We’re going on 2 full weeks of making strides towards recovery, without any major set-backs! He is continuing to be turned out every day for a couple of hours a day. I really attribute this factor to all the progress we’ve been making recently. Although he comes out of the stall, very sore and stiff on most days, he typically works out of it as he walks up to the turnout ring. His stride opens up quite a bit on the sand, and the rubber mats, but the gravel definitely hurts, despite his fancy shoes. He’s made it abundantly clear that he will walk only in the direction he wants to go, otherwise he will plant his feet. I now carry a crop when I walk him in order to “encourage” him to keep walking. His attitude and opinion on where he’d like to go is hysterical. He really is becoming a spoiled yellow horse.
We are still battling bedsores. Both of his hind legs are practically bald, and have some gnarly sores on them. Although they seem to be slowly healing, and sometimes don’t look as angry as they have, I always worry about subsequent infections, proud flesh, or subsequent scar tissue arising from them. I did some research, and learned that putting gauze and duct tape over the sore, will give it time to heal without the continuous rubbing from laying down. The duct tape should be allowed to fall out on it’s own in order to spare him the rest of his hair. So, Tazzy will soon be covered in duct tape, for the sake of experimentation and our feeble attempt at fixing his sores.
On a more positive note: WE HAVE HOOF GROWTH! There is a distinct indentation/line about 1 inch below his coronary band that differentiates the old hoof from the new growth. I’ve never been so happy to see fast growing hooves! Although, he’s still a cripple, I know the first step towards soundness and health is growing new feet. Both his hind feet (unshod) and his front feet (super shod!) are showing signs of new healthy growth. I am hoping that this new growth will help stabilize his bone and make him more comfortable.
Being the “Positive Polly’s” that we are, the yellow horse also proved to me how amazing he really is. Although he appreciates all of the people who stop by to visit and care for him, there is a certain population that he is particularly proud of. He has had many “little” visitors in and out of his stall since he fell ill. The patience and affection that he shows to these little people is heartwarming. He carefully. and respectfully will take treats from their tiny fingers, he’ll allow his head to be hugged, and doesn’t bat an eyelash at flailing arms and legs. My 2 year old niece squealed and attached herself to his leg, and he stood stock still, without a hit of annoyance at the tiny human. He normally does not like to be kissed or fussed over, but with her, he showed affection and allowed her all of the kisses and hugs that he wanted. He made her day when he gently nuzzled her ear – I haven’t stopped hearing about how “Tah-zy” is the best horse in the whole wide world. (If she’s looking for an argument, she won’t be getting one. I wholeheartedly agree!) I am so lucky to love and be able to share such a wonderfully kind being. Despite the pain he may be in, or how annoyed he may be, he always tries to put on a good face. Although I take pride in knowing that I have exposed him to as much of the world as possible – it really is just his personality. He has always taken things in stride. He has always been a laidback, “chill” kind of dude. And he has always loved children. Although his body is starting to age, (he’s 18!) he’s always been an old soul. I hope that he can one day teach my niece, and maybe my own future children to ride.
….I’m planning for the future?!?! Day by day, week by week, he continues to defy the odds. #teamyellow
Today marks the one month anniversary of the day in which life as I had known it, disappeared. One month, four weeks, thirty days – say it anyway you’d like and it still feels like it’s been forever. Gone are the days of pulling up to the barn 10 minutes before a lesson, brushing the dust off, and trotting up to the ring. No longer are we going to meander around the farm exploring as we cool down from a hard gymnastics lesson. Running to the barn in tears so Tazzy could take care of me and mend my worn down heart, is no longer in the cards. Instead, I’ve spent the last four weeks running to take care of him. I tend to his sores, fret over even the mere thought of any heat in his hooves, and make sure he gets his daily dose of vitamin D. Today, I get excited to hear that his pain medication has been reduced. I’m thrilled when I know he spent more time standing, than laying down. Seeing an almost-empty water bucket is a celebrated accomplishment.
My timehop is a constant reminder of the ten years worth of memories we have created together. I’m reminded of the countless girls he has taught to ride and showed with. That blue ribbon he won all by himself because his beginner rider was too nervous to actually steer. The fox. The f*$&@%$ fox that jumped out and caused us to dive through a corner during the most important class of the week. Often times, these reminders are bittersweet. What I wouldn’t give for another gallop, another go at the “boob” jump, and even just one more chance to hear my trainer yell about at least attempting to bend through the corners, and using my outside rein. But when I get too down about all the fun we’re missing, I’m reminded that we’re just happy he’s here. I still have my best friend. We may no longer be “whoa-ing” down the lines, but maybe one day, soon, I’ll have to yell “Whoa” because he feels well enough to make a run for it.
