Monday, November 14, 2016

Wake Me From this Nightmare

Ribbon died on the operating room table. I'm writing this first as this was the most awful part of this really really hard day. The day didn't start out awful. Ribbon and her 2 month old colt loaded up just about perfectly early this morning. Even though it was still dark out at 6:15 am the trailer had been backed into the barn and the lights were on so there was no drama. Karin arrived at 6:20 am and we were off. This time Ribbon was cross tied and the drive was uneventful, the lights worked, the truck worked and I was starting out with a full tank of gas. We arrived at the vet clinic in Mohamet, IL just after 8:00 am. The colt was given one more time to nurse before Ribbon was taken in to the hospital stall. I took a picture but right now don't have the heart to download any of the pictures taken of before, during and after the surgery. The surgery was fascinating to watch as Dr. Boero meticulously cut and cauterized bleeders and then came the sawing and chiseling of the bone flap. Even that went pretty well but when the bone was removed a huge pocket of pus came pouring out contaminating the sterile operating field. Dr. Boero started removing tumor and we were all shocked at how big this tumor was. It had blocked her right nostril and was already blocking most of left nostril. Dr. Boero told us he was not going to be able to remove it all. He was getting ready to wire the bone flap back together when I saw the 'death stretch' and knew that Ribbon was dying. Thankfully she was still under sedation when this happened and she did not have to live through suffocation. Then came the problem of what to do with her body. She died in the operating room and she was a big mare. It took a couple hours to get her out of that room and into the back of the trailer. Her colt put in the front of the trailer and was strangely silent through the entire process of getting his mom in. Both Karin and I believe he knew that his mom was no longer living. We paid the vet bill of $900.00 (which was a lot cheaper than if she would have survived) but of course would have preferred to have a big bill and a live mare, then left for the long drive home. With Ribbon's 2000 pound body in the back of the trailer I could only travel around 60 miles an hour or the trailer would sway back and forth. I knew we would need gas before I could make it home but decided it would be best if I could get most of the way home and just stop at the gas station on Airport road. We pulled up to find that gas station was closed. By this time the truck was sitting on E for empty so we went to the nearest gas station which was Kroger in Bartonville. Of course there was a wait. While we were finally able to start filling the truck a lady came by wanting to show her grandson the horsey in the trailer. I was able to stop her and told her it wouldn't be a good idea as that horsey's mama was lying dead in the back of the trailer. This truck that holds 25 gallons took 25.1 to fill. We really were driving on empty. We made it back to the Hanna City farm, unloaded Titan (Ribbon's colt) put him in a stall then drove to Middle Grove to meet Mike. Thankfully Mike has all the equipment needed to take Ribbon out of the back of the trailer and dig a grave.  When turning on Middle Grove road Ribbon's body in the back made a big bounce and all the lights in the truck died. Thankfully those turned back on by the time we got to the gate.  Ribbon is now buried there along with Raven. Karin and I took the truck and trailer to the back field to find the mares but they weren't there so we parked the truck and trailer up by the gate and hiked up the hill to find the herd. We had decided to bring back Jewel and her filly and Rosalie and her filly in hopes that one of these mares would allow this sad little orphan colt to nurse. We got both mares and foals, walked down to the trailer followed by 4 other horses. Jewel and Rosalie were loaded, Jewel's filly jumped in and then the other mares tried to get in the trailer. When they were shooed off they took off running up the hill and took Rosalie's filly with them. Rosalie jumped out of the trailer which pushed it forward and slipped the truck out of drive. The truck and trailer started heading toward the fence with no driver, Karin jumped out of the back of the trailer followed by Jewel and her filly who took off up the hill. I was running after the truck with Rosalie on the lead rope, had to let go of the lead rope to catch up and jump in the truck before it hit the fence so Rosalie ran back up the hill too. The truck was stopped, the parking break applied. About then Karin and I looked at each other and groaned. We would have to walk back up that hill. We found one broken lead rope on the way up but the other was still attached to Rosalie. Both mares and both foals were lead back down the hill and into the trailer but not without a lot of prayer from both of us. We were able to drive home with lights, thank goodness and make it home without any other problems except the colt will not nurse off either mare. The mares are being nice to him but they are not his mama and he won't even try. He is drinking water, ate some grain and nibbled on hay. Tomorrow I'll have to head to TSC to buy some calf manna Hopefully we can get him to drink out of a bucket tonight. When Sangria had to have colic surgery I was able to mix whole milk with corn syrup to keep her filly alive. Tonight I'm heading up to try that.


  1. So sorry for your loss. If possible try and find a progressive nutrition dealer near you. They have a product called foas first milk creep that is great for orphan babies and is design for their stomachs. They also have an equine specific milk replacer. Used on severa orphan foals and had wonderful luck. Thoughts and prayers!

  2. I'm so heartbroken to hear this sad, sad news. Prayers for all of you to get through this, and for the little orphaned colt to start drinking his milk replacer and survive. You did everything you could to save Ribbon. Such a shame that it didn't have a happy ending. But hopefully her little one will make it and she will live on in him. :'(