After riding this afternoon, Gesa and I had Rhio and Paco out hand grazing (which meant first clearing the 1" of snow away with their upper lips, then munching the still-a-little-bit-green goodies hidden beneath) and Cricket knew he was entitled to come out as well. I took the opportunity to give him a thorough grooming and check him over good, and then reblanketed him for the night. We put the horses back in the pasture with a little hay to tide them over until the evening feed, and said our "Merry Christmases" early as I'm heading to Arizona tomorrow to visit my parents for the holidays (and trying not to dwell on how nice the weather is, still, and how much riding time I'll be missing!).
I filled up my beet pulp and grain bins, and refilled Cricket's soybean oil jug from the big container, so that Gesa would be all set for the week, and handed out my chewed apple core to the first horse to come to the gate in the deep dusk (Sefira) before heading home to find some dinner for myself and the dogs. All was well, and humans and critters were all settled and content. Not a minute after I'd finished my last bite of dinner, my phone rang and Gesa's husband popped up on the caller id. I answered cheerfully, only to hear that Cricket seemed to be colicky and I needed to get back out there pronto.
It was easier and faster to let Kelso and Killian jump into the back of the car, and away we went. By the time I arrived, Gesa said he was fine and it didn't seem to be colic. I had wondered on the drive over if he had another incident of being down and unable to get himself up. This has happened once in each of the previous two winters, and sure enough that was the case.
There is a tiny slope/knoll area of the pasture behind the barn (barely discernible, really, really insignificant) and Cricket had laid down there only to get himself stuck. Wearing a blanket restricts his shoulder and foreleg motion just a bit, and when his legs are pointed uphill instead of down, he seems to have trouble rising. He had evidently been struggling a bit, and both his neck and his blanket were soaking wet.
The most interesting thing is Sefira's behavior. Apparently she was extremely protective of him, and quite upset, and didn't want to let Gesa get near him. I am not sure what exactly ensued, but he was standing in his stall looking extremely worn out when I arrived. A quick physical revealed that everything was normal, although his heart rate (28) was a little low and might indicate some mild shock. He wasn't interested in eating, but was interacting with me and did take a few treats. I gave him a pain medication (Banamine) and put a dry blanket on him. He is staying in at night anyway, and had a full bucket of water, his yummy mash, and plenty of hay already in his stall. Gimi across the aisle was munching away, content to be the buddy horse for the night.
He is ok, and I'm obviously going to check on him tomorrow, but unless Gesa calls me, I will go in the middle of the day when it fits into my schedule rather than get up extra-early to go first thing. It is nerve-wracking to have an old horse, even more so than any horse, and I am very glad this happened tonight, while I was still in town, rather than tomorrow night, when I'll be stuck on a plane.
This evening is an example of how quickly things can go wrong with horses, and how invaluable it is to have someone you trust caring for your horses if you can't do it yourself. I try not to worry.