We are not yet out of the woods. Actually, I’m not even sure that we can see light. He’s had his shoes on for 2 full weeks and has 3 more to go before we reset them. One month of ups and downs has felt like a never ending emotional roller coaster. But as long as he’s willing to fight, so will I. We will do more radiography when we re-shod and hopefully see that the sinking has stopped. We are praying that we don’t run into any additional implications – abscesses are not uncommon with foundered horses and can cause excruciating pain to the already sore hooves. He still spends quite a few hours a day laying down to rest. Although nerve-racking, I know it’s good for him to rest his piglets and take some of the pressure off his strained laminae. His bedsores are a constant battle. His left hock is nearly bald, and although they are superficial sores on the surface of the skin, they still make me worry. I don’t know if in another thirty days I’ll be writing a “2-month” post-founder post, or if I’ll be writing his eulogy. I’m trying my best to simply live in the now.
A few weeks ago, I thought I’d soon be mourning the loss of my best friend. Today, I’m able to kiss his velvet muzzle and split a package of Twizzlers. None of this would be possible without the people that have come together to support us. Getting constant updates and pictures of a happy, or sleepy, or usually grumpy yellow horse, literally makes my day. My barn owner, vet, farrier, trainer, and barn family have shown the true meaning of being “horsemen.” They’ve all gone out of their way to ensure that we are always dealing with a comfortable Yellow. His well-being has been at the forefront of every conversation and every decision. There is no better support system. I could not have asked for a better team. #TeamTazzy
(Don’t forget to hit HD in settings.)
It’s been one week since we made and unmade the decision to euthanize my best friend. It’s also been a week since Tazzy was shod with his new fancy footwear, and we’ve seen nothing but dramatic improvements. He is still on stall rest, and will most likely continue to be for quite a while, but he is allowed a short walk a day to help with circulation and muscle stiffness. The first few days after getting shod, he walked carefully and very flatfooted. He was unsure of whether or not his feet were going to hurt, and he had to grow accustomed to the new type of shoe. Today, He marched out of his stall needing only the encouragement of a Twizzler to get him moving. He walked comfortably to the indoor arena, where he was able to walk on soft footing, and escape the rain. This was the farthest he’s been in three weeks, and he genuinely looked happy to be out! As soon as dinner time arrived and the grain could be heard banging around in the buckets, he no longer had any interest in reducing stiffness, or improving circulation. He wanted to eat!
We made it back to his barn, just as the grain buckets were arriving. While he impatiently waited for his food, I was able to clean and treat his bed sores, and fluff his bedding. As dinner got closer, he began to pace and whinny for it – something I haven’t seen in over three weeks! He is spending less time lying down now, and is becoming much more active in his stall. He will easily walk from his window to the stall door and back, several times in his feeble attempts to get attention. I’m beginning to see an improvement in his bedsores, and the swelling and heat in his legs are starting to diminish. His new schedule for shoes is every five weeks, which is when we will most likely complete another set of xray and reevaluate his progress.
The silver lining to this ordeal is that this was not metabolic laminitis, and he does not have cushings or insulin resistance. We are certainly being careful with his diet, but he is still allowed his favorite sweet treats. I’m not sure how he would live without his twizzlers.
Today was the day that we were anxiously awaiting – xray day. My vet was unable to make it to the barn during the day while I was there, so she completed them at night and called me the next day with the update. It was exactly what we feared; he was continuing to sink. Our last ditch effort would be to shod him. After lengthy discussions with both my trainer and barn owner, we came to the unfortunate decision of giving him a humane end – He was too weak to shod, and we weren’t sure that he would be able to handle having shoes nailed into his already sensitive toes.
After a very teary drive to the barn, my barn owner was able to speak at length with our farrier and we made the decision to give the shoes a try. He was confidant that it would make a difference, and that Tazzy would become more comfortable. This was going to be Tazzy’s last shot. We were given an estimate of having the shoes on by Monday the 18th, but by the following evening, he was sporting a shiny new front pair of supportive steel shoes. The farrier took his time and allowed the yellow horse plenty of rest breaks. Finally, Tazzy was able to walk off somewhat comfortably.
(Make sure you set the quality to HD in settings.)
Taz spent a majority of the week lying down resting. The groaning was our cue to give him more pain medication, and he was given food and water while he was down. Every few hours, we encouraged him to stand so that he could defecate and urinate. The last thing we wanted to do was deal with colic! We used Desitin on his bedsores and kept his stall very deeply bedded.
