Friday, December 22, 2017

Broken


I took this picture one day last week when life was still good.  There were problems, big problems for sure, but I thought everything would eventually at least be okay.  Hickory foundered at the end of November.  Or probably started back in the summer but we didn't know it.  We didn't actually diagnose the founder until the first part of December.  

That sounds ridiculous to say.  I've had horses almost all my life.  I've been dealing with founder for probably 15 years.  How did I (and two vets and a farrier) miss something so common in the bluegrass region.  I'll to share a few things I've learned lately in hopes that they may help someone else so that maybe something good can come from this .

Actually I'm just going to get this over with.  The miscellaneous notes will follow.  

Hickory foundered badly and we couldn't get it stopped.  For non horse people this is (on a very basic level) a horrible, very painful foot problem.  There are various "causes" of founder, the most common being diet related.  The rich grass in this area is pretty, but can be deadly.

T-Bone has suffered with laminitis (founder) since, I think, 2006.  He's had good days and bad days and some really bad days over the years, but he's been happy and he's enjoyed being here, hanging out with his friends.  His first good buddy was Handy.  His very best friend was Hickory.  Like Biscuit and Muffin, in most of the pictures you saw of them they were grazing side by side.

Hickory's latest set of x-rays told us what we had to do.  It was black and white.  What he was facing in the next few days, no one would want to put a horse through.  I decided to have T-Bone put down with him.  It's been an unbelievably horrible week trying to make unbelievably hard decisions.  

It finally came down to quality of life.  The changes we'd have had to make to keep T-Bone safe(r) would have not made him happy.  And while those changes might have helped keep him from getting any worse, he wasn't really great to start with.  And he'd have been alone.   Some horses can handle that.  T-Bone spent most of the last month standing up next to Hickory's stall.

They are buried together out behind the arena.

*     *     *     *     *

Looking back, here are some things I had never heard about that we missed and might have made a difference.  

During the summer we started noticing some odd bruising on the outsides of Hickory's feet.  He wasn't lame so we assumed he'd bruised the outsides of his feet walking through the rocky creek.  If you see weird bruising like that, call your vet and ask about testing for a metabolic disease.  

On Sunday night (in November) Hickory seemed fine.  The next morning he looked like he was tying up, but was also picking up one of his back feet.  I called the vet.  They came out that morning, checked his feet for founder, found no symptoms (hoof heat and digital pulse), decided it was probably an abscess.  We poulticed it and I called the farrier.

The farrier came the next day and did find a small abscess in the "bad" back foot.  He also tested the bottoms of all four feet and agreed there was no heat or pulse.  We continued to treat as an abscess with complications stemming from that for several more days...

A sinking founder can present as tying up, not the classic founder stance.

Some foundering horses won't have a throbbing digital pulse or heat in their feet.  

Keeping them in the overgrazed front field, thinking that was further limiting their grass, was also a mistake.  A stressed (drought, over grazing...) pasture goes into "survival mode" and pushes up even more sugar into the blades of grass.  A well maintained thicker pasture would have been safer.

This is only a tiny bit of information you need to know about a multifaceted disease like laminatis and I am just passing them on as a lay person, not an expert by any means.  Most important, work with the best vets and farriers you can.  That's one good thing about the bluegrass.  We have both.


53 comments:

Marcy Doane said...

I am so very sorry for your loss. there are no words to make this better. Keeping you and your beloved horses in my thoughts.

JaneJMtl said...

Dear Sara, I am so, so sorry. How kind and brave of you to let best buddies T-Bone and Hickory be together and pain free forever.

Benita Story said...

I was afraid your quietness meant something bad. I am so, so sorry this happened.

LannieK said...

My heart breaks for you... I am so very sorry

I need orange said...

Oh Sara. I am so, so sorry. I've been worried about Hickory ever since I saw that pic of him with the iv..............

I know what it can feel like to miss a diagnosis. We are all doing the best we know to do, and sometimes, painfully, something horrible slips by all of our intention and all of our vigilance.

And then to have to make that most awful of decisions. For both of them. The day we take their pain and make it our own.....

I can't even imagine how hard this time has been. Or how empty the place must seem with no horses.

Sending so much sympathy. :-(

LesMess Bucilova said...

Oh god that is horrible. I am soooooooo sooooo very sorry. My heart aches for you Sara, I'm sorry.

Leslie

Grey Horse Matters said...

This is so sad. I know you must be heartbroken. Founder and laminitis is hard to deal with, I did it for years with Dusty. You did what you could to help but sometimes no matter how hard we try and care for our horses there are circumstances we can't control. Hugs to you and all at your farm. I hope in the future your happy memories will help with your grief.

Michelle said...

Oh Sara, I couldn't finish the post. I'm sobbing; I'm heartbroken for you, with you. It's too much; too hard. And so close to Christmas.... You know I'd be there with two strong shoulders and two listening ears to reminisce and cry. I am so sorry for your loss, for their pain; that you were willing to shatter your own heart for their ultimate good is a testament to your great love. I'm am sorry beyond words.

