I picked up Jewels a week ago last Friday. She was a hot mess. She’d been sick for days. The trainer called me on Sunday prior to me picking her up. He was concerned about diarrhea. A couple of days before (Friday) she had an allergic reaction to something. They went out to the stall and Jewels face was swelled up. They gave her Benadryl for the swelling. The swelling went away soon after. Her diarrhea got worse over the afternoon, she was lethargic and laying down excessively. He immediately called a vet. The Dr. advised them to give her worm medicine for diarrhea and some Banamine for the pain. Jewels had been due for another seasonal worming. All this might have parasite related. Later that day she swelled up and was covered in hives, again. More Benadryl was administered. She was worse the next day. At that point they thought it might be gastric ulcers. The vet prescribed Bio-Sponge over the phone to absorb anything that might be causing her stomach upset.
I drove up to their place to see for myself. She looked pitiful. Her stools were sloppy and runny. She was standing when I got there. Soon after, she laid down to rest. I could tell she wasn’t normal. She let the trainer walk up to her while she was laying down. So, not normal! Jewels was actually calm and compliant. Definitely out of the ordinary for her. She hadn’t been eating or drinking normally either. She didn’t look dehydrated at all. I was pleasantly surprised at that. The vet had told the trainer to wait and see how she felt, so I was confident at that point it was going to be okay and her training would resume shortly there after. The trainer and I talked at great length about her prognosis. He thought some of the problems could be related to her teeth. He wasn’t sure. He also mentioned the possibility of gastric ulcers once again. After all, this was a nervous horse that had confidence issues. The stress of hauling her there, the stress of training or could have been a combination of it all. Which in fact may have brought on the episodes of diarrhea to, though she had already been there a month. So we ruled that out. I stayed around there for several hours observing her habits. She wasn’t normal, but she wasn’t right.
That evening I felt confident enough in Jake to leave her there. I left him a check so he could call the vet out. The next day when the vet arrived she was still having diarrhea. She still wasn’t eating good, but was drinking water. He gave her some electrolytes and Bio-Sponge. The vet called me with his diagnosis. He preferred I didn’t move her for 3 days though I hadn’t planned on moving her unless she got worse. He told me moving her would add to the stress she was already under. He then said he didn’t want me to move her because of the suspicion of colitis-X. Facts are colitis-X is known for its exceptionally high rate of mortality; 90-100 percent of horses affected by this condition will die. Needless to say, I was frantic. He also mentioned it may be salmonella or gastric ulcers. And hope for the latter. It’s treatable. The vet also said she needed her teeth floated. My whole mind and body was numb from the diagnosis. The next stage in the game was waiting for her to get worse or get better.
I hoped for the best. I called the next morning to see how she was doing. The trainer said she was doing okay. She still wasn’t eating and drinking like she should, but she wasn’t dehydrated. They put her in a paddock area where she could graze. The vet wanted her in a stress free environment while she was there. If she got better, I was going to get her and have her treated by my own vet. Mean while on the home front. I called my vet and told him what was going on. He didn’t think it was colitis-X or she wouldn’t still be alive. I was relieved. He did mention salmonella was a possibility or maybe even e coli. A nasty little bacterial infection. I was still in relief mode. I’d much rather have to have her treated for bacterial infections than the worse case scenario. I asked him about ulcers. He said it was another possibility. The Dr. told me to get her there as soon as I picked her up. He needed to do blood work to see what the problem was. I made arrangements the next day to go get her after the 3 days were up. The trainer was most likely relieved. I’m sure the stress of the situation didn’t set well with him.
I took Jerzey with me so Jewels would have a buddy to trailer with. I figured less stress the better. When I got there, I walked up to the paddock area and she nickered at me. That was a good sign. She looked very good considering what she’s been through. I chatted for a short time, loaded her up and off we went. When I unloaded her off the trailer, I could tell she was glad to be home. She fell right back in to place. Jewels checked her stall out. No doubt looking for food and hay. After she discovered there wasn’t any food in the manger, she started following me around. By the way, that is not normal for her. She prefers to pin her ears and walk away from people. Jewels would much rather be with the other horses. She started nuzzling me and pushing me around until I offered her some treats, knowing I always carry a pocket full of goodies. We stayed out at the barn for close to an hour. She followed me the whole time. I was literally shocked by her behavior.
That Saturday we decided to separate her from the other horses. We have a one acre pasture for her to rest on. I still wanted to follow the advice of both vets and keep her as stress free as possible. She still had diarrhea, but started eating and drinking normally. Jewels was fine on Sunday. The vet previously prescribed Bio-Sponge for the problem and we tubed her twice daily until her appointment the following Saturday 8/23. Mean while I called Lone Star Park Veterinary Clinic on Monday 8/18. My vet didn’t have a tube long enough to do a scope on her stomach for ulcers. The original vet that treated her said she probably had gastric ulcers. I didn’t want to take a chance they might be missed. They put me down for an appointment for 8/25 at 10:30AM. She was doing good up until Wednesday. All off the sudden she took a turn for the worse. She had projectile diarrhea and quit eating again. I panicked and called the vet. He asked what she was doing. I told him she was laying down continuously, then get up and lay back down again. He asked if she was still drinking. I told him, yes. She drank a lot of water. He said it sounded normal under the circumstances. Her lying down was giving her some relief from the stomach pain. I was to observe her and make sure she drank plenty of water. He told me not to worry. Yeah, right! Like that was going to happen.
The day finally came. I took her to the vet. He took blood samples and run several tests on her, ruling out bacterial infections of any kind. Jewels didn’t need antibiotics. Her white blood cell counts were all with-in the normal range. His only concern was her protein levels were below normal. He advised me on what to feed her. Then he looked at her mouth and saw she needed her teeth floated. He thought at that point all this could be related to her teeth needing to be floated. I asked him, ‘you mean her teeth caused this whole fiasco’? He laughed and replied, “it’s a combination of several things. It could have been the trailering, her new environment, the training etc…Horses are funny creatures”. I had to laugh. I had her teeth floated that day. We chatted about what to do next. He advised me to keep her in a small pasture until she was having normal stools. He also wanted me to keep her on the feed I was giving her, and as a supplement to her coastal hay, I am to give her alfalfa to. He wants to see her again in two weeks for more blood work. He also mentioned cancelling the endoscopy until further notice. I didn’t mind cancelling since he ruled out ulcers at this point. This entire fiasco cost us a whopping $700.
Today Jewels is much better. She had an almost normal stool. Still cow patty like, but it’s firming up. The great thing about all this is, Jewels has become docile. She follows me around everywhere. She doesn’t pin her ears, run from me, and she isn’t screaming for the other horses when she can’t see them. I won’t hold my breath though. I’m going to give her a week and then I’ll determine whether or not she learned something from this. I know I did. Things do happen for a reason.