Educational article "Be Kind to
Pets" supported by
The pony loved the Chairman
Four thugs followed the girl as she walked home alone in the dusk. She quickened her pace
and then ran. The young men chased her. She turned and found that she was in a blind
alley. "Help me," she shouted three times. Nobody in the seedy apartments
responded. The thug leader grabbed her hand bag.
My date was engrossed in the Cineplex screen. Spiderman leapt down from above the building
and knocked out the thugs. The girl was happy to see him again. "Who are you?"
she asked him as he hung upside down from the apartment balcony looking at her. She
unrolled the mask from his chin and kissed him. Would she remove his mask? My mobile phone
vibrated in my hand pocket. "Emergency, horse dying," the SMS (short message
service) displayed on my mobile phone which had been switched off.
A horse dying was a real emergency. I went out of the cinema to phone the stable manager.
"Doc, the pony you treated her on Monday now wants to lie down all the time. She is
dying. Please come quickly." the manager said seriously.
The stable manager continued, "The owners are here and are worried that the pony may
die. They had been walking her for half an hour to prevent her from lying
down." He sensed my reluctance to make a house call on a Friday evening.
"It's the Chairman's horse," he sounded seriously. It would not be good if the
Chairman's horse died owing to delays in getting a veterinarian. He also had to make sure
that the horse would be treated only when necessary so as not to incur higher veterinary
fees for the horse owner. He was a good manager as he insisted on slashing veterinary fees
such that it became uneconomic to provide the services and I was not keen to make any
house call. Horses can't go to the veterinarian and hence the fees of the house call
are much higher, but horse owners do not understand and would complain to the poor
In colic treatment, many horse owners all over the world believe that the horse must be
walked whenever it wants to lie down all the time so that it will not develop colic or
stomach ache. They walked till the horse dropped down owing to exhaustion. Maybe it would
recover. This is not recommended, I told the stable manager.
The pony ignored me as she laid on her back on the sand in the rolling box. She would not
get up this time when she saw visitors unlike four days ago.
"Could she be on heat?" the stable manager asked me. I said no. Mares on the
estrus cycle do not want to sleep all the time. They want to breed. Was there a new
disease in this stable? A sleeping sickness? The mare had responded to treatment four days
ago and now, she exhibited the same symptoms of lying down. Dysuria or difficulty in
passing urine was the presenting complaint.
I had to take the word of the stable manager that she had difficulty passing urine as this
could not be checked on horses unlike dogs and cats when I could feel a full bladder with
my hand on the abdomen.
"I will have to take blood samples this time and send them to the Equine Laboratory
of the Singapore Turf Club to find out if the mare had viral or bacterial infections
although she had only a slight elevated body temperature," I warned the stable
manager. This would cost the owner money and I rarely took blood. He nodded his head. I
also took the blood from a normal Arab Warmblood at the same time as the owner had earlier
requested for a health check and sending two horse samples to be examined would cost less
in veterinary fees.
The Chairman came with his family. His pre-teen daughter was worried that the mare might
die. The mare was made to stand up in the rolling box. She did not look sick or
urinate in my presence. Was she having colic? After taking the blood samples in two
tubes, I gave the mare the antibiotic and pain killer injection called Tomanol.
The mare's eyes open wide and looked at the Chairman. She showed her teeth as she
everted her upper lip right up to her nostrils and her lower lip down as low as she could.
Wrinkling of her lips for several seconds. This was
unusual behaviour to me as I had not seen other horses behaving like that after Tomanol
injection although there are such behaviours in the horse as you could see in the grey
horse that was being shoed.
Within five minutes after the injections, she neighed at least five times. At 9.30 p.m, in
the darkness of the leafy club where crickets and other insects were making a continuous
humming music, the mare's cries were very loud. None of the horses in the stables
responded. The Tomanol must have relieved her pain, but the horses I treated with this
drug did not whine.
"The mare must be happy to see you," I said to the Chairman. This was the
plausible explanation as the Chairman spent time with this mare although he was a busy
corporate executive officer. But I had no scientific evidence to support my statement.
Would the Chairman think this explanation credible? If only horses could talk or wag their
tails like the dog to show that they are happy.
