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Vet Bills for colic caused by hay at a boarding stable

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  • Vet Bills for colic caused by hay at a boarding stable

    Until now, I’ve always paid all vet bills for my horses’ shots & any other treatment needed by my horse.

    A month ago, 8 of the 50-plus horses at the Farm where I board my horse simultaneously developed colic and/or impactions. According to the vet, the cause was foxtail and possibly other weeds in the hay. I saw weeds and some very green, coarse, stemmy plants in the hay in my horse's stall. This was unusual, but I trusted the Farm Owner and staff that this was OK.

    My horse was 1 of the 8 horses affected. He developed an impaction and was miserable. I cooperated with the vet, hand walked my horse, massaged him, etc. and he recovered.

    I received a bill for $540 from the vet for farm call, intubation, rectal exams, sedatives, etc. I was present for most of these treatments and don’t question the treatments or amount of the bill.

    I'm looking for opinions about whether I should pay the entire bill or ask (or expect) the Farm Owner to pay part or all of this bill. What do you think?



  • #2
    I think you are stuck with the bill. It is hard to know when hay is not ideal, but still acceptable versus when it will cause illness

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by MM_Carrots View Post
      Until now, I’ve always paid all vet bills for my horses’ shots & any other treatment needed by my horse.

      A month ago, 8 of the 50-plus horses at the Farm where I board my horse simultaneously developed colic and/or impactions. According to the vet, the cause was foxtail and possibly other weeds in the hay. I saw weeds and some very green, coarse, stemmy plants in the hay in my horse's stall. This was unusual, but I trusted the Farm Owner and staff that this was OK.

      My horse was 1 of the 8 horses affected. He developed an impaction and was miserable. I cooperated with the vet, hand walked my horse, massaged him, etc. and he recovered.

      I received a bill for $540 from the vet for farm call, intubation, rectal exams, sedatives, etc. I was present for most of these treatments and don’t question the treatments or amount of the bill.

      I'm looking for opinions about whether I should pay the entire bill or ask (or expect) the Farm Owner to pay part or all of this bill. What do you think?

      I think the good news is that your horse is OK. That’s also actually a fairly reasonable bill at least in my area for a colic with impaction.

      there’s no money in boarding. So you can go after the owner, and make them miserable and probably need to find yourself somewhere to go, or alternatively chat with them about what they’re going to do moving forward, and eat the bill.

      I realize that your veterinarian says that it was the hay. But if you were to say, go to court, the analysis and everything that would need to be put together plus the money you would need to use to fund the thing over a $540 bill makes no sense
      When someone shows you who they are, BELIEVE them- Maya Angelou
      www.americansaddlebredsporthorse.net
      http://www.asbsporthorse.blogspot.com/

      Comment


      • #4
        I'd be looking for a new place to board--not rocket science to see fox tails in hay.

        Comment


        • #5
          Pay the bill and move your horse. I had something similar happen.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by MM_Carrots View Post
            According to the vet, the cause was foxtail and possibly other weeds in the hay.
            "possibly" other weeds?

            Did the vet actually pull out or dissect impacted fecal matter, and see foxtails? What "other weeds"?

            Has the vet actually evaluated the hay? Does the vet say the hay is unacceptable to feed? Based on...what exactly? I would think a vet might say something to anyone feeding hay that is likely to cause impactions.

            I saw weeds and some very green, coarse, stemmy plants in the hay in my horse's stall. This was unusual, but I trusted the Farm Owner and staff that this was OK.
            Always be your horses' advocate, because not everyone else will be. See something, say something. Know you might be shot down, but know you might have a great conversation.

            Coarse as in...thick stems? What is "very green"? Usually nice green hay is hay that isn't overly mature (that starts getting more yellow).

            What weeds did you see?

            I am in no way saying "oh well, so sorry". I'm saying it sounds like a lot of "possible" and "if" and "maybe" going on.

            I DO think that 8 out or 50 horses colicking is something to be brought to the BO's attention. You would spend more time and $$ than your vet bill to try to prove that the BO knowingly fed hay that was likely to cause impactions.

            Not everyone who boards horses is knowledgeable (enough) about quality hay to know what's safe to feed and what isn't. That's something that owners need to do some homework on (and yes, I know that can be hard and tricky).

            Not all hay with foxtails is that obvious that it's readily seen - a load of hay with a minor foxtail problem might never be noticed by those who are not scrutinizing it, but over days or weeks the effect builds up.

