"Elective" Exploratory Colic Surgery - Trying to Diagnose Recurrent Colic - Massive Doubt and Guilt

Someone recommended I air this laundry here. I need to talk, even if it’s only into the void. What follows is probably the longest post ever.

r/Horses - "Elective" Exploratory Colic Surgery - Massive Doubt and Guilt

“Yoga”

I’ve only known my horse since December 2021. 6yo ClydexHackney mare, had one baby from a Clyde stallion before being purchased by her seller, who put her through three months of training. I’m going to start this by saying that I know she’s a lemon/moneypit/whatever, but I also love her as an individual and want to try for a future with her. She is generally quite happy and otherwise healthy, with her “bouts” spaced about a month apart, so euthanasia is not an ethical option, to me, at this time.

She also shows every sign of being twice the horse I dared hope to have.

INCITING INCIDENT

Starting March 29, 2021, she coliced. Classic laying down, yoga stretches, lip curling. Upset demeanor. Called the vet out. Vet found a gas bubble the size of a basketball, gave banamine, waited twelve hours–colic seemed to go away, but after 12 hours–the yoga came back. BUT she was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, just repeatedly stretching. Real conundrum, that. Vet was not okay with that and genuinely believed we were looking at surgery.

So we went up to the hospital–New Bolton, so not playing around, and not cheap either.

Hospital said she had displaced her right colon, but it would probably shift back into place with medical management.

So they managed her, and she came home.

And started yoga again, literally the day she came home. Local vet waved it off as her having just gotten off the trailer.

DIAGNOSTICS

Then it happened again, April 15. Local vet came out, noted mildly elevated vitals and…gas. Hmm.

Back up to hospital.

This time we scoped her.

Ulcers in both sections of the stomach. Prescribed misoprostol and sucralfate.

So at this point we thought the yoga was due to the ulcers. Maybe that’s also causing gas. For months, we managed the ulcers. The yoga came and went, lip curling came and went, and didn’t seem to match the severity of the ulcers as they healed–the ulcers were nearly gone and she was still showing on-and-off signs of abdominal pain.

So began the saga of her having symptoms and us–myself, my local vet, and the hospital vet–trying to figure out WHY while doing monthly re-scopes May, June, July, and August. She had x-rays. She had blood tests. She had ultrasounds. She had a rectal and duodenal biopsy. Ulcers were stubborn–weirdly, they took an unusual amount of time to heal, and at one point increased in severity before we got them gone.

She had a lipoma in her shoulder that we removed–at the time, vet thought that it was singular and a by-product of an old injury. We popped that out since it was such a simple procedure and she was up there anyway. More on this later.

All other tests and imaging came back unremarkable. We started targeting any and all sand accumulation in her stomach starting in June, but no matter how trace her levels seemed to be, it didn’t seem to change anything. She’d have days where I thought she was normal, and days where she’d stand off by herself in the field, not grazing, acting sluggish. Perpetually loud gut. No diahrrea–softest she’s gotten is when she was on psyllium or her cycle. Around July, we started wondering if her cycle had something to do with all this, since her first colic was at the end of March. So she went on Regumate for a little bit. No change. She had a full reproduction exam, where it was noted that she did have a cyst–she was re-evaluated at the end of the month and the cyst had gone.

WTF NOW

Then, at the very end of August, she walked out of the field, ate her breakfast, and went full down-ward facing dog.

There are not ENOUGH swear words.

Called transport. Sent her up to the hospital because “It is happening NOW, let’s see what shows up.”

And like many times before, her vitals were FINE, she was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, but when the vet stuck their arm up there–Uh. oh. Colon’s displaced. This was the second time they’d examined her within two hours of yoga and the second time they found a displaced colon.

Medically managed again, and sent home. So now we’re concerned that she KEEPS displacing. And at this point the ulcers are managed. So what the hell is going on??? Hospital vet did a faecal transplant to re-set her microbiome and put her on motility drug Bethanacol. The belief then was that she was getting gas over and over again due to dismotility. Okay.

