Saturday, June 30, 2012

Sapphires Journey

Though this is about Sapphire, it is about you and I and all who care about horses. We take this journey with Sapphire. Our hearts are tugged at, pushed and pulled but still we hold on to hope.  

Dr Leah found Sapphire munching away at her alfalfa hay today. (Saturday) 

Thursday, June 28, she seemed to be improving. It has been 48 hours and her appetite is better, her spirits seem lifted and it lifts out spirits. Good news is spreading. Fourty-eight hours of IV antibiotics are starting to make a difference. The question is would it be enough and would all the testing give us answers. What is the mass in her abdomen? Why is there fluid in her chest and lungs? Could we afford to leave Sapphire until July 9th, then decide to bring her to a special farm with a 24 hour veterinarian to care for her? She is improving. How could we say no because of costs, it was her life. To euthanize her now would be unfair at any costs. We need to plan fund raisers to pay her mounting bill. We could do it. 

Friday, June 29, I didn't hear from UGA until mid afternoon. A long discussion followed. Though she is still eating, realistically, we still do not know what is wrong. I spent hours researching horse illnesses on the Internet. It only gave me more questions. The Doctors must have been searching as well. When I asked about a disease, they were always one step ahead of me. We talked about draining the excessive fluids in her body. It would be tricky. It may cause her blood pressure to rapidly drop. Maybe the antibiotics are treating a secondary infection. Her heart rate was still very elevated. Any organ could shut down and she would suffer. Protiens in her blood were very low. Another ultra sound showed organs unnaturally stick to one another. Long term care for possibly the next 6 months, a dismal prognosis for survival without unforeseen complications. We are talking about a 10% change of survival. I really needed to make a decision but I needed time. I told Dr Leah I would call her later. I needed to really think long and hard because there is no second chance, no turning back on euthanasia. It was so depressing. Talking to the volunteers at the farm Friday evening was gloomy. Everyone was sad. Trying to justify spending a very, very large amount of money with a slim chance of survival isn't fair to all the horses we have in our care. Not trying to save one is so wrong though. Money is an object, but life has no price. Is it going to make her suffer to try to keep her alive or ? How can I justify any decision? There was no sleeping that night, just tossing and turning for me and for the volunteers who know what was said today. I was to depressed to call Dr Leah. Hope was fading fast.

Now it is Saturday morning. No word from UGA. I texted Dr Leah to see if she heard any news. I told her I was not ready to make any decisions last night. She said she was going to call me but had car problems and didn't get home until after 11PM so she didn't call me either. Funny how 'things' happen. If had spoken, I think we both would have tried to make a rationalized decision to let sapphire go now. But that conversation never happened, it wasn't supposed to. She let me know UGA was calling in a few minutes. I was going to have to make a decision now, it is time. I took a deep breath and listened. Dr Erin started to tell me Sapphire is doing amazingly well. Protein levels near normal, heart rate coming down, not to normal but descending, no fever, great appetite and having fun with vet students when they come to feed or check her.   I feel like I am flying, my feet are not touching the ground as I hurry to the barn full of volunteers. 'Sapphire is better, Sapphire is better!' I am saying over and over as I come toward them. I am so happy. They are so happy, it is such great news. We are all so joyous. 

Dr Leah drove to Athens to see Sapphire today. She took the picture and videos. Everyone wants her to get well. I truly believe everything happens for a reason. Everyone involved came to this story, to Sapphires world, for a reason. 

Sapphire will stay at UGA until the 9th. Things can change, as we know but we are hoping for only good things now. This has been our journey, like up a mountain nearly going over a cliff, then finding a bridge back to safety. Thank you all for joining us and keep Sapphire in your thoughts and prayers and donations. It takes a village is no understatement, we are the village! Thank you all.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sapphire's Future

Sapphire has been with us a while. It was April 27, 2009. She was in such bad shape, one of the worst we had ever seen. Dr Duval said not to pull her coggins because 'this one may not make it'. 
This is what I wrote the second day she was with us. 

