colic, bend equine, dressage, horses, natalie perry dressage

Love in a Time of Colic & Chaos

That these are Wild Times is an understatement. Like 9/11, most of us will remember this as a turning point in history. 

An unexpected snowstorm makes life all the more exciting

On March 11, 2020 Covid-19 had just been declared a pandemic. The first case had been reported locally, here in Deschutes County, Oregon. As the seriousness of the situation became all too clear, my husband and I decided to invite my mother to move from her independent living facility and into our home. We felt she’d be less isolated during a quarantine and more likely to remain healthy. 

While mom’s out of the country right now — and the need to move her things isn’t immediate, I feel a sense of urgency, as the rules about entering her facility become more stringent.

As I’m heading out the door, my head spinning with stories of cancellations and closures, my phone lights up: Natalie Perry. (That’s my trainer.) 

Natalie texts. A call means trouble.

“Skipper is colicking,” she says. Her voice is calm. That’s one of her superpowers. Colic can range from mild to life-threatening, it’s not a thing to take lightly.

“On my way,” I say.

I make a 10-minute stop at mom’s, pack some clothes and a few essentials, then head to the barn, trying not to freak out. 

Natalie’s given Skipper a double dose of Banamine and it should be kicking in by the time I get to the barn. En route, I text Claudia, because she’s the kind of friend you want in an emergency. 

When I arrive, Natalie’s walking Skipper and he looks like crap. He’d gotten all sweaty and is now shivering despite two layers of blankets. Is it pain? Cold? Anxiety? Whatever it is, I don’t like it.

As the Banamine kicks in, Skipper looks brighter and the shivering lessens but it’s still not good. He licks at a bucket of water (flavored with Equine Senior) but isn’t really interested. When Skipper misses a meal, it’s an apocalypse. 

We can keep walking and hope Skipper improves (and poops) but I can’t stand the not knowing. I also don’t want to wait until midnight to call the vet. It’s just after 5 p.m., of course, so I’ll be paying an emergency fee, regardless.

Dr. Briggs of Bend Equine answers and says she’ll be to the barn within half an hour. Help is on the way!

Claudia arrives and, as always, is the voice of calm and reason.

Soon after, Dr. Briggs pulls up, looking dazed.

“The president just announced that all travel from Europe is banned,” she says. “Flights are canceled.” 

Both my mom and Natalie’s mom are out of the country. We stare, wide-eyed and horrified. Natalie starts trying to get details.

Dr. Briggs gets down to business, assessing Skipper’s condition. She’s methodical, thorough, and it seems like an eternity before she gives us a diagnosis, much of which is lost on me because my mind is reeling, wondering if my mother is going to make it home. Fortunately, it looks like a moderate case of gassy inflammation and surgery isn’t required. She gives Skipper fluids, an electrolyte, muscle relaxant, and advises me to lunge him (mobility/motility) and check him every two hours.

I set aside thoughts of my mother, knowing she’s in good hands, traveling with my brother and sister-in-law. They’ll figure it out. Plus, it’s about 3 a.m. in Nairobi, and there’s no need to wake them with the news.

Claudia immediately offers to let me stay at her place, which is close to the barn. (I live 30 minutes away.) My husband, Al, brings me extra clothes, love, and assurance that he’ll keep the dog from destroying the house while I’m gone. Their care and concern wrap me in a protective bubble.

Not only does Claudia lend me her cozy guest room, she comes with me in the oh-so-cold and dark hours of the night to take Skipper’s vitals and check his progress. He looks alert but still doesn’t poop. 

The next morning Claudia makes me coffee and we return to the barn, deliriously tired but delighted when Skipper poops in his stall. Since then, his progress is slow but steady. I learn that, like my husband, Skipper is cranky when hungry.

The whole episode is stressful and exhausting but the bottom line is that Skipper’s on the mend and I have been supported by some truly wonderful people. While the world swirls with anxiety, my barn family has been truly kind. 

In this time of chaos, every ounce of kindness counts. Virtual hugs to each and every one of you. Keep your loved ones safe and close.

p.s. Mom has a new flight back, bypassing Europe, and we look forward to welcoming her home.