Saturday, April 5, 2014

Insuring the future

By Gayle Carline

Down here in southern California, winter has been opening the door of summer and doing the Hokey Pokey. One step in, one step out, then in, then shake it all about. We get promises of torrential rains, followed by actual drizzles of less than a quarter of an inch. The temperatures dip from daytime 60s to daytime 90s within the same week.

You know what that means to a horse owner... colic weather.

Unlike that old wives' tale about cold weather causing colds (especially if you go outside with wet hair, apparently), colic weather is real. The sudden changes in temperature can cause changes in a horse's routine and eating habits.

Last year in March, we had a sudden, slightly warmer week. I went to get Snoopy out of his stall, and he didn't try to chew on the halter or lead rope or me. This was disturbing, as it was not natural behavior for him. Even worse, he wanted to lay down and bite at his stomach.

Turns out, he had quickly gotten dehydrated, and spent a week in the hospital getting fluids. The good news is that I have major medical and mortality insurance for him. The bad news is that this year, because he was treated for colic, his insurance company excluded colic from the list of coverable illnesses.

I'm now feeding him electrolytes every day and praying.

Last week, we had a little episode, where he had, basically, a twenty-minute gas bubble. He blogged about it here (Tummy Trouble), and my rebuttal is here (My side of the story). What both of us left out is the massive amount of prayers I was saying that would keep him from actually colicking. Technically, I have the money to have surgery, but it means dipping further into my retirement account than I'd like. Plus, I just don't want my horse in that much pain, or having to have an operation, etc.

Curiously, another horse in the barn did the same thing today. For twenty minutes, the little mare (her name is Pearl) wanted to lie down. She was being shod at the time, which made it awkward. They walked her around until she felt better. (She was also not fed and monitored closely.)

I've recently found an insurance company that will cover Snoopy for colic and I'm filling out the paperwork as quickly as possible. On the one hand, I hate paying insurance because I usually don't use it. On the other hand, I've used insurance more than once for Snoopy's medical bills, so he's totally worth it.

Any insurance stories you'd like to share? Colic stories? Jokes? Cute kitty video links?


Anonymous said...

I've never had to use it (knock on wood), but you might want to consider this for your emergency medical kit, I've heard it really works.

Laura Crum said...

I did colic surgery on my son's horse, Henry, five years ago. They removed a huge stone from his large intestine. No insurance, sadly. We had a good result, and it was worth it to me to save Henry, who is a true saint, but I would not do it again. It is very hard on both horse and human. I think it is worth doing under certain circumstances--which will be unique to both horse and owner. And I hope you never need to go this route with Snoopy.

jenj said...

We do not have colic insurance on any of our guys, but we have also made the decision not to do surgery. We went through this last summer with my husband's horse Oberon, who had gas colic and flipped his intestine. We ended up having him PTS, and while it was a very sad decision to have to make, we knew it was the right one for us. As Laura said, every circumstance, for both horse and owner, are different. I hope you don't have to make a decision like this with your horse.

Gayle Carline said...

I think surgery depends a lot on the age and general health of the horse. I've had friends with very young horses who had to have surgery and it all went very well. Then I've had friends with older horses (10+) who didn't fare as well.

Even just "colic care" of giving IV fluids last March cost about $3000. I'd rather have insurance take care of that - we have older cars that can cost as much in maintenance!

Alison said...

Sorry to hear about Snoopy--glad he's better. Have you figured out what triggered the colic? My horses who are outside all the time never get it--I think because they move around constantly. But here in the East we now have to watch carefully for founder since the grass gets so green so quickly. Always something!

Gayle Carline said...

Alison - he's a black horse in southern California, so when it gets hot here, so does he. And he sweats a lot. We think it started last year when we trailered in to a show. We kept giving him water, but he was standing in the sun most of the day. A week later is when he got sick.

I don't know what was up with his gas bubble last week. That was just crazy.

TBDancer said...

Ugh. Colic. My 20-y.o. OTTB had two impaction colics last year (vet says they are the easiest to resolve). I have Banamine on hand, horse gets electrolytes daily, and I have mineral oil to add to his feed "every so often" during spring and fall when temperatures can vary more than 40 degrees a day (what my vet says brings on impaction). Mineral oil is not digested as is corn oil, so it keeps things "moving right along." So far, knock wood, no colics (since about April last year).