GETTING COLDER - MOTILITY, GAS DISTENSION AND ALLERGIES

September and October marked instances of her being “off,” but at this point I’m sure I’m overanalyzing every sh*t this horse takes because I’m completely overwhelmed. My riding instructor got me to take her for a bareback hack September 22nd–that went okay, but when we got back from a walk-only, walk-and-graze type hack, she was breathing heavily. Then she tried to go down. While I was on her.

Got off, walked her until her heart rate went down.

Two hours later I found her laying down in the field–very abnormal for that time of night, she should have been waiting at the gate for dinner.

She got up and ate dinner. I slept out there that night with my car parked along the fence. Vet came out the next day. I was sure at this point that I was completely out of my mind and reading too much into her being out of shape. Vet took one look at my happily-grazing horse and sighed, but we went to do a rectal anyway.

Vet put hand up there and…uh oh. Both her large colon and cecum were distended with gas. And the anti-spasmodic would counteract the Bethanacol.

Called hospital vet and arranged to try the next step–steroid. Even though none of her tests came back indicating IBS, we thought at this point we’ve tried everything else.

With the local vet, I also paid to do a blood test for allergies. And she came back allergic to absolutely everything.

Grass. Weeds. Trees. Her numbers were extremely high and she was “allergic” to most of the tested allergens. These allergy panels are notoriously unreliable, and horses often test positive to things they eat on a regular basis. But now I’m wondering why her immune system is so reactive on top of everything else. We started and remain on allergy therapy shots–she’s never had a bad reaction to the shot and it may at least help with her snotty nose come spring time.

So the horse is on steroids and allergy shots, and as we went into late October and early November, I was certain–with sinking dread–that her ulcers were back. She started cribbing agian. She was getting sluggish, plodding along after me when she would normally jog and try to knock the hay flakes out of my arms. She was immediately drinking water after eating or being turned out (to the point of going all the way across the field to the trough before going to the feed I was distributing–home girl is extremely food motivated and this is WEIRD). Booked an appointment with her hospital vet to have a re-scope done. I even sent the sucralfate up with her, as I was pretty certain they were going to find a raw stomach.

Nope. No ulcers. No sand. NOTHING.

At this point the hospital vet said we would not be unreasonable doing exploratory surgery.

The problem is, as we head into true winter cold, it’s like my horse has snapped back to the normal that existed when I got her (also in true winter cold). She came back from the hospital during a cold snap and is definitely perkier.

SURGERY

This is not the first time we discussed an exploratory surgery. Both hospital vets that have worked with her doubt that we’re going to find anything dramatic (wouldn’t that be nice). We’re probably looking at the world’s most invasive biopsy instead, and then if those results come back normal, I’ll have let them open her up for nothing. With that in mind, one of the hospital vets floated the idea that since her colon keeps displacing, we could consider just taking the colon out while they’re in there. I flinched away from that; if her colon is healthy and there’s no “grenade” in there like a gut stone or a lipoma, I can mark her as reasonably safe while we continue to try supplement and diet fixes.

The threat, though slight, of a “grenade with a loose pin” in there is what’s compelling me.

Because this recurrent colic was textbook for a gut stone–but then we didn’t see any on x-rays.

Because she had one lipoma removed while I’ve owned her, and there’s a dent in her neck that suggests maybe one was removed there as well–and where there’s one, there may be more.

But it’s all for…what, the mildest colic in the world? Stretching, yawning, lip-curling, shifting weight from side-to-side. She doesn’t even flank watch. I have never even seen her roll in colic distress. She’s always been responsive and the hospital vets all report that apart from that first visit at the end of March, she hasn’t displayed colic signs while in the hospital. It’s only at home, and so subtle that frankly, I don’t think I would have seen them if not for the fact that I was on “code yellow” starting in March.

