Retiring Lady

I’ve been meaning to write about what happened to Lady… I know some of my FB friends have picked up bits and pieces but here’s the story for the rest of those curious.


A couple weeks ago Jim and I decided to take Maddy and Lady out for a quick hack.  The day was gorgeous, the weather was perfect for a nice quick ride.  I expected the horses to be a bit “up” as the weather was so fine but shortly after tacking up Lady, I noticed that she seemed a bit off.  I thought she was just having a moody mare moment (the other mares had been a bit moody since moving the geldings) and thought nothing else of it.  We mounted up and started the ride and initially everything seemed ok, but about half way through the ride Lady became increasingly “off” and hard to communicate with, she carried her head low and refused to do more than a slow plodding walk.  Jim and I decided to cut short our ride and head back for home immediately.  Normally once we make the turn for home Lady perks up and is chomping at the bit… this time she was apathetic and melancholy.  When I got off to lead her through the pasture gate she refused to move at all and stood like a statue blowing hard through extremely flared nostrils.  Finally I was able to get her to lead down to the crossties and as soon as I took off her saddle she tried to lay down and roll… a classic sign of colic.  She continued to do the strange rapid breathing, but unlike the previous times, she didn’t stop, if anything it got worse. 

So… at a loss… we decided to give her some Pepto… an old horseman’s trick that our previous vet swore by.  It had no real effect.  So after much deliberation we called out our vet.


Our current vet is a travelling vet and unfortunately he doesn’t live close by.  By the time he arrived Lady and I had walked a good couple miles around the driveway in an attempt to keep her from laying down to roll.

Dr. Stafford listened to her heart, but couldn’t hear it as it was beating in time with her breathing.  He continued his check of her vitals and then told us the bad news.

She has thumps and a heart murmur due to an electrolyte imbalance.  With the barest of pauses he continued to say that her riding career was over.

We continued to let her rest for that evening, checking on her often and by nightfall she had returned to her normal breathing pattern… but she looked so drained. 

The day before we had had our farrier out to do trims and float Lady and Maddy.  I don’t know if the stress of that headed her down the road to this big episode as her teeth were in terrible condition and her feet definitely needed some work.  I did a lot of research on thumps and from what I learned I think when she was a carriage horse in Florida she was probably overworked before she was properly conditioned and that damaged a nerve near her heart that can trigger a thumps episode anytime the heart is under stress.  I also learned that thumps is also caused by electrolyte imbalances, specifically calcium.  So we started her (and all the rest of the horses too) on an electrolyte supplement.  I wouldn’t say that she looked better immediately but I can definitely see a bit of a spring in her step and a little more attitude in the pasture.


The vet said she can be ridden so long as we give her electrolyte paste a couple days before the ride (on top of her usual supplement) and then limit the ride to walking and keep it short.  Not very promising really.  So we made the decision to retire her.  She’s spending her days grazing and shedding on everybody that gets near her!  But at least she’s still here.

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