From the Foaling Barn


Losing Jodie

This is a very hard post to write. Tuesday, May 9th, we had to euthanize our beautiful palomino mare, Jodies Jac Tari. I had written previously about several problems we had had with Jodie prior to her foaling. She leaked milk for several weeks, so I layed in a supply of mare colostrum to give the foal as soon as it was born. Also, Jodie had experienced periods of bleeding from a vaginal varicose vein. I had her on sulfa for the ten days prior to foaling to guard against infection that could affect the foal. I thought I was prepared for all eventuallities. Unfortunately, there was nothing that could have changed what happened.

Jodie went into labor late Sunday night. We were expecting it because her calcium milk level had reach 250 pts per ml. We were watching her on our foal cam, and as soon as we knew she was in labor, we went down to the barn. When we arrived the sack was out and we could see one hoof. However, for the next fifteen minutes, though she pushed mightily, we saw no more progress. I went in the stall to check the sack, and realized that the foot we were seeing was pointing upward not downward. I called the on-call vet, Ava, immediately and she contacted my regular vet, Brian. Both of them were coming but would not arrive for thirty minutes. I asked Ava if there was anything I could do. She said, no, because we did not want to take any chance of the sack rupturing. However, within a short time, the sack ruptured on its own and I called Ava once again. And she told me to put gloves on and see if I could feel the other foot or the nose. When I went into the stall, I realize something was very wrong--Jodies rectum had prolapsed and part of her colon was coming out. I called Ava again quickly and she told me to push the colon back in and to hold it in, until she got there. Brian arrived shortly thereafter and examined Jodie. He tried to pull the foal, but when he pulled, Jodie would push and the colon would pop out again. Once Ava arrived and Brian conferred with another vet at Stillwater, he decided we had to get Jodie to the clinic to try to sedate her so the foal could be pulled out without the risk of the colon being further damaged. He warned me that I might have to choose between saving Jodie or the foal. But he also warned me that there was little chance of Jodie surviving, and he wasn't sure the foal could be pulled out alive.

I was't sure Jodie could make the twenty minute trip to the clinic. But Brian said it was our only chance. He sutured her rectum closed so that she wouldn't push the colon out again in transit, my husband hooked up the trailer, and we loaded Jodie. Ava had already left to get the operating room ready. Brian followed the trailer and I went back to the house to get my husband's wallet and my purse and then I headed toward the clinic. It was 12:30 Monday morning by now, and as I drove to clinic, I was sure I would find that both Jodie and the foal had died.

When I pulled into the clinic parking lot, it was 1 AM, and the bay door was open and all the lights were on. I could see into the operating room, where a foal was sprawled on the floor, and three vets stood over him. I thought the foal was dead, but then Brian nudged him with his foot and the foal struggle up onto his sternum. Jodie was standing quietly. We carried the foal to one of the clinic stalls and led Jodie in behind him. He was standing in a matter of minutes and trying to nurse. The vets gave Jodie Banamine and antibiotics. They thought the foal was going to be fine, but warned me that Jodie's prognosis was poor.

When I got home at two that night, I went to the computer and Googled "rectal prolapse in mares." What I found was not reassuring. There are four levels of rectal prolapses in horses, depending on how much of the colon is extruded. Horses usually survive Levels 1 and 2. But Levels 3 nd 4 are almost always ultimately fatal. Dystopias are one of the main risk factors for rectal prolapse.

The next morning, I was at the clinic early to check on Jodie and her foal, a buckskin colt by Jerry Lees Surprise. They looked wonderful. All Jodie's vital signs were good, but I knew that there were many risks ahead. The first problem showed up later that day. Jodie was not passing manure, which meant that her colon was not able to push feces through. The danger was that the longer she went without passing manure, the greater the danger of impaction.
The next morning, Jodie was still doing reasonably well, but her heart rate was slightly elevated and there was still no manure. By the afternoon, when I came back to see her again, she was refusing food, and she was obviously depressed. All my hopes for a miracle evaporated. I knew she was not going to make it.

Early Wednesday morning, Brian called me and before he said anything, I knew it was bad news. Jodie had an extremely high heart rate, her red blood count was going down, and she had a temperature of 104. She was now septic and had no chance to survive. It was time to put her down. I rushed to the clinic so I could be with her when she was euthanized. When I arrived the foal was nursing. I scratched Jodie'sr withers and offered her one of her favorite treats. When we took her away from her foal to walk her back to the arena where Brian would euthanize her, she called to her foal during the entire walk.

Jodie was a beautiful mare. I bought her when she was ten and she had five gorgeous foals, with her pretty head and big, soft eyes. She was only seventeen when she died. I am so thankful that her foal survives.


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