Mrs Shoes said...

I'm so very sorry - I cannot imagine losing both at once. ((cyber hugs))

Mindy Lucas said...

SOOO SORRY! I know how this hurts! I lost my riding mare of the last 16 years this past April. I bought her as a 2 year old and did all the training etc myself, love at first sight! I'm honestly still adjusting to her NOT being there. Oddly enough a similar situation, where she presented signs of calcium deficiency and seemed to be improving when she up and died. :( TRY not to beat yourself up over it! This is one of those times when crappy things just happen! :(

Lori Skoog said...

Sara...you already know how I feel about what you are going through. Please hang in there and maybe we can keep it together enough to talk one of these days. I know that it was not easy to share this today.

Cheryl West said...

Dear Sara and Tim, I am so very, very sorry for this huge loss from your life. It would have been such heartache for only one to continue without his friend.
I can only imagine the pain making such a hard decision and do hope that your memories of all the good times will be a consolation.

Shirley said...

Oh my heart is breaking for you. No words, only hugs.

Elaine Lim said...

Sara, I am so sorry for your loss and am thinking of you and Tim at this very hard time.

farm buddy said...

I am very, very sorry for your loss.

The Dancing Donkey said...

I woke up this morning thinking about you and your horses and now I know why. I am so terribly sorry for your loss.

If it is any consolation at all, I think you did the right thing for your boys. Trying to bring a horse back from such a severe injury is a long, agonizing process that fails more often than not. A peaceful, painless end is so much better for them even if it is terribly painful and awful for you. You gave them a beautiful gift and I hope the knowledge of that will help to heal your own broken heart.

Linda said...

I can not imagine what you and Tim have been going through. I have no words. It's obvious by the comments here that you are in all our thoughts. Be at peace. Hickory & T-Bone are.

Katherine Littrell said...

Oh, so very sorry. Great love also requires great loss. Run dear Hickory and T bone through heavenly fields.
Kathi

amyfibre said...

Oh no! I'm so very, very sorry to hear this. Oh goodness, both of them. You and Saint Tim will be in my thoughts and prayers as you adjust to the new normal. And may the happy memories soon outweigh the pain. Please be kind to yourself in the next while. Sending all my love. Amy

Sheepmom said...

That must have been the hardest and most awful decision anyone with animals has ever had to make. I'm sorry beyond words that this situation forced you to it but of course it was the right things to do for both of them. Our love for our animals has a way of making us strong and breaking us into pieces at the same time. You did everything you could including your last decision. Don't destroy yourself for not knowing things that vets and professional farriers didn't know either. We truly can't know everything. I treasure with all my heart the memory of riding Hickory last summer when he was well and I thank you for that gift. I hope time and quiet and sitting with the sheep brings you some peace. <>

Mary Ann said...

I am so sorry this decision came at this time of year, we had to make it with an aged pony, twice. Thank you for being so brave and helping your two boys over. I hope you can try to relax and have a good Christmas after this sadness.

Marianne said...

So sorry for the loss of the lovely horses. Good decisions are hard to make when you have to say goodby. Such great memories

janna e said...

Oh gosh, Sara. I am so, so sorry. I completely understand your decision, but am sorry it had to be made.

Tee said...

I am so sorry for you and your family to go through such a loss at this time of year. Keep in mind that they had a wonderful life and you made it the best it could be.

Christine said...

Oh no! I am so so sorry. I think I have an idea of how much your heart is aching right now. Sending hugs but wishing there were more I could do.

Leslie said...

I'm so terribly sorry. You did the right thing but going from the sight of 2 old friends grazing in the pasture to none is wrenching. So sad that it is ruining Christmas for you. No platitudes from me, I've been there and it's horrible for a long time. I hope your other animals bring you some comfort. Take care of yourself.

Windswept Farm said...

Bless you for making that hard decision. Go hug a sheep and Hank. (c;

Karenfor said...

Oh Sara, I am so, so sorry for your loss. My deepest sympathies to you.

Lisa said...

I am so, so sorry you lost two much loved family members. Sometimes the hard choice and the right choice are one in the same.

Suzanna said...

I’m so so sorry to hear about Hickory and T-bone. ❤️🐴🐴🙏❤️

Marilyn F. said...

I'm so sorry to hear of your loss and the difficult decisions you had to make. I hope you can find some cheerfulness in the season to brighten and lift your spirits. It is good of you to share your experiences for others to learn by. You did the best you could and that is all you can do. Best wishes for a happier end to your holiday season.

knitski said...

Heart Breaking. I am sorry, but like you no animal needs to suffer more either. I grew up with horses as well and never would have guessed what was going on either. Sorry for your loss.

Juliana Ellington said...

I'm so very sorry for your double loss. It must have been wrenching to have to make the decisions for both horses. Take extra good care of yourselves, you and Tim, as you move into the new normal of your lives.

