More Woe than Go

I’ve been thinking of changing the name of the blog.  How does “Never-ending Tails of Woe” sound?  Because, despite my best efforts to remain cheerful, it’s beginning to feel that way.

I wrote about the homeopathic vet/osteopath a couple of weeks ago.  In fact, it’s four weeks to the day since she she saw my horses the first time.  To be honest, I’m a bit sceptical about homeopathy, but it’s absolutely accepted as a complementary form of therapy here in France.  Everyone seems to know someone who’s had great results with it, either personally or in the treatment of animals.  So I engaged fully with the process and toddled off to the pharmacy, where I parted company with €65 and came home armed with tubes of tiny white pills and an assortment of nondescript brown bottles, all filled to the brim with magic potion.

Aero was to have five of each of two different types of pill at least twice a day (we consistently managed to do this three times a day), plus a mix of three different liquids squirted into his mouth once a day.  Flurry’s treatment was easier – just five of two types of pill one a day.  I became adept at pressing the tiny round pills into the flesh of apples, and the horses were thrilled to be getting TREEEEATS.  Although Aero was less than thrilled about the magic potion I was force-feeding him, but he’s a very tolerant boy.

Initially, his cough got worse.  This seemed to ring a bell somewhere in the dim recesses of my brain, that homeopathy makes the symptoms worse before it starts to improve things.  Sure enough, after about a week, the cough seemed to be improving.  I rode out with my friends, just a short forty-five minute amble through the woods and he only coughed three times.  Things were looking up.

I was talking to Georges, who feeds the horses in the mornings, a couple of days later, and I said that Aero seemed to be better.  Mmmm, he said, shaking his head doubtfully.  He’d heard a couple of coughs that morning.  That day, I went and sat on a rock in the horses’ field and watched them for about twenty minutes.  Aero coughed on and off.  Flurry shook his head constantly and I videoed him (see below).  I was not a happy bunny, and I arranged for the vet/osteo to see them again a couple of days later.

Two days before she came, there was a heavy thunderstorm.  I rode Aero the following day, just to see how he was.  He was bouncy, happy, energetic and not coughing.  I was ecstatic.  But, I reminded myself, it rained yesterday.  Maybe there’s just less pollen around today.

The next day, when the vet visited, his breathing was still good and he wasn’t coughing.  We discussed his case.  She was confident that the medication was working as it should.  I could stop with everything bar one of the liquids, but if the cough started again I should restart the meds straight away.


I rode him the next day, Saturday.  Cough cough cough.  I actually hadn’t stopped the meds yet, so we continued as before.  The cough continued, too, as bad as ever.  I tried to contact the vet/osteo on Monday.  She was on holiday and was not replying to messages.  I’ll be honest here and say I felt helpless and pathetic while I was waiting for her to get back to me (it took five days).  I was not strong enough in my convictions to say stuff this and call the ‘normal’ horse vet immediately, and I persisted with this treatment that was doing nothing for another couple of days, because at least I felt I was doing SOMETHING!

Eventually, on Thursday, I called the normal vet and left a message.  We had a brief game of telephone tag and finally spoke on Easter Sunday morning.  He’s coming to see us on Friday.  Meanwhile, I’ve made a homemade nebuliser, consisting of a plastic bag with holes, hot water, a sponge and Vicks VapoRub.  Aero doesn’t like the smell but he’s very accepting of the plastic bag on his nose (what a good boy he is!) and it does seem to help him.

So that’s Tail of Woe number one.  And then there’s Flurry.

Headshaking, remember?  He’d had the horse dentist and he’d also had a crashing fall in the field, witnessed by Alexandrine, so it was sensible to conclude that the incessant irritated shake of his head was caused by one or both of these.  He was reluctant to have me touch his head anywhere, or behind his ears or down the left hand side of his neck.  Everything the vet/osteo found made sense in relation to these.  She treated him, prescribed his tiny white pills and left me absolutely certain he’d be grand in a couple of days.

Except he wasn’t grand.  He was exactly the same two weeks later, when I made this video.

(Apologies to those sensitive souls who might be aghast at how ‘relaxed’ he is.  I was concentrating on his front end, so I didn’t notice!)

So on the vet/osteo’s second visit, after we’d talked about Aero, she treated Flurry once again, and found a blockage on the same area, behind his ears, but on the right hand side rather than the left.  That all made sense.  And the treatment looked like it was beneficial.  I’ve seen enough equine osteopathy to know the signs a horse will give when something releases, and Flurry did a lot of blinking, chewing and yawning.  Once again, I was certain he’d be grand in a couple of days.

Except he isn’t.  He’s still head-shaking, although not as much.  When I finally spoke to the ‘normal’ vet, I expressed my concern that this was actually the manifestation of an allergy.  I suggested that I try a course of bute while waiting for his visit.  He agreed.  If the symptoms clear up with the help of bute, then it’s not an allergy.  If they don’t clear up, then I’ve got two allergic horses.

Feck’s sake, that’s all I need.

He started the bute yesterday.

The Jury is out.

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