Rocky Bay Equine Newsletter, June 2016
Double jeopardy....
colic in the postpartum mare

Your mare foals and everything is perfect! Healthy baby, lots of chrome, moves like a champion already.  Then your worst nightmare, the mare shows signs of colic.  Pacing, pawing the ground a little.  Mom's clearly unhappy and she's had serious colic before, so load them into the trailer for a trip to the clinic for observation.  Examination at the hospital reveals that the mare is restless & uncomfortable but alert, her heart rate has dropped from 60 to around 36 beats/min. (close to normal) GI sounds improved from the first exam and nothing conclusive on rectal palpation.  Pass a stomach tube, no fluid reflux (indicating a blockage high in the GI tract). Pain medication is given, maybe that trailer ride helped some, so lets try it again, but this time the mare goes down.  Clearly her pain is not getting better, medicate her for the longer trip to Pilchuck Vet. Hospital in Snohomish, our referral partner for complicated surgical conditions including abdominal surgery.  The stress level is high now, mare down and in a great deal of pain.  The foal is certainly at risk, but removing her can create even more problems so no time to waste.  To make a long, scary story short; they make it to Pilchuck and the team performs abdominal surgery.  Surgeons find a 720 degree colon torsion, yikes! the large colon twisted not once, but twice around it's axis. The good news is that they are able to untwist the bowel and it didn't appear to have vascular damage, hooray for miracles! 

We do believe in miracles, but there were other actions at play here that contributed greatly to the good outcome.  Number one is that the colic was recognized early.  Treatment was administered and decisions were made quickly.  Since surgery was an option, the mare was transported to the surgical facility without delay.  Time is not your friend when it comes to colon torsion. Vascular compromise and tissue damage occurs rapidly as the twist tightens.  It's safe to say that this mare's surgery came just in the nick of time!

The moral of the story is, "trust in miracles, but tie your horses."  Decide, when you aren't in crisis mode, if a surgical intervention would be in the cards for your animals.  It doesn't mean you're a bad person if it's not, surgery is sometimes not the best choice for many reasons.  Besides the significant financial burden, there are large "unknowns" attached to the recovery prognosis.  (prognosis = best educated guess).  Having a plan for how to handle colic in your horses is a good step towards opening the door for a miracle.

LAMENESS EVALUATIONS, an art to the science

He was fine a minute ago, now he feels off balance and his head is bobbing up & down with every stride.... it's almost show time, hellllp!

A too common weekend busting scenario, sudden lameness can be both scary and a huge disappointment.  To get to the bottom of it, it's usually best to start at the bottom.  The adage "no foot, no horse" holds true here.  Slide off and check the feet (all of them).  If it's good news, remove that rock wedged between the bars & the frog and carry on.  If you find nothing you can easily remedy, or something really bad like a nail penetrating the hoof, you're likely to need veterinary assistance. 

Lameness evaluation is often considered both art and science because it requires subjective evaluation of gait mechanics in a complicated organism with a multitude of differing scenarios.  In acute, (sudden) severe lameness it's important to rule out the worst possibilities, including nail punctures, fracture, laminitis etc.  After that, it's a step by step detective process of following the clues to a diagnosis.  Of course we aren't too happy to hear this and have a tendency to skip steps.  Sometimes that works out, but sometimes you miss a turn and have to back track to pick up the missed clues.  Short or long, lameness diagnosis is a challenging detective game!  If you have the unfortunate need to do some lameness sleuthing, we're doing our best to make it easier this month, check out our special offer below.

Montana is a special place

For lots of reasons, beautiful scenery, host to one of the largest events on the left coast along with lots of other horse related activities that might entice you to visit.  You should also be aware that they have special requirements for allowing your horse to visit the state with you.  We've posted the nitty gritty on our website, click here.  Karol in our office is your go-to person for navigating interstate travel requirements, give her a call if you have questions!

June Special Offer

How about those lameness exams... we've extended our May offer for
1 0% off soundness/lameness evaluations, including diagnostics like radiography or ultrasound, when performed during the same appointment. 
                      Extends through the month of June 2016 only.
Rocky Bay Equine Veterinary Services     (253) 858-4529    (360) 876-1544
Gig Harbor, WA 98394           find us on Facebook