MeridianJacobs said...

I'm so sorry, Sara. What a discouraging and difficult illness. I'm am struggling with that decision about laminitis in my donkey. I spent a couple of days in tears after going to a Donkey Welfare Symposium where i learned about all the things I "should" be doing with my donkey and about how bad this disease is. I have found a solution that is working so far, but part of it means that she lives in a 24'x24' pen and won't ever go out with the sheep again. Part of my dilemma is deciding on which is the most humane option. All I can say is that I feel for you wish that we could enjoy our animals without this very big down-side of animal husbandry. Often the humane answer is the hardest on us people.

Terry and Linda said...

OH my goodness! I knew from the title of the post it was going to tear at my heart. And it does. Oh, how it does.

I wish I had words to say that would make you feel better, but I don't. I wish I could be there and give you a hug.

More than anything my heart breaks for you ...

Love you.

Marsha said...

I am so sorry. There are no other words.

Tewshooz said...

I am so sorry and know that pain you are feeling. Lost two beautiful mares to this disease. Eventually the pain will be less for you, it takes time, I know. We cry with you

Rhumpelthreadz said...

OMG I am so sorry. My heart is breaking for you. Please don't beat yourself up about this. You gave your horses a beautiful home and letting them go together was a braver action than mine would have been. These words are so inadequate.
My heart breaks for you. Sending you much love and healing.

Billie said...

I'm crying for Hickory and T Bone. I am so sorry for your loss. I am not a horse person,but have always admired these beautiful creatures. God bless and keep you sweet lady.

kc said...

I am so sorry for your loss and the heartbreak that comes with it. You certainly have them the best and most love you possibly could. May sharing your wisdom and words help heal.

With the deepest of sympathies and the biggest of hugs..

Anonymous said...

Oh Sara and Tim. Two more pieces missing from your hearts.

Deep down you know you made the correct decision and you were brave through your tears, but it is true that great love also means great loss.

I hope that I will have your strength and wisdom should I face a similar situation.

Blessings on both of you.
Chris S in Canada

D. Bailey said...

So sorry to hear about your two horses. We lost our 12 1/2 year old goat John Boy on Thanksgiving.

It never gets easier, does it when they are a part of your family?

Deb
Iowa

Delrene said...

I am very sorry to hear of the loss of these two beautiful best friends. A decision always one of the hardest to make. I think it was good they could go to their rest together. May they rest in peace. They are free of pain and I'd like to think running fast and pain free with the others that have gone before them.

Far Side of Fifty said...

What hard decisions for you Sara and Saint Tim. As animal owners we always have to do the best for our critters...and sometimes that means letting them go. It is really hard. My heart goes out to you. :(

Mary Ann said...

I'm so very sorry for your losses and your broken heart.

ABby said...

I’m so very sorry. As a horse owner (and sheep, dogs, cats, and chickens) I have been in these situations, and I know that nothing will really make you feel better, except maybe to say that I understand, and I know what you’re going through.

~Kim at Golden Pines~ said...

I know the feeling you were/are having about your recent losses. I know how much you care, and how you make those decisions, all while your heart is breaking into pieces. I hope you find comfort in your memories of both Hickory and T Bone and knowing what wonderful lives they had and together, and that bond remains.

Prayers for you to find peace and comfort during the holidays.

sophy0075 said...

Oh dear Lord. I just read this. “Founder” was an unfamiliar term to me, but laminitis I knew - and the outcome from same.

Oh, how horrible for you. I am so very, very sorry. Please do not beat yourself up
With “what if’s” and such. You loved both horses, and I am sure they knew it.

Kaye Myers said...

I am so sorry for your loss. As there are no new or more comforting words to say how sorry I am I will simply say that my hopes and prayers for you are that this chapter ending is only making way for the next chapter to begin. The book of your life's adventure that you are writing is a rich and beautiful story. The fact that you share it with us is our blessing. We all pray for your heart to heal. Peace Out.

Anonymous said...

Sarah,
I am so very, very sorry for your loss. I am behind in reading your posts and a part of me wishes I hadn't read this one. I can't imagine! You are strong, and I know you made the best decision possible. I'm thankful that my desk is away from everyone else's at my office, because I cannot keep the tears in. Many, many hugs to you.
Bobbie in AK (bobbiemesser22 on Instagram).

Lisa Smith said...

Sara and Saint Tim, I am so very sorry for your loss of Hickory and T-Bone. Where one was, so was the other, and they had a wonderful life at Equinox Farm. Every single living thing there is cherished and I am so grateful to you for sharing your life and your knowledge with us.
With deepest sympathy, Lisa ❤

thecrazysheeplady said...

I would love to be able to reply to each of these kind comments...but I just can't yet. Please know they were greatly appreciated.

Tina said...

Oh that must have been so awful! I'm very glad you let them go together, though. It's not like every horse gets on with every other horse just as well. You made a brave choice to let T-bone go too. xxx

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