Posted on Jul 25, 2019
By Ellie Laks, Founder of The Gentle Barn
This week we brought another one of our horses to the hospital. Caesar is now thirty-two years old. He has overcome past abuse, has opened up and come out of his shell, has become the leader of our herd generously and bravely ensuring that they are safe, loved, and well behaved, and has now survived the loss of his wife, Sasha. He loves babies and grooms them with his mouth, delighting in their giggles. He is a gentleman through and through and we will do anything and everything to keep him healthy, strong, mobile, and happy. Caesar receives daily CBD and Sun Chlorella Algae Superfood. And he gets weekly acupuncture, massage therapy, and energy healing. He gets groomed every day, goes out to pasture with his family, and is always highlighted as the star of our barn.
Early in the mornings, I walk the dogs around the property as the sun is rising, when everything is still and quiet before my staff and volunteers arrive. Early mornings and late nights are the only times I get the sanctuary to myself, and those times are so precious to me. I get to interact with the animals with no other distractions, the air is fresh and sweet, and the silence envelops me in a peaceful healing that charges my batteries and keeps me going. This week on one of my morning rounds I noticed that Caesar was standing at the back of his stall while all the others were at their feeders finishing off remnants from the previous night’s dinner and patiently waiting for breakfast. My trained eyes quickly looked to see if he had pooped and found two piles of manure. I quickly ran to retrieve a cookie to see if he would eat it, and sure enough, he did take the cookie, making me think that he was ok. But something about the way he was standing and the look on his face suggested otherwise. So I finished my walk leaving the dogs at the house and returned to check on Caesar again. This time he didn’t look so great.
Caesar was pacing around the stall in circles and every now and then he would lie down and roll; classic signs of colic. Colic is a stomach ache in horses, but because they cannot burp or throw up, it is extremely painful. Colic can be anything from gas, to a blockage, twisted intestines, or a tumor. It can be completely benign resolving itself in a few days, it could require surgery, or it can be fatal. Because of Caesar’s age, we were taking no chances and loaded him into the trailer as fast as we could to drive him to the hospital, alerting them to our impending arrival.
When we arrived, they weighted him (he weighs 1100 pounds), and put him in a wash station to hold still while they examined him. They put a tube in his nose down to his stomach to see if there was a buildup of fluid, which would indicate a blockage and found nothing, which was encouraging. Then they did a rectal exam, putting their arm all the way inside him up to their shoulders, trying to feel for a blockage, rupture, or tumor. They found clumps of dried feces with pieces of undigested hay, suggesting that he might be dehydrated. Blood work confirmed the dehydration and he was set up in a stall and put on Intravenous fluids. The veterinarian explained that when it is very hot outside horses tend not to drink enough and get dehydrated, which then makes digesting hay more difficult and can develop into a slight blockage. The good news is that we caught it early and with some fluids, anti-inflammatory medications, and a few days Caesar should be fine.
We were sure to visit Caesar every day, and brought him acupuncture, massage, and energy work to the hospital. He seemed grateful for the help and happy to rest in his hospital stall for a few days. And with each passing day the fluids revived him, the dry manure moved through him, and on Monday we picked him up and drove him home. When we walked him out of the trailer all the other horses whinnied for him, giving him a warm welcome. He was aglow with happiness to be home in his very own bedroom once more. Caesar is not only vitally important to us but an essential member of our equine family as well.
There is so much that goes into caring for rescued animals! It is not only about space and food. The little details make all the difference, like the therapy we give them to help them live longer than usual, the eye to catch something wrong quickly, the organic hay and filtered water that sets them up for success, and the expert vet care that takes potential disasters and gives us positive outcomes. After living the worst, our animals are now living the best life we can possibly give them, but all these small details cost money. Our vet bill is now over $20,000 and we need help! Please make a donation today and help us. We cannot do this work without you. Thank you for empowering us to give rescued animals like Caesar the care that they need and the life that they deserve!
Caesar is 32 years old and riddled with arthritis, evidence of a hard life before coming to The Gentle Barn. He walked slow, laid down much more than the other horses, and seemed a bit depressed because he just didn’t feel well. We had tried acupuncture, massage therapy, and anti inflammatory medication, which kept him mobile but didn’t ever really resolve his discomfort. When we started Caesar on the CBD it took s while to find the dosage that worked for him, but once we found the right amount, he started thriving. Caesar went from standing still in the shade or laying down in his stall, to socializing with his friends in the pasture, coming to the fence for carrots, and being up on his feet eating and enjoying his life. He is now back to being the strong, confident leader of the herd, and the affectionate and loving ambassador to our guests. At 32 year young, Caesar will hopefully thrive for many more years to come.