The kindness of strangers

Yesterday was a better day for Presto. When I got there in the morning the vet was running him a bag of plasma and at one point he turned his bum around and half-heartedly tried to buck at her, which made both of us really happy. Later on in the afternoon he had a really impressive 30 seconds where he looked almost normal.


Then he laid flat out for 3 hours because he’d tuckered himself out too much. He’s still super super weak. His bloodwork is a bit better as far as balancing his pH, but his proteins are still really low due to the diarrhea.

He was also nursing a bit better yesterday (still not as much as normal, but better). His general routine is to sleep for an hour or two, get up and drink some water and nurse, stand there and try really hard to be interested in what’s going on, and then lay back down again. The majority of his movements are in slow motion. He still looks quite sick most of the time.

But still the sweetest

Having to fight off both strains of Chlostridium obviously is not ideal. One is hard enough. Both is nuts. The objective at this point is to get his system working optimally again so that he can start to heal himself and be better able to fight off the infections. He’s getting everything he can possibly get, but with foals you have to be really careful to not make changes too fast or you can completely overload their system. 

Obviously he’s still a super sick baby and he’s got quite a hill to climb. He’s a fighter though, and he sure is giving it his best shot.

And of course, just as importantly, I have to keep thanking all of you guys day in and day out for the continued support. It’s amazingly overwhelming to see so many people rooting for my little dude. There have been a lot of tears this week, especially those of appreciation for the kindness of strangers.

Unbeknownst to me, a reader Tonia set up a donation fund towards Presto’s medical bills. Trust me, no expense is being spared in our efforts to save him and money is absolutely no object here, but the help is really sweet and much appreciated. I’m having an issue trying to get the link to embed in this post on my phone but hopefully she’ll come post the info in the comments.

I’m hoping for another good day today… so far it’s been up/down/up/down so it would be really awesome to start stringing together some “up” days.

The Chlostridium Rollercoaster

Well, yesterday wasn’t a good one for Presto. He wasn’t nursing as well, poop still very liquid, and he was very very dull. Little guy is still extremely sick, and still testing positive for both C perf and C def.

The (now huge team of) vets are doing everything they can think of to do for him, but it’s still very much touch and go. As of right now it could still go either way. Presto is fighting, but he’s awfully sick.

This morning he’s a bit more perky again, and nursing better, so we’ll see what today brings. Keep up the good thoughts guys! He really needs it.

Presto Update 

First of all, thank you guys so much for the outpouring of support and encouragement for Presto. Of course we love him to bits, but to see how much everyone else loves him too… I can’t even put words to how much it means.  Like Betsy said yesterday “If love and hope from strangers can save your little guy, he is certainly getting all he needs.”. I wish I had the time and battery life to personally thank each and every one of you, but please know that I see your comments and I appreciate them more than you know. And so does Presto I think, because all this positive energy has been working.

I’m president and founder of the Presto Fan Club, who wants to join?
We are still not out of the woods yet (foals are so incredibly fragile) but he’s continuing to improve. His bloodwork is moving in the right direction, although a few things are still out of whack. He’s got a bit more energy – enough to canter a few steps and give a teeny buck in the stall, and to fight the vet a little bit when she gives him his oral meds. Nowhere near a normal amount of foal energy, but it’s an improvement. He still has liquid diarrhea, and they really want that to start firming up. We cleaned his bum yesterday and put some Desitin on it, since he’s currently just one big walking Liquid Poo Butt, poor dude.

His spirits seem good, he still wants and loves attention. He just isn’t as frisky and gets tired much faster than a normal baby. 


Hopefully the updates continue to be positive, and hopefully his poop will start firming up soon. That would make all of us feel a lot better! Please keep up the positive energy, Presto warriors, he still needs it!

