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Lessons Learned from loss

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  • Lessons Learned from loss

    Many of you have been so kind and thoughtful with your wishes after losing my lovely filly at just 57 hours old.

    This hasn't been a happy year for many, and some suggestions may help others. Breeding is a joyous event, but can also be emotionally devastating.

    A post mortem revealed that my filly had an abscess on the umbilicus (internally) and the cause of death was septicemic shock. There is no way to know if precautions could have prevented the death, but sometimes prevention can be worth a pound of cure.

    Had this filly had blood work done on Monday when she was born, The infection might have been picked up. Her shivering Monday evening, should have been checked for an elevation in temperature, rather than thinking it was a neurotic owner. Her impaction on Tuesday should have also raised a flag, I should have been called immediately and again blood work should have been done. Wednesday morning she was severely dehydrated and critical, she passed away at the hospital just 2.5 hours after I received the call from my (now former) vet that she was "really sick! and needed to be in a hospital."

    It is always easier to look back on what should have been done. I hope that this will help someone else to avoid the pain and sorrow of losing a beautiful newborn.

    I look next door at my neighbors standardbreds, who are always totally healthy and ask why me. But life isn't fair and sometimes no matter how hard you try, you lose.

    Next year, this mare will foal at the hospital, and her foal monitored. Lesson sadly learned.
    The Reproduction Specialist who tried so desparately to save this filly, told me he always does bloodwork on the first day...many think it unnecessary, and perhaps to 90% of foals it is unnecessary, but if it saves your foal, it surely beats burying a two day old foal.
    Proud of my Hunter Breeding Princesses
    "Grief is the price we all pay for love," Gretchen Jackson (1/29/07) In Memory of Barbaro

  • #2
    Many times an umbillical abscess is on a foal with a low IgG. Was one not done on your filly?

    I am so sorry Maddie.


    • #3
      I don't even know what to say, except that I am so shocked and so terribly sorry about your filly. I know there is a very special place in heaven for your baby. I'm so sorry.


      • Original Poster

        No the vet didn't do IgG as she "looked so healthy!"

        Dazzle got off to a really slow start two years ago, being down on her ankles, and tiny...so she got everything done to her, which saved her.

        thanks Springer, she was a gorgeous baby, and deserved the life she should have enjoyed
        Proud of my Hunter Breeding Princesses
        "Grief is the price we all pay for love," Gretchen Jackson (1/29/07) In Memory of Barbaro


        • #5
          Sporthorsefilly..... so sorry for your loss. GOSH....are you taking any legal action?

          What a mess, so sorry. Blessings to you and your mare.
          *Better to have loved than to have never loved at all.*
          ALWAYS Blessings NEVER losses.


          • #6
            My vet always comes the day my mare foals and draws blood for an IgG. I guess I did think it was SOP. All my foals (I've only had 4) have been healthy, but she does them routinely. Glad to know she does, so sorry your vet shot down the idea.
            Beth Davidson
            Black Dog Farm Connemaras & Sport Horses
            visit my blog: http://ponyeventer.blogspot.com


            • #7
              We also call the vet to do an IgG at about 12 hours from being born (our vet insists on it in fact). I am surprised a vet would recommend against it considering it is quick and easy and not even that expensive. I can see why it is now your former vet...

              So very sorry for your loss and please try not to beat yourself up with the "what could have been done". Hindsight is always 20/20 of course and if we had crystal balls our lives would be so much easier! Again, my deepest condolences.
              Signature Sporthorses


              • #8
                I too am so sorry. We always do an IGg and their shots when the vet comes, within 24 hours of birth. I also record time of birth and nursing. I never leave the barn until I am satisfied with the foal nursing and I check on them often those first few hours.

                Our hardest loss was losing a filly at 2.5 months old from a vet accident. It was the hardest thing to do to put her down and our vet was devestated and does not do that procedure anymore. I will never stop missing that amazing filly. I have her full sister and she will always remain with me.


                • #9
                  I'm so sorry you lost the foal. When our first foal was born this year, I called the vet in the morning only to be told he would pull blood in a couple of days. I called a different vet and had the work done that morning. I have learned the hard way to have absolutely no loyalty when it comes to vets. My loyalty is to my mares and foals.
                  CAMPESINO (1990 - 2008)
                  Capitol I - Sacramento Song xx


                  • #10
                    Unfortunately, looking healthy has nothing to do with whether a foal has the antibodies to fight off infection or disease.