RECOVERY CONSIDERATIONS

This horse used to be semi-feral. She lived her first five years of life on open land, no paddocks, no stalls. She is EXTREMELY social with people and now has her own herd at my boarding stable, and a little hackney pony who she seems to believe is her child. Okay-ing this surgery–it’s not so much about the cost as it is what it’s going to cost HER. Three months at a lay-up facility, the first month of which is spent in a concrete stall. I’ll only see her during visitation hours. I’ll be sending a happy horse with intermittent issues–and very slight issues at that–to surgery.

But those intermittent issues are keeping me from riding her (haven’t risked it since the September meltdown) or trusting her. I haven’t gone out of town since March.

COVERAGE

Her insurance, which I purchased two days after I purchased her, is of course more fed up than I am. If I didn’t do the surgery and just rolled into her new policy, her payments have more than doubled. I have been asked to provide a vet’s note that she is back in work and has not had any new colic signs. LOL. Her policy expires at the end of December. She has surgical coverage and colic surgery coverage remaining until that time. Her hospital vet, upon hearing all of this, moved heaven and earth to get her surgery lined up before the deadline.

I am now sitting here staring at my phone, knowing that I need to call the insurance company tomorrow and in so doing:

~Commit to the surgery

~Condemn this horse to three months of stress, depression, and wondering what she did wrong to suddenly be away from her big open field and friends

~Prevent her from ever being insured again

~Expose her to the risks inherent to surgery, potentially for NOTHING (vets have assured that her risk is very low, but still)

~Leaving myself the remaining decision of: Do I ask them to do a one-and-done and take the colon out like the one vet suggested, or do the biopsy with the potential of having to go back in again in the future, out of pocket?

I’ve lost fifteen pounds and what feels like the joy of life in this DEBACLE. The dream was to finally own my own horse after twelve years of taking phenomenal care of other people’s horses. It’s become hell on earth.

Am I sending her to surgery for selfish reasons of grasping for an answer or (in my heart of hearts) wanting three months of her under veterinary scrutiny?

Should I just let her exist with on-and-off abdominal pain and see what happens when I “just stop calling the vet and if she lives, she lives, if she doesn’t, she doesn’t” (actual suggestion by one of the barn ladies)?

I feel like I’ve been fighting in the dark, and I don’t know if I’m fighting a singular dragon or the hydra. I know that I’m overly anxious. I point-blank asked the hospital vet if there was sufficient documented evidence (basically, forget everything I’ve ever SAID I’ve seen, what has been medically observed…) to still recommend this exploratory surgery. They said yes, that no matter what, she has displaced at least twice. We also have to consider the other times she was stretching and didn’t go to the vet–it’s very possible she’s been popping her colon back into place herself at home with us nary the wiser.

But that feels unsustainable, and leaves me on edge, waiting for “the big one” that may or may not come.

And yes, a horse I got in December 2021 has made such a good impression that I have fought tooth and nail to get her issues resolved. I’d pay all of her bills all over again if it meant I got to keep her. I’m just so guilt-ridden each night she comes up to the fence, happy as a clam, thinking that I might somehow destroy her in trying to figure this out.

Thanks for reading, strangers.

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I have no real advice, just huge sympathy for what you are going thru. What does her bloodwork show? Any symptoms of and I am sorry to say the word, but cancer? Have they asked you to try the basics like making her diet different, or a round of gastrogard instead of the physilium (sp?) ? Have you tried having her on succeed for awhile? What is her diet currently? I cannot imagine the hell you are going thru for her but you are amazing for doing all that you have!!! Huge jingles and hugs!!