“A very sick foal”

Friday was probably one of the top 5 best days of my life. I spent a good part of the day watching and playing with Presto, and getting to know his personality. He is, without a doubt, the coolest little baby horse I’ve ever been around. He loves people, to the point where he nickers a little greeting and walks away from his mom to come see you. My heart, it melts. I fell completely and madly in love with that little guy in less than 24 hours.

Saturday, by contrast, was one of the top 5 worst days of my life. Nothing seemed unusual at first… Presto was playing and nursing and acting just like any baby horse should. At 4pm he was cantering and bucking, really proud of how he was figuring out his legs. By 7pm he had bloody diarrhea and was very sick. I’ve never seen a horse crash that fast in my entire life.

We got him onto the trailer and into the vet hospital immediately. By the time we got there and they started working on him (IV tube went in, fluid and plasma were given, tests were run) he was not in good shape. He was laying there just trembling head to toe, obviously in a lot of pain. My heart broke for him.

The diagnosis was Chlostridium enterocolitis – basically a bad gut infection from a particularly nasty, fast-moving bacteria that newborns are succeptable to. The prognosis was “poor to guarded”. The first 24 hours would be telling, because foals either start to respond to treatment, or they crash and die within hours. The vets got a ton of antibiotics into him, gave him something for the pain, and by then he started to look a bit better. Still very far from normal, and he was still shooting blood out of his bottom, but no longer trembling at least. His bloodwork was not good – white blood cell count was through the roof. The only encouraging sign was that he didn’t have a fever. The vet made sure to warn us several times that this was a “very sick foal” but they’d do what they could and said he’d give us an update by morning. I walked out of there feeling like my dream come true had turned into my worst nightmare.

We spent some of the drive home talking to Michelle’s other vet, a neonatal specialist, who was away on a family trip at the time. Luckily the vet clinic was able to consult with him and they all worked together on the best plan of action. He said the fact that we caught it immediately was good, because he likely would have been dead by morning. Chlostridium is nasty, nasty stuff.

I did not sleep much on Saturday night, and what sleep I did get was full of bad dreams. I was so terrified that I’d wake up to a phone call saying my baby was gone. It took a little while to get an update in the morning, which I hoped was a good sign, and luckily it was. He was more comfortable, was nursing well, his diarrhea was no longer bloody, and his bloodwork was looking much better. He was very very far from being out of the woods yet – this kind of infection can take a nose dive in an instant – but so far he was responding to treatment. I bawled like a baby. Never been so happy about bloodwork and poop in my entire life.

We went to go see him in the afternoon and despite having a terrible tummy ache and having been poked and prodded endlessly, Presto still gave a teeny nicker and marched right up to us when we opened the stall door. He is still a bit dull and tired though, he basically gets up to nurse and then lays back down to rest. You can tell he doesn’t feel good. He enjoyed his scratches though (so itchy) and it made me happy to see that he was still friendly. A lot of sickly babies really start to dislike people when they’re constantly being stabbed with things and having gross stuff shoved in their mouths. 

The vet said he was a very kind foal, which was just about my emotional undoing in the middle of the clinic. But she was very happy with how he’s responding so far, although it’s still very early on, and she still really wants to see him have solid poop. At this point we’ve gotten the infection under control, but now we need to start undoing some of the damage it’s done. His prognosis now is “cautiously optimistic”. We definitely aren’t out of the woods yet… some solid poop would make us all feel a bit better, and his bloodwork needs to continue to improve.

Many of you have been following along with my updates on Facebook and Instagram, and I really really appreciate your support. All of us do, it means a lot. The number of people sending good thoughts and prayers to this colt are astronomical, and it seems to be working so please keep it up. I really, really, really need him to get better.

Say hello to Presto!!!

The formatting in this post is probably all jacked up because I’m trying to do it from my phone, but I figured y’all wouldn’t mind since it’s full of BABY PICTURES!

