Freedom’s Colic Story: Multiple Modalities Proved Successful

By Renee Adiar; Intro by Michelle Mantor; As published in Houston PetTalk Magazine Jan/Feb 2019.

Many of you are familiar with the paint stallion, (now gelding), I rescued in 2016, who I named Freedom. Our story was chronicled in the January/February 2018 issue along with a video that introduced the people who helped me save him. One of those angels was Renee Adair, a natural horsemanship and EEL trainer. In September of this year, Freedom returned to Renee’s home for a couple of months because he was sunburning and her place is lush with trees. While there, Freedom gave us quite a health scare. The story is rather fascinating and I wanted to share it with you because I think it highlights the power of medicine, body work, teamwork, relationships, synchronicity and prayer. Here is the story as told by Renee. 

In the wee hours of the morning on October 29, it was still pitch black out- side as I headed to the barn to feed the horses. I turned the exterior barn lights on first since they light the landscape gradually, giving the horses’ eyes a chance to adjust. I first let the mares in the barn then went back to let the boys in. 

When I opened the gate, Dally, my 14 yr. old gelding and TeRado, my 18 month old colt, casually walked in. Freedom, who is al- ways ready to come in at feeding time, rolled and didn’t get up. I immediately knew he was colicking. From past experience, I knew mild gas colic was not abnormal for him and typi- cally a dose of banamine to help muscles relax was enough to get him through it. 

On this particular weekend, I was tak- ing a two-day course on the Masterson Method, a form of body work that encour- ages improved motion by partnering with the horse and moving joints in a relaxed state. During the clinic the previous day, I had heard someone mention the “under- the-tail-points” were good in a colic situation. After I fed the other 4, I started applying the technique. By 7am, he was looking better. I left to get ready. At 8am, I checked on him one more time before leaving and he was down again. 

I let the clinic organizer know I was going to be late, then called Michelle to tell her the situation. By 11am, Freedom still wasn’t his normal self, so I took him to Waller Equine. The plan was to leave him for observation and for them to intervene if he wasn’t improving. 

During one of the breaks, I saw a missed text from Michelle. Dr. Beadle wanted to put him on fluids, what did I think? Fortunately, when she didn’t hear back from me, Michelle made the execu- tive decision for fluids and sedation. 

Fast forward to the end of the day, my clinic colleagues asked about Freedom as we prepared to leave. I shared
what I knew, which wasn’t much, and ended with, “I hope and pray this isn’t how Michelle and Freedom’s journey ends.” After we dismissed, a fellow classmate shared a video of another colic-release-point. 

When I arrived at Waller Equine at 7:00pm, Michelle hadn’t been there long and Freedom was on the ground looking as if he’d given up. I thought they had just sedated him, but later learned the sedation was two hours earlier. Freedom had continued to decline 

throughout the day and without sedation, he was rolling in pain. The diagnosis was an impaction colic in the large intestine. He was hooked up to IV fluids, but if we waited too long, part of his intestine could die, creating other complications. 

Many factors were considered with the vet’s recommendation, and Dr. Beadle strongly recommended surgery or be ready to euthanize if surgery wasn’t financially an option (colic surgery and after-care can range from $6K to $10K, then specialized care is required for up to 4 months after surgery). Dr. Beadle gave us space to discuss the options, none of them good. 

We all stood in Freedom’s stall, talking to him and coaxing him to fight while simultaneously trying to make a decision. Surgery felt like the direction to go, but I had to face the hard reality that I could not take care of Freedom after surgery. Michelle was weighing her options. In a leap of faith, I told Michelle that if Freedom was meant to have surgery, the solution would present itself. 

While Michelle contacted potential post-surgical caregivers, I sat down behind Freedom and started working the under-the-tail-points again. He went into a series of yawns and after some time, Freedom stood. I was happy he was up, now I could find the points my classmate shared with me. Freedom had more releases, including passing gas. It’s not often I’m happy to have gas passed in my face, but this was one! 

