It is with great sadness that we report that Cindy Lou passed away on Tuesday from a severe colic. Colic is a general term used for any sort of intestinal discomfort. The most common are gas colics, blockages, and twists. Horses cannot vomit or burp, so even a gas colic can be incredibly painful. Cindy Lou had a gas colic the previous week, and we had the vet out and she appeared to be doing well. This past Tuesday, however, she was down in her stall again and appeared very dehydrated. We were able to immediately administer electrolytes and Banamine, a pain medication that also helps to relax the smooth muscles in the intestines, and waited for the first available vet to come out.
We rinsed Cindy Lou with cool water, trying to get her temperature down, and started to walk her in the arena, but after a few minutes she laid down and wouldn’t get up. It was very hot, so we put an EZ up tent over her to keep her cool. We tried offering her water to drink, but she was not interested.
When the vet finally came, she gave Cindy Lou some more pain medication, and tried to administer some fluids through a tube that went directly into her stomach, but it caused her severe distress. The vet did an ultrasound, and while it did not show a twist or blockage, the intestines were severely inflamed and obviously painful. By this point, Cindy Lou was again in a lot of pain, and we gave her some more medication to try to keep her comfortable. We had little options with the amount of pain she was in- all that was left to us was to try to administer fluids and hope that they helped. Cindy Lou wouldn’t stand still, however, and kept trying to lie down, so we were trying to administer fluids while walking her and also trying to keep her from rolling on the side where the catheter was.
We tried for a long time. It seemed like an interminable amount of time, with every other second trying to keep Cindy Lou from going down and rolling. Finally, however, it was obvious that the fluids just weren’t working and no amount of pain medication was helping at all.
It is never easy to decide when to stop trying to save a horse’s life. Unfortunately, sometimes we just have to acknowledge that we aren’t doing the horse any favors by prolonging their suffering. We had been working with Cindy Lou for hours, but nothing was helping and she was still obviously in a great deal of pain. One of the most difficult parts about working with animals is having to make these decisions- at what point is the right time to stop trying? But after hours of working with her, giving her pain meds that just didn’t work, and that nothing we were doing was helping at all, we finally decided that the kindest thing we could do was at least end her suffering.
We are very upset to lose Cindy Lou so unexpectedly- she had a very difficult life before she came to Hanaeleh, and while she carried with her a lot of the issues stemming from her abuse, she was working through them, and was starting to make some exceptional progress and learning to trust people. She loved her best friend, Venus, and would call out to her whenever we took her away. We wish we had more time to spend with our girl and help gain more of her trust back. As it is, we can just know that for the time that she was with us, we loved her and cared for her the best that we could.