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Having taken a horse through colic surgery in 2012, which is a long time ago, I can say that (a) he survived the surgery (double torsion and displacement), and (b) returned to complete health and soundness and his competitive career as a GP dressage horse. He spent a month in the surgical clinic’s ICU, and none of that month was nice for him or for us. After that month he moved to a hospital paddock near the clinic, and spent another month there. I brought him home after the initial 2 months, and he lived in a pasture separated from the other horses, but within sight of them. None of it was terribly easy for any of us, and involved a 5.5 hour drive to the surgical facility in the middle of the night, through 2 mountain passes, and the same drive each way every time we visited him. All of that said, it was worth it. I have a client whose GP dressage horse colicked, it was determined to be surgical, and she hauled 9 hours in the winter through the mountains to get him into surgery for a strangulated lipoma. He had complications, and spent 3 months in clinic before returning home, and a year recovering, before returning to national competitions at GP. He is 3 years out, and sound and happy in his work.

I think your last paragraph says it all, you’d pay all of the bills to keep her. If that’s honestly true, then go for exploratory surgery. She clearly doesn’t have a minor issue, this will continue in all likelihood, and you will ruin your health and wellbeing dealing with every occurrence. None of us are omniscient, but I doubt that you’ll destroy her with exploratory surgery. However, if you leave the situation as it is you may be making that long and terrifying drive for emergency surgery, and that’s almost always more risky. Then you’d REALLY feel guilty.

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You have my sympathy for having to deal with all this so soon after getting your mare.

If the exploratory surgery will be covered by the insurance & your out-of-pocket won’t put you in financial straits, IIWM, I’d go that route.
With the caveat that if the colonectomy does not resolve the problem, the vet clinic would take her expenses over from you.
If it’s a teaching clinic, as harsh as this may sound, they’ll do everything they can to fix the problem. With euthanasia as a final resort if she’s in chronic pain.

One of your bullet points did stand out for me.
The stay at the clinic is not likely to be cause for the mare to be distressed.
Horses accept What Happens, they don’t agonize over What Was.
I’m not saying they’re not sentient or unable to feel happiness. Just a LOT more accepting of changes in circumstances.
If she comes back to you & her present routine (including her pony) she’ll most likely act like the “exile” never happened.

Wishing you & your mare Peace.

ETA:
She’s a cutie :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:
FWIW:
My Hackney Pony regularly does Downward Dog, usually when I bring his morning grain. Hay does not get the same greeting :smirk:

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That might be the longest post ever.

I have nothing to offer but sympathy and hope you can get her diagnosed and her issues resolved-- for both your sakes.

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She’s on local orchard grass hay when needed, 24/7 grass turnout, very small amounts of nutrena grain when we give pills and a small handful at dinner. We tried assure guard gold for a while, then succeed. We had her on misoprostol rather than Gastrogard due to the ulcers being glandular.

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I will be honest I don’t know what glandular means I just know when my mare had ulcers the misoprostal treated her hind gut ulcers and then the gastroguard is what we used for her stomach ulcers my vet swears by if you are going to do one do the other as well . Not that that would cause her colon to displaced though of course.

Glandular is the lower portion of the stomach, for which Gastrogard is less effective. Gastrogard can interfere with the efficacy of miso.

I have a month of Gastro guard on standby if her ulcers come back and was going to send them up with her as a preventative while she’s in a stall.

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Interesting. Her downward dog happened after eating grain at one point. But then she had her vet-confirmed displacement same day.

Thank you.

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Wow. I am sorry you are dealing with all of this, on top of a relatively new partnership. Are you able to ask past owners about her history, what they were feeding, management styles?

Some parts of your story stuck out to me. A few years ago I went through something similar with a geriatric gelding we’ve had for over 20 years. I’ll spare the details but in the end, we realized his colic symptoms were being caused by his teeth - or lack of molars - which wasn’t immediately obvious by the dentist until we went all out with the speculum. He developed colitis from roughage, which caused colic symptoms, inflammation in his colon, stomach, and ulcers – both glandular and hind gut. It was not a quick fix, but we pulled him immediately off of hay, started him on a complete feed and give him about 10lb (dry) of soaked timothy pellets daily. This has been his routine now for 2 years and he is fat and sleek despite being 28 with no teeth.

