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We Are Flying Solo

February 16, 2011

The Horse Owner's Vigil

It's been a long night.  I hate horses.

Ok, you're right, I don't hate them. Well, maybe just a little.

I rode Solo on Monday evening, lightly. He felt like crap on toast. Burnt toast. He was sore and flinchy on his sides and back. I put in a call to Dr. Bob Tuesday morning (when do I get assigned my own red "Dr. Bob Direct Line?") and waited.

I had the distinct pleasure of a truly horrible meeting all day at work on Tuesday, so when we pulled in the driveway at 5:00 pm, I leaped in my truck and rumbled over to the farm to hug and groom my mess of a horse.

He met me at the stall door and lounged quietly in the crossties as I trimmed the mohawk and knocked the dried grass out of his hair. His sides and belly were even more sensitive and he showed a good deal of pain on top of his bum, but his face was calm and he'd gobbled up his food, so I put him back and let him be. I went home to worry and get a calming hug from my good friend, Jose. You may know him as Mr. Cuervo. He's a good man.

7:00 pm, I've been home for about 40 minutes, and the phone rings. It's lifeshighway and she reports Solo is behaving even more oddly; he pooped, he drank, but he has "grumpy face" and has to be dragged bodily from his stall to the pasture, where he stands pouting with his head in the corner. He never behaves like that unless something is REALLY bothering him.

That rushing sound you heard was the blood draining from my face as Anxiety Girl stepped in.

BO is not home, so I start pestering her voicemail and simultaneously leave a message with her DH, who IS home and will put some eyes on Solo after lifeshighway heads home. My brain has already leaped to worm impaction colic, so I beg of Jose to stay with me a little longer.

My call log for the next two hours looks like this:

6:58 pm: lifeshighway
6:59 pm: lifeshighway
7:04 pm: BO
7:05 pm: lifeshighway
7:08 pm: BO
7:15 pm: lifeshighway
7:39 pm: BO
7:49 pm: lifeshighway
8:29 pm: BO
9:20 pm: BO

No, I am not making that up. Don't you wish you were in my contacts list? HA!

Do I call the vet? Do I not call the vet? Is it better to alert him at 7 pm that "my horse is acting weird" (whatever the heck he is supposed to do with that information) or is it better to wait until 10 pm if things progress? I cannot make up my mind and Anxiety Girl just seems to enjoy making it spin faster.

When I finally get in touch with BO around 7:40, she promises to check Solo as soon as she gets home and then before she goes to bed. As long as everything is fine, she won't call me.

Ok, I can live with that.

Oh, Jose, your calming powers are unmatched. Surely, our reverence for you is justified.

8:30 pm, my phone rings, it's BO's number. OMFG, five years drop from my life as I answer.

But it's BO's dear husband, who knew the call would freak me out, but wanted to reassure me that he just walked out and checked on Solo, who was calmly munching hay, oblivious to the blind panic of his custodian. The DH just wanted to give me some good news, bless him!

As the night creeps on, I formulate a plan. If BO checks him around 11 pm, then I'll go check him again at 3 am so he is not left for a long period of time (in which he is surely thrashing and dying, Anxiety Girl helpfully chips in).

I crawl into bed fully clothed, alarm set, and cell phone and keys next to the bed. Laying in the dark, I am sure that right this very moment, Solo's intestines are disintegrating into a puddle of moosh (when he is probably, in fact, still eating hay).

It's not really sleep, more of a fitful snooze until the alarm hits 3:00 am. I punch the button and stumble into the truck; I am eminently grateful the farm is only three miles down these dark, empty roads.

When my headlights hit my horse, he is resting calmly on the ground next to his buddy. He gets up and they both come to the fence for petting. Obviously suffering greatly. I sigh, but it's worth it -- if something DID happen, and I DIDN'T come, I would have never forgiven myself.

Solo's belly still hurts though, so I call the vet this morning to give them an update. When Dr. Bob calls me back, we agree that we need to hit Solo hard for ulcers immediately and I promptly hand over the hundreds of dollars it takes to get your hands on Ulcerguard (omeprazole). Geez, that stuff better make my horse into a unicorn. Or something.

For now, all Solo functions seem to be operating normally. We all know that colic can kick in with little or no warning though and losing Ben last fall is still fresh in all our minds. There will be a week of intensive omeprazole treatment and then at least two more weeks at a reduced dosage, then we'll see where we are.

