Saturday, 12 November 2011
It came as a terrible shock when I arrived at work the other day (Tuesday) to find my boss struggling with the young colt pictured above (much bigger now at 5 months).
He was panicking with the worst case of colic that I have ever seen. My boss was desperately trying to keep him on his feet, as horses have a design fault in that they can twist their gut when rolling in pain, which almost certainly leads to death unless a difficult (and rarely sucessful) operation can be performed.
As soon as I saw him my heart sunk as it seemed to me that his chances were slim. The vet had already been out and given him a drug that normally would stop the spasms and reduce the pain, but it had had no effect.
The vets returned and tried more pain relief, and then it was decided to completely aneathetise him, with the hope that when the drugs wore off whatever was causing the colic would have abated. The other option was to take him to the nearest specialist vet hospital which is three and a half hours away the other side of Bordeaux, with the hope that if he arrived alive they could operate. We tried that with a young colt a while ago and it didn't work - nobody wanted to put this colt through the journey in his condition.
Unfortunately it was hopeless and he was put to sleep not too long after. We were all in absolute shock. He was a lovely colt and the first born at home from our stallion Tom.
The following day he was to be picked up and taken for an autopsy. He had died in a stable next to the main house and we were hoping that whatever came to collect him would be able to reverse up almost to the door to make his removal as easy as possible. Having had a traumatic time waiting days for my own mare to be removed I hoped that this would go more smoothly, especially as presumably having to have an autopsy would necessitate a smooth, clean removal.
When the lorry arrived it was about the size of a dustbin lorry, with just a grabber attached. The driver was about as unhelpful as it was possible to be and insisted we bought the colt right out to the main road using our tractor. He also wanted it done quickly as he was busy and needed to leave. My boss was in shock and stressed after losing her horse and so I put my Paramedic head on and thought quickly how we might best get him out.
I grabbed a ton rubble sack and got her to help me drag him to one side to get the bag underneath him so that we could use it to drag him out of the stable. It was horrible. He was very distended with gas and already quite smelly. As we dragged him out there was a horrible crackling noise as all the gasses in his body were compressed. The driver came and made a token effort to help by attaching a ragged bit of string around his leg and pulling ineffectually.
The idea was to get him onto a palette and take him around on the tractor, but it was impossible to get him onto it in his position. The driver, now really stressed tied his string around the colts' neck and a front leg and one hind and gestured that we should just tie that to the forks of the tractor and haul him out with that. We did try, but he just fell to the ground again. Now though he was on a slope, so I thought if we put the palatte below him we could have rolled him back onto it. The driver refused to listen to me, tying him up again and insisting that we just dragged him out. It was awful. My boss was worried about all the other horses seeing, but I assured her that other than a passing interest I was sure that it would not distress them too much.
We didn't watch as he was lifted into the truck, but the stench of the other carcasses filled the air and I promptly burst into tears. Not with the trauma of moving this poor colt, but because the smell bought back the awful memory of losing my own horse.
The following day I tried to get the stench of death out of the stable and scrubbed and disinfected the floor several times. I can still smell it, but I am sure it will leave eventually.
On Thursday we had a two year old colt castrated. Once again my job was to hold the horses head so that it could not move at the critical points of the operation. I asked the vet afterwards if he could do Neil at some point, at which he said "you always ask me that - is it the same husband? Poor man!!"
Today is a beautiful autumn sunny day. I am going riding this afternoon and I am so looking forward to blowing the cobwebs of the week away.
On a positive note Neil has made a lovely window sill out of some old boards he found. I hope you like it x