I’d be concerned about the continual colon displacement. They likely meant ‘tack’ the colon in place, which they tack down the colon to the abdominal wall. Since she has/had history of lipoma, it might be worth keeping in the back of your mind that its possible they are internal too. Exploratory surgery would very likely discover any lipomas - including future ones that may strangulate.

Ulcers take a long time to heal. I’ve had very few resolve in months.

I also had a (late) gelding years ago who always did that downward dog stretch in the morning right before grain was dropped. For him, it was anxiety-relief of sorts. He never colicked a day in his life, thankfully.

I hope you get some answers, please report back.

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Every time I see a new posting with “recurrent colic” in the title, my heart goes out to the person dealing with those symptoms of reoccurring mild, but still scary, colic.

My older gelding (25 years old) first had sand colic in June of this year. It presented as mild colic symptoms while eating. We got that treated at a university equine hospital, then he was fine.

Fast forward to September this year, we moved 5.5 hours away to a new state and my horse suffered greatly. He began having strange back and forth stool consistencies, sometimes cow patty, sometimes liquid, sometimes formed. Wasn’t finishing his hay and would colic on a weekly basis. He developed colitis at one point and you could hear his gut noises from across the stall. He lost so much weight and we had numerous vets out to “treat” the symptoms. When you say you stayed in your car by the pasture, I know exactly what you mean, I felt like I couldn’t go anywhere or do anything because he may start to show symptoms at anytime. I even took a chair to the barn some nights and would watch him for a few hours whenever I felt he was “off” acting. And yes, being on high alert all the time takes a toll on your body and mental state.

Eventually I sent him to Ohio State University where they ran a ton of expensive tests on him. The vet there warned me we may “strike out” and not have answers on a lot of these tests they were doing. Ultrasounds, scope, x-rays, abdominal fluid tap, blood tests, and finally biopsies of the small intestine and colon. To make a long story short, he was “negative” for about everything. Sand, stones, lipomas, infections, etc. they eventually discharged him with “IBS”. Thankfully the kind folks on this forum who have experienced the same/similar issues shared their advice, along with a local vet who was really knowledgeable, got him the medications he needed to start healing his gut. I learned a lot from the whole experience but I don’t want to go through that again, and don’t wish it on any horse owner.

I think the fact that you have completed a lot of the typical colic testing already, and have tried different things to limit the amount of times she has these symptoms, and have the insurance to help with the expense side of things, I think it would be reasonable to move forward with the surgery. I’m not sure if you will “strike out” or find answers, but I’m hoping for the latter. It’s odd to me that she has displaced twice, and I really hope the answer is obvious, for that is better than no answer. Best wishes to you and your horse.

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Are you sure they said “taking the colon” and not “tacking” the colon in place? I don’t know for sure they do that in horses but there may be a surgery to try and help reduce the movement of the colon so she doesn’t displace anymore.

I’d ask to speak with the hospital vet one more time and go through everything - write down your questions ahead of time and anything else you don’t think you have enough information on. I know your insurance is up soon, but I’d also ask the vet what would happen if you waited longer - the risks of that. See how much they are quoting you for surgery and the recovery/rehab costs as well. And see if either place accepts CareCredit and what the insurance will cover.

I do think you have to weigh the restrictions she’ll endure during recovery/rehab versus quality of life and potential for her to just keep on going. And how you’d feel if you waited and she had a terminal colic.

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All of these are great posts. Mine had colic surgery, and thank the dear Lord, came through it beautifully. I’d do it again in a heartbeat, if needed. The question I have is that I think I understood the OP to say there is no problem when it’s cold. I would think that’s a clue of some sort. Is there any merit to postponing surgery and examine what tiny thing might be different in cold weather? A different source for water??? Something that the neighbors might spray their lawn with that drifts?? Or wait until it’s warmer when the symptoms present again?? Best wishes, NH

I would encourage the exploratory surgery.

