Sometimes Life Isn't Fair
Reagan, one of the Shetland ponies from the Union County Seizure, joined our herd in greener pastures tonight. One of the thinnest of the horses, coming in at a 1.2, Reagan was doing really well with his rehab, gaining weight like crazy, and enjoying lots of attention and playtime in his small paddock with the other ponies.
Unfortunately, severe starvation does have consequences to the body. When the starvation goes long enough, the body strips minerals from the bones, causing them to weaken and become brittle. Over time, with good diets and supplements, the bones will strengthen again, but at a month in, they just weren't strong enough.
Yesterday Reagan came up completely non-weight bearing on his hind leg. We suspected a stifle injury or deep hoof abscess. Upon consulting with our vets, the decision was made to triage overnight, load him up with pain meds, keep him on stall rest, and bring him in today. He was showing no swelling, no pain response like elevated heart rate or respirations, sweating, or flinch response. Really, other than not being able to bear weight, he seemed happy and unaffected.
Unfortunately, he was not ok. He suffered a fractured femur, what the vets called a "bucking and playing and oops" injury ... in other words he was feeling good, playing hard, and moved wrong. His weak bones couldn't hold up, and he completely splintered the bone in two ways, and displaced the bottom of the femur, destroying the cruciate ligament as well. The only explanation we have for why he was showing no pain, and in fact, did not loose him from shock, was that he must have damaged the sciatic nerve as well and likely simply wasn't feeling his leg at all.
In other words, he didn't suffer. It was an unpreventable and unfortunate accident ... and it wasn't fixable.
Reagan was laid to rest this afternoon and now runs free with the rest of our sky herd.
Losses are hard, and the unexpected ones even harder. Please be patient with us as we recover.