Black Beauty aka Sapphire was found by a young man I know from the local feed store.
He said he thinks he saw her go through the auction on Hwy 20 in Nov or Dec. 
He also said she was hit by a car and she looked it. She is about as thin as our dear Hail Mary was but she can get up on her own and has
a good appetite. I am very hopeful she will recover but...
this morning when I went to let her out of her stall, she was laying on the
ground, not moving, not reacting to my calls or even my touches. She was on her
blind side so I couldn't see her eye. I could hardly tell if she was breathing.
I looked at her gums and they were pale. I wondered if she was just dying. What
should I do? Let her die in peace or try and get her up. I am alone, no one was
home or here to help. My husband went to work, my son drove Mitchel to school
and Bobby won't be here for another two hours. Should I call the vet? Gosh, so
much races through your mind in seconds. Finally her ear twitched but she didn't
move. The hay from last night wasn't touched.

When I fed her late last night, I shoveled the wet and dirty shaving from her
stall so if she chose to lay down, she would have a clean place to be
comfortable. Maybe she was too comfortable now, just laying there. I got a lead
rope and tried to pull her, she just laid there almost without any reaction. I
went to get a halter, wondering if it was the right thing to do by trying to get
her up. Was her life now almost over? Was I causing her undo stress? I thought I
at least had to try something so to my surprise, when I got back to her stall,
she was siting sternally. I was soooo happy. I spoke to her and told her to get
up, come on girl, 'Get Up'. and she did! Then she started eating hay. I opened
the stall guards and after about 20 minutes, she came out. She ate her food this
morning and made her way to the front grassy pasture. She made it another day.
Thanks enough to be thankful for. I will take each day as a blessing. We are
lucky to have her.

She gained weight and became a almost overweight mare. She was full of life and healthy. I never thought I would have trouble keeping her healthy until she was 30 something. he future was looking good.  I think she is in her mid teens. Then that changed when she lost some weight in the winter. She was in a pasture with 2 other horses who didn't need grain.
She spent some time at Jan Hester's farm. Jan offered to foster her and had some healthy tricks up her sleeve to help Sapphire. Jan could make sure she was getting fed and getting some special supplements and get her feet in perfect condition. Jan's an experienced farrier.  Early this year she started losing weight, then gained some weight and lost again. She started to seem depressed, sad, eating only part of her meal, picking at hay. Then other times seem like she is back to her old self and then not herself again. We did blood work in February, gave her some medication and she seemed like it was the answer. It wasn't. She came back to the rescue farm last week. She had a hard time in the heat, can't keep her body temperature regulated without drugs. We did many alcohol baths and Dr Leah did blood work again. Same symptoms, no real answers so Tuesday, we took her to UGA large animal medical center in Athen, GA hoping for an answer. Sapphire has many who love her. There were 7 of us who spent the day watching the ultra sound on her chest, abdomen, her heart and more. We all huddled around the ultrasound machine hoping to hear an answer of what was going on. It was like taking a college class for us and the doctors were very patient and answered all our questions. Abnormalities were present in her lungs, some fluid too but nothing stood out. A mass in her abdomen but not answer whether it is an abscess or cancer. No answers so far so we agreed to a belly fluid tap. We saw the liquid yellowish sediment on the bottom of the vile which wasn't normal. That still gave us no answers. We agreed to xrays but they gave us no answers either. Sapphire was getting exhausted, so were we. We decided to let her stay in an air conditioned stall, eat lots of alfalfa and most importantly, IV antibiotics to see if an infection is the answer. It has been 24 hours now and little change. More tests were do today. Fluids taken from her chest and abdomen today. All inconclusive.

Wednesday, June 27 2012. After talking with Dr Leah and Dr Erin at UGA, we decided to give it another 24 hours and hope and pray something good happens. She isn't a good candidate for surgery in her condition. It would be intense after care, if she survived and no one knows what would be found when they opened her up. She is dehydrated because there is fluid being taken from her organs and settling in her chest and other places. Her heart rate is high and working hard. Things are not right but we can't figure out exactly what. Hoping the antibiotics will perform a miracle on her body within the next 24 hours. The estimate was $2000. from UGA. I hope we can keep it that low. If we save her, it is a small price to pay. Pray for her future. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Earth and Animals

A friend sent me some information about the energy of the earth last week. He said there is a lunar eclipse and Venus would pass in front of the Sun for the first time in 100 years. It is going to be negative energy out there.  OK, how is that going to affect me? Life here at the rescue farm is pretty positive, horses getting better than when they arrived, finding new homes, making people smile. It wouldn't affect me..... or at least that is what I thought

