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November 4, 2013: Sick Horse

Horses, like people, often get sick. This is a fact of life. It’s a gamble taking them on because someday you’ll have to make some hard and fast decisions; such as, does this malady indicate that I need to contact a veterinarian? And how much will I be willing to shell out in order to return the animal to its previous state of wellbeing?

These are, in fact, things that I’m now thinking about. For about a month now, Raudi has had an intermittent cough. I first noticed it on the trip home. It’s a deep cough, with wet, sneezy discharge. It’s gotten increasingly worse; her cough has gotten deeper and more frequent.

I am not a veterinarian, so I don’t know what exactly is wrong. I can only say what the symptoms are. Her pulse, respiration, and temperature are normal. Also, she’s bright eyed, alert, and responsive.

None of the other horses are coughing, although I did hear one cough today when I was out ponying Signy. I suspect that the cause is hay related. We got a damp batch from our kindly supplier. He said that it would not mold because he’d sprayed it with propionic acid. Plus, the temperatures would soon drop. He was wrong. The temperature has remained unseasonably warm. We’ve got quite a bit of rain lately, and so the air has been quite damp. Yesterday Pete and I opened a dozen bales and put the questionable ones in the goat shed. Must be moldy – one of the goats coughed.

I hope that Raudi doesn’t have heaves or COPD. This is a chronic condition caused by moldy hay. I hope further that whatever ails her can be cured with a single (and cheap) dose of this or that. If Raudi does have heaves, I won’t be able to do any more trips with her at high altitudes. Maybe, just maybe, she has some long term respiratory problem – this summer, for example, she initially had difficulty breathing at the higher altitudes.

I’m frustrated about the hay situation. I’m also frustrated because good veterinarians in this area are scarcer than hen’s teeth. I have repeatedly tried but not been able to get a hold of our regular veterinarian. Rumor has it that he hurt himself this past summer and no longer has a local practice.

I enjoy living here, in a place that is quite special. And I want to continue living here a bit longer because we’ve put so much time and energy into fixing up this place. But I can’t, in all good conscience, both own horses and live in a place that’s not horse hospitable. So, I’ll go (and have no regrets) if a job materializes for either Pete or me in the Lower 48. This new place will, of course, be conducive to good horse health, have decent hay, and veterinarians that are easy to get a hold of.

Next: 224: 11/5/13: A Better Day, Today