            Bottom line - this is one of the perils of boarding and unless you can prove negligence (I highly doubt you could), there's nothing you can do.
            ______________________________
            The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

            Comment


            • #7
              So what weeds in hay cause colic? I thought foxtail mostly causes blisters or ulcers in the mouth due to the seed heads. Moldy hay, green hay, and poor quality hay can cause colic. Sometimes just a change in hay causes colic even though the hay is fine.
              "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in a confederacy against him."

              Comment


              • #8
                Impactions are caused by non digestible content in the hay. Seems like the biggest culprit of this, at least around here, is coastal bermuda hay. It's a killer. Its non digestible content is higher than other grass hays. In my 30 years of owning horses, I've had three get impaction colics. All from coastal bermuda. All survived colic surgery thank goodness.

                Two were at boarding barns with excellent care, years ago. One was at my farm, more recently. The hay was great quality, and maybe that was part of the problem. He is a fast eater, and I did not notice how quickly he was consuming. it. He will never ever eat coastal again.

                In fact, I know for sure, he and one of the others were very eager hay eaters. The other one, I don't recall his eating habits as well, but he was a fatty. Hay lover + coastal bermuda is a bad combination.
                Rest in peace Claudius, we will miss you.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

                  Paid the vet bill. Also paid double board because I got the hell out of there and paid in lieu of notice.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    You can't prove negligence on the BO's or staff's part. I would pay the bill, and give you 30 day notice to leave.

                    This is kind of similar to what I went through last year. My long yearling filly (at the time) got caught up in some fencing. She needed antibiotics, fresh bandaging every 12-24 hours, lots of medical supplies, and then ended up needing x rays. I didn't make the BO pay for all of that. It's a risk we take on as owners when we board, and there was no negligence.
                    Last edited by WildGooseChase; Nov. 12, 2019, 11:52 AM. Reason: edited to provide example
                    I’d rather ride on a Mustang, than in one.

                    BaileyAnn Neal

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by JB View Post
                      "possibly" other weeds?

                      Did the vet actually pull out or dissect impacted fecal matter, and see foxtails? What "other weeds"?

                      Has the vet actually evaluated the hay? Does the vet say the hay is unacceptable to feed? Based on...what exactly? I would think a vet might say something to anyone feeding hay that is likely to cause impactions.


                      Always be your horses' advocate, because not everyone else will be. See something, say something. Know you might be shot down, but know you might have a great conversation.

                      Coarse as in...thick stems? What is "very green"? Usually nice green hay is hay that isn't overly mature (that starts getting more yellow).

                      What weeds did you see?

                      I am in no way saying "oh well, so sorry". I'm saying it sounds like a lot of "possible" and "if" and "maybe" going on.

                      I DO think that 8 out or 50 horses colicking is something to be brought to the BO's attention. You would spend more time and $$ than your vet bill to try to prove that the BO knowingly fed hay that was likely to cause impactions.

                      Not everyone who boards horses is knowledgeable (enough) about quality hay to know what's safe to feed and what isn't. That's something that owners need to do some homework on (and yes, I know that can be hard and tricky).

                      Not all hay with foxtails is that obvious that it's readily seen - a load of hay with a minor foxtail problem might never be noticed by those who are not scrutinizing it, but over days or weeks the effect builds up.

                      Bottom line - this is one of the perils of boarding and unless you can prove negligence (I highly doubt you could), there's nothing you can do.
                      I don't think 8/50 horses colicking needs to be brought to the BO's attention. I'm sure they know it.

                      Industry standard would have the HO eat the cost of the bill and assume all risk. After all, the HO presumably knew the standard of care she was buying when she moved in and found it acceptable.

                      That said, new orders of hay differ from what might have been shown to the OP originally and that ratio of horses colicking at once is as close to an example of negligence on the BO's part as I think anyone of us could say we have seen. This is not one horse being idiosyncratic and hurting itself.

                      OP, if you can find a better barn, and you don't see the BO being quite alarmed, contrite and pro-active about preventing a repeat in the future, I'd leave. But if the BO is proactive about making sure this never happens again, I think that is as much "compensation" as you'll get.
                      The armchair saddler
                      Politically Pro-Cat

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by MM_Carrots View Post
                        Until now, I’ve always paid all vet bills for my horses’ shots & any other treatment needed by my horse.

                        A month ago, 8 of the 50-plus horses at the Farm where I board my horse simultaneously developed colic and/or impactions. According to the vet, the cause was foxtail and possibly other weeds in the hay. I saw weeds and some very green, coarse, stemmy plants in the hay in my horse's stall. This was unusual, but I trusted the Farm Owner and staff that this was OK.

