Well we’ve had quite the ordeal since I last posted here. Two Fridays ago I got a call 5:30 am from my stable owner, saying Berlin was very very sick and shaking all over, that I needed to come right away and call the vet. So completely panicked, I woke chris up and told him Berlin was sick and probably colicking. I immediately called the emergency vet- Pilchuck Animal Hospital, and told them what was going on. I got Dr.McKnight, a young cautious doctor, who called me back and told me he’d be right up. Well when I got to Berlin she was in terrible shape. Her mouth was clenched shut with her lips drawn back in horrible pain, her body was completely hunched over, and she was quivering head to toe. I called the vet again saying this certainly didn’t look like colic and he told me she may have a high fever, and to check her temp. Well I told the stable owner I was going to grab my coat and get her out of her stall to walk her around in case it was colic. When I got back from the car, the barn owner was in Berlins stall trying to get her halter on when Berlin collapsed into her, crushing and pinning her in the corner of the stall. She was screaming for Berlin to get up but Berlin wasn’t responding. Finally after chris and I jabbed our toes into her back (she had fallen against the stall door corner so we couldn’t get in) she lurched up and I grabbed Berlins lead from her. I got her out into the arena and used a brisk pace, every 5 mins or so she would start staggering and try falling over. And mind you, this wasn’ t a controlled lie down, she was literally tipping over. Well the vet got there and the second her saw her he told me it wasn’t colic. She was looking her motor skills and mobility. Somehow her brain wasn’t telling her body to move properly. The vet asked us to bring her back into her stall so he could sedate her. Once in the stall Berlin tipped and staggered towards me and pinned me in the back wall corner. The vet pulled her neck around and yelled at me to get out a.s.a.p. As I inched around her she started moving towards me again and I was stuck in the opposite corner. I squeezed past her rear end and got out. At that point Dr.McKnight was leaning with all his might to keep her up but she was putting all of her weight into him and she went down. With that fall she hit her head and pulled her water buckets out of the wall and broke some boards. After 5 mins of pulling her up and getting her back on her feet, the vet quickly gave her a small amount of sedative and painkillers. Within seconds her body relaxed and she hung her head low. He asked about her vaccination records and I told him the previous owner claimed she was up to date. He then listed off the many options of what could be going on with her.
- West Nile
- Vertebrate/head trauma
He took some blood and told me he would get the results back by afternoon to know if it were the first two. He seemed to lean towards the idea she had recently had a neck or head trauma in the pasture the previous day. He thought it was in the neck since she was hanging her head in a strange way and whenever she tensed up she would go into one of her “spasms” where she would break into a sweat and her mouth was clenched shut, and she would stagger in circles in her stall for about and hour until it passed.
Well the vet left without any better of an idea than I did about the matter. He said he had never seen a horse with these signs. He gave me Bute to give her the next few days and some steroids and told me he would call me in a few hours. Well the rest of afternoon was terrible. She regularly went in and out of these “spasms” and you could see in her face and body she was in terrible pain. The doctor eventually called me back with news her blood work checked out OK. Thus meaning he was more certain it was a skeletal injury that was effecting her spinal column. Bad news.
I informed him she wasn’t looking any better but she hadn’t fallen down since the morning. He then told me only about 10% of horses with spinal injuries. I cried and criedwhen he told me this. I didn’t want her to go through any more pain, and if his diagnosis were true, I didn’t feel she should suffer any longer. Through my tears, we discussed euthanesia and disposal of the body. He told me on his was out of the office he would call me and see if I wanted him to stop by to put her to rest. I told him ok. and that I would expect his call.
I told chris what was going on and that I thought she would probably need to be put down. He refused that idea! He told me absolutely not. He said less that 24 hours wasn’t enough time to give her a chance to recover. He went on about how strong of a horse she was and that I needed to wait at least until the next day to make that decision. He said I needed to have more faith in her and think positively about this. After that discussion, Berlin didn’t have another “spasm” for two hours or so and was attempting to eat a little bit. The vet called me and asked if he should come out, and I said NO. :)
After 13 hours of watching over my poor girl, I had become dizzy and sick feeling since I hadn’t eaten or drank anything since the day before. Chris said I HAD to go eat something. So we gave her 1/2 a flake of hay to munch on and went home for the night. I cried all night just knowing I would go back the next morning and see a horse in complete agony. I called my parents and told them about what was going on with her. I asked my dad to go with me the next morning to help me deal with all of it.
We woke up at 7am I was a bit relieved I hadn’t heard from the barn owner, as I had asked her to call me if she looked terrible in the morning. My dad came by and picked chris and I up and we headed down. By that point I had accepted that she very likely needed to be put down and I had all the phone numbers ready to do so.
Well we briskly walked into the barn and I called for Berlin to see if her head would pop up over the door. Sure enough, there she was!! We got to her stall and she was moving, acting, and eating normally!!! I couldn’t believe my eyes, nor could Chris! My dad thought we had made it all up I think. Berlin was NOT HAPPY to be stuck inside that day either away from her pasture mate Shasta. She was irritable and aggravated- just like her normal moody self :) It was a miracle! She acted as if nothing had ever happened to her. The only remnants of all the weird “seizure spasms” were a bunch of knots along her back and shoulder muscles- her coordination was back, she wasn’t staggering or tripping- . What an incredibly amazing girl she is :) I threw her some hay and gave her a mash of her pellets like the vet suggested and she acted as if she were starving! Wow, what a crazy 24 hours!
Two weeks later, she still has no signs of any trauma or sickness what-so-ever. When the vet called the morning after he was completely shocked to hear she was normal. He was at a complete loss of words and didn’t know what to tell me. I kept her on Bute 2 more days and everything is back to normal.
What an amazing husband and horse I have. I’m a lucky girl. Unfortuneately the stable owner injured her knee and shoulder in the whole ordeal, but is recovering quickly.