I woke up the next morning at seven. My bed was cozy but I got up to go feed the horses. I love having a real reason to get out of bed - work just doesnt motivate me like feeding horses does! So I put on a zip-up hoodie and headed out. I grinned as I saw both horses look out the gate to me. Milo large and first, and the little guy close beside him. They both nickered happily - hearing the little guy nicker for the first time was cool!
I watched them both as I prepared their hay. Then I noticed the little guy was shaking. I stopped and watched further. He still shook. A cold kind of shivering shake. I immediately got worried, but maybe it's just a weird thing he does when fed? It wasn't cold last night...then I looked closer and saw mucus coming out of his right nostril.
Oh no. Please no.
I tossed their hay and hurried back to the house. Why hadnt we set up a separate pen for the mini last night when I thought we should? What if he has a virus and my horse, my baby, was out with him and caught it? I kicked myself, I chastised myself. I woke up Husband; "we need to set those panels up. Now". I explained, and called the emergency line for my vet.
I had Husband convinced enough to get out of bed when the vet called me back. I further explained to her and we agreed to meet at the clinic in an hour and a half. I let Husband dose a little while longer, guilty knowing all he wanted to do was sleep in. I had about forty minutes before we had to leave. I immediately headed towards the mini, lead rope in hand. I needed to get him out of the pen with Milo. He was a little bugger to catch. Not running or truly evasive, just shy. I took as much time as I could, until I got close enough and just grabbed his halter. Training time and bonding could come later. I studied his little face. His nose had a good blob of snot on his right side and his eyes were a little crusty from the night's weeping. But he wasnt shaking anymore and didnt feel hot. I checked his capillary refill and he seemed hydrated. I led him and a small armful of hay to the trailer and loaded him up.
Time to deal with possible contamination. I dumped out Milo's water trough, but without bleach on hand all I could do was scrub, rinse, and refill just enough until I got back to properly sanitize. I didnt touch Milo and begged him to stay away from me.
Immediately after the mini was loaded, Milo was frantic. He had gotten attached quickly and called and called, trotting the fence-line. Poor guy finally had a friend and I was taking him away. Just as I was heading in to get my purse, Husband was coming out. We got in my truck, which was still hooked to the trailer from getting the mini yesterday, and headed to the vet. The entire ride I was wrought with guilt. Better judgement told me that the mini needed quarantined from Milo at least for a little while. Even though they were getting along I should have erred on caution's side. How could I be so stupid?
My vet was unavailable so I had to use the on-call vet. I had met her before but never used her for veterinary work before. I had heard mixed reviews, but she was approved by my vet, clearly, and I had no other options. I shook her hand when we arrived, mini horse called a few times. She immediately commented on the little guy's condition. I agreed: he was in rougher condition then the photos his owner had sent to me, but at least he wasnt emaciated. And when I got him off her trailer he had no signs of mucus or runny eyes. Even that evening my frequent checks showed no signs of things amiss.
She immediately sounded his gut and heart, commenting that both sounded surprisingly well. Then we took a temperature, which I had discovered earlier he doesnt like his bum touched. He hopped once, but eventually gave in. 100.5 - a little on the high range of normal, but not a fever. She looked over his nose and eyes, and felt his lymphnodes and guttural pouch as well she could. She then took two samples of the discharge; one surfacing and the other deeper. He didnt like the deeper collection so much, but gave in. I was glad to see the wheels in his brain working a bit - he's smart and makes good choices. She gave him cookies between tests and he was coming out of his shell a bit which was nice.
She determined that it probably wasnt a virus being as the runny nose was coming out of one nostril (although truthfully as she noted it was starting a tiny bit on the other side, she said one nostril and a quarter) and his temperature hadnt spiked. She said a fever usually comes first with a runny nose second. Also weepy eyes arent always connected to viruses either. For these reasons she thinks it could be an infection in the guttural pouch or respiratory. That was good news to hear actually, as a virus I was far more fearful of. However, she did say that we had to keep the "S" word a possibility (strangles). Such a bad word.
On Tuesday, the soonest business day with the holiday weekend, she would send the mucus collection to the lab for diagnosis. But if by Tuesday when I call her for an update, if he has spiked a fever, the mucus begins truly coming out of both nostrils, or he goes off feed (among other changes like diarrhea or other obvious behavioral changes) then she will send the deeper collection for a respiratory panel. That alone will be another few hundred dollars, but worth it to determine if my baby Milo is at risk. She only sent me home with Equinoxx, similar to Bute in case anything happens but I was given strict orders to not administer unless she says so. We didnt start antibiotics yet as if it is the S word, antibiotics can cause it to go Bastard and could create abscesses in areas within the body. We also didnt collect a fecal sample yet for a routine worming check as his owner told me she wormed him last week (although I have a hard time believing anything she says now) and we would need another week from then to determine any resistant bugs.
So she sent me home with no real relief or prognosis, but things are what they are. We immediately set up the six panels we brought home and made a temporary pen for the mini where he and Milo can still see each other but are a safe distance. After that, I bleached out Milo's feed bin and water trough. I designated mini me's brush from Milo's as well as the lead rope I was using. I will use all bio-cautions as necessary at this point in case it could be viral including changing shoes, hand santizer, and doing my business with Milo first, and mini me second. If I can get my hands on some Dynamite Histacorbadyne I'll start Milo on that to give his immune system a boost.
The little guy in his temporary pen/quarantine. You can see a little mucus coming out of his nose now, but he's pretty good at blowing it off his sweet little nose. I mean, look at the pitiful halter that his owner sent him with too! I just feel bad for him, but he is in good hands now. I just hope he doesnt give Milo anything he might have...puts a knot in my stomach.
I emailed the old owner after we got home. I was a little sharp but I wanted her to know the repercussions this could have on my healthy baby. I also thought I should warn her of the possibility of "S" within her own herd. I questioned further any more history she could give me on mini me. I fully expected to not hear back and was surprised when ten minutes later she replied saying her herd recently had the vet out for both pneumonia and sinus infections. The mini he was kept with had the sinus infection. Oh and they brought two horses whole that had "flu like strains". Gee, thanks for telling me about this before when I asked you medical history! Thankfully she said he has been vaccinated, but is due again in October. She sums up by saying how sorry she was she didnt think his condition was that bad. Wow. She she must have wiped his nose and eyes but left the mud all over him! Needless to say, I guess I learned my lesson on trusting the honesty of other people...but hopefully it is something that antibiotics will help with and not life threatening...
More updates will come as I get them.
I'm considering "Levi" (which Husband doesnt like) or "Titan", which has a more warrior-like feel, or tough guy. Thoughts?