I could write a novel as long as yours about one of my horses. I got him as a three-year old and he coliced repeatedly - always mild and usually chalked up to gas. It got to the point that I only called to update my vet as it would usually “fix” itself without intervention. I took him to the local vet teaching hospital and had all kinds of tests run on him in his 6-year old year. The test results did not result in any findings. Later allergy tests indicated he was allergic to a ton of things. My understanding is that allergy tests based on bloodwork can have a lot of false positives, particularly when the horse’s system is stressed.

Fast-forward to his 14 year-old year, when he went downhill quickly. Repeated colics; anorexia; etc. I was looking at euthanasia. Off he went to the local vet teaching hospital again. Another battery of tests. However, this time a few things showed up and the vets thought we might be dealing with a particular issue (turns out this wasn’t the case) and the only option was euthanasia or exploratory surgery. We did the surgery. Found something that would never have been found without the surgery and better yet, they were able to repair it. He remained at the vet hospital for two weeks I believe and then came home.

Several years on, he has not had another colic. No complications from the surgery. And, he was the topic of an article written published by the vets for his unique situation.

Exploratory surgery is not nearly as invasive as some colic surgeries - for example a full resection. There are just some things that cannot be seen from external exams or from scopes and this may be the case for your horse.

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OP your story could bring a horse owner to tears. Sometimes it seems like nothing we are doing is really helping, and we have done everything. It is awful to feel like we are just out of answers. It is hard to consider euthanasia for a horse that has a spirit for life and living, even though they don’t seem to be really healthy. Plus our dreams with that horse are hard to give up, at some point not for our sake but for theirs. Fulfilling those dreams means they are healthy, able, willing and enthusiastic. That’s what we want for them.

Your horse may have felt this way for so long, even on and off, that she thinks it is normal. Her cheerful demeanor even though frequently feeling uncomfortable is just life, to her.

As far as thoughts/advice, I’d go with what Dbliron said in the 2nd para of the 2nd post. I would be uneasy to carry on as is because of the danger of a sudden, serious, excruciating, life-threatening colic. Have seen it, don’t wish that on any horse or owner.

During the surgery, can you be available for consultation and recommendations? Perhaps the decision on taking or not taking her colon could be made on the strength of more information from having had a look inside, while she is open and they could go ahead and do it? I don’t know enough to know if that is possible.

I would see the surgery, with or without the colon removal, as analogous to scooping a happy child out of the path of an oncoming train. The child isn’t acting as if they need to change anything because the child doesn’t know.

Your horse doesn’t know her health risks which is a blessing to her happy days. But that puts the hard decisions all on her owner.

This is not a normal situation so don’t feel to tied to normal decisions.

Whatever you decide, know that you made the best decision for her welfare based on what you know at the time. That is all any of us can ever do.

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I share this just as a look how one horse’s life was affected by being prone to gas colic.

My previous horse had intermittent problems with gas colic that floated his intestines around. When he was 8 years old he had a colic that flipped his intestine over his spleen. His symptoms were caught right away and he was rushed to the vet hospital. Successful surgery and recovery. (That surgery was about 15 years ago, fwiw.).

Followed by several years of a happy and vigorous life, with diligent watchful care of colic prevention. This time of year (fall weather changes) was always an anxious time for me managing him to stay comfortable. But otherwise he thrived, few health issues (some creeping arthritis as he got older), and he and I fulfilled many dreams together. Great memories, great photos from that time.

When he was 13 he went into another severe colic (a cold dry January) that nearly killed him, this time from blockage. 10 days in ICU. With new techniques they avoided surgery. Treatment and recovery were difficult. Honestly in hindsight the surgery might have been a better option.

