It's been hot. It's been VERY hot. Heat warnings, and while temperatures are only in the 90s, the heat index has been 105+. Dangerously hot.
This morning, Station was laying down. She was laying sternal (on her chest) so I thought nothing of it. Later mom mentioned Station was still down. A quick peek showed she had moved, and was sternal. She looked like she's napping. Station has arthritis in her back legs (stifle, hocks, and most likely pasterns too) and she's a 17 year old mare. She also lived most of her life on the New York Canadian Border. Resting her legs is perfectly expected. I have rheumatoid arthritis, and I'm achy, so it's expected that she would be too.
When my next peek showed Station STILL laying down, I worried. Keep in mind that Station lays down a lot, so seeing her relaxing isn't that abnormal for her. We grabbed a halter, pulled, cajoled, kicked, and did everything we needed to, in order to get her up and to the barn. As a retired horse, she lives most of her life in the pasture right now. She's stalled for bad weather, but in this heat, the shade under the trees is better for her.
Station was previously owned by my dear friend Sigrid Rico. Sadly, Sig passed away in February, rather suddenly, and I was asked to take her stallion and mare. I have foals from both, and simply adore their bloodlines, so with out a second thought, we got the horses moved to Texas. I have been careful with them and the climate change. They get sun screen, they get fly masks to block the harsh sun, and they get pampered. I have kept them out of the barn, because well.... it's cooler OUTside normally!
Sadly, it appears that Station is suffering from the heat. I'm currently ordered by my vet to hose her off every 30 minutes. She's been given banamine for gut pain, ulcerguard for well, ulcers, and mom is on her way to get pain med #2 (which I can't recall the name of for the life of me). Station is under a fan, her stall is a dirt floor, and right now it's nothing but mud, so she can lay in it and cool off.
If she isn't dehydrated soon, an IV will be started, and she will be tubed with water as well. Neither will help her stress level, which won't help her cool off, so my vet recommended the high maintenance option first.
If you've never seen a horse with heat stroke, pray you never do. It's scarry. The heat makes the horse feel bad, so the horse stops drinking. Once the horse becomes dehydrated, the horse usually gets impacted, so has colic like symptoms. Most commonly, the horse doesn't feel energetic enough to thrash and roll, so they look like they are dieing. And make no mistake, it is very possible to lose a horse from this.
I AM worried about Station. I am also doing every thing I can to get her better, while kicking myself for not picking up on the signs a few hours earlier. She has rub marks over her body, and it appears that she spent much of the night down. At evening feed last night (which is around 11pm here) she was up, and lethargic, but not showing any signs of pain.
I'm covered in mud, swat to keep off the flies(because it's pretty much water proof, I now have a pink snowcap appy) horse sweat, and my sweat. Weather channel says that it's 93 degrees, but feels like 102F. That's about 34/39 degrees C for everyone else out there. Station is improving, but she's not out of the woods yet.
Her gut sounds are improving, her breathing is slowed to almost normal. Her color has been good this whole time, and capillary refill is perfectly normal, although slightly less then what she was in cooler weather. I have a couple more hours before the temperature drops.
Trust me, if I could bring her inside to the air conditioning, I most definitely would. I don't think she'd handle the steps well though.
I'll update as the situation changes.
A Note about Sugarbush Draft Horses
I see it over and over again, and no matter how many times it's said, it's still wrong. "Sugarbush Drafts are just an Appaloosa Draft Cross". Uh.... no. The Sugarbush Draft Horse was a breed created many years ago in Ohio. While the initial cross was made using Percherons to Appaloosas, in the many generations following, the breed has been solidified into a consistent type. Saying these horses are "just" a draft cross makes as much sense as saying that AQHA horses are "just" a Thoroughbred cross, American Cream Drafts are "just" a dilute Belgian, or that Morgans are "just" a grade.