I had to put down my best buddy Billy last night, after a very long 24 hours trying to figure out what was going wrong. Two vets, a trailer ride to the next county and lots of the usual colic treatments later both the attending vet and I could see that, stoic as he was (he was a Thoroughbred, after all!) he was in great pain. It gets confusing when the horse doesn’t clearly tell you what’s wrong. For one thing, his lips were very puffy and his eyes were swollen almost shut–as if he were having some kind of reaction either allergy or something toxic he had ingested. All the other signs definitely indicated colic, but could also have been a perforated ulcer or a poisonous plant. Given all his other physical problems and his age, he wasn’t a good candidate for surgery. So, seeing his suffering, I had no hesitation about putting a prompt end to it. It would have been inhumane, to say the least, to just “buy time” by keeping him drugged and on IV’s. I was fortunately vindicated in my decision by the necropsy I requested–I was determined to know exactly what went wrong. If I hadn’t acted when I did he would have died a slow death through the night and I wouldn’t wish that on any sentient being. It turned out to be a classic case of twisted gut with a couple of other aggravating factors, but we still have no idea what all the facial swelling was about and probably never will know.
So on the lighter side, here are a few looks at Mr. Bill over our 13 years together.
Check out the ears on this guy! Definitely not impressed with me. He disliked grooming so much he once bit me on the butt because he decided I had been a bit too vigorous with the brushing. Eventually he came to enjoy it, appearing to snooze through the whole routine. He would unfailingly put his head down for his forelock to be brushed.
We moved about a mile away to Freedom Woods after a few years at Glen Grove. Billy had been blowing off some steam in the outdoor ring when he paused to survey his new kingdom.
After a torn ligament injury in 2009 and the subsequent discovery that he had suspensory problems on top of that, I knew he was probably done as a riding horse and decided to move him to Willow Tree where he could be out and about 24/7. It was the best move I ever made for him.
At Willow Tree, with the inimitable help of Karin Bielefeld, Billy learned how to walk, trot and canter again. He had always been a really pretty mover but after his injury I hadn’t been able to bring him back into any kind of working condition. In spite of his bad suspensories and a questionable right hip, with Karin’s patient help he recovered to show off his lovely trot and fluid canter once again. It took three years to get there, but he made it and in 2013 we entered our first (and last) dressage show.