Lucy’s blog: ‘My mare’s miracle comeback’

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H&C’s web writer Lucy Hughes has an emotional return to the saddle after nearly losing her mare… 

“Today the impossible happened – I rode my mare Rosie again.

Two years out of work, having bred a foal and battled back from a life-threatening illness, it really was a miracle. From the moment I got back on her, I had tears in my eyes.

When Rosie underwent not one but two emergency critical surgeries last year, and no one thought she would make it.

On 13 November, Rosie developed an illness that every horse owner dreads – colic. It was the same night the city of Paris was attacked, and the date will forever haunt my family and I.

That day, Rosie became uncomfortable and her colic symptoms were evident. As the hours passed, she appeared to be in extreme pain and was not responding to the vet’s treatments. It was then decided she would be taken into the Equine Hospital.

Luckily, the Rainbow Equine Hospital, who are renowned for treating all types of serious illnesses in horses, were just 10 minutes away. Within moments of Rosie arriving, the vets decided to perform emergency colic surgery, as this was her only chance of survival.

Lottie (her five-month-old foal) had to stay in the stable and wait for her mum to hopefully come out of the operating unit.

Fortunately Rosie awoke from the anaesthetic and appeared fine, but in the following few days she deteriorated. Although she was eating and drinking (in small amounts) her stomach was unable to process any of it, meaning she still had severe stomach pains.

But with Lottie by her side, Rosie’s eyes remained bright – as did her spirit. She was only 12 and I knew she had so much more to give.

My mum and I were forced to make a quick decision between putting Rosie to sleep or opting to put her through a second operation in the hope of a better outcome. Rosie was not going to improve if left any longer. This was the hardest position I have been put in and as many will know the price of vets bills can be a huge burden, as was the case here.

Still uncertain if this was the right decision, we agreed for Rosie to be put under the knife again.

I endured another sleepless night where I waited for her to come out of the operating room. The next few days were vital. She appeared to bounce back, but then she took a drastic turn for the worst.

As a result of the second operation Rosie developed a life-threatening infection called peritonitis, where the prognosis is extremely poor.

In this case, Rosie’s stomach lining had become so weak that the cell membrane collapsed and became infected. Many horses do not recover.

However by some miracle, after weeks of antibiotics, Rosie had improved enough to return home. She needed around-the-clock care, the biggest part to keep her stomach incision clean and dry as peritonitis could come back at any time.

The past eight months have been very touch and go, needless to say we have had a few occasions where we thought she wasn’t going to pull through.

I am so grateful of the team at Rainbow Equine Vets. Without their quick and unprecedented care, Rosie would not be with us today.

I am bringing Rosie back into work very slowly and we hope to start competing in winter dressage this year.

I can now confidently say that my best friend is back to full health. I really couldn’t imagine life without her.”