The Chairman said, "She neighed this morning from this rolling box when she saw me
riding across the box." The neighs were for his ears only and we were
bystanders in an unforgettable scene where the pony showed she loved this Chairman who had
built her up her from a yellow skeletal rejection from the polo club to a well nourished
glossy coat riding horse over the last two years.
I put the stethoscope on the left side of her big abdomen and listened for the stomach
sounds, a musical type similar to a sheet of paper being crumbled. The sounds were very
soft or absent. I invited the Chairman and his daughter to listen too. They could not hear
anything. "Was the stethoscope ear piece placed the correct way?" the daughter
asked. I asked her to put it on the heart area and she could hear heart sounds. The stable
manager placed the stethoscope on the right side of the abdomen. He could hear the
Audience participation does help to educate the owner to appreciate life of their pets and
care for them. It also confuses them.
I gave the mare an oil laxative to move the stools as she had impaction colic as well. The
difficulty in passing urine could be due to cystitis (infection of the bladder) as well as
to heavy stools pressing on the bladder. The bladder in the mare was sandwiched below
rolls and rolls of intestines and if there were bulky stools, there might be obstruction
I passed the nasogastric tube, also called stomach tube, from the nostril into the
stomach. I heard the characteristic musical sounds of gas fizzling in the stomach. I
invited the Chairman to listen as I inserted the tube further down the gullet. The
Chairman said, "I hear breathing sounds. Could the tube be in the lungs?" I put
to the tube in my ear and the sounds were those of air in the stomach at the diagphragm
area, coming out when the mare breathed. I should not have pushed the stomach tube down a
Audience participation sometimes produced conflict and affect credibility of the
professional, but I believe it is necessary to get pet owners to care for their pets
whether they are equine, canine or feline ones. It would be too technical to explain to
the Chairman who must have lost his faith in my diagnosis but would be too polite to say
I took out the tube and re-inserted. The Chairman heard the stomach sounds this
time. The stable manager came in time and he put the tube in his ear. He said with the
authority of a professor conducting classes for the students, "Yes, the tube had gone
to the stomach."
He had done so in other colic cases and I should not be offended by audience participation
which may not be taught in the Veterinary School in the 1970s.
I waited till 10.30 p.m but the mare did not pass urine. She just
rested her drugged head on the rolling box bar and stood the whole time. At least she
was not lying down. Horse people are very worried if the horse
sleeps the whole day, as if it has sleeping sickness.
She had passed
urine at 8.30 a.m the next day when I saw her. It was a small amount though and it took 12
hours after the injection. There was a problem with the bladder. Could she have bladder
The oil and a very small amount of stools had passed out. This showed that the laxative
took 12 hours to work the long length of the guts.
Now, would the mare suffer a third attack of dysuria? It was not good for her as she would
die of bladder rupture and accumulation of toxins in the kidneys and blood if she could
not pass urine. I gave her an antibiotic injection and a course of antibiotics for the
next five days orally. The reason I did not do so earlier was economics. Horse drugs cost
more as one bottle of antibiotic can be used to inject 3 or 4 horses compared to 200 dogs.
Blood tests were necessary too and this were additional costs.
It is important that the private veterinarian educate the cost cutting stable manager who
gets complaints from owners of high veterinary fees and the horse owner regarding
"high" veterinary bills compared to those for dogs. Horses at riding clubs with
no in-house veterinarians need house calls whereas dogs can be brought to the
veterinary clinic, reducing cost. Repeated house calls add up considerably to the
Children will gain more confidence if
they learn how to ride. Some pictures of the beautiful riding ponies said to be from
|During the day,
healthy horses in a stable with many horses seldom lie down for long time.
||A healthy pony
is interested in the surroundings and neighbouring horses during day time. The noon
feeding time was near.
after a long journey from overseas affected one horse out of twenty in this case at the
quarantine. The horse would lie down a lot of time and would not drink water. No stools
had been passed for 3 days. Colic would considered by the stable manager
||He asked me to
bring my stomach tube and laxative paraffiin oil to treat this pony.
It did not need the laxative. It recovered after one antibiotic and antispasmodic
injection. It passed stools soon and did not lie down anymore.
box are useful for colicky horses to roll in the sand. It is circular in
shape and so the horse's leg does not get trapped in corners
when it rolls in pain.
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