The No Good Very Bad Weekend

This was the weekend from hell. Kip was duly picked up without much fuss, although with the heavy traffic they were an hour late, and I was worried about getting him into the horsebox in the dark. He had been stuffed full of sugar and polos from everyone that wanted to say goodbye to him; at one point, he looked like a boyband member, with a group of young teenage girls hanging around the door to his stall, combing his forelock and feeding him treats. lol…he loves the attention.

Getting him into the horsebox was complicated by the fire truck and fire crews that showed up, wanting to know where the horse stuck in the ditch was. (They were good enough to shut everything off while we loaded him, and then they drove off.) By then, a friend of someone at the stable had made it to the yard, and it turned out that Spooky, the oldest horse in the yard at 29 years and a great favourite of us all, was trapped in a ditch at the bottom of the woods. We followed them down.

Gods know how or why he fell into the ditch, but he was wither-deep in a deep, narrow, mudfilled crevice in the trees. (I have pictures that I’ll post as soon as I can get my mobile to talk to the computer.) No telling how long he’d been there, since his owner stops by in the evenings to groom and feed him – it could have been as long as twenty hours. After digging around his hindquarters, the rescue crew was able to get two web straps around his middle, and the farm owner was able to lift him out with one of the tractors fitted with a bucket loader. He couldn’t stand. They waited for a bit, but in the end just laid him down and his owner burst into tears. The vet was there, and gave him a shot of antibiotics, painkillers, and other stuff, and then left him to try to recover.

We stayed there until 2:30 or so in the morning, and then came home for a few hours sleep. We’d hauled bales of straw, rugs and blankets, and containers of water down by hand, and everyone made him as comfortable as possible. Blankets and tents were brought, people brought coffee and food, we made a run for pizza and spiced rum. The farm owner gave us permission to have a fire for warmth. It was hoped that Spooky was just exhausted from his ordeal, and would eventually get to his feet, but over the weekend that hope faded.

Horses don’t handle immobility well. The vet said that it’s a problem for horses during surgery, where lying on one side even for a couple of hours can damage nerves and muscles permanently. The long entrapment in the ditch, I’m assuming, damaged something in his hindquarters. Still, in hope of getting him up, we all massaged his legs, covered him with straw and blankets, and flipped him over every few hours, to help his lungs and prevent any further nerve or muscle damage.

Have you ever tried to flip a conscious horse over, one person on each leg? It’s both difficult, and scary. He was good, luckily, and there were only a few near-miss kicks when he thrashed a bit. I have a shoulder that’s slightly bruised from one of the sessions on the hind legs.

Yesterday, he was alert, ate and drank a bit, even managed to pee and poop once…but didn’t get up. So the vet came back in the late afternoon and gave him a massive steroid shot that should have had him up if he was able to. As it took effect, he tried two times…and gave up.

Poor guy. She has owned him for 25 years, since she was a kid in school. He’s her baby. She made me cry when she leaned over and said to him “Remember what you promised me, you said you’d live forever.” I am so sad.

So here we are, saddened and tired, eaten alive by the horrendous clouds of midges, and so sorry for the decision that she will no doubt have to face today…because I very much doubt that he’ll be getting up today.

Fire Crews

Spooky in ditch

Riasing him

Sleeping, on his pillow, covered in blankets ;)


Trying to get him on his feet, yesterday

8 thoughts on “The No Good Very Bad Weekend”

  1. catwithclaws

    oh no, how dreadful!

    (and am thankful no one else is here at 5am to see me crying). much love to her… it’s got to be the most horrid thing for her, yet there’s joy in the comfort and aid so many have given her and Spooky.

  2. dryadmeagenn

    That’s a rough time… I’ll keep good thoughts going that he manages to gain enough strength to be able to get up today after all…

    Is he laying flat out or curled up with his legs tucked uder him? If he’s laying curled up (at least most of the time when he’s awake) I’d say there’s more hope than if he’s laying flat out and refusing to do more than lift his head. Maybe rig a sling up for him to _help_ (not entirely) support his weight, but keep him up on his feet. In a sling at least he’d be able to move his legs somewhat as well as eliminate normally. The horse’s attitude will tell y’all whether that’s worth trying or not… has he given up on living or just on trying to stand for awhile?

    Hoping for the best…


  3. He’s flat out. At one point during the night he was foaming at the mouth and couldn’t breathe, so we managed to roll him onto his chest and propped him up with haybales, but it was too much effort for him to have his head up, so we dropped him on his side again. He also colicked at least once during the night, but it went away, thank goodness.

  4. wandringsoul

    Interesting – I would say he’s certainly not given up on life – in fact he ate non-stop from the moment we got him out of the ditch, and I think that’s making the decision of ‘what next?’ so much harder. He’s bright, alert, and eating…

    I think the old adage ‘the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak’ sums it up quite accurately… and why everyone is so torn…

  5. wandringsoul

    I’m not a horse person particularly…aside from anything else they make me sneeze… but even I feel utterly depressed over this… I cannot imagine 25 years, owning him, growing up with him, then stopping riding him as he got too old, and she got too big for him… to look after him, day in day out, regardless of weather, to now be faced with this – the worst possible scenario…

    If he’d got sick, it’s an easier decision, if he’d broken something, got weaker over time, or just given up – easier situation – but this – not knowing whether perhaps in 5 minutes he will be successul in standing…or maybe 5 minutes more, it’s just the worst thing possible…

  6. What a dreadful thing to happen, I feel for Sppooky and the poor owner, to have to go through that with her lifelong friend…

  7. I know…that’s the problem with old, much-loved animals…you know you have limited time with them. I just wish this could have been easier – in his sleep, in the field in the sun. :(

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *