While Pandora was nodding off to sleep – exhausted from her colic episode – I was standing and thinking. WTF is happening?
I’ve had Pandora longer then any of my current horses. In 7 years she has never colicked until now. That’s strange. And it gets even stranger…
Five days before her colic, the horse next door to hers colicked. A fecal was taken and it was heavy with Strongyles so it was assumed that it was due to the worm load (see my earlier posts on the Causes and Treatment of Colic). But then my pony colics? Com’on Colic isn’t catching!
So to me this means environmental factors need to be considered. I have faith that the BO has not fed my pony any strange things (i.e. my vet had her stud being fed chocolate candy bars over the fence!), and that she has fed Pony what she is supposed to get.
The barn is a pretty low stress place and water is always available. Neither horse is in a nervy living condition, or is a nervy type horse. They are not stalled and have paddocks to move around in. Both diets have been consistent with good food/grazing (or hay) that is appropriate to their size and metabolisms.
While I’m thinking and looking around I mull over the very large tree that is in the parking lot outside their paddocks. The tree is actually closer to the other horse’s paddock, and he has colicked twice in the last month. Both horses are fed under it’s influence.
I already knew from the leaf shape and the seed pod that it was clearly a Maple and I know Red Maples are a problem. Maple seed pods are very unusual and clearly identifable; they are often called helicopters because when they fall they spin due to the rudders on the seed pod.
I take a photo of the tree bark and the tree shape with my digital camera. I also break off a small branch that has some new leaves. These are things that can help get a tree/shrub identified as well as the flower or the fruit from the tree.
I could have visited the Extension office or the Urbarn Forestry office in town, but for a quick result I took it to a really good nursery I know. It was quickly identified as a Silver Maple. It seems the Red Maples have a red leaf stem and does not shed as many pods – this tree is shedding seed pods like crazy).
Molly, who I’ve been talking to via cell, told me that there is a Red-Silver Maple hybrid now in nurseries. This tree was made to enhance the brillant fall color of this tree. However, I did confirm with the nursery that my tree is way too old to be one of these hybrids which is a more recent addition to the tree family (Autumn Blaze).
Online, I visited Cornell University and looked through their poisonous plants list and Silver Maple is listed. In the tests done on the Red Maple, only the leaf was involved; the wilted leaf which has fallen from the tree is sweet and thus enticing to the horse.
However, no testing was done on the pods – which now cover my pony’s dry lot paddock. Those tests were also conducted considering a 1000# horse – pony is less then 300# and the neighbor horse is less then 700#. Of course to me, what amount would poison to the point of a tummy ache – and poison to the point of death could be a very variable amount.
I called my state’s vet University to discuss with the vet in charge of plants about the possibility of the Maple being involved. The vet tells me that IT IS POSSIBLE.. just not known, though she is open to the possibility and I promised to call back once I got the blood results.
Reality News Flash for those who don’t know but equine vet “science” is 70 percent Guesswork, 20 percent Voodoo Witch Doctor, and 10 percent “science.” Don’t believe me? Wait until your equine companion gets sick and it’s not a typical case. My advice then? Break out the prayer beads – you’re going to need them.
I talk to Dr. Cowgirl and she tells me that Kidney distress, which is a symptom of Maple toxicity, would present as abdominal pain. That might be misconstrued as a mild colic.
We agree to her coming out the next day (which was yesterday) to take blood. I agree to a full CBC (which is a bit more money) because I have never had a baseline on Pony and that is always a good thing to have around (as I know from owning a Cushings Horse).
I got a call back today – the fecal was normal (no worms), and yes, her kidney profile was elevated (she called it a “kidney insult” – not a vet so don’t know all these terms and such – will talk to Nurse Brother and find out more info and post later).
We don’t know for definite but I do know…Conclusion: THE TREE MUST GO.