Hello world!
Michelle called me at 9:30 Wednesday night to let me know that Sadie’s pH had dropped, she hadn’t eaten her dinner, she was being very quiet in her stall, and her milk was super thick. Basically, all signs pointing to BABY SOON. I was almost asleep when she called, but I wanted to go ahead and hit the road since I knew I wouldn’t have been able to sleep at home anyway. Anticipation overload!

So I crawled out of bed, packed a bag, hopped in the car, stopped at the gas station to load up on obscene amounts of caffiene and sugar, and started off on the five hour drive across Texas. It’s a bad enough drive in daylight… do NOT recommend in the middle of the night. But many episodes of the Undisclosed podcast and a serious sugar high later, I rolled into Midland at 3am. Michelle and I spent the rest of the night watching the baby monitors and dozing but alas, no baby yet.

Yesterday morning she was pacing her stall and biting/kicking the walls even more aggressively, so we decided we’d put her outside for a few hours to let her relax. We tested the milk first and now the pH was 6.2, which basically means “imminent”. So we put her out but kept a really close eye on her throughout the day. She was much happier out there and spent the day alternating between pacing the fence line and grazing, pretty much like clockwork.

This mare is a champion, y’all

Around 2:45 we went out to check on her and she was STREAMING milk and had tons of wax, but was still happily munching hay. We walked back up to the barn to grab something to collect some of that precious colostrum and turned back around just in time to see her water break. Ok nevermind, grab the foaling kit! At 2:53 she laid down in the hay pile, and by 3:00 on the dot we had a baby! He started nickering before he was even all the way out (he’s so talkative), and almost immediately tried to stand. 

Not gonna lie, I teared up a bit when I saw his little white nose. This is a second generation homebred for me, which makes it that much more exciting and special.

My baby #1 and my baby #2!

Sadie immediately went back to eating hay, because apparently she’s an old pro at this foaling stuff by now. What a fantastic girl she was. By the time Baby managed to get to his feet she passed the placenta (which was so perfect the vet called it “beautiful” HA!). And once baby was up, he was off and wobbling around all over the place. Definitely one of the strongest, boldest newborns I’ve ever seen, marching right up to us to nicker his greetings and wanting to investigate everything.

Yep, he’ll fit right in around here

He also has plenty to say and whinnies A LOT.

Within an hour he was trotting around the pasture after mom (who, by the way, snubs her nose at her super fancy foaling stall apparently, and would rather pop a baby out in the middle of the afternoon in a pile of hay #maredoeswhatmarewants). He passed his vet check with flying colors, as did Sadie. He needs to stay stalled for a bit until his tendons get stronger and he straightens out, but that’s not unusual for these big leggy babies. I’m watching him in the stall on the baby monitor as we speak.

His birth and his general appearance sealed the deal on his name – “Like Magic WTW” with Presto as his barn name.  The very definition of presto is “suddenly, as if by magic”… yep, nailed that one! And he definitely looks a lot like his daddy Mighty Magic; he’s dark brown with one white sock, a star, and a snip. I’m totally smitten. His personality is fantastic, his type is perfect for an event horse, and he’s just plain adorable. SO beyond thrilled with this little dude! I can’t wait to see how he continues to unfold and fill out. 

Already trotting, which is so weird because babies don’t normally trot much
Awesome type!

I’ll have pics from the nice camera by Monday, but you’ll have to make due with cell phone ones for now. He’s dang adorable either way. 

Upgraded! The Saga.

This story spans 12 years from the beginning all the way to our final resolution, so I’m not kidding, it really IS a saga. I’ll try to keep it as brief as possible and just hit the main important bits plus all the things I did wrong along the way (because those are the best parts of any story anyway, right?).

oct15-10

It all started in 2005, the year I decided I want to breed my own horse. At that time I didn’t have a suitable mare available, so a local Texas person that I knew through an online forum offered to let me lease Hope, one of her TB mares. Hope was your basic TB, nothing particularly amazing, but she was a good mover with a good temperament and I thought she would work for my purposes (full disclosure: if I knew then what I know now, I would have been more thorough and diligent and done a “custom foal” option through an actual breeder. Lesson #1.). The deal was struck and we agreed that I would lease Hope for the 2006 breeding season, with me paying all the breeding fees plus a monthly lease fee while the mare was pregnant and until the foal was weaned.

