Making That Call… Again

I had hoped that when it came time to write my next editor column, I would be sharing the exciting news of a slow return to riding with my 3-year-old mare. Unfortunately, as I’m sure you can guess by the title of this column, that’s not what happened. 

As we reached the two-month mark post-surgery, it became obvious that something was still wrong, and that Keira would need additional treatment to heal. We made the drive back to Littleton Equine Medical Center to have an ultrasound done, and when we saw something abnormal, it was decided she would need to go in for an exploratory surgery.

While I’d absolutely love it if Keira could enjoy hay again, she’s enjoying her low-bulk diet and is loving her alfalfa pellets. photo by Nichole Chirico

The Unknown

We weren’t sure what we were going to see when we went in for a second time. It could have been something as easy as an adhesion that needed removed, or it could be something much more complicated.

It turned out to be a little more complicated. Once she was on the operating table, we learned that her colon had been displaced for some time, and she had right dorsal colitis most likely from the previous surgery when she had a colon volvulus.

We made the call to resect nearly 70% of compromised colon. But of course, we weren’t out of the woods just yet. Her colon wall was weak and there was a chance the sutures might not hold. I stood in the operating room as my surgeon told me she had a 50% chance of living past five days. But something deep down in my gut told me I couldn’t give up on her just yet. 

The True Comeback Kid

It’s been roughly seven weeks since Keira went in for her second colic surgery, and I’m happy to say she continues to improve every day. Her sutures held with no problem, and my entire health care team is optimistic she’ll make a full recovery and go on to live the active life she deserves to live. 

However, it hasn’t been without its struggles. Because of how compromised Keira’s colon was she’s on a low-bulk diet that consists of senior grain and alfalfa pellets to help the colon from working too hard. This could be a temporary thing, or it could be a lifetime thing, only time will tell. 

Thankfully Keira enjoys her alfalfa pellets and absolutely loves her grain. Since removing hay from her diet, we’ve seen a huge difference with her stool—no more cow patties! She’s also continuing to gain weight, and I’m finally starting to see her topline come back. 

It’s still going to be a long recovery, and Keira is nowhere near ready to get to work, but her will to live is obvious. The reason I purchased this mare sight unseen was because of her grit, and she proved to be one of the grittiest during this entire experience. Even with a displaced colon and right dorsal colitis her eyes told me she wasn’t ready to go, which is why I continued to fight with her. And I’m so glad I did. 

In the Meantime

I’m so thankful for my family and friends who have supported me during all of this. My mom flew out to be with me the minute she heard Keira would be going in for a second surgery. My barn family came to be with me on the day of surgery, and all the other boarders at the barn continue to spoil Keira with love every day while she’s on stall rest. 

The last five months have been tough. Some of the toughest I’ve been through. But my amazing friends recently convinced me to get back in the saddle while I wait for my heart horse to heal. They had a rescue horse named Sparky that needed a job and could make a fun little ranch rider if given the chance. We’ve already attended one horse show together, where Sparky got second place his first time competing, and we’re already planning on going to a few more before the winter weather creeps up on us. 

I hope one day soon to swing a leg over my own mare, but Sparky has been a wonderful distraction to get my mind off all the hard stuff that happened this year and get back to the feeling of joy I have when I’m on the back of a horse. 

[Making that Call]

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