  She was becoming more dehydrated and possibly hypothermic.  But I honored my mom's direction.  Mud had her own choice to make.  

A little comfort for a very uncomfortable mare

A few hours later, in the morning, I found her in a different spot. This time she was very dehydrated and hypothermic.  Unfortunately it was also very foggy and it was not possible for a vet to safely get to the farm to help for several hours.  Mud did get up and walked with me up to the driveway. I asked for warm water with electrolytes and tried to get her some syringes.  There was no fight in her, she just let the water fall out of her mouth.  It seemed that Mud developed a displaced colon colic. She strained to poop, laid down and held herself upside down with legs in the air, thrashed around and caused herself to become exhausted.  It was the most painful thing to watch.  We all felt helpless. We pulled blankets off ready for what was coming.  Eventually she laid down and rolled over one last time. I put a blanket just over her body, she was sweating hot.  She was obviously seizuring then. After a few minutes, her eyes were not reactive to touch at all and we knew she was gone, it was just a matter of her body getting that message and shutting down.  

Our poor friend of 16 years left us.  So many questions. Was she colicing before laying down and rolling in the shelter where she got stuck, or was she being silly and rolled and got caught for several hours which caused the colic?  Unfortunately we will never know.  We have learned a lot from this experience though, new things we will put into action on the farm.  

Once again, my sincere gratitude to Chuck McKinney from Just Passing Horse Bereavement Services for his kind, understanding and quick services to pick Mud up and give her a dignified burial.  

Well miss Mud Puddle, I hope that all the gates where you have gone are not latched so you can easily push them open as you so often loved to demonstrate.  I hope there's all the treats and grass you could want.  Thank you for sharing yourself with us.  Even though you were a turd, I love you. 

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