But after surviving that second extremely serious colic he never really came back to the horse that he was before. Immune system didn’t seem to completely kick in. That moment was a turning point in his overall health, not for the better. Starting within weeks of the return home there were years of a string of unrelated issues with this or that infection, illness, abscesses (he was a pro at standing with a foot in a bucket of epsom salts), just this & that, again and again. During the years afterward he had many good days but also many that weren’t so good.

He was pasture-retired by age 16 to reduce the claims on his energy and resilience. By age 18 his system went gradually downhill into a sort of full collapse. He was miserable from varied ailments and failure to thrive most of the time. Dropped weight alarmingly – no posting any pictures on FB, for sure. A distinct and growing loss of enthusiasm for life. It was finally time to let him go. The vet agreed that he was miserable physically and mentally. There was nothing more to do and no prognosis for recovery.

Never thought I wouldn’t have that horse for another 8 or 10 years. It was part of my life plan. But I’ve never doubted that was the right answer.

In hindsight:

The first life-saving colic surgery at age 8 was absolutely the right decision. The world and I were better with him in it.

But the second round of extraordinary life-saving measures at age 13 – I’ve always wondered if saving him was the best call, given his failure to thrive in the following years. Have talked about this with friends and of course no firm conclusions. Had I known the future I might have made a different decision. Even though I wasn’t ready to let him go and I don’t think he was ready to go. I don’t agonize over it, just wonder what I can learn in case there is a ‘next time’.

We have to decide without knowing what the future holds based on our choices. Just make the best decision we can with what we know at the time. And find a way to be at peace with it.

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Last consecutive post …

I try to always have insurance for my horse and have been down the road of coverage issues, given the history in the previous post. And with my current horse.

Don’t let insurance govern your decision. Things are different with insurance than they used to be. Nowadays, depending on the program you have, they will re-insure with exclusions, and sometimes without exclusions.

Lately I have been surprised at how quickly many exclusions are removed with a little bit of healthy time.

I thought a particular horse had become un-insurable, but not so, there was coverage available. It might not be the full traditional major medical & mortality. But there are reasonably-priced choices that have paid many claims.

These days insurance companies have re-thought what they are offering. Their goal is to keep owners on board paying premiums. If they go for large numbers of policies rather than limiting who can have a policy, there will be enough income to pay claims and still make a better profit than they were before.

You may have the gut excluded but you should still be able to get insurance for everything else – and you’ll need it if they aren’t covering her problem gut. If her gut stays healthy for a year or whatever time there is a good chance they will cover it again.

If you have any problems getting coverage, PM me and I’ll refer you to my broker of many years, who keeps my current horse covered in spite of everything. :slight_smile:

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Thankfully the boarding property is big enough that we’re not concerned about sprays or contamination from neighbors. The cold thing DOES really bug me, but I can’t say definitively that it “solves” the issue, as I’ve never had her through a complete winter. Not only that, but there WERE signs, in hindsight, last winter while it was still cold. She did some yoga, but because she was brand new and she’d just gotten up from a nap, I chalked it up to a stretch. Then we noticed that she would lie stretched out on the ground while napping, just totally zonked–riding instructor assured me that she was still young and young drafts take longer to mature/get out of baby habits like pretending to be corpses.

But she does seem…perkier when we have a cold snap. My half-baked idea is that if she’s “burning fuel” at a faster rate so to speak, that might be preventing gas build-up. But no solid idea.

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That first paragraph is spooky. You know it’s an unfortunate situation when you’re hoping for something “dramatic.”

I’m going to talk with the vet before this all goes down, but to my limited understanding, once they’re in, time is of the essence–they want the horse off of anesthesia as quickly as possible. So mid-surgical phone call is probably out of the question. We’ve already discussed at length what they two are going to be doing in there, but I’m going to ask for a pre-op phone call just to reiterate. I’m hesitant to allow the removal of her colon before we have that biopsy. Feels like removing parts, blind, could backfire in the end. But if they see ANYTHING off with that particular section, they already have my blessing to remove.

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