Zelda’s April Fools Day Colic

Zelda post colic
Last night Zelda was colicky. There’s nothing sadder than a 1400 pound horse that wants to crawl into your lap because their stomach hurts. Luckily she felt much better today.

Yesterday we had an April Fools Day snow storm. The kind of  “gotchya” that New England throws at its residents every few years just to test our dedication to living here. It snowed all day. Wet, heavy snow. Temperatures hovered around 30 degrees. April Fool’s Day!

But my not-so-funny April Fool’s Day wasn’t over.

When I went to feed the horses dinner, I knew something was wrong because Zelda wasn’t at the gate waiting for her food. And she didn’t come galloping up from the bottom of the field when I whistled. You have to know Zelda to understand that meals are very, very important to her.

I could see her standing down by the run in shed. Just by the way she was standing — all stretched out — I knew she hurt. I sloshed through ankle deep mud and snow and led her into the barn.  Her head was low, her eyes were dull and she was shivering under her very wet blanket. She wasn’t wet under the blanket, but she was cold. She passed right by the open door to the hay storage and didn’t try to snatch a bite. Not good.

First thing I did was put a warm, dry blanket on her. The second, was to call the vet. I was able to take her temperature — 101.4 — but unable to find a pulse to check her heart rate. I decided that either my hands were frozen or she was already dead. It shouldn’t be that hard to find the pulse on an animal that size, but I now have a stethoscope on order.

Thank goodness for Banamine. It’s one of those drugs that is so important to have on hand. After a dose of Banamine and Milk of Magnesia, I walked for for awhile, hoping that she’d pass manure. Of course, I hadn’t dressed warmly enough when I went to the barn. I’d intended to feed and then have dinner with my husband in town. Instead we spent 2 hours at the barn and ate take out pizza in the aisle, waiting for Zelda to perk up.

And she did. By the time I left she was looking better and getting hungry. She had good gut sounds, but no manure. Why is that horses poop all the time when you don’t want them to but never when you really, really want them to?

Finally the vet said she could have a very soupy mixture of soaked alfalfa cubes. Zelda wasn’t thrilled. It’s not her favorite food. But she was hungry and she slurped them down. At least it got some warm water into her.

A midnight trip back to the barn showed a much improved Zelda. She came trotting up from the bottom of the field when she heard me coming, and nickered for food. Almost back to normal.

Today, she was chasing Curly away from her hay and acting fine. It was 53 degrees and sunny. It felt like a different season. Luckily, a better season.

Colic weather — the vast shifting of temperatures — makes horses more prone to colic because they may drink less, move less and eat less. Zelda had been fine at noon when she had some lunch, but some time during the six hours before dinner, something went wrong. I make it a practice when I feed in the winter to always add warm water and soaked cubes to their meals, but I guess that wasn’t enough. I’m just very glad that she responded so well to treatment.


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