Be Watchful for Melanoma, especially on white and grey horses
By Donna Murphy, www.aztecastables.com
Cloud is our noble grey Missouri Foxtrotter, who to us is the most awesome horse on the planet. He has given us many adventures and laughs. Recently a large lump the size of a golf ball was discovered very high in his groin on his abdominal area near his hind legs. My heart was sad and heavy with worry about our awesome friend. This horse is only ten years old, and healthy, in good weight, and never had a health issue.
Life sure throws hard balls, but I try to be positive. The scary thing was that the tumor was right next to the femoral artery, but we caught it before it got a chance to wrap around the artery, which would be a grim outcome. We could not let the tumor continue to grow. My vet seemed a little hesitant at attempting a surgery this close to the artery, one slip, (like the horse moving and thrashing like they often do under anesthetic,) and it would be a blood bath for all involved with a grave outcome for our friend. My heart got heavy and I became very sad thinking about the outcome but I had to endure and be there for Cloud.
We put Cloud in a deep anesthesia, which was a big concern. I had to bite my lip and be tough on many levels! When a 1300 lb horse starts to fall over and lay down it is way dangerous and scary as you try and help him slowly fall into good position. His fall was not the best, as he started wobbling and losing his ability to stand, he nearly crashed on top on me, but I can be quick to move out of the way! Then he fell sideways against the wall as one of his hind legs nearly crushed against the wall under his belly. This was a total wrong position, so we had to try and pull his body, all 1300 lbs to the right position. There were 3 of us and I felt like we needed an army as we struggled with the dead weight. We had to get him over on his back and legs spread so the doc could get in there. This almost seemed impossible. However, after a lot of pulling and crashing and falling down we did it. We then had to tie his legs to the wall and ceiling so he could not move while I tried to hold his head down and watch his vitals. After several minutes into the surgery he started to wake up and thrash, more anesthesias had to be administered. This happened several times. It was not a pretty scene, there seemed to be a lot of blood loss, but I had to be tough and I can go into overdrive when needed! This was not my first rodeo!!
I kept talking to Cloud, and it seemed to help. At one point he was so deep in the anesthetic, he appeared totally lifeless. I concentrated hard to try and find him still breathing. Finally I saw his chest rise. I surrounded him in love and light and he got through it! Getting him back up again was another not so pretty scene as he thrashed about but did get up. The bad news is the lump was a cancerous melanoma. But it was isolated in a mass, and we all got it removed with healthy tissue around it! The good news, we palpated and checked him internally, (everywhere), and found no more growths. Now he needs to heal and I may consider an alternative treatment to prevent it from returning. So now all we can do is love him and hope for the best and be glad that the growth was caught early enough before it spread and got larger and before it grew into the artery!
Cloud has now healed, and is looking better than ever. Grey and light colored horses have a greater tendency to get melanoma. My message to all horse owners is be very watchful of your horses. Palpate them yourself ALL over their bodies. Note any lumps and have them checked immediately by your veterinarian. If this lump on Cloud was not removed, it would have gotten larger, and been a disastrous ending. God bless all the “Pretty Horses”
A Baby by the Light of the Moon, by Donna Murphy
It was one of those lovely spring nights, and a full moon, a perfect night for a baby to come into the world. It was quiet and the moon was shining upon my mare as she laid under a tree in the corner of her paddock. Shadows were dancing under the moonlight. I had a feeling she was going to deliver that evening as I went out at 11:30 PM to do my mare check, with flashlight and towels in hand.
I saw Shanti laying in the moonlight in a soft area under a tree and the baby had just emerged from her body. My heart was heavy and began to pound. The baby's head was out of the sack and I could hear her breathing. What a sight! The sack was off her face, but still in tack as she was trying to kick herself free. I helped remove the bag and started the imprinting and laid there and snuggled with mare and babe. What an incredible event to go through w your favorite mare. I dried the baby with the towels, then grabbed her legs and pulled her to mom's head and we lay there together and hugged. I shared a miraculous moment of nature with my mare; it was a perfect moment and a perfect birth!
Somewhere in the time span I called my husband, Michael on the phone, my call to him was quick but wanted him to come share in the moment! "Quick, grab the camera, more towels, and another flashlight, we have a beautiful baby!" I ran back to Shanti and we lay together as she started talking to her babe. The babe nickered back to fill the air w music of horse talk in the silent moonlit night. I wanted this moment to last forever, as it was very precious. The miracle of life!
Shanti snuggled with her filly and kissed her all over! Soon Shanti gets up and stood over her babe to guard and protect the perfect little beauty. Soon the filly gets up and wobbles and falls, it takes several tries and of course Michael and I are helping. She gets her balance and learns to stand! Soon she is nursing and of course I spent nearly the whole night watching in awe and wonder.
What a moment! And what excitement when the other horses across the fence sensed the joy and excitement of a new herd member. Suddenly there were hooves running and every horse was jumping for joy. The Running and kicking up of heals of excitement of other herd members was quite a site. One of the mares wanted to run through the fence to claim that baby as hers!
A perfect night, a perfect moment, life is good! God bless all the Pretty Horses!