I was planning to do a different post today, about my happy Christmas. But instead, I spend the morning caring for my constipated horse, so I’m going to tell you about that instead.
This story actually starts a few days ago, apparently while we were in Tennessee. We had hired a small neighborhood boy (about 12 years old) to take care of our animals while we were gone. We know the family, they are good people, and they have their own chickens and a dog, so at the very least, we knew they could care for those animals. I figured it wouldn’t be hard for them to care for the horses in addition, but it seems I was wrong.
I gave him one instruction for the horses. Give them water. That was literally all I told him to do. I left a round bale out for the horses, so they had food, and his only task was to make his way down to the barn and fill up the water trough.
We returned from vacation late on Sunday. I went down to check the horses, and they were alive, but their water trough had about an inch of water in it. I thought that was really strange, and to be honest it made me a little angry. In addition to the missing water, about 24 feet of fencing had been knocked down. So when I started texting the mother of the boy, I asked what the heck was with the fence being down. That seemed quite bizarre, and I was trying to give the boy the benefit of the doubt about the water. Maybe he had filled it yesterday, and assumed I’d be home today and fill it. Not what I would have done if I had been caring for someone else’s animals, but it’s hard to understand a kid’s logic.
The horses also barely ate the round bale, but I haven’t solved that mystery yet. It was (and still is) wonderful, green hay, and they won’t eat it.
I filled up the trough, and everyone drank heartily, except for sweet Berry, who was more interested in the hay I put out. At the time, I didn’t think much of it. It’s possible she drank earlier.
Monday, I looked out and saw her lying down. Not a big deal, horses do lay down. I went out later to feed her, and she barely ate her grain. That was more concerning. When I put her back out, and went to munching her hay. I was getting concerned, but then I noticed a dead mouse in her water bucket. It was not touching her feed, but maybe she’s that sensitive about it she didn’t want to be near it? She’s acted weirder about stupider things, so hard to say.
I don’t want to immediately panic, as the vet is expensive to bring out. So I watched her, and she ate hay. I did a skin test, and she seemed hydrated, but she’s pretty hairy so hard to get a good reading.
This morning, I looked out, and she was laying down. I know her habits, and there is no way she’d lay down so early in the morning. As I watched her, she got up, moved to a different spot, and then laid back down. My panic level rose.
I went down and put out hay, and she started munching. I listened for gut noises, and there was some noise. I sat and watched her a while, and she stretched out like she was going to pee, but nothing came out. I decided it was time to call the vet.
After three quick phone calls (my phone kept dropping the call), the vet was on their way. I put the other horses away, and took Berry for a walk. She found this interesting, and pooped. I had a moment of doubt where I wondered if I had panicked by calling the vet. Maybe I should have just loaded her in the trailer, that would have got her bowels moving. I bought her back down to the water trough, where she heartily drank. My doubt rose. I stared at her, and she stared back, her liquid brown eyes full of innocence. Maybe this was some kind of trick.
The vet arrived at that point, so there was no use wondering anymore. We discussed it for a few minutes, and the vet decided to sedate her and stick her hand up Berry’s bum. Berry did not appreciate this at all, and made an attempt to get away. Unfortunately for her, she’s too well mannered to make an actual attempt, so she stayed with me, her eyes bugging out of her head as the vet felt around.
The vet decided she did have an impaction, basically, very constipated. She said it had been building over several days of her not drinking enough water. At hearing this, my irritation level rose, because I have my guesses on exactly what happened. Neighborhood boy failed to fill the water trough. He may not have done it at all, and thought the rain would just fill the trough. And at this point, it’s probably too late to bring it up with his mother, as I had told her that the horses seem fine, and I had made no mention of the trough being nearly empty.
The vet stuck a hose up Berry’s nose and down to her stomach and pumped her full of warm, epson salted, water. This should help get the poop moving.
Berry has now been in the backyard all morning, as it’s the only fenced in area with no hay, but does have some grass.
She was still sedated, so for a while she just stood there, but then she started grazing. At one point she laid down, and then grazed while lying down. I’m hoping this is because of the sedation, and not because her tummy still hurts. About 15 minutes later, she got up and proceed to poop on the rose bush. They looked like little rocks coming out, but I think she’s starting to feel better.
Now that the horse is feeling better, I can stew here in anger about how I’ll never be able to take another vacation again. Grrrrrrrrrr