                    With a properly vaccinated mare, and a good IgG, the newborn foal should not need any injections.

                    If you have the IgG done at 12 hours, you still have a window to administer oral IgG to the foal and retest. I believe Kathy said she usually has to use 2 doses to get most foals to test in the good range. If not, you are looking at a transfusion, which has its own risks.


                    • #11
                      An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is just so frustratingly true. Sporthorsefilly, unfortunately many vets think much like your's in that if the foal looks healthy, there's no reason for pulling an IgG. Unfortunately, foals with low IgG's usually do look just fine...for the first 24 to 48 hours. And, by the time someone realizes that there "is" a problem, it is usually too late <sigh>. We recommend that one be done on ALL foals. Granted, 95% of the time, it would have been unnecessary, but for a $10.00 stall side test (yes, you can do it yourself!) it is indeed cheap insurance.

                      Horsecrazy27, I really hate seeing the phrase "can you take legal action?" I would much rather horse owners be proactive rather than reactive. One has to recognize that vets as a whole, have a difficult job. They come out of university knowing a little bit about a lot of things, but not a whole lot about anything. They are required to know about multiple species and not only that, ALL aspects of multiple species. Heck, we just deal strictly with equine reproduction and it's difficult staying abreast of all the new protocols, research and information available on the subject. I can't imagine trying to stay up on a variety of species reproduction, let alone every other aspect of their care and wellbeing! And, equine reproduction is just a very small portion of most veterinarian's business. Add to that, it doesn't pay particularly well, it's seasonal, it's dangerous, has terrible hours AND, horse owners have the distinct reputation of being the worst payers <sigh>. While it definitely doesn't excuse the vet's actions in this particular case, taking legal action won't bring the foal back and probably doesn't really educate the vet, either. A more productive, proactive and beneficial approach would be to perhaps contact the state vet board and perhaps request that the vet be required to take some continuing education classes specifically in equine reproduction?

                      Having been in the exact same place as Sporthorsefilly at one point, with the addition of a $12,000 vet bill at the end of breeding season for attempting to breed 8 mares and only 1 pregnancy, I figured equine reproduction probably wasn't rocket science. It isn't. So, I began educating myself. There is LOTS of information readily available, although make sure that the information you get is from a reliable source and many things you can do yourself. It also helps to recognize when there IS a problem and when your veterinarian may be out of his/her area of expertise!

                      I think many of us out there rely on our veterinarians heavily and we definitely should! But, I also think that we should educate ourselves so that we "do" know when things aren't going as they should and to be able to identify when perhaps our caregivers aren't up to speed on some things (not just veterinarians, but human physicians, as well).

                      I'm very, very, VERY sorry for what you went through Sporthorsefilly. Hopefully, something good came out of such a tragic event. Sometimes I really HATE horse breeding <sad sigh>.

                      Kathy St.Martin
                      Equine Reproduction Short Courses
                      Equine-Reproduction.com Now offering one on one customized training!
                      Leg-Up Equestrian Assistance Program, Inc. A 501(c)(3) non-profit charity


                      • #12
                        I am so sorry for your loss and the mistakes made by your ex-vet. A horrible way to learn a lesson
                        Epona Farm
                        Irish Draughts and Irish Draught Sport horses

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                        • Original Poster

                          Thanks Kathy, and I agree being proactive is absolutely necessary. Even with human medicine, you need to know exactly what the Dr. is doing and what meds you are taking and why. Drs and Vets are just not GOD as we sometimes wish they would be.

                          I haven't spoken with this vet, as his feeling is "its the mares fault." How really human, always blame the horse! I believe that losing a barn with 8 horses, sends a message and right now, I would not be able to speak to him without being emotional, so I will wait.

                          The Reproductive Veterinarian, who will be caring for the mare next time, felt that we will need to monitor the mare and be vigilant, as she may have had a low grade infection. This makes sense, and this mare is well worth it.