HopeRight
Sadie comes by her A+ mareglare honestly
In late summer 2005 I went with the mare owner (lets call her MO) to an RPSI inspection to help her present her horses for breeding approval. Hope was a bit wired for sound that day and didn’t show her canter very well (unless you’re into Pepe LePew) but still managed to score just one point under premium. Pretty good for a TB mare, and I was happy with that.

I paid the stallion’s breeding fee in late 2005, and in 2006 Hope was bred to Westporte. The first try aborted between the 16 and 45 day check, but the second try was successful and in May 2007 Sadie was born.

SadieLap
killing me with cute since 2007
Originally I had planned to take Sadie and Hope to ISR/Oldenburg for inspection and foal registration since, at the time, it was closer and easier for us to get to. But of course, the morning we were supposed to leave for the inspection, Sadie had a HUGE hematoma on her stifle. Not sure what she did overnight, but I wasn’t going to trailer a foal to an inspection with that thing. After talking with MO and people at ISR/Old, we decided to just present the mare the following year and having Sadie’s registration done then.

This was the biggest of all of my mistakes.

Once Sadie arrived in Austin after weaning, I had an increasingly difficult time getting ahold of MO as time passed. I couldn’t get straight answers about anything, and she no longer seemed interested in having Hope approved ISR/Old (even on my dime) so that I could have Sadie registered with them. Eventually I gave up and figured I would just take her RPSI instead, since Hope had already been approved by them and I wouldn’t need anything from MO. Of course, by that point I’d already missed the inspection in 2008.

Sadie2
leggy donkey
Roll forward to the next year. Now it’s 2009 and I’ve got a really heinous-looking midget of a 2yo (seriously, she was maaaaaybe 15.2h then, she’s 17h now) but I loaded her up and away we went to RPSI. They inspected her, branded her, and issued me… a “certificate of pedigree”. Since they didn’t have DNA on file for Hope (which I didn’t realize), and since the filly was being presented without her dam, I had no way of proving that Sadie was actually out of the horse that I claimed she was out of. Considering I was now 4 years into this whole thing, not to mention ungodly amounts of money, walking away with a piece of paper where the entire damline reads “UNKNOWN” is a serious letdown. I knew exactly who her dam was, I just couldn’t prove it.

I kept trying for a while to contact Hope’s owner to try to get a DNA sample from her, to no avail. I began to suspect that Hope had met a not-so-great fate. Eventually MO threw out a feeble excuse saying that Hope had been stolen, which I don’t buy for even a minute. If someone steals your horse, you kick and scream all over the internet about it, you don’t keep mum. Sad to say, I’m fairly certain that Hope either died or was carted off to auction to make a quick buck. I still look for her online from time to time, but have not seen hide nor hair of her since 2007. Either way, I had absolutely no way to obtain DNA from her, so Sadie’s papers remained unchanged.  Next lesson learned – if you’re going to breed a mare, take a chunk of her mane or some tail hairs and store them away for DNA purposes the second that foal hits the ground. You just never know.

