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[RC] A lesson learned the hard way - Maryanne Gabbani

A few days ago a friend of mine called me from a business trip to Dubai because her 20+ year old stallion Tinguely was doing very poorly at the country club just up the road where she boarded him. She didn't trust the vet there (quite correctly) and wanted him to be monitored more closely than had been done, so we moved him over here to the ICU unit...the one box on my farm. Tinguely looked great on the outside, shiny coat and a bounce in his step, but he had a weird rash over one side of his neck, his mouth had the most appalling collection of ulcers and infected spots, and when he wasn't trying to chat up my mares, he was pawing the ground in obvious discomfort. I got a couple of vets in to see what was going on because the accounts of his problem that I was getting from his groom at the club were fragmentary. Apparently the horse hadn't pooped properly in ages but no one had thought to put him on IV fluids or to treat at least the mouth infection with antibiotics. We did so for two days trying everything we could short of surgery, which in our neighbourhood just isn't a possiblity, to help him. Tinguely collapsed dead in the box at 3am this morning.

My head groom went with the body by bulldozer up into the quarries where we bury our horses in the old quarries and took a scalpel to open the body before burial to see just what had killed Tinguely. He found a ball about the size of an orange at the ruptured cecum. The ball was composed of a chunk of rope or old halter that Tinguely had chewed up and swallowed. This had collected a coating of vegetable matter and sand turning it into something with the solidity of a stone and the surface of sandpaper. No wonder at all that this horse had been in discomfort for some time. And no wonder he died.

Now to go and make sure that there are no old bits of rope left over from canine tug of war games in the paddocks.


Maryanne Stroud Gabbani

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