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
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
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
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,
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!!