There's Always Hope!

       Our Racking Horse mare Honeys baby got hurt really bad when she was only 6 days old. I kept them in the same stall I have set aside for all the mares and foals, but the baby was an escape artist and would squeeze out between the gate and post at night. 

She started doing this at only about 3 days old! I would go to the barn in the morning to feed and find her having a great time in the barn aisle while her mom Honey was bagged up and almost panicking because she couldn't get to her baby. 

After a couple of nights of this I was worried about HONEY and thought she might hurt herself trying to get to her baby so tied a lead rope at the bottom of the stall gate -- TIGHT so the baby couldn't get out. You couldn't even get your fingers between the gate and post...   

  The next morning when I went to feed, I found the baby in a heap on the ground, caught at her hips between the gate and post. She had squeezed through that far, but I don't know how.   I thought she was dead -- there was absolutely no signs of life. I covered my face with my hands and screamed for my husband, George. 

He came and together we got her out of the gate into the barn aisle way and checked there was a TINY spark of life! She was BARELY breathing, and had the faintest heartbeat. In a panic we massaged her all over and worked her legs to get some circulation going, we checked her eyes and you could tap the eyeball and not get so much as a blink. We kept working on her, and seemed to see a little more heartbeat and better breathing but she was in really bad shape. 

I rushed to my neighbor (and best friend!) Jennalu Manley's house for whatever support and advice she could give. She had been with me when I drove to Tennessee looking for a Tennessee Walker mare. We had driven to our destination to look at some mares and quickly knew they weren't the right ones to take home! 

Unwilling to go home empty, we drove across Tennessee looking for *THE* mare-- and found Honey! I knew she was the right one when this dark palomino mare galloped to us with mane and tail flying and belly heavy with a spring foal! 

We returned home in a snowstorm that made the roads almost impassible and scared us so bad--it is a story all on its own!!! And Jenn had been there within minutes the night Honey foaled and gave us our beautiful black and white 'Power' baby!!! 

       Together, we threw the filly into hubby Georges work van and rushed her to the closest vet. The vet seemed unconcerned about her, dragging around and doing hardly anything to help, at least that is how I remember it. My husband George desperately asked the vet if there was any hope, The vet replied, "as long as they are still breathing there is always hope"! That was the best we could get from him.   

I found out later from his receptionist that he didn't give our filly any chance at all to recover, so guess that is why he didn't seem to put out any effort on her.   

Anyway, what he DID do was to give her some fluids IV, a tiny bit of stimulant and some vitamins. Her blood pressure was so low that her blood would do no more than bead up at the end of the needle when he put the IV in her.   He basically went through some motions to make US feel better, and then sent her home to die.   

Not knowing this I took her home expecting to see some kind of immediate improvement, but by that night she was still in a coma like state. I knew she would die of starvation if she kept laying like that so called the vet back out that night to put a tube into her stomach. We milked the mare and tube fed the baby. 

I did this every two hours all night long and by morning she was showing feeble signs of life, moving her legs spasmodically, but showing better breathing and a stronger heartbeat. As she gained strength, she started thrashing her head around and kept getting the tube out of her nose. I had to have the vet out several times to put it back in, and finally learned how to do it myself. It was HORRIBLE. 

 

My wonderful husband went to the barn with me at all hours and held her still while I worked at getting the tube into her stomach. He never complained. Most times the tube went into her lungs and I could hear and feel her breath, and she struggled horribly, it was so obvious I was hurting her. I spent many hours at the barn, that first week, crying and praying that if God was going to take her from me for him to do it now and not have me put her through so much pain. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. 
 
         It was so sad, Honey stood over her at all times and tried to comfort and care for her, and get her up. Then on about the third day of the baby being 'down', I went to the barn and found the baby with bedding pawed over her and Honey no longer standing over her. She had grieved and given up, considered her baby dead- and buried her. 

By this time Honeys milk had dried up and I ordered Foal Lac milk replacer for the baby and was still tube feeding her every few hours day and night.   I was up to feeding her a pint and a half, every 3 hours.   She was getting stronger which was good but even with hubbies help I could hardly get the tube in her nose to feed her--she would struggle so bad and I knew it hurt her. 

I tried everything I knew of  to keep the tube in, a bandage around her head and neck ducttape all over her head, nothing I could come up with kept it in place and every time I fed I had to re-insert the tube. I even tried super glue! 

Then after about a week, my husband went to the barn and came running back to the house and said the baby had stood up! She stood but was of course was so weak and would fall back down. She also had seizures, and would fall into the floor and convulse when she was touched in certain places, like her throat area. Once she was down it was like she was back in a coma again she would be 'out of it' for hours.   And, she was totally blind...   

I would guide her into the back yard for sunshine and fresh air and when she collapsed I would take a blanket out to her and roll her onto it and drag her back to the barn. This went on day and night, until one day I decided I would never put that tube back in her nose. She had lost her 'suck' reflex, and would NOT suck a bottle but would lap like a dog so I stood in the barn for hours letting her lap enough milk to keep her alive. 

This took so much time that I was completely exhausted, I HAD to come up with something better, and tried many different bottles and nipples. Finally I found a bottle with a goat size nipple that I cut a larger hole in so that the milk would run out freely. I found that if I held her head up, and held the bottle in her mouth that she would at least swallow the milk as it ran down her throat!. This was a real turning point in her recovery! 

         The days went by and she got visibly stronger, and eventually started sucking on the nipple a little! She was still blind, but got strong enough to pathetically walk 'laps' around her stall, feeling her way with her nose as she went and bumping into every post. The blindness I could deal with, but she was still having those seizures, and I was afraid I would get her strong enough to survive but still have to put her down. Who could have a horse around that might collapse at any moment with seizures?! 

Her recovery progressed but seemed to take a long time. Her sight has returned but I don't think she see as well as a 'normal' horse does. The seizures slowly got less and less severe until she no longer has them. I switched her from milk replacer to goats milk (I was lucky to own four dairy goats that freshened in May when I really needed lots of milk!) She learned to drink her milk from a pan, and was consuming three gallons a day! She started eating grain early, and will now eat A LOT of Equine Junior! 

Finally, 2 weeks ago at just over four months of age, I weaned her. My grandson had goats and other projects that would go to the state fair and we wouldn't be home to milk the goats and feed her that milk. 

             She had only picked at any hay offered and never grazed, but once weaned she learned to graze!!   Im happy (ecstatic) to say she has grown well, and now I think she has a great future! I believe she is as large as any other foal her age would be. I couldn't come up with a name for her for such a long time wasn't sure what her future would be and it would hurt so much to name and love her and then have to destroy her. 

Her sire is the well- known stallion Personal Power and I knew I wanted to use his name in HER name somehow.   Finally the name Power of Hope came to me! It really fit her as I had spent so much time Hoping for her life and recovery!   

Barring another accident or sickness, I see no reason for her to have anything but a normal life now! I don't think her sight is quite normal, and she did end up with a navel hernia from being trapped at her hips and struggling for so long but that is repairable. She is spoiled and thinks she is human and not a horse, but will live a long and healthy life now, God Willing! 

It took me a long time to be able to write about Hopes accident and recovery, but I wanted to do it in case it might encourage another person in a similar situation to keep trying and NOT GIVE UP!! 
 

 
There's Always Hope!! 
Gail