out of our Thoroughbred/Appaloosa mare
July 7, 2008 - August 5, 2008
Sadly, we lost our beautiful little boy, at only 4 weeks old.
Here he is just a few hours old. He is out of our mare, Pam's Easy Cupcake (aka "Baby"), and a full brother to Denali, Dasani, and Daphne. We missed the foaling by about an hour, so he was born our in the pasture. It wasn't for a few more hours before we discovered that everything wasn't right.
When he was about 12 hours old, we noticed that his right stifle was very swollen, so called our vet out. He didn't think it looked good, and wanted us to take him to Auburn University the next morning. It was very scary, as it looked like we may have to put him down. At first, the vets at Auburn didn't hold out a lot of hope either, thinking it could be a fracture. But, after x-rays, we discovered that he had a displaced patella. We're not sure how it happened, but it was from some type of trauma, either during birth, or shortly after. Although this is bad, it was the best news we could have received, as it meant that he had a chance. He was too swollen to do an ultrasound, to check for tendon damage, so they sent us home to try and get the swelling down. He was so good through the whole ordeal, having to travel 2 hours to Auburn, and getting poked and prodded for several hours.
Once home, we have to go out every 2 hours to treat him. We have to get him up, so he'll nurse, then lie him back down and ice his leg for 20 minutes, take his temperature, then get him back up to nurse again. The first 2 times, he wasn't real sure he wanted to be a part of this, but after that, as soon as we'd lay him down, and put the towel under his head, he'd lay there quietly and let me do my thing. Of course, it's not all bad...he also gets scratched and massaged, and we keep all the pesky flies off. He's been an angel! So willing. Of course, he has lots of energy, so he tends to want to romp around, after he nurses, and he does manage to do it...even buck! He has actually gotten really good at getting up and down, and all around, without full use of his back right leg. I think he doesn't really know he's different!
We've thought about naming this little guy "Miracle", but held off, and have been calling him "Pony Boy" or "Punkin", so he really doesn't have an official name. The reason for "Miracle" was, first, I didn't even know his mother was pregnant until May 6, 2008, which was a little miracle in itself...or at least a really good surprise! Then, he was born with all the markings that I was wanting from this cross. He was perfect...until we discovered the stifle. All of a sudden, we might loose him, and I was devastated. Then, we got the best news we could get at Auburn, and it began to look like he had a chance. After treating him for 2 days, he has already improved a great deal, so we feel very hopeful. The vets at Auburn University say that we're not out of the woods yet. We have hope for now, but it could all fall away, depending on what the tendons look like. But, he has been our little miracle foal from the start, and we really believe that he will come through this. We have so many people praying for him, and he is a fighter. Plus, his mommy (aka: me) is loosing sleep, getting up every 2 hours, to help insure a good report and full recovery. The vets said that it could take 5-9 days to get the swelling down, so it will be a very long week until we find out just how big of a miracle he really is.
Above, you'll see "Pony Boy" at 3 days old.
Above, you'll see "Pony Boy" at 4 days old, doing more than he should be.
Miracle at 6 days old.
Above, you'll see "Pony Boy" at 3, 4 and 6 days old. "Pony Boy" is growing and acting like a normal foal. After he gets up to nurse, like most normal foals, he is full of energy and wants to romp around. Of course, for him, this is not a good thing. It's a good diagnostic tool, because it gives us more hope that his tendons are not too badly damaged, but we don't want him to injure it more. He is getting meds for pain & swelling, which he needs, but it also makes him feel better than he should. So, we've had to lower his doses, based on some of the moves you'll see above. The good news is that his swelling is going down, and we hope to be able to take him to Auburn in the next few days, to have his stifle ultrasounded. This is when we hope to have another miracle, and find out his injury can be repaired.
Above, you'll see "Pony Boy" at 1-week-old, when we had to take him to Auburn again, unexpectedly. He had started peeing through his umbilicus at 4-days-old, but never had a fever, so we thought we could try to treat it from the outside. On the 15th (at 1-week-old), he spiked a temp, so we had to rush him to Auburn to have his umbilicus ultrasounded. Fortunately, we caught it early, and were able to treat it with antibiotics. At first, they thought he might require surgery, but really didn't want to make him have surgery twice. We spent the whole day there; ultrasound, wait in the sun to warm up, and have his blood drawn 3 times. He was so good, and I think he really liked being outside (he doesn't get this, so it was a treat). The funny thing is that he stood up in the trailer for the entire trip (2 hours). We thought he'd lay down, and would check when we'd stop, but every time we'd step up on the sideboards, and look in the windows, he'd see us and whinny...still standing! He did get to rest in a stall at Auburn, while we waited for the final blood test, and I guess felt "big" enough to ride standing on the way home. In fact, he got on the trailer all by himself going home. We had 2 students there to help us (my sister went with me, as she was in town), but after I put his mom on, he just jumped right up on the trailer! He's a fast learner!
