Epic Fail-yers (coffee and a donut post)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

No, no, no, not YOURS yers (MINE yers). *sigh* After much internal debate (read wrestling), discussions with our vets (first one then the other one), debates with DH and a couple of our horse loving friends - not to mention a boatload of research - we have come to the inevitable (and crushing) conclusion: Sara's not going to get any better. Ever. For those of you new to the blog, our Sarabear was diagnosed with Heaves/COPD last year and in spite of everything, has gone from bad to worse to awful. So awful, in fact, that I keep expecting to see someone from the Sheriff's office appear on our doorstep to investigate a starving animal report (although the rest of the horses are pretty much on the tubby side of life). In a way, Sara's troubles seem an awful lot like my own health hiccups; the disease and its symptoms just didn't follow those "classic signs". Added to that were things like heavy smoke from people burning somewhere nearby, crazy winter weather (80 degrees in January? Seriously?) and a stubborn girl who just won't let us help. PHOTO:This is one of my favorite pictures of Sara taken last year. We had just put out a new roll of hay, and the rest of the girls had already gone thundering by. Sarabear has never been one to hurry, although she does look awfully cute prancing her way up the hill.

Heaves symptoms generally appear around age 8, although I have no idea if she exhibited any signs at that time. She came here at age 14, and had a very slight cough, but only once in a great while. Since this area does quite a number on the sinuses (I never had allergy issues until I moved here), and her cough followed the same pattern we didn't really think much of it as it never got worse. I had little knowledge of heaves, because it was generally an issue that effected stabled horses (ours are on 24/7 turnout with shelter available). Besides, surely her owner would have told us if she had a serious condition, right? Betting that one got a laugh or ten out of one of you out there. (insert eye roll here). Ignorance may be bliss, but it sure can cost you a pretty penny. Not to mention drag you heart first through the emotional wringer. Sara is eating more feed per day than all eight other horses combined; and she is still skin and bones. She will not eat more than what we're giving her now, although I've also been giving her treats in between feeding. PHOTO: This was also just last year. Funny how her coat looks so different; it was taken very early in the morning (her little white markings were a funky blue until I corrected the color cast).

The sad thing is, I can't even sit here and say it's been a long road because it really hasn't been long at all. Tough? Oh, most definitely so. Frustrating. Disappointing. Maddening. Infuriating even. And very, very, depressing. The past several months have been a roller coaster ride of high expectations, dead ends and false hope that something (anything) would change. Smack in the middle of it all was Sarabear who, if I am going to be honest, is her own worst enemy. She refuses to eat any of the medicines or herbal supplements no matter how I try to disguise them/hide them (although she has always been okay with eating worm paste in increments hidden in small handfuls of sweet feed). Anything else though? Nope, not having it; she just knocks it right out of my hand and walks off. Certainly she won't let me put anything in her mouth that comes in a tube or syringe. Nosiree Bob; that's not happenin' either, she'll rear straight up. Funny thing is, she's the only one we have that I can't schmooze into eating or even forcibly dose if I have to (not to mention the only one that rears up). How's that for irony? PHOTO: Sara catching a few zzz's by the stalls (I woke her up trying to get a shot of her snoozing; had to settle for a sleepy expression instead ;o)
The short version is this: Sara's appetite is extremely unpredictable, and as a result she is pretty much skin and bones. Sometimes she'll gobble her feed right up, sometimes she'll take a bite and won't eat any more and sometimes she'll dump it all out. Just yesterday she opted to flip her bucket over and waste all the feed instead of eating it (again). If I put the bucket "up" (which is better for her breathing than on the ground), she won't touch it at all. She is furious with me for separating her from her pasture pals, and has now taken to chewing up all of the wood in protest. Up until about 3 weeks ago, we thought she would make another rally. Appetite had stayed fairly consistent and she was starting to put on a little weight. It was probably when I started feeling a little too hopeful that she reversed direction and has been going downhill since. Because horses under stress (and heaves definitely qualifies as stress) can lose up to 50 pounds in one night, you can imagine what she looks like now. Wit's end here. I opted not to post a photo of her current condition for the simple reason that I am afraid someone will misinterpret it. I'm sure many of you will find this quite shocking, *tucks tongue in cheek*, but there are an alarming number of people out there that would take something like that and run with it; without bothering to get the whole story. Even though I can back up everything I've posted about Sara, I just don't want to go through all that. It's hard enough as it is, you know?
Another epic fail (almost) was the Etsy shop, which was supposed to have been closed for a "brief" period while I re-shot photos for my listings. Let me just throw in a ha-ha-HA. *cough* Umm...hmmm. It's been more months that I wish to count since I've even given it a passing thought (and that was a couple of months after I stuck it on vacation mode).  Yikes. It was only after I got a friendly reminder from the Etsy for Animals team about the membership rules (resulting in a holy cow *slap to the forehead* jumpstart) that I realized just how long it had been. Ruh-Roh. Bad Jen. Very bad Jen. *wince* After some frantic scrambling - and a few repentable words - I am happy to say that the shop is now back open. Of course I've only manage to retake about five photos, but I must say I really like the way they turned out. That was probably tacky of me to say out loud, wasn't it? Sorry. Anyhoo, it's another nod to irony the way that went, too, as the proceeds from the shop would have definitely come in handy towards Sara's expenses. *sigh* Oh well, going for better late than never yet again, eh?
So there you have it (or most of it, anyway - I actually skipped some of the Sarabear stuff as I was beginning to feel a tad maudlin). Meh ;o/ Since I hate to end on an icky note, how about something to give you a giggle? (although for me, it was more like a much needed gut-busting laugh). As most of you know, DD is deaf and there is a lot of misinformation out there when it comes to lipreading as a form of communication. Believe it or not, only 30% of the words we use are clearly visible on the lips; the rest is guesswork (and if you don't believe me, stand in front of the mirror and watch your lips as you say "bay, pay, may" ;o) This came through one of my interpreting lists the other day, and I thought I'd share it with you. It's from and just boggles the mind how well the wrong words fit:
Have a blessed week everyone, and hug those furballs!


