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[RC] my new year miracle (long) - Jutta

Four years ago one of my friends raised this beautiful gray Arabian colt, Gandolph. I watched him grow and Deb kept saying "You should buy this horse, he would make an awesome endurance horse."  I just shrugged her off, reasoning that I don't need a young horse and didn't want to wait this long to have a horse to ride.
Well, I bought him this past fall and brought him home in November. He will be four this coming spring. He settled well into the herd and seemed to have adjusted nicely to his new home.
Last Sunday my husband did chores, as I just got off working the night shift and went straight to bed. It was storming and cold. My husband came to wake me up and asked me to look at Gandolph, as he felt he didn't look right. When I got out to the barn I could tell right away that he was colicking.
 
We called the vet and my friend DeAnne helped me haul him in. He pooped some very dry manure in the trailer, and his gut sounds were very quiet. No temp, heart rate 36 but very uncomfortable. He got the usual Benamine, tubed water and mineral oil and only had slight relief. Rectal exam was unremarkable at that point. On Monday he was tubed again and the vet felt since his heartrate was still only 36 and he had no temp that we could afford to wait a little longer. None of labs on Monday were really very abnormal, I can't remember all the numbers, I was a basket case at that point. The roads were terrible, no way he could be hauled anywhere.
 
On Tuesday morning he went down. An abdominal synthesis was inconclusive, no temp, heartrate 40. At 1:00 PM the abdominal synthesis was repeated, and was abnormal, and at that point the rectal exam also indicated abnormalities. My vet felt it was time to take him to surgery. Now you need to know that we live out in the sticks in North Dakota, our (one and only) clinic is a mainly cattle geared facility with one equine vet, no fancy operating room etc.. Thank god it wasn't busy and all three vets were available for the surgery. As there was not operating table available, they did the surgery on the ground. The vet found that the colon was 180-270 degrees turned/twisted , with a large impaction. The impaction was removed and the colon repaired and repositioned. None of the bowel looked dead, and he didn't have to cut any sections out.
They also don't have a recovery stall, so he was wrapped up and padded really good, even his head was padded and wrapped. I saw him in recovery, before he was on his feet. I really have to give those guys credit, he didn't have any scuff marks on him at all.  He was back on his feet and in his stall within about 5 hours.
 
He started eating little bites the following night and started drinking himself the following day. Today I took him home. Well, I really didn't take him home but I am boarding him until spring at a stable that has a heated barn. Our nights right now are 20 degrees below zero, and it supposed to get down to 30 below this week. He shouldn't have to use his little energy to stay warm. He has lost a lot of weight and needs lots of TLC. I am only 8 miles from this barn and able to go over there three times a day to hand walk him, medicate him and do his daily bandage changes. The owners of the barn are also very helpful and observant.
 
I am soooo thankful to Dr. Behm for doing such a great job with the resources he has available. He was so great at communicating with me, called me any time he got lab results, or there was even a slight change in his condition. I know I have probably left out a lot of details, I just can't remember all of it. This was my first experience ever with colic. If he wouldn't have done the surgery, Gandolph would have died. Road conditions and distance did not allow us to haul him to a large Equine facility, we were stuck. In my eyes HE IS THE BEST!!!!
 
I know we are not out of the woods yet, we have a big incision to deal with, and have a long road ahead of us, as far as recovery is concerned. But I am very hopeful now. He has the sparkle back in his eyes, and even snorted tonight when somebody pushed a cart by his stall. What a week this was!!! I would love to hear from other people that have had a horse go through colic surgery, how their recovery went.
 
As far as a cause of this colic we figure he didn't drink enough water. It had been storming, and snowing, and I think he didn't bother to walk the 50 yards to the water tank, but huddled down in the barn without drinking. It is just about impossible to monitor the water intake of individual horses, if they are all drinking from the same tank. Our water is heated too to insure that they are drinking more, but I guess that wasn't enough.
 
Jutta and Gandolph (who plans to meet you on the trail in a couple of years)