Started writing a long blog about history and karma but would rather cut to the chase. I don’t feel like a writer today, just a sad horse owner. Apollo is very sick. He likely has an IBD, which is generally considered fatal. We are learning what we can and exploring possible drugs, but to be honest, he looks like shit. His body looked pretty good for awhile in the summer, not ideal but improving. But since then, he peaked and has declined. His gut is huge, and increasing. He has not developed muscle in his chest and butt. He developed bad rain rot in the fall, the only one in the herd to get it like that. I initially blamed myself for his condition; that I hadn’t done a good enough job on care, or worming or exercise. That I was failing him. Now I wish that were the case.
To try and address his condition, Apollo was wormed again thoroughly and re-checked and is clean of parasites. His skin was treated. He gets extra nutrients. He lives with an active band that all look muscled, except for him. His mane and tail have never started to come in well. By comparison to his half-sister, he is in trouble. His belly continues to grow. I guess I was hoping that he was just more slow to come around, that he would be ok. But if there aren’t worms, or a baby in that big belly, what is there? His exam yesterday answered a few questions.
Our vet performed both a pelvic exam and an ultrasound, to isolate where Apollo’s problems are. Apparently water retention would have been a preferred problem, but Apollo, it appears, has an IBD>, or Inflamed Bowel Disease. Additional blood work is being done to confirm this. There are different versions of these, but basically (my simplistic understanding) is that his body cannot move food along well. It’s all sort of sitting there. And he can’t absorb nutrients well. These issues are quite serious. His lack of absorption explains the lack of muscle and condition. There is one very expensive drug that we can try and see if it helps him, I think it will run about $7 a day. It is worth a try to see if it makes a difference. The immediate concern for him is that he will rupture. More likely, he will begin to feel worse, stand off, begin to not eat. Colic is a concern for horses with this condition. So far he seems relatively comfortable and he is happy with his herd. Since Apollo has never known health, he probably doesn’t even know how sick he is. He is only 4. He has become such a sweet sweet colt in his time here. Starved his entire short life, a life that will not be much longer. That is heartbreaking.
I didn’t feel as connected to Apollo until he left briefly this summer. The experience of being taught to trailer, and going to a new place, showed me how much he trusted me and liked me. Like many here, he is quiet and not always ‘demonstrative’; after all, he is a horse, not a dog. But I was proud that he trusted me, looked to me for guidance and my love for him grew in return.
Honestly I don’t know if this is good karma or bad karma. He is here now, he is home. The futures I had imagined for him must be re-written. He is my horse and he will be my horse now until he dies. At least I can do that for him.


  1. Harlie says:

    I’m so sorry. It’s always heartbreaking to watch an animal suffer and have little chance of improving or even feeling okay. This is the time when a decision must be made, and it is one no one ever wants to consider. There’s always a chance he’ll come around, but you have to weigh that chance against his suffering. If when you’ve explored every option and there’s nothing more you can do that will help, then it’s best to let him go and try again, holding your love to him. I hope you find something that will make him better, but I know I don’t have to lecture you about prolonging suffering.