  1. Heaves can be very difficult. Our Lily developed heaves when she was still in her jumper career, and we had to retire her because, although she could still jump, she could no longer compete at speed. We were able to stable her outside, with shelter, which helped. Round bales in the winter caused some issues - we could soak her regular hay. She was very good at taking ventipumin by mouth, which helped a lot when she had attacks. She never had problems keeping weight on.

    She's now in TN at Paradigm Farms, outside 24/7 and doing very well - no medications required, although she's on pergolide for Cushings (she's in her mid 20s).

    Sending best wishes and thoughts for your Sarabear.

  2. I meant to say, ventipulmin.

  3. Part of me wonders if the reason Sara seemed to be fine for such a long time was because of the 24/7 turnout here. I will say she was never one to race around at play like the rest of the girls do. Most of the time Sara would be off to the side nibbling at the grass while her pasture mates were at the hay pile (except, of course, for that toxic-looking hunk of hay she just had to have *sigh*).

    The vet said much the same when he was here last week; heaves can be very difficult to treat and sometimes there's just not a whole lot you can do for it. Glad your Lily is doing well in her retirement though!

  4. Did you ever give Sara soaked beet pulp pellets? They are very high in nutrients, keep the intestines working well and can help with weight gain. I mix the beet pulp with grain and all the horses have loved it. Separation from other horses can also cause weight loss. I hope you can find something that works.

  5. Aw, sorry to hear about Sara. That can't be easy on you guys.
    That video was hysterical though

  6. So very sorry to hear about Sarah, a very difficult situation for all of you. Could you put her back with the others and see if that helps? The separation in itself would be very difficult. I know you will have thought through everything from five different directions and am not criticising, just trying to see things from a different direction that might be helpful.

  7. Lori: This is sad, but I'd forgotten all about the beet pulp. I'd discounted it initially, as Sara's "piles" tend to be a bit loose but at this point I'll try anything.
    Our local co-op has temporarily closed, but I managed to get my hands on some shredded beet pulp this afternoon. I gave her a cup full awhile ago (after they'd soaked) and she licked the bucket clean. Of course she has done the same thing with the special senior feeds, the rescue gel stuff (forgot the name), the breathing supplements, the weight gain supplements, yadda yadda. We'll see how it goes; feel free to say a prayer and thanks for reminding me!

  8. Ann: Thanks. I just feel so awful for Sara (I'm a "fixer", so not being able to fix this is making me crazed).
    I laughed like a loon watching that video; I always tell DD I'm a LOUSY lip reader ;o)

  9. Clancy: I absolutely understand why you asked, and I tried my best to think of another way to make it work but there just isn't one. Separation anxiety is the main reason I waited so long (too long, really) to separate Sara from her friends. The reality is, there is just no way to safely feed her such large quantities of feed three times per day (jealousy and simple greed would cause way too much conflict) not to mention allow enough time for her to eat it all peacefully (she takes forever).

    Sara is right there on the other side of the fence from her friends, and we put the girl's hay roll by Sara's new favorite hangout spot so she'd still feel included in the herd. I also didn't want her getting kicked around and/or pushed into racing and romping too much; the girls get a little wired during the winter. *laugh*

    I really appreciate your kind thoughts and concerned questions; thank you for caring enough to ask them (they come from a good place ya know ;o)

  10. I'm so sorry about your sweet four legged friend. I don't know too much about horses but I do know it's not fun to watch them not feeling good. :(
    xo Catherine

Your comments really brighten my day!

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