Sunday, June 13, 2021

Update on Epona and Cowgirl

This has been a week of ups and downs. Cowgirl's hives went away, so I can only assume that it was a reaction to the SMZ's. Epona gets a little bit better at nursing every day, but today, for some reason, she has had issues. 

We think part of the problem is udder soreness for Cowgirl, and the vet said to put her on Bute for a while. At times, she doesn't want Epona to nurse, and then when Epona finally gets to, the milk comes pouring down. So, we'll try the Bute, and we'll probably start holding her still in the early mornings, when she has the most amount of milk. It doesn't help that Epona got so many teeth so early.  Oh, I also decided to confine them to their stall most of the day and night. Epona was flourishing yesterday, so I opened up their attached turnout for them, and then this morning, she seemed worn out. I think Cowgirl just kept her running and didn't allow her the rest she needs. The tight confinement also gives Epona more opportunity to nurse.

If none of this works, and Epona can't keep up with the production, we might have to take her off of mama and go to feeding her ourselves. That is a last ditch effort, and the vet wants to avoid going there. It would be stressful for both, and there's so much a foal learns from their mamas that would be difficult to replicate. So far, we haven't been able to get Epona to take a supplement either.

We have the truck and trailer hooked up and ready to go, should any of her vitals take a downward turn. So far, that hasn't happened.

Due to the all the sleepless nights, and constant worry, I came down with a hideous virus of my own. The first few days of it, I was able to keep up the pace, but on the fourth day, it zapped all my strength. Today is the 6th day of it, and I'm starting to feel my energy return. It was good to have Shiloh take up the slack, and my husband. It was also nice to have the barn camera. Here's the view right now, as I type. (The loop is for fly strips.)

I don't mind taking on the work and worry, because Shiloh is pregnant, too. When I think of the toll it's taking on me, I shudder to think that Shiloh carries a similar burden. I try not to bother her too much with the ups and downs, but I they are her horses, soooo....I can't completely avoid it either.

My sweet daughter in law painted Epona and Cowgirl for us, to bring us some comfort. I love it.

Tonight, I'm going to try and get her to suck a pacifier, in hopes it will strengthen her sucking / swallowing reflex. I'm going to use a lamb-size nipple. I'll put my finger into it, if she doesn't bite too hard.

Despite all the ups and downs, we are progressing with halter training, and I hope she is fully trained by our next trip to the vet. It would cut down on a lot of chaos. Today was the first day she didn't pull back, or freeze, when she felt pressure. (Below is from yesterday, when she did pull back.)

In the two weeks she's been here, we have grown so attached and already love her so much. We really try to enjoy every moment we have. In the end, time is somewhat irrelevant, but love is never irrelevant. 


15 comments:

  1. I certainly hope you don't have to pull her off the mare. This has been a learning curve for me too as I had never heard of this problem before.
    There is nothing wrong with keeping them confined until this issue passes. What about milking Cowgirl in the morning to get the first flush of milk unloaded before baby nurses? You could put the milk in a baby bottle with that lamb nipple on it which may help with her sucking- she might be more inclined to suckle on the lamb nipple if it actually has milk in it. Maybe ask your vet about giving her calf manna in a bottle too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am sorry you are sick! This is a very stressful time for everyone and bless you for trying to ease your daughter's worries. The photo of her and Epona is priceless.

      Delete
    2. All good suggestions, Shirley. I have tried feeding her milk back from a bottle, but she didn’t want anything to do with it, with mama available. Maybe as she matures? She did enjoy chewing on the lamb’s nipple, and I’ll continue to familiarize her with it, just in case. Last night, we opened them up to their small pasture after the heat broke. Cowgirl had a horrible eruption of hives during the day, and I felt they were stress related. After two hours of grazing, they almost disappeared. Also, Epona ran and ran, and she was able to get lots of small nursing moments in, while Cowgirl grazed. I let them out again this morning. She is mimicking her mama with grazing, and I can’t help but think that is good for her. It requires chewing and swallowing—all things she needs to learn. I wasn’t at the last vet visit, but Shiloh said they told her to remove all straw and loose hay—which we did. Apparently, they didn’t tell her to remove them from pasture like I thought they did. In a few hours, I’ll lock them back in together. Epona is gaining weight and staying hydrated, so she must be getting enough milk down. They said she was at 80% last week. I hope she’s getting more now. So far, she has remained very energetic and strong, and her vitals are normal. It’s getting harder to give her the SMZ solution.

