I lost my Connie a few days ago. I have a hard time talking about it still, but writing can be cathartic, so here goes…
“Post Operative Myopathy occurs most commonly in large well muscled horses, evident only when the horse tries to stand upon recovery and is a serious cause of post operative anaesthetic morbidity. It usually affects the dependent muscles during surgery and is thought to be caused by ischaemic damage to underperfused muscles (local deficiency of blood supply produced by vasoconstriction or local obstacles to the arterial flow). Clinical signs vary depending on severity but include: mild lameness to inability to stand; hard, swollen and painful muscles; extreme distress; sweating; difficulty breathing; restlessness. Treatment is symptomatic and includes analgesia, sedation and diuresis. Prevention is the best management for this condition and should include preventing hypotension, correct positioning of the horse during surgery and appropriate and correct padding used.” (Emphasis mine.)
Unfortunately, I do not think Cornell is equipped for draft horses. Connie weighed a fit 1828 pounds, according to their scale. But I lay no blame. I’m not sure what went wrong, or if it could have even been fixed or averted. But I will say that the surgical team tried for hours to get her on her feet, to no avail — and when it was over, were teary-eyed and visibly upset by the turn of events. I finally spoke to Connie, touched her, looked her in the eye, and asked her what she wanted to do. She was covered with sweat and physically spent, and in a lot of pain. Bless her and her fighting spirit, she just didn’t want to give up, but she was just so tired…and I gave her permission to go if she needed to. Within minutes of my decision to help her cross over, she was dying. So I spared her that last few minutes of agony, and I now only wish I had released her sooner.
I am shellshocked and distraught by the very unexpected death of my beautiful mare. I gave her every chance to live, but she didn’t. I spent thousands of dollars and long, sleepless hours fighting the good fight, but I still lost her in the end. I have been unreachable since Wednesday evening, as I process my deep and unrelenting grief. I apologize to those of you waiting for a phone call or email from me, but I needed my space. I’ll be back to work soon enough, and I appreciate your patience.
I bought Connie as an awkward, 15.2H yearling with big knees (and not quite a yearling, as I realized when I found her registration papers today, but only 10 months old). A rather uncouth aquaintance asked at the time, “What did you buy HER for?” Obviously, my uncouth aquaintance didn’t know draft horses, but I had an eye for the beauty that Connie would grow into, and I had to have her. The asking price was more than I could really afford at the time, but I paid it gladly. I had aspirations that this mare would be the foundation of my Percheron Sport Horse breeding program.