                        My horse was 1 of the 8 horses affected. He developed an impaction and was miserable. I cooperated with the vet, hand walked my horse, massaged him, etc. and he recovered.

                        I received a bill for $540 from the vet for farm call, intubation, rectal exams, sedatives, etc. I was present for most of these treatments and don’t question the treatments or amount of the bill.

                        I'm looking for opinions about whether I should pay the entire bill or ask (or expect) the Farm Owner to pay part or all of this bill. What do you think?
                        You had the vet out and he performed the services you requested. There is no legitimate reason not to pay the bill.

                        Now, if you want to pursue the barn owner for damages, that is a different story. You'll have to prove they were negligent and it was their negligence that caused your horse to colic. Not an easy thing to prove. There are many factors that can contribute to colic. Diet, change in weather, stress, horse refusing to drink, etc. To win an award, you'll have to convince a judge it was all the BO's fault. For $540, it doesn't begin to be worth it to pursue legal recourse IMO. You'll never be able to go back to that barn and you'll earn a reputation (in a tight knit community) as a litigious boarder.

                        Like other posters, I'd be asking the vet what his scientific basis is for saying the cause of the impaction was foxtail or "possibly other weeds". Did the vet tell you the impaction WAS caused by foxtail or did he say it "could be". Two totally different statements with two totally different meanings. Unless the vet analyzed the impaction, it would be doubtful he would take a hard line on what caused the impaction. Not good for his reputation or his business to do so.

                        Sorry your horse had a colic scare, but glad to hear it was only a scare. It might simply be time to just pack up and move to a new facility.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Well that's a pretty great vet to know why the horses colicked!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Don't foxtails work their way into gums sometimes? If they are what I think they are, they have tiny barbs and tend to work in, but are hard to pull out. Maybe have your vet check your horse's mouth next time to make sure.

                            I hope the barn talks to their hay supplier about the hay quality. If they switch suppliers, maybe that shows that they will be more careful in the future. Not sure if moving is an option. Are other people moving? Did other barns get the same hay from the same supplier?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Why in the world would you not pay the vet after you stood there watching them work? The appropriate way to proceed is first pay the vet. As Judge Judy would say, you ate the steak. You used their time, services, equipment and meds which they paid for, they deserve to be paid.

                              Then, after you review your boarding contract for limits of liability, collect info on specifically which weeds were in the hay and consult a lawyer, you can sue the BO for the amount of that vet bill. Even if you kept your horse on your own private property, you are at risk for colic. Everything from neglected dental work, temp swings, not moving around due to bad weather, not drinking enough water because it’s too cold to lord knows what else can and does cause colic. Despite the most impeccable management, it happens. Don’t know where OP is but we had 50f temp swings a few days ago, local vet clinic was running 24/7 there for a couple of days.

                              Bit concerning seeing a trend in wanting to take action against barn management. We have another considering taking action because of deep mud around pasture gates after record rains.

                              OP or any other boarder can and should periodically look at the hay their horse is getting, especially new loads. The lower level the barn is at, the more important it is to be an active participant in what goes on with your horse and learn what you need to know about all aspects of that care. If the care is not up to your expectations and/ or you don’t trust the barn ? Move. They won’t change for you, least not without raising the board rates for anything but basic care.
                              When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                              The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Worth keeping in mind, too, that going after the barn owner for the cost of the vet bill has a very good chance of getting you black listed as a boarder in the area. It may be difficult to find boarding after you're asked to leave, so if you do want to go that route, secure boarding elsewhere first.

                                But if you'd really like to pursue that, absolutely pay the vet now. The vet deserves to be paid promptly.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Pay the bill, send the vet a thank you note, move.

                                  btdt- it'll happen again at that farm.
                                  www.abacusfurniture.com

                                  Bit Chair: https://www.instagram.com/p/BNfIUYig...bacusfurniture

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by MM_Carrots View Post
                                    Until now, I’ve always paid all vet bills for my horses’ shots & any other treatment needed by my horse.

                                    A month ago, 8 of the 50-plus horses at the Farm where I board my horse simultaneously developed colic and/or impactions. According to the vet, the cause was foxtail and possibly other weeds in the hay. I saw weeds and some very green, coarse, stemmy plants in the hay in my horse's stall. This was unusual, but I trusted the Farm Owner and staff that this was OK.