It makes sense though -- Solo doesn't want to lift his back because to do so, he'd have to engage his abdominal muscles. Engaging those probably hurts like heck, so he holds his body carefully to avoid jostling the sore bits, which then leads to other sore bits.

Can this please be over soon? I'm not a big fan of 2011 so far.


  1. Here's hoping for a magikal unicorn. You're a good horse owner. Hang in there.

  2. That's scary! Wishing you the best.

  3. Hope the ulcer meds do the trick!

  4. Thanks, folks. Let's hope there are no more repeat performances!!! Nothing makes you appreciate your horse's health like not having it...

  5. Ugh. Ta'ceyewi and his health issues all over again! See, being a paranoid horse owner is a good thing! (and as a side note, thank you for NOT rushing to the barn(driving) after spending some intimate time with Jose lol!)
    Solo will be fine! But, would you like a lovely 11yr TB mare with untapped eventing potential?
    2011 is starting pretty crappy. But after losing a beloved horse, and two dear, young, friends, along with supreme crappy luck in 2010, well, let's not return there!

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  7. Solo's lucky to have such a vigilant owner. :) thinking good thoughts for you, and let us know if your boy sprouts a horn, or learns to fly.. or something.. I'd be keen on that :)

  8. as already said, hope his meds do the trick and he's feeling better in no time!

    hugs for red :)

  9. Alana, maybe we can vote for 2012?

    Gingham, but, he can already fly! Not at present though, sigh.

    Hurricane, Solo sends his thanks, he always enjoys a good hug. As long as you are not hiding wormers or needles behind your back.

  10. Well that sounds like a good scare! I hope he feels better soon. Makes me wonder about my boy, too, if perhaps he is a bit wormy as well. ugh.

  11. Thinking good thoughts for Mr. Solo! I hope you can enjoy the comfort of Jose tonight without paranoia.

  12. Thank you, Karen and Molly!

    For Karen and those who asked, our fecal test was $18, so overall, a very affordable step if you have not done it recently.

  13. Fingers crossed, fingers crossed, fingers crossed....

  14. Solo was really giving me the sad boo-boo eyes. He is in good hands, everybody.

  15. Scary!! Man, horses really are hell-bent on greying our hair, frying our nerves, giving US ulcers, and sucking any and all money out of us! But, of course, they are more than worth it.

    I am so, SO glad that Solo is alright. I've seen a million colics, some of which resulted in the horse being put down...but after Mac's death, the word "colic" just makes my hairs stand on end. It's terrifying that the perfectly healthy horse you left happily munching his hay at 9:30 pm is falling-down sick at 4:00 am and then literally drops dead at 8:45 am. Absolutely petrifying.

    I'm sure the GastorGard will work its magic on Solo's tum and he will be back to Super Eventing Pony in no time!

  16. Man oh man I bet Solo is enjoying all this extra attention! He is putting you through the wringer. I am not a big fan of 2011 either. I just keep telling myself it HAS to get better from here. BTW I would definitely be wishing for a pegasus instead of a unicorn. I mean what does a horn actually do but a horse with wings! Now that would be cool.

  17. Blegh, horses! I think sometimes they go through rough patches....fall of 'O8 was ours. Glad to hear he's feeling better; hope his horn sprouts in time for eventing! He'll be the talk of the town :-)

  18. Thanks, Braffie!

    lh should definitely be awarded a medal for her patience with my frantic calling plan.

    Frizz, no joke. After Ben's fatal colic, I am super freaked about anything resembling impaction.

    Amy and Jen, thanks! Maybe if I am really lucky (HA! Like that would ever happen!) I will get a horse with wings AND a horn!

  19. So glad to hear Solo didn't colic after all. Ulcers are still no good and unfortunately can indicate other digestive problems, but they are easier (and while expensive) still cheaper than a colic surgery.

  20. I'm a trigger anxiety freak now if I see a hair out of place. It sucks. Once you've been through hell, you just don't forget.
    I hope those meds do the trick. They helped Laz's tummy immensely and I'm sure Solo will be back to his chipper self!

  21. Thanks, Jacki and KES! Horses make us all quite the panicky bunch, don't they?

  22. OMG, I was a nervous wreck just reading this. I don't know, maybe that "someday" horse of mine is not such a hot idea. Not sure if my nerves could take it! Thank goodness you have LH and your BO on your side, and of course Dr. Bob (why do I picture the furry brown Muppet with the stethoscope :-).

  23. Don't worry, RW, you get used to the constant state of paranoid panic. ;-P

    And OMG, I had forgotten about Rowlf and his "Dr. Bob here......" Perfect!