***Warning: Horse Poop Talk***...and a long post
okay...let me explain! My horse is one of the nearest and dearest things in my entire life. I love her so much, and she has helped me through a lot in the last three years. I would go to the moon and back for this horse if needed. And as much as the "outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man", these majestic creatures have some unique quirks in their physiological make-up. While I wont get to far on to my soap box, one of these quirks is a horses inability to throw-up. Now you might say...so? But think to all of those time you have been so sick and throwing up has been a welcomed release. Or, worse, think about those times when you were so sick and felt like you needed to throw up but couldn't...get where I am headed...? So, anyways, when a horse gets a stomach ache it can turn bad very, very, very fast due to another quirk, the 70 foot long small intestine coupled with a stomach that can only hold about 2 gallons of material (a human stomach can hold up to .8 Gallons and only has to travel 15-20 feet, Humans are also about 1/9th the size of an average horse)...weird right? Oh and did I mention that food has to defy gravity and travel UP through the colon to get digested... Anyways, because of this quirk, the smallest upset in digestive health can cause a horse to have an extremely upset stomach. These triggers can be a change in food, weather, cold water, stress, eating sand, worms, etc. This type of upset stomach in a horse is called "Colic".
So, while I am sure you are enjoying your morning equine digestive health lesson, I will get to the point. On Monday morning at about 6am, Trinity began to Colic. She started in very mild stages when I first noticed the signs. This vacuum cleaner of a horse was uninterested in her morning hay, wouldn't eat her favorite cookie treats, and hadn't drank any water from the night before. In checking her stall, she also hadn't pooped since the night before. She was also hanging her head extremely low, didn't want to walk, and just overall was moping. These are all early tell tale signs of Colic, but they aren't life threatening. Colic becomes an emergency if the horse lies down and begins rolling around. This motion can cause those 70 feet of small intestines to twist cutting off the horses nutritional outlet. This requires a VERY expensive surgery and increases the likelihood that this will happen again by 25 times (YOWCH!). So, she was only showing mild colic signs at 6:30 in the morning. Two of my neighbors also happen to be Vet Techs (so handy!). So I called one and got her out of bed (yes my friends are the best in the world!). By the time she arrived Trinity had begun sucking her belly up, having muscle spasms, and had no gut sounds (due to a lack of gall bladder a horse is always pushing bile through and therefor has a low gurgling noise in the stomach at all times). This lack of sounds means that colic is progressing. When my neighbor tried to find a heart rate, she couldn't locate it (meaning it was beating very faintly). We made a very easy decision that it was time to get the vet out of bed!
Once the vet arrived he performed several exams (I will spare you the details) ruling out sand or worms as the cause (or as far as he could tell). He then determined that she had developed a severe impaction (the food from the stomach was not being pushed through the rest of the digestive process and had gotten backed up. The solution, shove a ton of oil through the nose and in to the digestive track to hopefully get things moving. So, the vet gave her a severe muscle relaxer, a GALLON of oil, and a GALLON of electrolytes. Now remember, the horses stomach holds 2 gallons...hmmm...
Anyways, you know a horse is feeling better when they begin passing the impaction and then pass all of the oil. Until then, the horse is not allowed to eat, period. However, they do need to be watched constantly to make sure that they do not begin rolling, kicking their stomach, or biting their sides (signs that it is getting worse, not better, and that it is time for a trip to the hospital...)So, I took off work the first day to keep constant watch and to serve as poop patrolman!
By the next morning Trinity had not pooped at all (well we got maybe 3/4 of a full sized poop in 24 hours...not normal) and certainly hadn't passed ANY of the oil. So, the vet got out of bed again for round two...This time brought a POUND of Epson salt to act as a laxative and TWO more gallons of warm water...where the hell is all of this stuff going? As he said, at some point, it HAS to come out. My vet, while awesome, is also an exotic animal vet in California and was leaving on a trip that morning so he set an IV catheter so that in the unlikely event that she hadn't pooped by 6pm we could give 5 LITERS of IV fluids to keep her hydrated and to keep her digestive system working. Unfortunately I could not afford to take off a full day of work AGAIN, but luckily my neighbor had an impromptu day off. So, she kindly took over my position as poop patrolman. Did she poop? nope. Did we stand out side in windchills of 13 for 2 hours giving fluids? yupp. Do I owe my two neighbors my life? yupp.
So, we come to this morning. A full 48 hours after I noticed the first signs of Colic. There was improvement as she had two small piles of dry poop (part of the impaction). This is good, but it is not over yet. So, this morning my other amazing vet tech neighbor will be giving more fluids and will be taking over poop patrol for me. I am just waiting for the text message...and can only guess what it will say...
I won't even get in to what I have eaten during this process...lets just say it includes beer, pizza, wings, queso...yeah you get the picture!