Taylor exercising Alivie 

Beautiful Alivie is an off-track-Thoroughbred mare. She won nearly $100,000 racing her heart out but a knee injury halted her career. Her trainer knows off track TB's can fall into the wrong hands and end up at slaughter, especially ones with injuries. The trainer sent Alivie to SaveTheHorses for a second chance. Many rescues only take ride able or adoptable horses. We take horses in need of a safe haven. She was welcomed. She had clay to heal her knee and was sound from day one, not racing sound. 
Her knee was bandaged to keep it strong

Last Saturday night, Alivie was a little uncomfortable during feed time. Nothing to worry about....or at least that is what I thought. I gave her some anti-inflammatory medication and 30 minutes later she was her sweet self. She ate her grain and was turned out for the night and everything was better.....or at least that is what I thought. Sunday morning she was found laying down in the pasture. She was cold and didn't want to eat her breakfast. She wasn't breathing heavy, her heart rate seemed normal, no temperature. She came in and the day warmed up. We made her a very wet bowl of grain and bran the consistency of soup. We wanted to make sure she had plenty of fluids. Becoming dehydrated can cause serious problems. The weather changes, horses stop drinking, disaster strikes. We try everything to prevent a problem. We do really good at it.
Alivie ate her soup, seemed comfortable but laid down more then usual. She was given another soup dish for Sunday evening feed. She wasn't herself but no bad signs to worry about. She ate, passed manure, nibbled hay but as a precaution, we left her in the stall for the night. I was glad I made that decision. There was a 20 minute wild electrical storm with high winds and hard rain that came without warning.It was like in the Tom Cruise movie, 'War Of The Worlds'. Scary for me but more scary for all the animals out side. It was dawn and I went to check on Alivie since she was heaviest on my mind. She hadn't drank any water, didn't want food but ate a horse treat. 

RIP Rambo
When Julie was feeding the petting zoo animals, she found Rambo, our sheep had gotten himself wedged under the fence. He was laying with his head downhill and his body pushing him into the fence. It was so muddy from the storm, he couldn't move, then seemed to be in shock. Julie, Nicholas, Judy and Paula  helped get him out and walk him to the barn with the help of some tow straps we use to pick up downed horses. He was only about 300 pounds and seems easy compared to a horse but he was weak. Once we got him into the barn, he was exhausted and cold. he was just sheared that afternoon and was exposed to the cold rain, poor guy. Rambo originally came from Gwinnett County Animal Control as a stray on a Golf Course. He had an ear tag and was destined to be someone's lamb chops until his destiny changed and Animal Control called us.  We never had sheep but learned they are gentle creatures and treasured him. We covered him and let him rest, he was having trouble breathing. 

Dr. Amanda came out to check on Alivie. She pumped fluid into her stomach and palpated her. She said the manure in her colon was dry and put her on iv fluids hoping the fluids would make it pass on it's own. While Dr Amanda was here, she gave Rambo medications to try and help him recover. A few hours later, she returned with more fluids for Alivie. After checking on Rambo, we asked Dr Amanda to humanely euthanize him. He was gasping for air. What a sad way to end her work day. She was not on call that evening. 
Alivie was so good even though she was painful

Dr. Leah stopped by and by 7 pm after we had given Alivie 40 liters of fluid without any difference. It was all we could do at the farm. No improvement, no choice. The decision was made to take her to UGA large animal hospital. Alivie loaded right into the trailer, I stopped and picked up Tom, a volunteer who is at the farm almost as much as I am.
Dr. Varela, the surgeon working that night at UGA, examined her and believed the only chance to save her was surgery. Watching her suffer was not an option. We stayed and watch the surgery into the night. Tom had never seen a horse surgery and was happy to stay. Once the incision was made, it looked like a small alien was coming out of her stomach. IT is not for the faint hearted. It was sometime in the wee hours that she came out of surgery. Dr. Varela did a fantastic job. Tom and I felt very good and knew she was on her way to a good life.
Watching through the blinds, we could see the surgery and work being done.
She was put in a very padded room but was trying to get up when she lost her balance and slipped somehow cutting her lip. Her second attempt to get up was successful. Her lip was stitched then she was put in her own stall to wait for her to fully recover and start out eating more normally. Wednesday, all calls from UGA were positive. Hand walking, good appetite, seems all working well. A big sigh of relief. Alivie is young, healthy and deserving a chance at life, well a third chance at life really! Nothing more to worry about...or at least that is what I thought.

