by Francesca Prescott
I’m battling a case of the midsummer blahs. On the horse front, things haven’t exactly been pink and peachy over the past week; Qrac has had a horrid case of conjunctivitis, and doesn’t seem to understand that I’m squirting oozy ointments in his eyes for his own good. It’s a struggle, I tell you. But four days into the treatment my horse is looking a lot better, as when I turned up on Sunday the poor guy was oozing thick yellow gloop on a fiery red backdrop (behind his eye was red), so I knew immediately that bathing his eyes in black tea wasn’t going to cut it. I called the vet; he came on Monday morning bearing antiobiotic and soothing moisturising drops. By Tuesday the yellow gloop was already gone, but since I need to treat him for seven days, it would be nice if he’d stop doing his giraffe impersonation the moment I bring out the tubes of ointment.
Also, Qrac didn’t choose a good week to get sore eyes, as I was supposed to be going down to Burgundy with Olivia to visit Kwintus, our old dressage horse, who is now twenty-years-old and retired there. I didn’t want to delegate Qrac’s ocular treatment to someone else at the stables as something told me nobody but me would have the patience to spend ten minutes twice a day struggling with eye creams. So I asked my husband, who is on holiday at the moment, to go down to Burgundy with Olivia this time, thinking it would be a nice for them to spend time together.
I’ve written before about what a lovely place we’ve found for Kwintus’ retirement, and although my husband doesn’t know the back end of a horse from its front end, he likes Kwintus and was more than happy to drive down there with Olivia for twenty-four hours. Olivia was looking forward to seeing her old horse, even hoping to tack him up and take him for a little plod around the countryside, as the last time we visited him (in April) Kwintus looked fit as a fiddle.
Yesterday afternoon, soon after they got there, Olivia called me, fighting back tears.
It seems that over the past two weeks Kwintus has suddenly lost a lot of weight. His ribs are showing, and Olivia said he seemed very tired, and not at all his usual perky, curious self. I already knew that he’d dropped a bit of condition about six weeks ago when we got our first heat-wave, as Natalie, the owner of the centre had called me to tell me she’d been a little concerned for a few days, but she’d kept an eye on him and he’d picked up again as soon as the weather cooled down. But in the past two weeks we’ve had some pretty intense heat, which has really affected him. Kwint normally spends the days outside, and is brought in at night, but during the hot weather he seemed to want to stay out all night with his friends. As Natalie always tries to take the horses’ wishes into consideration, she let him sleep outside. Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea, as even if Kwintus might have enjoyed the cool night air, he probably missed being able to lie down and sleep in his cosy bed, and became over-tired. Add the stress of battling flies all day in hot, muggy weather, and the result is that all of a sudden poor Mr. Kwint is looking pretty bony.
Olivia got Natalie to call the vet, who came this morning, checked Kwint over and did a blood test. I spoke to Natalie about two hours ago; apparently the blood was very pale, which might point to anaemia. At this point, I don’t know anything else as we won’t have the test results until next week. Meanwhile, Kwintus is going to be made to come in every night whether he wants to or not in order to ensure he gets a good night’s sleep. He’s also going to get more food, and will be turned out alone in a field with slightly richer grass for a while (he doesn’t mind being alone).
Of course, I feel terrible about not having gone down there with Olivia, as my poor husband felt totally at a loss. At the same time, I don’t see what more I could have done. It’s just that I know Olivia was really hoping to be able to get that short plod around the countryside on her horse, as she was away at university in England when I was forced to take the decision to retire him. A short ride, even a few minutes, would give her a sense of closure, but she’s always said that she’d let Kwintus decide on whether or not he wanted her to ride him.
Olivia and I will return to Burgundy to visit Kwintus sometime in September, before Olivia goes back to University. The weather should have cooled down a little by then, so I hope that with adequate treatment and extra food he’ll have picked up again, and be back to his normal, somewhat rotund, perky self.
Have you ever had problems with older horses suddenly dropping a considerable amount of weight? Have you had horses with anaemia? If so, what caused it? How did you treat it? How long did it take for them to bounce back?