In order to make him more comfortable, I ordered him a pair of “soft-ride” boots for his front feet. The orthotic inserts gave him support in addition to providing a soft surface for his sore toes. We slowly started to see his personality creeping back. His appetite returned, and he was back to his old antics, convincing all who walked by to give him a treat. He still had plenty of heat in his hooves and shuffled to where he needed to be, but we were able to see glimpses of his old personality. We were becoming optimistic; he could beat this!
Tazzy spent the entire weekend standing in a tub of ice water. His fever never returned, and he even began to nibble on some hay, and drink of his own accord. Finally, Monday May 4th arrived – the day we had scheduled to do his radiography. After spending four days in a tub of ice water and under constant supervision, we allowed Taz to hang out in his stall for a few hours to rest, while wearing ice boots.
He went down, and stayed down for 6 hours. Clearly, he was exhausted.
After several frantic phone calls to the vet, she assured us this was normal for a foundered horse, and encouraged us to allow him to rest. Unfortunately, He began moaning and groaning and clearly looked uncomfortable. We considered what the xrays could say, and the quality of life he may have due to it. Euthanasia was beginning to look like the solution and we were heartbroken.
Unfortunately, along with exhaustion, came moaning and groaning. He. would. not. get. up. We decided that we would wait for the Xrays, but it was unfair and selfish to keep him around in this much pain. As he laid there, we all walked in one by one and sat with him, crying and saying our goodbyes. This was the end to his legacy. Once we all left his stall, drying our eyes and putting on a brave face, Tazzy did, as tazzy usually does, and made us all stop in our tracks. He stood up, walked to the end of the barn with minimal coaxing, made it back to his stall where he pooped, peed, pooped again, drank some water and than proceeded to spend some time enjoying his grain. To quote one of Tazzy’s biggest supporters, “Well, we can’t kill him while he’s enjoying his dinner..”
When the vet arrived, we pulled blood and we’re finally able to get a decent fecal done. Hopefully this was shed some light on what caused the sudden onset of diarrhea and fever. This time, Tazzy proved to be much easier to xray than originally. He was willing to lift his foot with a bit of coaxing and stood perfectly still. Unfortunately, the worst case scenario came to light – Taz was definitely foundering. To add insult to injury, he was not rotating, but rather he was a “sinker.” In layman’s term, his entire bone was losing the support it needed and was dropping into his hoof. This would be the most difficult founder to treat.
The vet fitted him with foam pads which were duct-taped to his feet after removing his regular old steel shoes.These would provide some comfort as he rested in his stall. We were to once again have xrays done in a week or so, to check on progress. If he continued to sink, I was going to have to make a very difficult decision (again..)
We continued to administer all of his medication through his catheter. Our goal was to keep him as comfortable as possible, as we waited on his body to recover and fight.
The events of April 30 blur together, but there are vivid images from that day that will forever be seared into my memory. I received a call at about 10:00am from my wonderful barn owner, telling me Tazzy was running a high fever and she thought he was foundering. I immediately asked her to call the vet as I left work early to drive the 30 minutes to the barn.
When I got to the barn, Tazzy was in bad shape. His temperature was at 103, he had white diarrhea dribbled down his legs and tail, he was displaying the typical founder stance, and looked miserable. His eyes were distant and far, his head hung low. Ten years together, and I had never seen my buddy this ill. The vet arrived, checked all of his symptoms and gave a preliminary diagnosis of ehrlichia, which is spread by ticks and can cause founder-like symptoms. We pulled blood to be sure, but some fluids, antibiotics, and icing of the feet would do the trick.
Six hours later, he was as miserable as ever, standing in a tub of ice water. His fever was still running at 103, he was not eating or drinking, and could barely hold himself up. The vet was called back out, and after further discussion and diagnosis, we considered Potomac Horse Fever. Our battle was now two-fold: fighting whatever caused his illness, and stopping the laminitis.
Base-line X-rays were done so we could correctly assess what damage, if any was occurring in his hooves. He was placed on pain medication, anti-inflammatory medication, fluids to fight dehydration, antibiotics to fight infection, and a vasodilator to help with circulation. To make administration of medications easier, he had a catheter placed in his neck. He was to stand in ice water to decrease inflammation for as long as possible.
Twelve hours after the first phone call, we finally were able to lower his temperature using acupuncture. He would spend the next 4 days standing in a tub full of sand and ice water, and under 24 hour surveillance. Despite finally having the fever break, our battle had just begun.