I made this picture small. The red is her intestines

The surgery was estimated around $5000. It would be tight but we could do it. We may not pay as much on our feed bill or on our hay bill but they have both done business with Save The Horses for many years and we are always good for the money.
Late Thursday, things started to change. The UGA Vet on call said it may just be a temporary setback and they would give Alivie some pain medications to ease her discomfort. A little time will make a difference, was what we hoped.
By 3 am, Friday morning, the call from UGA was more serious. Alivie was not getting better, she actually got much worse, and was in a lot of painful. The Doctor was asking for a decision. He was telling me we need to decide to put Alivie out of pain. There were two ways to solve this. One being another surgery, the other euthanasia. I was just figuring out how to pay for the first surgery. Now thinking about paying nearly $10,000 just made me ill, mainly because the other alternative is so final. No turning back on death and because I have so many horses that depend on the donations coming in for daily care and health needs. I cannot justify letting those horses down to suffer nor could I let Alivie suffer.
I needed some time to think. I told him I would work on a decision ASAP. What could I sell, what could I do? I got in touch with Pam at 4:30 am and told her what was going on. She offered to help but we needed more. Donations are coming in for Alivie, we do have such wonderful caring people helping in big and small ways everyday. We can do fundraisers to raise the money but we need enough commitments to pay the bill before I say yes. It was getting close to 6 am and still no answer. I was preparing myself for the worst. I may have to let her go in peace. She wasn't going to suffer at UGA but it couldn't go on much longer. She was heavily sedated to keep the pain manageable.
What was causing the pain? Without surgery we have no answers. I can't imagine putting her down and never having that answer. It would be haunting but I also didn't have commitment or $10,000.
By 6:30 I was getting my mind ready, praying for answers when I answered a text. Margaret offered help, Tom offered help and Sam offered help and decided to drive the nearly 2 hour drive to UGA to see Alivie and watch the surgery. I called the Doctor and told him, “We did it!” Go ahead with the surgery. It felt so good to have that answer. I was so relieved I could not control my emotions.
About 8:00 this morning (Friday), surgery was successfully done. Though Dr Varela was not on surgery duty, he called and kept me posted as did other doctors from UGA. They deserve an applause. Alivie had a small impaction in her colon that moved and twisted which caused her terrible pain, life threatening for sure. Without surgery, she would never be out of pain and would have died from infection if not euthanized. It will be another week before she comes home. It will then be 30 days of hand walking and after care, 30 more days of being in a small paddock so not to pick up any speed and hurt her intestines. Then it will be a lifetime of love for Alivie and the least that is what I think right now. 
You know the saying, “It takes a Village?” It does take a village, actually a rescue farm full of horse lovers willing to give and help. “We” gave Alivie another chance to life, a fourth chance!

I think the earth had something to do with all the animals problems. I am a believer now. Julie also found a rooster that looked weather beaten and distraught. He was put in a cage to rest quietly. he is doing much better. He'll be put back out tomorrow. He will be fine...or at least that is what I think right now. Cumming GA  770 886 5419

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sold for $130.

A horse auction is a hard place to go for people who really love horses. It can be entertaining to see all the horses but seeing the treatment of some of the horses is heartbreaking if your eyes are opened. It can be a good place to save a horse from harm. People know as kill buyers, who send horses to slaughter, frequent auction looking for cheap ways to profit from horses...meat. Horses are slaughtered for human consumption despite all the harmful cancer causing chemicals in they systems. No horse is safe from slaughter.

Jason, who runs the Chickamauga SaveTheHorses Farm, was at the auction on Monday night. I wanted to know if a few certain horses were gong to be run through the sale. He sat there watching but didn't see the horses I was talking about. What he did see was an extremely pregnant mare ready to drop her foal. The people at the auction ran her out to the small arena where people were sitting in bleachers watching. I assume to keep the crowd entertained, they were forcing her to run. They had cattle type sticks and she was very afraid. She didn't know what they wanted from her. She also had milk ready to feed her unborn foal. Jason couldn't let it happen any longer and won the bid on her at $130. 

This morning, 2 days after he bought her from the sale, she gave birth to a sweet little black foal. 

Foal born this morning June 6, 2012

This is a picture of an older mare Jason bought at the auction for $10. She could have easily been killed for profit at a per pound price. 
Though it is illegal to send a heavy (late pregnancy) mare to slaughter, it happens more often than we want to know. Slaughter is an ugly business but it is highly profitable. Horse owners not willing to be responsible for their horses fill the market for slaughter. Horses trained to obey, depend on the owner for feed and care are victimized and betrayed.