A Hard Life and a High Cost

About a week after getting herself cast upside down along the fence line (click here) the Choctaw Princess’s back end was alarmingly wobbly when I let her out to wander, roll and graze a bit. She was dragging her back feet instead of picking them up cleanly and smartly as she normally does. And instead of bringing them straight up and under her body, she was short-strided and wavering at each step.

I thought the most likely reason was her old neck injury getting aggravated when she was caught in the fence. Although the reasons why are not clearly understood, neck trauma can result in ataxia, or loss of control of their hind end in horses. Then one morning th Choctaw Princess whinnied to me while lying down.

At first glance, lying on her chest with her legs neatly tucked up under her appeared normal. Then I saw that she was whinnying with her neck twisted to one side and her head tilted to one side so that one side of her muzzle was pressed to the ground.When I came closer I could see her eyes were glassy and reflective with her pupils expanded to fill the whole eye, even though it was sunny and bright.

She stayed in that position as I came close to her, when normally she leaps to her feet. I did eventually persuade  her to get on her feet, but it  made me wonder if the first upside down cast against the fence incident was more of a seizure than an accident.There have been more days of suddenly glassy pupils and an ongoing erratic loss of coordination since then.

So I am  forced  to acknowledge that she has something seriously wrong with her central nervous system. I have talked with the vet so we can help her on her way when that time comes.For now, she still has the occasional good day.

One warm sunny day, she wandered about until she found a good spot to roll, dropped to the ground and did her usual three or four flops from side to side, then stood up and shook herself.Normally, after she rolls and shakes, she picks up her back and considers arching her neck  and bouncing off into a gallop before sighing and dropping her head and walking slowly off.

This day, she picked herself up, arched her neck and then squatted down on her hind end so she could squeal and strike out with her forelegs one after the other before leaping into a gallop. She sprinted a few yards, kicking out to the right and the left before whisking herself back into her pen. I let her decide when she is done, so her outings end with her looking like this, waiting for me to get the message to take off her halter and close her gate.

While most days she is cheerful enough, she is adamant about minimizing her activity. So much so that one day when I went in to her pen, haltered her and then left the gate open for her to walk out if she wished, she followed me to the gate as usual. But instead of stepping through, she reached out, grabbed the gate with a strong upper lip and swung it closed. Then she stood there staring at me in the hopes I’d eventually figure out she wanted me to take the halter off.

So far the Choctaw Princess has managed to pick up her head and eventually get to her feet .  But I would prefer to avoid the day when she panics because she is unable to get up on her feet at all. Since she is losing interest in eating, she is not shedding her dull winter coat properly and she is visibly losing muscle tone and mass, it looks like that day is coming sooner than later.

4 thoughts on “A Hard Life and a High Cost

  1. So sorry to hear both of you have been in so much pain. A hard life and a high cost indeed. Bon courage, as they say here – doesn’t really translate, but is, at least, a practical and positive sentiment of support in your very difficult circumstances.

    Liked by 1 person

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