                                    My horse was 1 of the 8 horses affected. He developed an impaction and was miserable. I cooperated with the vet, hand walked my horse, massaged him, etc. and he recovered.

                                    I received a bill for $540 from the vet for farm call, intubation, rectal exams, sedatives, etc. I was present for most of these treatments and don’t question the treatments or amount of the bill.

                                    I'm looking for opinions about whether I should pay the entire bill or ask (or expect) the Farm Owner to pay part or all of this bill. What do you think?

                                    Another question is, why should the barn owner only pay for your horse? Why not for all the horses? So that is 8 horses with vet bills of almost $600, which I'm going to guess is as much or more than you pay for board in a month. That means the barn owner is going to lose all revenue for 8 horses that month. My guess is this would be a financial hardship for the barn owner. My guess is the barn owner *can't* afford to pay almost $5000 in vet bills for boarders horses.

                                    As far as your impaction colic, you got off very very lightly in terms of treatment.

                                    My otherwise very healthy mare had 4 impaction colics over the course of one 6 month winter/spring period. I had an emergency vet out tube for one, otherwise treated the others with Banamine and sleeping at the barn. It was just basically really bad constipation. The best I could figure out for cause was cold weather, not drinking as much, and a good but stemmy alfalfa batch. I cut alfalfa hay out of her diet and made sure to get lots of mash into her and be pristine with the her water buckets.

                                    My question for the barn going forward is, what is being changed to prevent future problems?

                                    As others have noted above, some kinds of hay are less digestible. First, you need to find out what kind of hay the horses are being fed. If it's something known for causing impaction in some horses, then that should be changed. Second, you need to get in there and pull a few flakes apart and find out what weeds are in the hay. You can take a dried sprig of weed and identify it through various online plant apps. Find out where the hay comes from as if it's from outside your climate zone (as mine is) there will may weeds you don't know locally. Third, make sure water is good at your barn. Clean buckets, full buckets. For my mare, I ended up having her big muck tub bucket plus a smaller flatback bucket on the wall near her hay so she would remember to drink while she was eating. Both dumped and scrubbed daily.

                                    As to whether you stay at this barn that will really depend on how you feel the barn managers responded to this incident. What if anything have they changed? How seriously do they take it?

                                    As far as "trusting" the barn and the barn's hay: no. Just no. You always look at things with the eye of the horse owner and you bring up questions with the barn owner/manager. For instance, I get really wonderful second cut Timothy but *one* bale in three years was infested with some kind of bindweed that I didn't recognize and that my horse would not eat. I noticed this because I do my own care, and I threw out that bale, But if I had had a teen looking after my horse and throwing down the hay, there's no guarantee that kid would have noticed the anomaly or understood why maresy wasn't eating. By which I mean that the barn owner might be smart about hay but that doesn't guarantee that all the workers are, or that they will see a problem before you do.

                                    As a horse owner, I think we need to self educate ourselves on all kinds of horsekeeping trivia. One important one is hay. What is available in your area, what is the difference between first and second cut hay in your area, what do the different grasses and seed heads look like, and what do different weeds look like? There's usually just a certain amount of kinds of hay in any given area (I've never seen coastal Bermuda up here in the PNW). You can keep an eye out for grass growing in pastures or alongside the paths and learn to recognize the different species, particulalry in May and June when they "flower" and go to seed, because the different grasses have distinct seed heads.

                                    Then you will be more confident to say: "there is something in this hay that doesn't belong here." Often it is just a few bales in a load that's contaminated because the hay farmer ran his mower through a weed patch at one end of the field, and no one really knows there's anything contaminating the hay until you get to the bales from that section of the field. Of course those bales might not end up side by side stacked in the loft.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Im also curious what the problem with the hay was. Weeds, by definition, do not *cause* colic, and I agree that I've only ever heard of foxtail being problematic with regard to things like mouth ulcers.

                                      It could have been a variety of other issues....weather, out of water, timing of feeding, deworming schedule....etc. It could have been some kind of weed....possibly. But its really hard to prove that it was a weed.

                                      Yep pay the bill and be glad it was only a few hundred dollars.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by MM_Carrots View Post
                                        I'm looking for opinions about whether I should pay the entire bill or ask (or expect) the Farm Owner to pay part or all of this bill. What do you think?
                                        Your vet doesn't care whether the BO is ultimately responsible for causing the colic. You are the owner, you need to pay the vet.

                                        What happens next is up to you. I'm still of the opinion you don't have a case, or at least not one that won't cost you more than you'd get.
                                        ______________________________
                                        The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

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