At 9:30pm, someone said they could take Freedom for post-surgery care. For me, a huge weight lifted to know it was an option. By that time, Freedom was looking better so we asked to take him for a walk. Walking can sometimes help get things moving. When he was asked to move earlier, he couldn’t because of the intense pain. Thankfully, this time he felt well enough to walk with us. 

After the walk and reconnection to his IV, the staff checked his reflux, deter- mined the level of reflux had decreased and took the tube out of his nose. (Rather than re-insert the tube when there is a colic, they will leave the tube in until the horse shows specific signs of improvement). 

By midnight, he was looking much im- proved. We were all exhausted. Freedom had turned around while we were there, but the question remained-would he get depressed if we left and regress? Michelle and I gave in to the exhaustion and decided to leave. 

The next morning, Michelle received a call from Dr. Beadle with the news “she had a miracle pony”. He had passed manure and seemed to be turning the corner. When Michelle and I arrived at 10am Monday, he no longer had his IV. Though he looked much better, he still seemed off. We took him for a walk, and since
he was eager to move out we wentto the round pen. With patience and encouragement, I was able to get him to lower his head while he moved. In the equine world, a low head can help with relaxation. 

After we were back in the stall, I resumed the Masterson Method. When I started the under-the-tail points, he pushed into me. There was no question I had the right spot. When I took my hand away, Freedom proceeded to chase me around the stall, hiney first. I can only imagine how we looked to the casual observer. At one point when I wouldn’t do his bidding, he backed up against his water bucket to hit the point he wanted,  then dropped a few small manure balls in his water. Clearly, he knew what he needed to get his system moving. I continued to apply the Masterson Techniques until about 1pm. 

Dr. Cassie Schuster, owner of Wellness Equine Ranch and naturopathic doctor, resides very close to Waller Equine so Michelle and I paid her a visit. The intent of the visit was to see if she could provide sup- port if Freedom stayed at my place. We had already been in conversation with Dr. Cassie concerning the imbalances in his system evidenced by the sunburn and repeated gas colics. The possibility of Freedom going to Wellness Ranch for a few months to see if she could rebalance his system through naturopathy, had been discussed. Michelle and I left Wellness Ranch with the good news Freedom could become one of her patients. 

When Michelle and I met back at Waller Equine at 3:00, Freedom still had not passed much manure. Dr. Cassie gave Michelle her low-level-red-light-laser and Michelle applied it along his bladder meridian. When she finished, he passed a couple of manure balls. After Michelle finished, I resumed applying to other parts of the body, what I had been taught over the weekend. When we finished, he left a nice present…the best manure pile I had seen from him since the nightmare began. 

Michelle and I parted at 5pm. SinceI live close to Waller Equine, I told her I would swing by around 8pm to check on him. On the drive home, I hit a figurative wall. I called Michelle to tell her I wasn’t going to make it was in God’s hands.Tuesday, the hospital re-introduced food. Everything went well, so he was able to come back to my house that afternoon. 

Three diagnoses strike fear in the heart of every horse owner: laminitis, founder and colic. All three at best can create management issues and at worse, death. Even with all the equine medical community knows and continues to learn, there are still cases where horses should have survived and don’t, and horses that shouldn’t have survived and do. What can cause the pendulum to swing one way for one horse and the other for another? We will probably never know. I firmly believe Freedom’s recovery was the perfect combination of things: the extraordinary vet care he received, the applications of the Masterson Method, the use of the red light, the knowledge Michelle and I were there to fight with and for him, and last, but certainly not least, prayer. Our Creator put together the perfect orchestra for the benefit of one pony. His rough start that caused him to be seized by the Houston Humane Society opened the door for an amazing woman to adopt him. Their jour- ney continues to create connections and touch lives in ways unimaginable. 

Photos of Freedom during Colic and Feeling better at Waller Equine

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