Gratitude for the Glorious Gift of Poop.

This is how you can tell there is a tourist in the barn: they keep their eyes on the ground and there’s lots of erratic tiptoeing. Some even squeal at the sight of manure. I call it Fecalphobia- an irrational fear of digestive waste. Thankfully, humans are the only species prone to the disease. (Nincompoops.) Everybody else is fine about bowel relief.

People who live with horses don’t get emotional about poop. It’s such a normal part of the day-to-day reality; Fecalphobia is an urban luxury we just can’t afford. More likely, horse owners appreciate a steamy monument affirming the health of their equine, remarking “Quelle Bon Merde!”

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” William Shakespeare.

But something happened this week that make me lose my sense of humor. During my 10 pm feed, I found my elderly gelding lethargic and wobbly. He’d had an explosive bout of diarrhea, his gut sounds were audible at a distance, and he actually burped loud and foul. (I know- horses aren’t supposed to be able to burp.) My gelding collapsed to the ground and laid flat. He was in obvious pain and kind of hopeless at the same time. Not funny, and very scary- I feared the worst.

I finally got him to his feet an hour later, just as my vet arrived. We set to work in zero degree temperatures to try to help my grandfather horse.

Diagnosis: Equine Colitis. How have I never heard of it? Have you? (Google it.) It’s dangerous, like colic, with stress being a factor. Was this early, bitter winter weather the culprit? The treatment includes tubing fluids for dehydration and banamine for pain, followed by Bio-sponge (serious anti-diarrhea) and a course of pro-biotics.

My grandfather horse slowly got comfortable. My focused, hard-working vet eventually left, along with my holiday money, in the wee hours. Farm calls like this confirm the total lack of romance in the veterinarian occupation, all the more reason I’m so grateful for someone to call.

I limped on frozen toes to the house to watch and wait. There is such a fine balance to an equine digestive tract. Once that process gets interrupted, there is no peaceful rest until that nutrition-elimination cycle is working normally again.

In pre-dawn light, I was thrilled to see the old gelding still on his feet. I continued his meds but he was still dull, with no interest in hay. By mid-morning there was not much improvement- he would chew a bit of hay but then spit it out. He seemed so depressed- what could I do? I brought him his best donkey-friend to share his hay snacks and remind him to swallow.

Each hour I cheerfully offered scraps of hay, each hour he would nibble. He took a bit of water. Very long hours crawled by.

And finally, just as the sun was setting, I saw it! The incredible miracle of excrement!

Turditis with projectile infermatude no more.

Craptastic!  Fecalicious joy! Fanscatic release.  Cow-pie-pretty poopitude!
Stoolpendus healing!
Turdatious gratitude!

Thank God for poop. We live to muck another day!

 Anna Blake, Infinity Farm.

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Comment by Debra McDaid on December 11, 2011 at 11:21am

Hi I appreaciate your kind words... :)  it has been a long struggle.

Che thanks me each and every day by charging me and kicking at me if I approach from behind! lol, he thinks that if you don't have a job that is for his immediate gratification, or at least a treat or two or three or four.... that you are of no importance and should not bother him until you do have something good in mind for his immenence! 

But yes in all seriousness, Che is just glad to be alive, he is a horse in a million, and I can say this from the point of view of having and knowing a many, many horses in my lifetime.  But even if he was just an 'average' horse, I would do no less once they are in your care, they are your responsiblity.  :)  We have raised Che since he was a yearling, so he really does not know anyone else but us, but I think that my little gelding is a good example of a horse that is greatful for people to love him, he came from the worst kind of homes, and now he is just happy to be with us, he used to freeze, now he wears two winter blankets, he will go from one end of the barn to the other to put his head in his blankets.  He is never happier than when all three of us rub him dry, and like a fellow horsemen once said, I see why he won't bolt his stall anymore!!!  Of the two horses Tattoo's death was the slowest, in all seriousness acidosis is a really horrible and slow death for horses, Tattoo's kidneys had started to fail, and he could no longer drink, his stomach was shot, and he ended up tying up for 6 weeks straight.  I've been trying to get the message out there to race people (this problem strikes many race horses) that this is a serious problem and is often the cause of some pretty unusual and seemingly strange symptoms. 

