Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Story of Angel - Part 2

I decided to call the new foster horse "Angel" (short for "Christmas Angel"), because I felt like she was an angel sent from heaven, to comfort me in the loss of Nick. Ann Wimmer, the vet who first looked at Angel at the shelter, laughed loudly when she heard what I was calling her. "Angel" had tried to kick the vet when she tried to listen to her gut sounds, and had injured the vet's shoulder by pulling back, when Ann tried to de-worm her during her first vet exam.

Brigid had told me that Angel could not be tied, because at the slightest pressure on her head, she would violently fling her head skyward and threaten to rear. If the pressure was not released immediately, she would rear up and possibly flip over. Since Nick had come to me with a history of pulling back, and I had seen him pull two hitching posts out of the ground in a panic, I was familiar with this equine problem. I wanted to say, "Come on in, Angel - you will feel quite at home here!"

The first week with Angel was a week of discovery, getting to know her, and starting to build a relationship. On the second day at my house, I noticed that she was starting to "bag up" - her udder was filling. I was convinced she was pregnant, because this is usually a sign of a mare who is in foal. We scheduled a vet exam for New Year's Eve. The previous Friday the vet had been to my house to put down my beloved Nick. One short week later, the vet was out to see if my new foster horse was pregnant! Life is full of unexpected twists and turns!

One of the conditions for fostering this horse was that the animal shelter would pay for her veterinary costs, because I could not afford additional vet bills at this time, especially for a foster horse. However, the county shelter has had budget cuts and has a very limited budget for veterinary care. With three abandoned horses, and two possibly pregnant, bills could mount very rapidly. An appeal was made to the Bay Area Equestrian Network Chat Board, and in 24 hours, more than $275 had been donated for an ultrasound and vet appointment for Angel.

Getting the IV needle in, to sedate her for the vet exam, was a real challenge. It took several tries and more than one needle, as Angel pulled back, reared, and tried to run away. A very talented vet tech, Michelle Moreno, did a wonderful job of handling Angel during this process. An ultrasound showed "no organized pregnancy" although her uterus was enlarged and contained extra fluid. So there was no foal getting ready to pop out! That certainly made the next several months easier for Angel and for me!

Now that we knew she was not pregnant, we knew what vaccinations to give (assuming she had never been vaccinated before) and she could gain weight more slowly, which would be easier on her system. While she was sedated, she got vaccinated for EWET, West Nile and rabies. The vet said her body condition score had improved from a 2 (4 weeks ago) to a 3. We discussed the white hairs go from her withers to her tail bone, all down her spine. They do not appear to be sensitive to touch, but look like scarring. Their cause is unknown.

Now that the question of the possible pregnancy was resolved, we could get on with the work of building a relationship and helping Angel overcome her fear that people are going to hurt her.

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