                          Nothing will bring the foal back, but the lessons learned may save someone else the heartache. We all need to be very alert, and realize that vets are human, and they do make errors. Many times when things go well, we are happy...but when they don't and it cost an animal its life then we seek to blame someone.

                          Blame doesn't change anything, but it is part of grieving too. Lessons learned the hard way are often the most valuable, and I sincerely hope that those who read this thread will be very vigilant and proactive. I know I will be.
                          Proud of my Hunter Breeding Princesses
                          "Grief is the price we all pay for love," Gretchen Jackson (1/29/07) In Memory of Barbaro


                          • #14
                            Thanks so much for writing. These are the kinds of stories that can end up saving lives. Thanks also, Kathy. One thing I learned watching my mare foal out at a hospital this year due to placentitis, is how many details need to be watched/attended to, to make sure things don't go wrong. With so many cases going on, so many techs, students, etc., having to coordinate their efforts on all of them, it sometimes seemed a miracle that as much goes right as often as it does, and vets manage to save as many lives as they do. I do think Kathy and Showjumpers hit the mark in saying that the best we can do is try to educate ourselves and remember that our first loyalty needs to be to our mares and foals.

                            I must say in this context that my current pet peeve has got to be vets who advise owners to "sit back and let the experts handle it!"!!!!!!


                            • #15
                              I'm so sorry for your loss. Thanks for taking the time to post such an important message about always checking the IgG. It's unfortunate that your ex-vet hasn't taken the opportunity to learn from his mistake.
                              www.grayfoxfarms.com Home of Redwine, Aloha, Federalist, Romantic Star and Rated R.


                              • #16
                                I am so very sorry for your loss. I think your vet did you a great disservice by not doing an IgG, which is considered standard. However, and I know I'm going to get flamed for this, but owners need to educate themselves, too. It is one thing to ask for an IgG, and have the vet refuse (which may have been the case in this situation), but it is another to not educate yourself and to therefore not know what to ask for.
                                There have been several people on this board alone, lately (although not the OP) that have been saying they didn't know that foals needed an IgG test, or that they didn't know the time-frame that it should be done in. IMHO this is a basic thing to know if you are going to breed your mare. You have 11 months to educate yourself and you are your horses' only advocate, so you need to know what to ask for.
                                Already excited about our 2016 foals! Expecting babies by Indoctro, Diamant de Semilly, Zirocco Blue and Calido!


                                • #17
                                  I am so sorry about the loss of your filly. I agree that the vet should have done the bloodwork sooner, but it isn't always feasible. A friend of mine went through something similar last year where she couldn't get the vet out for two days. She lives in a very rural area and her vet was stretched to the max trying to cover a fairly large territory by himself. This is unfortunately going to become more and more common as fewer vet students want to practice large animal medicine, esp. in rural area. Fortunately for my friend, her foal was fine, but she was very worried for a few days.

                                  Hugs to you and your mare.


                                  • Original Poster

                                    Thanks everyone, and I hope that those who are hesitant about checking not only IgG but also doing a CBC will read and learn to be proactive. So many thing that baby puppies, kittens and horses just pop out and everything is wonderful. They don't realize that this just isn't the case. It's a new born, and you need to be very careful.

                                    Once I get past the anger, I will have a discussion with the now X vet, but I do not have a calm down button right now. The next foal will benefit from the lessons learned.
                                    Proud of my Hunter Breeding Princesses
                                    "Grief is the price we all pay for love," Gretchen Jackson (1/29/07) In Memory of Barbaro


                                    • #19
                                      I am so sorry for your loss. That is devastating.

                                      I only this year just started doing an IGG test on all my foals. Actually I started doing a lot of things diffrent. I don't care anymore if I'm the panicky woman on the other end of the phone. If something doesn't seem right no matter how little, I ask questions. Foals all to easily seem fine one moment and then before you know it they're gone.

                                      I really am so sorry.

                                      COTH, keeping popcorn growers in business for years.

                                      "I need your grace to remind me to find my own." Snow Patrol-Chasing Cars. This line reminds me why I have horses.


                                      • #20
                                        I'm so sorry. It is hard to hear of anyone losing a beloved horse, but somehow it is even more heartbraking to lose a foal. So long expected and with anticipation of what might be. Hugs.