Above, you'll see "Pony Boy", the day after our little trip to Auburn. We decided to try on his new little "grow with me" halter. He shook his little head and tried everything to get it off...even dunking it in the water! It was on the smallest hole, and was still too big!
Above, you'll see "Pony Boy" & me the following day. He's 10-days-old here. He is so sweet, and just loves his mom...well, other mom...and he's always full of kisses!
Above, you'll see "Pony Boy" at 2-weeks-old. He's having to get creative at this point, as the stall can be like "jail", and he's just a "kid" that needs to play! As you can see, he's stealing his towel that I use for his head when I ice his leg. He was so funny watching him do this! Then, he tried to get my sister's ice tea jug...I think he thought it would make a good toy, too!
Above, you'll see "Pony Boy", "cleaning" his stall! Every time we'd look in, we'd see him licking the walls, buckets, and hay rack. I think he was really bored, to start cleaning!
I'm still going out every 2-3 hours to ice his stifle. I have to go out, get him up to nurse, then clean the stall and wait for him to lay back down. I take my crate, thermometer, ice packs, and fly spray in, then I strap on the ice packs and hold them for 20 minutes. I usually have to fly spray him, so he'll relax better, and also take his temp. He is usually pretty good, just lays there and sleeps (sometimes dreaming, moving his legs and whinnying), but every now and then, we have a WWF wrestling match (of course, I always win). He eventually learned that my hand on his neck meant to not even try it, and he'd just lay his head back down. After the 20 minutes, I help him back up, go back in, and repeat the process in another 2-3 hours (this is why I look so sleep deprived...because I am).
Here he is again...trying to escape! Well...maybe just trying to find another toy! And...he's cleaning again (I think he may have licked every inch of this stall)! Poor baby boy...so bored!
"Pony Boy" at 3-weeks-old.
We're off to Auburn again (Monday, July 28th), but this time it is to ultrasound his stifle, to see if we can do surgery. They did the ultrasound, and it looks like they will try to do surgery the next day (Tuesday), so we will leave them. His surgeon, Dr. Fred Caldwell, called and said they would postpone surgery until Wednesday, because he had some diarrhea. On Wednesday, Dr. Caldwell called to say that they would postpone yet another day, because he still had diarrhea, and he and Dr. Montgomery (small animal surgeon) would do a practice run on a cadaver horse. This was actually a good thing, since this surgery is so rare, not only had he never seen or done one, there really isn't much information about it. So, since this is relatively common in dogs, caused by a congenital problem, Dr. Montgomery was brought in on "Pony Boy's" case. The practice run would familiarize Dr. Montgomery with the equine anatomy, and would allow Dr. Caldwell time to practice. On Thursday, July 31st, they went ahead and did the surgery. They felt like it went really well. The only concern, at this point, is that the joint stay free of infection. So, he and mom are at Auburn, where the students and doctors are looking after him, and I am trying to get caught up on my sleep and house cleaning. We're hoping to bring him home by August 8th, but I will go visit him Monday (Aug. 4th).
"Pony Boy" at 4-weeks-old.
I went to visit my cute little "Pony Boy", only to have Dr. Caldwell great me with devastating news. They had done x-rays, to see if the Patella had come back out (because it continued to swell & he wasn't using it as much), and it had. This was the worst news I could have received...I was completely devastated. Fortunately, when I went to see him, he was his same little curious self. He wanted me to love on him and scratch him, and was checking everything out. How could this be? How could I end this life? But, I had no choice. He had already started to have problems with his (good) back-left leg, from holding up all his weight, over the last 4 weeks. It was starting to bow, and get very weak. Unfortunately, there was nothing that could be done for him. This was one of the saddest days of my life.
So...we had to return the next day (Aug. 5th) to say goodbye. We took "Pony Boy" outside, so he could at least experience it before he had to go. It was hot, so we only stayed out for about 30 minutes, but he actually got to canter (sort of) for the first time, which brought tears of joy to my eyes. He really had a hard time getting around, even walking, because that hind-left leg had become even weaker. This made letting him go a little easier, since I knew he was in pain. In fact, he just wasn't his normal curious self, and seemed like he just didn't feel good. We spent a little more time with him in the stall, then Dr. Caldwell and Dr. Davis came in to put him down. He went peacefully, with his little head on my lap, while I told him how much I loved him, and kissed his little face. We had to give Baby (mom) a sedative to take her out and load her on the trailer. It just breaks my heart to hear her call for him, especially when she looks at the barn, expecting to see him come out.
This was truly a sad ending to a situation that seemed so hopeful at the beginning. I don't regret trying to save his life, or the hours I spent doing it. I just wish we could have had more time with this wonderful little boy, but I appreciate the time I did have with him. He brought many smiles to my face and heart, and I know he did this for all the people who got to meet him. He will truly be missed!
Pony Boy's video tribute:
(this is a Quick Time movie, with sound)
We want to thank all of you for keeping "Pony Boy" in your prayers. I also would like to thank my sister, Robin, for spending her vacation helping me, and for taking a lot of the wonderful pictures, that I've been able to put on my site.
Updated August 18, 2008