How an Arabian Mare was Brought Back From The Brink of Death to Wellness After an Eleven Month Battle with Pigeon Fever, a Staph and a Strep Infection.
Written by Shannon Weil (Cool, CA)
When the veterinarian declared, “This is the worst abscess I’ve ever seen!” I knew that Hana’s condition was serious. It started in October of 2006 when Hana, my beloved 24 year-old Arabian mare, a Tevis Cup 100-Mile Ride veteran, was diagnosed with Pigeon Fever.
As the cool fall weather set in, a parade of veterinarians routinely called at my barn to prod and poke at the bulbous mass growing along the right jugular groove on Hana’s neck. A fever accompanied the bacterial infection that manifested into the elongated protuberance. Eventually, and regularly, it erupted in a series of gooey and disgusting messes typically seen with Pigeon Fever abscesses.
My barn kitchen became the pharmacy where I prepared large doses of antibiotics, which I dutifully administered and Hana reluctantly swallowed. As well, hot and moist compresses were prescribed for the abscess. Although good advice, compresses are difficult to apply along the lower portion of a neck.
Without any hot running water, I created an alternative that duplicated the warm compresses. By heating a large wet towel in a microwave oven, I slung it around her neck to transfer warm moisture to her skin. To maintain the heat, I placed a waterproof heating pad over the top of her mane, turned it on to HIGH and curled it down and under her neck covering the wet towel at the wound. Next I wrapped a dry towel over the entire regalia and tied it with string to keep the heat and moisture in place against her neck. Everyday I stood with her for the thirty-minute treatment as the moist heat penetrated her tortured neck. I also used Linda Tellington-Jones inspired TTouches to soften the tissue. Music played on my iPod to entertain us and Hana was an ideal patient.
By December, she had become a Pigeon Fever poster girl. Every day guaranteed a superior mess manufactured by the demonic abscess that oozed, dripped and squirted that ugly three-letter word that begins with “p” and ends with “s”. Naturally, she became depressed. You are spared from graphic photographs because frankly, I was too darn busy to take pictures of the wound at its worst.
Five veterinarians from two different veterinary clinics called Hana their patient. As the months passed, vet bills skyrocketed but her condition only worsened. The tenacious monster inside of her was not yielding to our efforts despite pumping masses of antibiotics into her body. Hana and I were both distraught.
Late one bitter cold, dark February night, I checked Hana’s stall and found her lying in a heap inside her favorite turquoise blanket, she was exhausted by the debilitating battle. To comfort her, I contoured fresh deep shavings around her body to keep her warm and fashioned a pillow for her head. I tucked her in by draping additional blankets over her still body to keep her warm. She appreciated my efforts and as we said goodnight, we both felt it might be for the last time. I turned out the light.
Early next morning I dashed to the barn only to find her standing and waiting for me. Elated, it was one of those finite loved-filled horse/human moments that kept us both going through this horrific ordeal.
March, April, May and June dragged on with little progress to report, and then we were hit by more complications. The jugular abscess had transmuted into both systemic staph and strep infections simultaneously.
“Well, that’s just great!” I thought.
In July I transported Hana back to the vet hospital for another week long stay. This time she was assigned to the sterile and grim quarantine barn. I dutifully made the daily forty-mile round trip drive to give her a delicious mash to keep her weight up. In the oppressive summer heat I groomed her while she ate and Elvis sang to her from the iPod that I toted along.
She was finally released from the hospital and Hana got loose and headed straight for my trailer on her own. I swear I heard her say, “Never bring me back to this stinkin’ place again!!!”
Meanwhile, one veterinarian pulled me aside and recommended that I keep Hana on antibiotics for the rest of her life. I objected and flatly said, “NO! I’m sorry – that is not the answer. I could never do that to her. I will find another way.”
Upon arriving home, dull eyed and listless, she was greeted by her herd of five doting geldings. Hana returned a faint nicker. At least now she could “sleep in her own bed” among the horse and dog family that adored her.
That was rock bottom. It was now July 2007, ten arduous months into this epic struggle and Hana and I were both exhausted. We had little to show for our efforts, except that she was still alive…barely and I’d spent a lot of money.
It was time to take a deep breath and fully embrace wellness over illness.
I turned my back on conventional veterinarian medicine that had its opportunity to help us but left us empty. From that day forward I focused exclusively on supporting her immune system and letting her body heal itself. I just needed to find the best products for my plan.
In July I called my friend April Battles, a representative for Dynamite Specialty Products, and asked for her recommendations on rebuilding Hana’s immune system. April responded immediately and we developed a strategy beginning with Dynamite’s Herbal Tonic to flush out her liver and Dynamite Vitamin/Mineral Supplement and Dyna-Pro (probiotics). Immediately, we began to see Hana improve. We also put her on Hiscorbadyne and Trace Minerals Concentrate.
Then we allowed these Dynamite products to do their job. Hana immediately started gaining weight and her healing process soon accelerated.
Finally, eleven months after this entire traumatic ordeal began, on a cool September morning I was in the barn cleaning stalls when a flash caught my eye. I looked up and beyond the pond I saw Hana galloping across the pasture, her neck still thick with scar tissue; but she was now racing with the rest of the herd.
“She’s back!” I hollered to no one in particular, abandoning my pitchfork, “Hana is well again!!!” I grabbed my camera and snapped this picture.
She was so proud of herself because this was the first time she moved faster then a slow walk in over 300 days. The entire barnyard population of horses, dogs, ducks, geese and I all rejoiced in a cacophonous celebration. Even more I cherished each day with Hana for the rest of her life.
I owe her ultimate recovery to trusting my own intuition and I am extremely thankful and grateful to April’s sage advice and wisdom, and to Dynamite Specialty Products. I am certain that much of Hana’s expensive encounter could have been curtailed had I known about Natural Cellular Defense and Dynamite products sooner. Today I keep these products on hand at all times.
April Battles went on to develop a very successful international equine bodywork business. Even today when she comes to my barn my horses line up for her magical touch as they say to her, “Me now! Me now! Fix me! Me now!”
Hana eventually passed away in November of 2010 at the age of 28, but she left us with her brave story.
Be well and glow!
Shannon Weil, a lifelong horse lover and former endurance rider, is the author of the book, “Strike A Long Trot – Legendary Horsewoman Linda Tellington-Jones.”