Monday, May 16, 2016

Never a Dull Moment

Just while I was busy contemplating all the reasons why Tucker is and will always be my top priority, he decided to confirm that he absolutely 100% needs to be.

My heart.
There is no scarier way to wake up on a Sunday morning than your phone buzzing next to you at 7:05 am with a call from your barn manager.  7am is not a call to remind you that the farrier is coming next week or to ask if you want him wormed.  7am means something is very wrong.

When I picked up the phone, she said "I think your boy is colicking."  We agreed on 10cc of banamine IV, and I was out of bed, dressed and out the door not five minutes later.  I drove to the barn in tears.  I don't think Tucker would be a candidate for colic surgery, because I think the stall rest would torture him and his pre-existing stomach issues would complicate matters.  So colic scares me with him.  But I told myself that if today was the day that I had to make a decision to end his suffering, I would do that for him.  I would not get emotional and make a selfish choice.  And then I cried more.  

When I got to the barn, Gloria explained that Tucker ate his breakfast like normal, but then got really fussy.  She put them out in the field thinking he was just getting impatient, but by the time she brought the next horse out to turnout, he was down. Not normal for him. She got him up, went back to the barn to get another horse, and he went down again.  And a third time. She got him up, he wouldn't graze, he was tossing his head and uncomfortable, so that's when she called me.  After that, she made him trot a little bit and it must have moved stuff around because he finally pooped, and then started to graze.

I went out in his field with a thermometer and stethoscope, and took his temp (which was normal but would have been anyway after the banamine).  His gut was a little quiet for him, but not completely silent and scary.  I left him out for an hour so he didn't feel like we were disrupting his routine too much and then brought him and Goose back into the barn.  He drank a little water and then started rooting around in the shavings for bits of breakfast.  

His belly looked all sunken in to me in front of his hip.
I put him on the lunge line for a very light trot, just to move things around.  He lunged quietly, but no poop.  So, I hooked up the trailer, because he always poops the second he gets on, and loaded him up. He pooped, and seemed really uncomfortable about it, poor guy.  Then he peed.  Apparently the trailer is just a magical toilet on wheels.  While I was texting celebratory poop pictures to my friends (to which they unanimously replied "YAY!!! GOOD BOY TUCKER!!!"), he pooped again.  I did a little happy dance.

Started to become clear that this was a simple gas colic.  My guess is that he's still a little ulcery to begin with, so he's extra sensitive right now.  The weather dramatically changed about thirty degrees.  We went from 9 straight days of rain (limited turnout) to beautiful weather and full days of turnout on suddenly very rich rain-drenched spring grass.  And he over-indulged.  

Put him back in his stall then, and babysat him, literally just sat there on a stool.  And laughed because this was possibly the first time in my life I've ever been genuinely happy to hear fart sounds. He decided I looked stressed and needed to be watched over, because he's the sweetest horse alive.
Don't worry mom, it's gonna be okay.
After a bit he started kicking at his belly a little, so I got him out for more hand walking, and ran into my trainer Amy and her assistant, at which point Tucker promptly embarrassed me by trying to run backwards up a hill with his head in the air because I wouldn't let him graze.  (How do you explain: "He's totally well behaved, I swear.  I just can't remind him of his manners or discipline him right now because I'm secretly still afraid he's going to die and I don't want that to be his last memory of me.")

Alyssa came around noon and brought me lunch, and a puppy to play with.  Dawn also came to ride her horse and the two of them kept me company all day and made sure I didn't freak out, and reassured me that I wasn't crazy for not calling the vet as long as he continued to poop and didn't get dramatically worse.  (What would we do without our barn friends?)

Every two hours I loaded him on the trailer and he pooped.  I figured if I could keep his gut moving that way, it would be the best thing for him.  Around 2pm, we loaded him up and took him for a twenty minute drive, during which we got into a debate about why anyone would ever decide not to own a horse. While driving around in circles so my horse could poop.  Without ever noticing the irony.  Horse girls are CRAZY PEOPLE.  It worked though, he pooped quite a bit on the trailer.  (How many times can I say poop in one post?)  

We listened to his gut again, and confirmed that it was gurgling normally, and let him have a bran mash for dinner.  He ate normally and showed no signs of discomfort afterward.  By this point, the banamine was completely worn off, so I checked on him one more time (and he dutifully drank water in front of me, good boy) and went home.

It wasn't until I got in the car that the sheer exhaustion hit me.  Stress, anxiety, and hours of handwalking left me feeling completely worn out.  I took a hot shower, crawled into bed with the cat, and promptly fell asleep.  

You seem extra angsty, human.
Let me teach you about naps.
After a nap and some pizza, I was revived enough to go check on him one more time.  I was overjoyed to find two piles of poop and a bucket of water gone!  I kissed him and thanked him for not dying on me that day.

I joke, but that's the scary thing about colic right?  You never know if it's just gonna be a little gas or if they're going to be upside down on a table or end up crossing the rainbow bridge by the end of the day.  Giant, fragile creatures.  Designed to make us fall madly in love with them and then break our hearts over and over.  Wouldn't have it any other way, though.

My whole heart.


  1. Celebratory poop pictures are the best. :-)

  2. So glad it was something minor!! Your mother doesn't need to worry about you, Tucker. Cut the poor lady some slack and just be a good, boring pony for awhile!

  3. I love that you loaded him in the trailer to make him go. I am going to try that next time! hahah! So glad that Tucker is feeling better. :)

  4. Genius idea with the trailer! I've never thought of that. Hope the rest of life figures itself out with just a little creativity too :)

  5. I love the trailer idea. Most definitely going to remember that. So glad he is ok!

  6. Great idea with the trailer. I'm so glad that things are alright and that he was such a good boy.

  7. Definitely agree that colic is so unpredictable and scary, and you never really know what the outcome will be. However, I'm SO GLAD Tucker just had a little gas and poops so reliably in the trailer. Continuing to send positive and happy thoughts your way :)

  8. Very scary! It sounds like you and your BO handled it really, really well. Good thing you know your boy so well! You are such a diligent horse mom. He's lucky he has you.

  9. So scary. Glad to hear Tucker is ok (and jealous of your magical poop trailer!)

  10. We've definitely loaded a horse onto the trailer to get him to poop, but we've never had to actually go anywhere. So glad tucker decided he was feeling ok after all. Colic is so scary, and I go into panic mode all the time over the slightest signs of colic, so I understand how exhausting it is to worry over it all day.

  11. Phew what a relief! And genius about the trailer too - I can think of quite a few horses that the trick would probably work on haha

  12. Last two sentences of this post are highly accurate. Glad he's okay.

  13. Hugs for you and Tucker. I've been dealing with a few bouts of gas colic with Riley lately and it's super tough when you're 1 hour+ from the barn getting these types of calls. We just found out that his are likelt ulcer related, but the weather has been really weird here too. Such sensitive strong creatures!


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