I would love to be writing this and telling you all how wonderful life is, and whilst it really is, life here continues to test my sanity/patience/will to keep training. Tim Thompson Jones said to me a few weeks ago "Jo you seem to constantly encounter things that are so rare and unheard of, how do you keep picking yourself up and continuing?"
After this week I'm not entirely sure...
Tuppence Coloured (Or Meg as she was known to us) was one of Patricia Brown's horses - and I say was because we lost her this week - she had been bred by Patricia's husband Philip and Patricia bought her from him when he gave up.
Meg was a tricky, sharp filly with very wonky legs but a big engine, she had many little niggles over the last couple of years but she finished 4th first time out in a bumper and although she ran poorly with the virus the second time, she had the summer off and came back in a better mare, stronger and more biddable, I developed a really strong bond with her, getting on so well in her work, she trusted me implicitly. We had even started schooling her over hurdles and she was electric.
I rode her out a friday week ago and she was fine, she came back into the yard and I hopped off her to wash her off, as I bent down to put the sponge in the bucket, she shot forwards like the wind had gotten up her bottom. That was fine but as I started to sponge her I noticed a swelling developing above her hip and infront of her pelvis on her back. It got big quickly but she was sound and not bothered by it.
I spoke to two vets and they both said a hematoma from a muscle tear, hose and put soothing cream on, keep her quiet but walk if she could. Fine, we did that, however the swelling started getting bigger so I called Peter on the Monday, he came out and scanned the injury, saw a small muscle tear but was concerned that there may have been some infection in there, so we gave her some antibiotics, iv bute and saw her walk, still sound.
I called Peter back on the Weds, she was getting sorer but still sound and the lump had gotten bigger, Peter decided to put a needle in the lump to see what came out, a little but of blood with what looked like puss but then just pure blood in a constant trickle. We gave her very strong antibiotics, bute and Peter came back the next day to give more Iv antibiotics. Meg was still walking and the lump was stable but trickling.
We continued with antibiotics and bute but the lump got bigger over the weekend and started going down towards the leg, called Peter back out and we gave her iv formalin and cortisone, Peter thought that she had a clotting problem earlier in the week but we had no idea why and we knew that she hadn't before the "lump".
Peter came back out on the monday Morning to check and take more blood, we were both happy it had improved but the swelling was still going down the leg. By Monday evening it looked loads better, the bloods showed low platelets and low red blood cells which indicated a clotting issue but as she had never had this before. Peter thought that it must be something that will settle down and the blood would start to be reabsorbed, which looked like it was happening.
So so wrong, Tuesday morning at 5.30 meg was down and thrashing about on the floor, Elin our lovely new girl cut her rugs off whilst I tried to sit on her head, whilst getting thrown out of the door about 3 times. I called the surgery straight away and whilst I was waiting for Trevor who was on call, I tried to stop her thrashing, not easy and her front legs were lethal. She had laid on the side with the hematoma and obviously it had swollen to massive proportions, with what looked like lymphangitis.
When Trevor arrived he managed to get a sedative into her and some painkiller and a good shot of cortisone. We thought that if we could get her onto the good side then she would be able to get up, however trying to get ropes round her legs to get her over was suicidal, we managed it in the end with the aid of 3 lunge lines and some plastic pipe to get the lunge line under her legs so no one got killed. Trev and I then went outside her back window heaving her over with the ropes through the window. We got her over but it was an hour and a half by this point since we found her.
She tried to stand a couple of times but then she literally laid down and died.
My heart broke and I spent the morning thinking why? how? what had happened? could we have done more? what was it? Never has the death of a horse upset me quite so much, but then I don't suppose I have ever seen anything like this...
The kennels came to get her about 10 o'clock and I sent Niki and Elin off to make coffee and Ashleigh offered to stay with me, she was fantastic helping and so was Andrew from the kennels, we had a tough job getting Meg out and it was so hard to look at the beautiful mare, who gave me so much joy everyday, as nothing more than a dead body.
Peter called me at 7 that evening, they had done the post mortem and when he stuck the knife into the original hematoma, blood just poured out, as you well know at death the blood coagulates, there should have been no blood. There wasn't one clot in the original injury muscle tear, there was no tissue damage, no fractures, no infection. Just no ability to clot her blood, what on earth caused it? Basically she was a dead horse from the moment it happened, we know now that she was never going to survive.
Can I also say that Peter and Trevor were both amazing, they tried everything to save and treat that mare
If anyone has ever heard of a similar scenario please do get in touch, this is something neither of my vets or Andrew at the kennels has ever seen. The mare was perfectly healthy, no colic recently, no illness for 4 months, she had had an iv injection (sedative for a joint injection) about 6 weeks ago and it clotted fine then. This only happened the day she shot forwards after exercise. Did something sting her and cause this? I don't know but I would love some answers!
On a more positive note, Alan had his first run yesterday and although he was a bit buzzy and fresh, he ran very nicely, got a little tired from being so free early and finished 3rd, galloping all the way to the line. At least something went the way it should.
Although if you read the racing post, you would believe that he made mistakes at every hurdle, finished walking and tailed off...I suppose if your name isn't one of the top lads they really have nothing positive to say, especially when we are going through such a bad run of things. Anyone who knows us knows that our horses usually run with consistency, this last 6/9 months have been pure misery, some kind words would help boost confidence for us and the owners.
Unfortunately Ash is leaving us when Gregg gets back from Australia, to go on her travels herself. I am very proud at how much Ash has learnt and improved during her two years with us and she will always have work here if she wants, she is a lovely girl who has been very loyal and supportive.
To replace Ash we have take on Elin, who has never worked with racehorses but is an excellent help, hardworking and I look forwards to working with her. I hope things start to go better for all of us, to show Elin racing is not as bad as most non racing people think!