Colicky Babies and Rookie Mistakes

Some girls, when you ask them what they want to be when they grow up will say things like: "A Teacher. A Doctor. A Fashion Designer."

Some girls actually loved the dolls they got for Christmas, and knew that when you played house, the proper thing to do was to carry the "baby" around on your shoulder and pat it on the back while you cooked the pretend dinner for your pretend husband. When prompted with their career of choice, these girls would say, "I want to be a Mommy."

I never got those girls. My dolls usually had the one lazy eye and a leg missing, due to being swung around by the foot.

Don't hate me because I'm beautiful

My answer was always "MOVIE STAR," which I thought would be obvious to anyone -- why would you want to be anything else, much less -- a Mommy? Never mind the fact that in reality, becoming a Mommy is much easier to achieve. (Oh, but that's a whole 'nother talk for a whole 'nother day, now isn't it?)

So, when I did get married and yes, become a Mommy much earlier than the rest of my friends, most of them and my family were pretty surprised, but no more so than I. (It's all my husband's fault. He had to be so damned cute and adorable and make me fall in love with him before I got a chance to fill out my employment application for MOVIE STAR. It's a good thing, too, because with me around for competition, Julia Roberts and Jennifer Aniston would have nothing to do all day besides vacuuming and laundry. Those grimalkins** owe me a Thank-You.)

Anywho, when my first son was born, and me not having the aforementioned patting-the-baby-on-the-back experience, I had no idea what was going on when about five weeks into his life, every night at bedtime, he began to scream endlessly at the top of his lungs.

Have you ever held a colicky baby?
Let me rephrase:
Have you ever been horribly sleep deprived, in bad need of a shampoo, sore in all the wrong places from birthing a child and then nursing said child, loved said child so much that your soul hurts, finally rocked sweet, soft, squishy, milk-filled child to sleep, held your breath as you laid child down in the crib, and as soon as you very very quietly click the doorknob into place, adorable tiny baby turns into a living tornado siren?

And then, instead of going to your own bed to luxuriate in slumber pass out from exhaustion, you go right back to baby, softly coo into his ear, pick him up, and begin pacing the floor again, patting on the back saying "Ssh, ssh, it's okay, Mommy's here," while tears roll down your cheeks and you just pray for this baby to get some sleep and stop screaming in your ear?

I feel you.

Seventeen years later, and my colicky baby is now a strapping young man with the world ahead of him. But I was reminded of those hours of floor pacing when my most recent baby, in the form of a 650 pound, year-and a-half-old filly, Keira, colicked this week.

It was a rookie mistake that could have been avoided. How can I still be making rookie mistakes after five years? I don't know.  Maybe, as Red Forman would say, I'm just a dumbass.

In Arizona, where our ground is very dry and rocky, it's a good idea to feed your horses from some type of feeder/container so they are not eating right off the ground and eating a certain amount of dirt.

There's the over-the-fence half barrel feeder, which is quite popular, since it forces the horse to pull the hay through metal bars, which makes them eat slower (or at least that's the idea) and keeps the food off the ground.

Or there's the huge bathtub-type bucket (or various styles of trough-type feeders) that allows the horse to hang its head in a more natural grazing position, but still keeping the hay off the ground.

These are wonderful, sensible options. Unless you have horses like mine who knock their feeders around so much, banging them against the fence (and believe me we tried wiring the feeders to the fence to avoid this. Wire breaks. Plastic tears.) And then they proceed to use their big horsey noses to shove all of the hay out of the feeders anyway so that they can snuffle it around with their noses, crunch it up with their hooves, and eat it off the rocky ground.

So feeders don't really work with my girls. I did finally get a load of wood grindings for their stalls, to provide better bedding, maybe help their feather grow in without breaking off so much (another side effect of the dirt - it's horrible on feather), and I figured it would be better to eat hay off of a nice layer of wood grindings, rather than dirt.

But those pesky tasty alfalfa leaves get down into the layers of wood, and prehensile horse lips love to dig around for the very. last. bit. of. green. they can find. Down to the rocky soil.

In which case, if you have exhausted all of your options, (check) you should have your horses on a schedule for feeding psyllium, to help get all of that ingested sand out of their gut. Now, by nature of their personalities and/or constitution, some horses will have problems with sand colic, and some will not. Chroi has never had an issue with it, and I've never bothered with feeding psyllium. First mistake. It's called preventive for a reason.

If you've never "had an issue" with cavities, should you just not worry about brushing your teeth? If you've never "had an issue" with your car, should you just not worry about changing your oil?

You get where I'm going here.

By starting and keeping my horses on a preventive regimen, I could have saved poor Keira from suffering with her tummy ache, having her lip twisted in a twitch to distract her from the rectal exam, and a tube shoved up her nose in order to pump a gallon of mineral oil into her gut.

It was at this point in the vet's visit that I mentioned to his assistant that I should have had my camera so I could take a picture. She gave me a weird look and asked, "you want a picture of your horse getting a tube shoved up her nose?" I said sheepishly, "Yeah, for my blog."

I felt kind of bad using my horse's pain for creative spark, but I thought this is exactly why I started this blog. To share my experiences, including all the slip-ups, for those who might be going through the same things, so that you can learn from my mistakes.

I mean, it's not like Keira can scream into my ear when she's not feeling good, and it would be very difficult to carry her around on my shoulder and pat her on the back.

So write it down: PSYLLIUM. One week out of every month, and you will save your horse from suffering. And a vet bill.

Speaking of which, I have to give a shout-out to my vet, Dr. Longworth, and his assistant Rachel. They are my heroes this month. Thank you

**I originally had the word "bitches" here, but I'm not really sure how much I want to offend the few readers I have, so when checking my thesaurus for alternatives, the word "grimalkins" showed up, with the qualifier: archaic.
I had to use it.
I mean, come on.