He was the sweetest horse I have bred yet. It was a hard decision to put him down, but the autopsy showed that it was the right option. He was fine tuesday - but wednesday I noticed him standing strangely in the pasture - I was in and out of the farm a few times over a short period of time that morning, when he hadn't moved for about an hour I brought him into the barn. I wasn't sure what it was - tempature was 100 , his only symptom was that he didn't want to move and looked depressed. The vet came out w/i an hour, his heart rate was 80 (30 is normal) and his tempature was 102.5. A physical exam didn't show anything specific so the vet took bloodwork, loaded him up on banamine and antibiotics. I mentioned 3 times that I had noticed him trying to pee and that he was unable to. The vet didn't comment on it - but he was obviously very concerned about Charlie.
There is a point to telling this story BTW -
So, after the vet leaves, Charlie doesn't bounce back or feel better at all - which is contrary to what I have seen when a horse gets banamine - he was standing in the corner of his stall - the only time he moved was when he would walk outside and try to pee w/o success. At some point - this trying to pee really started bugging me - even though the vet hadn't reacted when I told him - all I could think of was how neutered male cats (and goats) can get blocked or some other type of critical urinary track problem - I didn't know what the problem could be - but that it could be serious. So, I decide to be a pain in the rear and call the vet practice again - to specifically ask a vet why the trying to pee wasn't an important symptom. The practice is a large equine hospital so I knew I would be able to talk to someone. I talked to a different DR - asked the specific question and it was explained to me that horses don't get blocked - it was very very rare - and that we should just wait for the blood work to be done. The vet who had seen Charlie also called me - and he told me he in many many years of practice had only seen on old gelding who was blocked - it just doesn't happen. And - he also said that although Charlie was obviously very sick - we should wait for the blood work which was almost done.
Blood work showed that Charlie was in kidney failure so I loaded him up and took him to the hospital.
Bottom line is that Charlie was blocked - kidney stone at the end tip of his urethra - his bladder had ruptured, urine was in his abdomen - in spite of IV fluids, the stone being cleared, a tube put into to drain the urine from his belly - his blood work still showed kidney failure the next morning. The vets told me we were fighting more than could be fixed so the best thing to do was put him down.
In case you are wondering why I didn't take Charlie right after the vet saw him at the farm before the blood work came in... There are a few reasons - Charlie has a major leg issue which means he would not be able to do much more in his life than be a trail horse, if that, so I told the vet that he wasn't a surgical case. The charge for IV hook up is 1500 a day - I just don't have the money at this point to spend that - I thought we should try to manage it at the farm if possible. Talk about a hard decision - but I've known that about him due to his leg issue - I knew that I couldn't pull out all stops if he ever got in trouble.
Maybe I'm the only one - but of all my horses, in the back of my mind I know which ones are surgical cases and which ones aren't.
As I mentioned at the start - the autopsy showed that even if we could have mangaged the crisis (which maybe we would not have been able to - his abdomen was very inflamed, his bladder was so full of stones it was more solid than urine) - his kidneys were in really bad shape - one tiny one with stones and one huge one with more stones. Test are still being done to try and figure out what in world went wrong with the kidneys.
So - the point - horses can and do get blocked. And - I know you all know this - but it reminds me once again to trust my instincts and that no matter what I know my horses best. And... it shows also how important it is to have a feeling about how stoic my horses are - Charlie was very stoic - I know that now - didn't know it before - he's never been sick. He must have been in an incredible amount of pain - but didn't show it - except that he was depressed. Or maybe he has been sick for a long time, and I couldn't tell.
I miss him so much. I am thankful to know that although his life was short - it was pretty good as far as being a horse goes. Since he was weaned, he has basically just been out in pasture with his friends.
If you are still with me - thanks for reading this...
I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. Making the "right decision" is never easy (I had to make the same decision 2 nights ago with a broodmare who was colicking.. I can hear her 3 month old colt calling for her as I type..).
Charlie was a lovely guy, and I'm sure that he's thanking you for taking his pain away from the other side of The Bridge.
RIP, Charlie. Jill, I'm so sorry for your loss. Thank you for telling Charlie's story.. it is indeed a good reminder. I hear your pain in the telling of it. You have my deepest sympathy. He was a beautiful boy.
I'm so sorry for your loss and thanks for sharing your story. I know when I've had colic cases and the horse strains to pee with no result I too have questioned my vet and got the same answer you did. I'll keep this info in mind in the future. RIP Charlie, best wishes to you in this sad time.
He was LOVELY! Thanks for reminding us all how we need to "listen to our gut", I can't tell you how many times it has saved me or my animals and how sorry I've been when I thought someone else knew better than me about my own. You have bred some beautiful animals and I've enjoyed seeing your good results. Please know that you did all you could for this gorgeous boy and especially in the end. Best wishes.
I almost didn't type, but then I thought, if your story touched me this much, shouldn't I tell you? So, I'm so sorry about the loss of Charlie. I cried reading your story because I know that we all do the best we can, and it tears us up when it isn't enough. Thanks for sharing your "lessons learned" with us. hugs.