Sunday, October 9, 2011

Shala - Safely Home At Last Amen

Arriving at EqWBR on 9-24-11, after spending several weeks at a feed lot in Fallon, Nevada.  She was injured with an open wound on her right front leg and listed as a 2 year old.  Part of a group of horses whose rescue was being coordinated by Debra Hawk at Stinkin Rose Ranch, no one had shown any interest in helping her.  We bailed her out and arrangements were made for her to come to us with a load already coming this direction.  

She haltered easily and let me lead her with no problem.  Our initial intake exam showed not only the wound to her leg, but a huge bulge on her left cheek that appeared to be food she was packing in that cheek so she could eat.  Additionally both her eyes were infected (cornea ulcers) causing her to be sensitive to movement and a little uncoordinated.  She was underweight, bony, total loss of her topline and muscle tone was weak.  Her coat was dull, dirty and had many spots of alopecia (hair loss).  I also noticed gray hairs on her muzzle and instantly knew she was a mature horse.  We started her recovery plan of treatment right away.  

By examining her teeth, I determined her age to be approximately 12-14 years old.  She was packing food in her left cheek because she had a loose tooth that was rubbing and bruising her cheek every time she chewed.  It was necessary to extract the tooth which took very little time since there was so little attachment to her gum, that it was barely hanging in her mouth.  She has another tooth that has a fracture, but that can remain until she is healthy enough for the removal of that tooth.  

(click on picture to enlarge)

Thorough veterinary examination and blood tests found that she could see out of both eyes, so once the infection is gone, full sight would be probable.  Blood test showed that her parasite level was so high (highest Eosinophil level the vet had ever seen with a horse) that the worms were not being sustained by the food she was eating, but had now started to take stored nutrients from her muscles causing weakness and severe anemia.  We suspect that the itching from the parasite load caused her to rub her face and injure each eye leading to their infection since bi-lateral (both sides) melting corneal ulcers are uncommon.  

Bottom line is Shala is one sick horse.   With the loose tooth gone she immediately started eating better and had the ability to chew her food properly thus getting the most nutrients out of her food.  We added Purina Nature's Essential 32 (Enrich 32) which is a standalone supplement of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and probiotics that works with any grain or hay and will eliminate the anemia and help to rebuild her muscle strength and topline.   

With a parasite level so high, standard deworming protocol can actually be toxic to a horse.  A normal dose of ivermectin would cause so many worms to dye off that the decomposition of the worms would become toxic in her body and a large dye off could actually cause an impaction in her intestines causing her to colic.   

So slow and steady deworming is needed to gently eliminate the parasites in her system.  Half the normal dose, every other week, for several weeks.  Quick disposal of her manure is also essential to keep the worms from spreading to other horses as it dries out and blows away.  

The initial round of antibiotic ointment for her eyes just wasn't enough to reduce the infection and we recently had a few cold, rainy days, that with her weakened health, caused the infection in her eyes to increase.  We have now started a regiment of two types of eye drops, each given four times a day.  The purulent drainage needs to be cleaned regularly too.

While cleaning her eyes, I have removed two large hay stems that have been in her eye lid for some time.  Her right eye is worse than the left and when she has her eye closed and I put a cool cloth over it, her eye is very hot.  She loves the cool cloth and rests her head into it.  

She has been seen twice now by vets, both Christi Garfinkel and Dawn Brown (one of our board members) and they both say her recovery will take many, many weeks.  It could be 4-6 weeks for the infection in her eyes to stop and longer for  the anemia to go away as the parasite load is eliminated.  We are planning on doing a second blood draw in 2-4 weeks to see how her recovery is doing.   

This is an extraordinary mare. 

I know her eyes are painful, yet she lets us doing the cleaning and drops several times a day.  She did nip me once, but that was after needing several injections (sedatives for cleaning her eyes and pain meds) and she was just tired of being poked.  It was much like the horses nipping each other when one is irritating the other - more of a herd reaction than intent to hurt me.  I understand that and felt so sorry that these needed treatments are causing her more pain.  She is stoic and we sense that she knows we are trying to help her and just endures the discomfort of the cleaning and eye drops.  

I strongly suspect she is fully trained.  When I trailered her to see Dr. Brown yesterday, she followed me right into the trailer no fuss, no muss and was content to just hang in the trailer while we waited for her exam.  She unloaded just as easy.  She stands tied, lets me pick up her feet and has a very, very sweet nature.   

I feel sad when she stands at the edge of her quarantine enclosure and looks on at the other horses and I know she is lonely.  But she doesn't pace or whinny or show signs of her loneliness.   In another week, we can open the closure between her and the other horses so they can come visit.  But she will need to remain in her own stall while she continues her treatment.   She is a doll and cuddly as can be.   

Thanks to everyone who has donated to help pay her bail and to help cover her veterinary expenses and medications.  I also got her a soft halter and a fly mask to protect and shade her eyes.  Donations allow us to get her everything she needs to recover her health and are appreciated more than you will know.   We don't mind doing all the work that is needed to care for her if you guys can help us get her everything she needs through your donations.  

Additional donations are needed for her upcoming blood test, supplements and medicine and dewormers that will be needed.  She also needs her feet trimmed, vaccinations and eventually complete dentistry including the removal of the other fractured tooth.   Donations also can help cover the food and care of the rest of the rescued horses here too...  

I will keep everyone updated on Shala and hope to have an adoptive family step forward that wants a beautiful and excellent natured pony mare to be part of their family.   She will need a good, loving home once she has recovered her health....

If you have any questions you can call me at 760-703-4860 or email to