In Victoria, we recently experienced a significant scare involving the mysterious deaths of at least 13 horses. The exact cause of these sudden deaths remains unknown at the time of writing. Within the horse community, there has been a surge of speculations and concerns about the source of this issue, whether it may be an infection or something else entirely. Some individuals within the horse community claim to have inside information, further fueling the discussion.
I'd like to emphasize that my purpose is not to pass judgment on horse owners, veterinarians, or anyone involved in these incidents. The situation hits close to home for me as it bears similarities to an incident that occurred in May involving my own horse. He displayed lethargy initially, which rapidly escalated into symptoms resembling colic. We promptly called the vet, even though it was late on a Saturday night.
The attending veterinarian, though not an equine specialist, observed that my horse had a fever, normal heartbeat, and slightly abnormal gut sounds, but not enough to conclusively diagnose colic. Medication was administered, and we closely monitored him. The following day, he showed some improvement, but we couldn't be certain if it was due to the medication or other factors. The vet returned on Monday as my horse still seemed off, mainly in his behavior. Numerous tests were conducted, including stool samples and blood work, but nothing definitive came to light. By then, my horse was starting to recover, and we even considered the possibility of a bacterial issue due to geese contaminating his water. However, the tests didn't support that theory.
Thankfully, my horse's condition improved rapidly, and two weeks later, another horse in a different paddock experienced severe diarrhea and weight loss. We took immediate action, administering remedies like slippery elm, probiotics, and extra feed, which proved effective in resolving the issue.
I can completely empathize with those who have lost their horses during this distressing time. I, too, went through a whirlwind of scenarios, contemplating factors such as feed, pastures, water contamination, hay quality, worming, and more. As someone working in horse healing, I felt like I was endlessly searching for answers.
In such cases, there will always be elements that elude explanation, but I firmly believe in understanding our horses—knowing their temperament, vital signs, and following our instincts when something seems amiss.
My heartfelt condolences go out to all who have suffered losses during this period. I genuinely hope you find the answers you seek. xoxo