Monday, March 1, 2010

Red's Not Well

I haven't written a lot in the last few days and probably won't for a while, after tonight's update. Our old horse, Red, has colic. It started Sunday after a very easy ride. (Video below) During the ride, he went down to his knees and then right back up. The girls got right off and walked him to the barn. We looked at him and he seemed tired, but no other signs of a problem. We assumed it was because of his age--30--and so decided to let him rest, and made him comfortable in a stall and run.

Everything seemed fine until the next day when we found him lying down. Turns out, he has an impaction colic. The vet says it's pure coincidence--nothing to do with the ride.

We're doing all the things you do with impaction colic and now only time will tell if it passes. Manure is getting by it, which seems a good sign. Also, he has an appetite and drinks water.

Until this is resolved, I'll be taking a hiatus. I've spent the last several days in the barn and, I imagine, that's where I'll be spending a few more unless something happens quickly. The vet hopes we'll get past it by tomorrow. Seems optimistic, but here's hoping!

In truth, I'm pessimistic. In my experience, when colics don't resolve themselves quickly it's not a good sign. And, he's old.

I just got back from the barn and there wasn't any significant change. He's comfortable, but he has to pass that blockage. The vet said there's nothing behind it, thank goodness, but it has to move along!! I'm supposed to walk him and let him graze a little green grass now and then. It's night, so for now I have to let him be, but I'll get up early tomorrow and take him out again.

I hate colic, and I always work hard to prevent it--lots of salt, plenty of water, regular worming, teeth floating. I had the vet check his teeth to see if they were the cause--maybe an infected tooth back there or something--but all was well. So why? Was it the change in temperature? Did he stop drinking enough water?

I've written a lot about Old Red--he's the best horse we've ever owned. To read those older posts click here and here.

This video was taken Sunday afternoon before we knew anything was wrong--which explains the focus on the cat rather than the horses.


  1. We had an older vet tell us that a horse is "4 legs and a gut" as far as he could tell, and if you could avoid breaking a leg, or colic, the horse should live to 40 years or better. Red is in my thoughts and prayers.

  2. Oh, I am in tears. I remember that previous post you wrote about Red. He is such a cool horse, beautiful, solid, he's one of the great ones. I am so sorry to hear he is colicking and I am praying that its not his time.
    You know, the way you described him in that post, when he came to you, reminds me a lot of how My Boy was when I first met him. He was not very friendly or affectionate, he just did his thing and pretty much hated even that, he just wanted to eat, stand in a pasture, and poop. I don't need an in-you-pocket horse, but I like a horse to at least seem interested in me, LOL! Well after being in my life for 3 years, he has changed so much. He's a lot more friendly, even sweet at times. He's my boy!
    Sending thoughts and prayers Red's way for a speedy recovery!

  3. I am so sorry to hear that Red has colic. I hope he gets better real soon. Sending lots of thoughts and prayers your way for Red's speedy recovery!!

  4. Keeping fingers crossed for you and Red - I have one horse who's had several impactions and sometimes they do take some time to resolve.

  5. So sorry to hear about Red. What kind of things did the vet do to help him break up the blockage? Cody colicked when we lived in Idaho. She had a blockage. The emergency vet just gave her mineral oil, and that pretty much did nothing (but the oil did go all the way through, so that was a good sign). The next day, the real vet came out and gave her IV fluids and also pumped a gallon or two of (I think it was Epsom salts) and water into her stomach. That did the trick! The epsom salts pull water into their guts and MAKE the impaction break up. Through all this, Cody was still interested in eating and drinking too, but we were trying to not let her eat much. This is just my experience, but it really helped her.

    Anyway, I hope Red pulls through. It's horrible to see your horse in pain.

  6. When I said blockage in the previous note, I really meant impaction - it wasn't a complete blockage, thank goodness.

  7. I am so sorry to hear about Red, I am sending lots of good wishes his way.

  8. Red sounds like a very special horse, with lots of love and good will surrounding him. I'm joining Judy in sending many good wishes his way, hope he recovers soon.

  9. Thanks, everyone--your comments have been helpful and encouraging. I'm getting ready to go outside right now and I can see from the window, Red is hanging his head out of his run and trying to get to the other horses--a good sign I hope.

    The vet did all of those things, Kara--epsom salts, electrolytes and DSS (not what sure what it is) along with mineral oil and warm water. He said the water being warm was very important for gut stimulation. Also Banamine and muscle relaxant for the rectal exam. Oh, and he tubed him for a good long time to relieve any gases.

  10. I hope he is okay. If he's showing interest in the other horses he must be feeling a bit better. Fingers crossed for dear sweet Red.

  11. I know this sounds kind of *woo-woo* out there, but have you tried massage? We had a horse colic badly at the livery a couple of years ago. The vet told us just to keep him comfortable, but there wasn't much more than a 10% chance that he'd live through the afternoon. I called a friend of mine, who is an equine sports massage therapist, to come up and she worked on the horse for about an hour.

    Initially, we didn't see much improvement, so we trailered the horse down to the farm. By the time he got to the farm, the impaction had passed and he was feeling much better. Don't know if it was the massage or the trailer ride (have another friend who swears by trailering colicked horses), but he pulled through.

    I'll keep my fingers crossed that he's feeling a lot better.

  12. Well, better today than yesterday, that's for sure. I go out and walk and graze him, but otherwise, he's off of food still. He's passed three piles that I can tell--one pretty hard--like owl pellets--but bigger. He drank 5 gallons of water last night and he's not on any pain med. I think he's going to get through it.

    Gun Diva--I swear by trailering, too. I wondered about massage--I'm sure it wouldn't hurt. When I petted him it seemed to help his pain--so I know touch is good for him.

    The vet says there's still more to come out, so I'll update later--hopefully with some more good news. I'll be glad to put this behind me.

  13. I'm glad he's doing better! I tried to comment earlier but it didn't work for some reason.

    About massage - I think there are supposedly certain areas to massage that will help with certain problems. Like acupressure I guess. Might be worth looking up.

    Hope he passes the rest for you very soon. I know how exhausting it is going through this kind of worry. Hang in there!


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