      Delete
  2. Sorry things have been bumpy with Epona. So much to take on, not good that you ended up sick. What a sweet reward you have for all your struggles and worry tho. I was wondering how things were going. Feeding Epona yourselves sounds problematic, and less than ideal. Is Epona losing weight/not gaining weight? Shirleys suggestions would definitely be worth trying. Hang in there and remember to take care of you!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She seemed to not be gaining weight as quickly as one would hope in the first week, but she’s looking better now. She’s 17 days old today. She is strong most of the time, but she does eventually get worn out and needs to rest. There was one day where we didn’t see hardly a drop of milk from her nose, but then it returned by the next morning. At their next visit, I want to see if there’s an option available for stabilizing the pneumonia, via feeding tube, perhaps, and then returning her to mama when she’s stronger. I feel like battling both is what is setting her back. I could be wrong. I’m not the vet.

      Delete
    2. I forgot to add, I love the painting! What a treasure!! Looks like watercolor (and ink?) she is very talented.

      Delete
    3. Yes, I think she uses watercolor pencils. Thank you!

      Delete
  3. I like Shirley's suggestion about the milking. It might help. Some infants have poor suckling reflexes at first too. I can relate to poor Cowgirl- I had sore nipples and Amanda had trouble at first. It was hard (fortunatley my daughter doesn't follow this blog so I won't hear 'MOM!' :D

    I am sure that they will work it out but it's a worry. Please take care of your health as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, this is definitely an issue with human babies, too. Even more tragic and scary, I’m sure. It definitely wasn’t on my list of things to worry about during the foal watch. And when she seemed to be nursing well after birth, the vets thought she was okay, too. It has remained a subtle dysfunction, but a serious one. The arch of the neck could be contributing, they think. It’s an awkward position for foals to nurse. They think a head down position could solve it, but we’re a long way from that, unless we remove her from mama. A creep feed milk might eventually help, when she can drink. We haven’t seen evidence she can yet.

      Yes, I remember some painful nursing, too! Ouch!

      Delete
  4. Sorry to hear about all the issues Cowgirl and Epona are having. I have no suggestions really but I wonder if you could ask the vet if there isn't some sort of cream or salve to put on Cowgirl's udders so they wouldn't be as sore. Don't know if that would interfere with Epona nursing though. Take care of yourself, I know it's hard right now especially with Shiloh pregnant too. Everyday forward I'm sure Epona will grow and mature until she can be weaned.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This new system of putting them out to graze for the day seems to have really helped Cowgirl. I wonder if grazing produces endorphins. We’ve had so many issues with extreme heat, then cold, and then Epona, that they were often kept from being natural and grazing. I don’t see any decline in Epona from it, and I can only speculate that chewing and swallowing little blades of grass will help her pharyngeal maturity. Maybe the problems we had created more problems? I hope it’s as easy as that.

      Delete
  5. Replies
    1. Thank you! We have a lot of photos of those sweet girls.

      Delete
  6. Since Epona has plenty of teeth, she should be able to handle grazing. My foals are generally trying to eat hay by day two and actually eating it well before they are 3 weeks old. Is the mare's water source at a level that baby can drink from it? They generally start drinking water at less than a week old, mimicking their mama. The earliest I have weaned a foal was at 3 months and as long as they are eating a foal supplement by then they are fine.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She has been trying to drink since day one, but doesn’t really do it. The stall water is high, but the open turnout has an automatic waterer at her height. She is getting some grass down, but we were told to remove the hay. Oh, and she eats manure just fine. So, I assume she could soon handle a mash. I have been watching them graze today, and Epona nurse, and she is doing much better in this setting. So is Cowgirl. They might be finding their groove! I sure hope so. And Cowgirl was in heat last week, which didn’t help. It has passed.

      Delete

Please feel welcome to join our discussion by telling us about your own thoughts and experiences.