Retrot6
same spot in the same arena, 3 years later
What are the implications of having a pedigree that says half is “unknown”? For a show horse, none really. Her papers showed that she was in fact RPSI registered (albeit in their “lowest” book) and that her sire was the Hanoverian stallion Westporte, so if I wanted to sell her I could at least prove those things. But if you want to breed a mare, her papers are really important. Having an “unknown” parent makes her ineligible for anything but the very lowest of studbooks, and in fact many registries will not even inspect mares with unverified lineage. She could produce RPSI registered foals, but her foals in turn would still have the same “lowest” status as she did.

sadie

While all these years were passing by, the Jockey Club seriously upped their game. They became much easier to contact and work with, and their online presence increased 1000 fold. So earlier this year when we revisited the topic of Sadie’s papers, we realized that the Jockey Club started doing DNA in 2001, earlier than I had originally thought. Hope was born in 2000, so the odds of them having a sample from her were 50/50, depending on when she’d been registered. Nervously, I emailed them to inquire and they responded that YES in fact they did have a sample from that mare! But I needed XYZ paperwork for them to release it. Next stepping stone: would RPSI be willing to go back and run the DNA and upgrade Sadie’s registration status? Another yes! With more paperwork, of course. Lots of paperwork.

sadiebaby3

I’ll spare you details here, but after all the forms and some impressively fantastic customer service and cooperation between JC and RPSI, we officially have a DNA match from the JC’s 2001 DNA from Hope to RPSI’s 2009 DNA from Sadie. My horse is now 10 years old and will FINALLY have the proper papers and registration status that she deserves… her papers are being reissued from Germany as we speak! It also means that Sadie is eligible for breeding approval with several other registries now, since we have a verified pedigree. Basically, her world (and value) as a broodmare just opened up tremendously, for herself and for her foals.

Thanks Jockey Club and RPSI for helping me finally bring this to a proper resolution! Everyone else: don’t be dumb like me. It could literally take a decade to fix it.

Showing: How often and how many?

I was reading a post online this past weekend about how often people event their horses and how many times a year. Some of the answers varied widely, but most people came to a general consensus of less often for upper level horses, more often for lower level horses. Makes sense.

AECribbons

Bobby and I have spent a fair amount of time on the subject ourselves, particularly since his horse Halo is 17 this year and requires some special meds when he travels to prevent him from getting sick. Understandably, Bobby tends to be conservative with his schedule because of that. When we were sitting there looking at the omnibus, trying to plan for fall (because he always wants to show with me – stalker), he was a particularly annoyed that the 3 shows he really wanted to hit were all 3 weekends in a row. He’s not willing to do that. Neither am I, to be honest, considering none of them are a super short haul. Henry could probably do it and be just fine (I baby him, I know, but to me he’s irreplaceable), but I just don’t feel comfortable with it. Then again it’s not unusual to see the same people hitting every single recognized show in our area, week after week, so a schedule like that seems to work fine for plenty of folks.

bobbypostflipoff

Both of our horses are at Training level, so while it’s not a simple trot around the park so to speak, the fences aren’t super big nor are the speeds particularly fast. Last year when we went to Coconino the horses obviously showed back to back weekends, which we actually thought was super helpful and educational. You could come back the second weekend and try to smooth out the rough edges. Granted, two weeks in a row was definitely my limit, especially when flanked by a long drive. And no way I would have wanted to do that more than once or twice a year.

In h/j land, it’s not unusual for horses to show for many weeks in a row, and some of them 4 or 5 days a week. While a lot of people are conservative with how many classes they enter (most jumper folks I know will only do 2 a day max), there also always seem to be those horses that have racked up 15-20 classes by the end of the show. There’s one barn around here in particular that will enter just about everything. Gotta be honest, that really makes me cringe. I absolutely think there’s a lot of educational benefit to getting young horses in the ring more frequently, but I also think there’s a point at which training becomes drilling.

HHSJready

It also makes you wonder how long these horses will last if they’re on the road showing for weeks and weeks on end, almost non-stop. What really started out as more of an h/j problem has started to creep over to eventing too. Winter used to be the off season and “let down” time for a lot of horses, but now that so many people go to Aiken and Ocala for winter, some of them don’t really get much of off season anymore. Maybe a couple weeks or a month in a paddock, which isn’t much for an upper level horse on a busy show schedule.

So, what say you? How often are you comfortable showing, and (for hj people) how many classes a day do you cap yourself at?