I always thought that colic surgery would be the worst thing to ever happen to one of my horses in my barn; turns out it was the best thing! I know that sounds crazy, but here is our story!
Hans is one of my talented young horses in my stable, but he just wasn’t performing up to his abilities. Always a bit behind the leg and sluggish, in addition to intermittent tummy aches, he was my high maintenance kiddo. Even at one point, turning around and biting my calf when asked to work and get forward! So I would treat him for ulcers and give him some time off, even restarted him at one point! We tried all kinds of different food and giving him extra water, but the gas and lethargy was always there.
Then during the winter Florida season of 2018, my worst nightmare happened! I have always somehow thought that the horses in my barn that didn’t need surgery were due to my great management and willingness to do ANYTHING to keep them out of surgery. (I have been known to stay up all night and do whatever it takes!) Nope - it’s all luck! If your horses is destined to need surgery, there is not much you can do to avoid it once that train is rolling in that direction! So Hans kept getting more painful and more painful, so after 2 visits from the vet, countless walks, sedation and fluids, he was still going downhill. So off to the vet clinic we went.
We went right into the stocks and he was examined, and pretty much they started shaving his belly right away! I was freaking out because this had never happened to a horse in my stable in like 20 years! After I spoke to the insurance company and filled out all the paper work, he went in! He was just so painful with gas we couldn’t wait to see what was wrong, Dr Reid just needed to go in and see what was up.
So into the waiting room I went, and if anyone knows me out there, sitting and waiting is not my thing. I just felt so helpless. Thank goodness it was near midnight, so I could sort of peak through the window of the office and see a little bit of what they were doing! Then at one point I could have sworn I saw Dr Reid take out some intestine and I about started to cry all over again! Ugh!! Seeing your horse’s legs just hanging from ropes on the ceiling is such a terrible sight! But to my surprise Dr Reid came out and told me it went perfectly and it was pristine in there! I was like well then why the heck does he have so much gas and never wants to go forward under tack?!?! I was actually a little disappointed that I didn’t get any answers to my questions - it was just the most expensive fart ever!! Argh!!!
Then he shocked me and said, “ well he’s just gets too much bulk in his diet! I’m like “what?!?!” At this time in his life he was eating very wet alfalfa pellet and free choice hay. I was so confused! Then he did warn me of the next shock to come - “do not feed him so much hay” 😲😳🤔. Ok, now I was totally confused! I thought I was supposed to let horses eat as much hay as they wanted and that was what kept them from having ulcers and colic! And then he said,” he needs like 12-13 POUNDS OF GRAIN AND LIMITED HAY!” Ok then I had to sit down! Everything I had ever learned about feeding horses just changed! He said to trust him, so I did.
One of my awesome sponsors, Enviroequine, just a week before Hans went to colic surgery, brought over the ifeed for Team Tate to try. It’s a little machine that goes on the front of the stall and delivers small amounts of grain every hour all day and all night. Boy was that timing interesting!
So Hans now gets 10 pounds of wet hay split up throughout the day and then every hour, he gets his yummy senior grain trickled into his feed bin. All day and all night. He honestly has never felt better to ride! We rehabbed him carefully after surgery, keeping the belly band on a little longer as we shipped home to South Carolina. Now he is 5 months post colic surgery, and he never has even thought about colic again! He is forward and happy to work! He’s like a new horse! Or the old horse I thought I had bought in Germany! So that’s my colic story, hope it’s the last, but this ifeed and Dr Reid has changed our lives and aw are so grateful!