The last few months at SpiritHorse have tested us, pushed us, and exhausted us both mentally and financially.
On Tuesday, our vet came out for some dental procedures, x-rayed Taco and diagnosed him with small patellas, and swabbed Diva’s nose, just like how we’ve been swabbing ours for COVID tests for years.
By Friday, we received the horrible news. The news brought us to our knees in disbelief! The outcome was unforeseeable and hard to grasp! Diva was diagnosed with Strangles. We were baffled!
Strangles is a very contagious bacterial disease caused by Streptococcus Equi. It is characterized by the swelling of the lymph nodes and the formation of abscesses mostly in the head and neck areas. It’s gross.
Diva cycled through a pretty bad case of it. Rev and Queenie got through it with mild symptoms that were still gross enough. Zee never got it. And Taco, well…Taco was labeled as a quiet carrier. Unbeknownst to us, he came carrying the sickness without any symptoms. There was no way for us to know that he had it. There was also no way of knowing what was going to happen. With the Napa horses all on the upswing, we thought we were on the home stretch and almost done…
Then, at the beginning of April, the unthinkable happened. Dually, our stoic, gorgeous, kind draft horse began acting lethargic. Then, the runny nose came. We thought, “no way can he have it! We’ve done everything right! How did he get it so many weeks after the others??”
Coincidently at the same time, Goose was having signs of a urinary tract infection or something similar because he was having trouble emptying his bladder. His urine and blood samples were normal. Our vet was scheduled to come out to examine him closer, so we added Dually to the list to be seen.
We took the sick boys and put them in the farthest pasture from the others, but we knew all of the horses on the property were already exposed based on the proximity of the horses to one another. We decided to bring Taco and Diva back down to American Canyon. This freed up our Napa location to be thoroughly cleaned, sterilized, and deemed as clean. We again prepared ourselves for battle, but weren’t as concerned because we thought we knew what to expect. Thankfully, all of the horses at the American Canyon location are ours, so we weren’t worried about getting other people’s horses sick too.
Days turned to weeks. Dually and Goose were showing very little improvement. Diva and Taco were still testing positive, even though they were very much not visibly sick. We did blood tests and nasal swabs on our other horses, which showed they were exposed, but would not get it. We began to realize our case was not normal.
A few days later, Dually began to decline. He was on the next trailer up to UC Davis. His case was worse, he could not walk a straight line and was barely able to stand
Yesterday, May 11, Dually came home. He seems to be responding to treatment, but is fighting for his life. The plan is to take him back to UC Davis in 10 days for some blood work and more tests as long as he keeps on improving. Goose, Taco, and Diva will also make the trip up to UC Davis 2-4 more times for more guttural pouch flushing until they are cleared.
Typically Strangles cases last 3-4 weeks. Our outcome is super rare. Vets across the country have requested our horses blood for medical trials.
To be in this waiting, not knowing if Dually is going to make it, watching Goose still suffer and feel lousy, the minis still testing positive and needing flushes…we are desperate for some hope, some words of encouragement, to continue doing the next right thing…to endure this until it’s over…
So friends, we ask for help. Would you send us something? Words, thoughts, money…they are all powerful in this healing journey.
We have a few ways you can donate: Venmo (@spirithorseacnapa), Cash, Check, or through the Facebook Fundraiser (Click HERE).
Thank you. We could not make it through this season without your encouragement and your help. We will keep you posted on our journey.