Thursday, October 16, 2008

Spirit and his battle with Colic

(Spirit, when we first met him, loved to be petted)

Tonight Spirit, the sorrel 16 year old gelding that I brought to the ranch a year and a half ago, tonight he's at the vet. He's fighting for his life with an impacted colon. They don't know if he'll make it.


Actually, they don't think he will make it. It's just tough to type that.

When I met Spirit the first time, I was following up on an ad on dream horse. "Former lesson horse, very curious horse" the ad read. When I met him, I felt that connection almost immediately. He had a calm nature and I could tell he was a little sad. I know now that it was because he was a lone backyard horse. He literally was living in this guy's back yard who had very little time to ride. He was personable, liked attention.

So Sharon bought him and he came to live on the ranch, where we half leased him. He quickly became the guest ranch horse - the one every one would ride. Every new rider, every newbie was thrown on Spirit. He could be trusted.

He hated it. He had already been burned out on the lesson routine and now I'm sure it felt like the same thing all over again. He started to bite and got cinchy and that was it for my daughter. So I let Sharon know it wasn't going to work. I realized then that this kind of leasing, where we had a horse that we just borrowed between everyone else borrowing - it wasn't going to work for us at all. We'd have to get our own horse and it was too late to repair Spirit's relationship with Sierra.

Fortunately at that time Rudy was tired of working with a young horse he'd gotten, Scout. Scout was green, a rough ride and just not what he was looking for. Rudy liked Spirit and bought him from Sharon.

It took time, but Spirit came around. He stopped biting, even allowed Sierra, my daughter, to pet him again. He didn't have to give everyone a ride anymore and was fine letting kids ride every now and then. He and Rudy became a team. Rudy loves trail riding and that was Spirit's real interest. Arena work, while it was something he'd do, was boring for him. He was bomb proof on the trail. It was a great match.

Not that he wasn't challenging. He's a dominant horse, easily bored and needs a strong leader. Rudy was that leader and pretty soon you could see a big difference. Spirit was side passing up to gates, loping in the field with that beautiful smooth lope of his. I missed him, but was elated that he had found the right owner with Rudy.

Spirit has always been on the lean side, and it is tough to keep weight on him. He never looks dangerously thin, but he doesn't have the stout look of alot of the quarters at the ranch. So he's not a looker. He is never the horse that people on the trail will comment on. But in my opinion he was the best riding horse out there - if he respected you. That was key.

On Wednesday morning Sharon called Rudy to say Spirit had colic. She gave him a shot, and it calmed him down, and Dr. Blevins came out to see him. Spirit needed to go into the clinic immediately. Once there they diagnosed an impacted colin and he was very dehydrated. Since then it's been only bad news. He hasn't passed the blockage.

Tonight he's lying on the floor of a stall at the clinic. How did he get colic? We have theories, but it can happen for so many reasons, as Rudy said, we may never know.

He's had bags of fluid, but nothing is working. Surgery is too expensive and we're just praying that somehow he'll pull through.

I'm going to see Spirit in the morning, I hope. Our vet is staying with him tonight. I'm just hoping for a little miracle for a good friend and a good horse.

(Spirit at the clinic with IV fluids)


GNH said...

Colic is kind of analagous to bloat and stomach torsion in dogs. There are many things that cause it and its kind of random and poorly understood. At the rescue ranch we've had several horses die of colic over the past few months. If a horse survives that is something you should feel blessed about. There are some things you can do to minimize the risk, like keeping dirt and sand out of their food. I saw a recent article on this in Equus, if I can find a link to it online I will post it here.

Unknown said...

That would be great David. It looks like Spirit's not going to make it. He's stable, but not progressing after four days of treatment.