It's nice to hear kind words about the care my horses get, as in the world that I live in (stb racing) mostly I get slagged for being 'soft' on my horses.  But when you look in their eyes how can I do any less, they are horses, just like any others and to me they are heroes, if people knew a fraction of what the stb horse goes through each day they would quite amazed.  Stb people take it for granted that it is just the way it should be, and usually harsh words are all that a sick, or lame horse gets, and then it goes to the local killer.  So thanks again, I'll let Che know next time he decides that his lot in life isn't quite as he thinks it should be after all two treats aren't nearly as good at 4 or 5, and his yogurt isn't coming nearly fast enough!!! That someone is on my side! :)

take care from Che, Tattoo, and of course me-- Deb

Comment by Anna Blake on December 11, 2011 at 10:12am

Debra... I salute your efforts for this good horse. Good job against a wall of resistance. Sometimes survival is the big win. Your horse wants me to thank you again.

Comment by Debra McDaid on December 10, 2011 at 2:13pm

Sorry  figer nuggets should have been Fiber-- opps,


Comment by Debra McDaid on December 10, 2011 at 2:11pm


Yes I know what colitis is, I also have had to find out what sand colic can do, what happens to your horses' stomach when heavy metal poisoning comes into the picture and have found out the horrible signs that your horses has progressive acidosis (hope I spelled that one right!) Che my 4 year old has spent the last 2 years of his life struggling with colic in various forms, first because he was removed from his mother too early, (and the herd), then from the colts that he should have been running with... no healthy 'poop' to eat-- no healthy bacteria either-- low iron, bad gut, then I get him, he is a wild dirt eater, the paddock we rented turned out to be toxic, as was the creek he was playing in-- so more stomach trouble, plus sand colic to go with it!!! Now after three years of struggling with him he is on a diet of hay, in it's various forms and nothing else, a case of laminitis, navicular (caudal heel pain or whatever you want to call it these days), colicing for almost every day of two years, grumpy, unwilling behavour, and a sour attitude with girth and work, and some days when death looked pretty much on the horizon (Che cannot go under the knife as it is, as he is alergic to tranqualizers etc.- so no colic surgry for him), The poor big fella has suffered so much in his 4 years it is a wonder that he looks at life in a good light, but show him the end of a lung line and tell him go for a walk, or show him the paddock, or show him open race track with the starting gate, or a saddle, and after the girth is done up (he hates that) he is off and running-- he is much better these days, after thousands and thousands of dollars, learning what NOT to do, and some of what to do --yogurt daily, no probotics, and no chemical additives-- no supliments-- no oral anything unless it is hay-- he is sugar intollerant too, so little sugar ie carrots, apples, grain,-- NO prepared feeds that will colic him in less than 15 minutes-- just hay, hay and more hay-- and electrolytes in moderation in soaked hay cubes, figer nuggets instead of grain to keep him from breaking the barn down... did I mention that he is race horse (and a ridding horse), he is more energetic, and much healthier on just hay, something that I would never have believed if I hadn't seen it for myself!!! me a tried and true grain (always the best hay possible and all they want kind of girl), person-- but hay (pun inteaded) you do what you gots to do!!! and then I go and get a horse that is a tie up horse-- and low and behold why does he tie up, why is he emaciated??? he has asidosis!!! Equishure for him, hay and more hay for him, calicum and phosphorous, and yogurt, he HAS to get supliments, and he has to get Tie Free, cant skip any of it... cost says I have tried!!! And my reward-- poop, on a regular basis, that does not smell like you brought 50 human babies in the barn with dirty diapers (Tattoo the asidosis horse), and Che the colic horse-- can go, and not like an elephant with the consistancey of a runny dirty river... or not at all which is worse!!!  So I know what you are talking about, and I can feel for you, you don't know how much you are waiting to see that wonderful sight of a horse lifing it's tail and letting go round normal balls!!! until you have stood for hours watching them suffer, and NOT be able to go, and then finally go, and the bills stop there, and so does your worry -- until the next time!! Oh the joy of owning horses!!!


take care

Deb McDaid

Tiocfaidh Ar La Stable

and From Tattoo, and Che as well who know your horses plight!

Comment by E. Allan Buck on December 9, 2011 at 2:44pm

It takes such patience to wait and wait and wait for those glorious road apples to appear so you can breath a huge sigh of relief.

Glad all is well.

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