When I went to feed the horses I noticed that the boys didn’t want to eat. We thought it was weird but figured Sapo and Picasso were full. But when we went to check on them again during lunch, we very quickly realized something was terribly wrong.
Both horses had diarrhea and were breathing heavily.
“We need to call a vet immediately,” I said to Toti worried about my kids.
We asked our host to help us find a vet in the small town but he said there was only one and he was currently on vacation in northern Argentina. We called vets in both Rio Grande and Ushuaia, but none agreed to come.
“Sorry, I don’t treat emergencies,” is the answer we heard over and over again.
By late afternoon, after giving both horses a 10 cc’s of banamine, a muscle relaxant, and a 500 ml IV of saline, Picasso began breathing better and defecating normally. But Sapo kept getting worst.
That night I didn’t sleep. It was -16 degrees and the ground was covered with a thick coat of ice and snow. A cold wind made my hands turn deep red and my fingers burn with pain.
It was the worst night of my life.
Sapo fought for his life like I have never seen a living being fight before. We continued to put IV bags into his vain all night but he kept getting worst. Eventually he started drooling and his muscles started tightening up until he eventually laid down and could no longer stand.
At 7am he rose for the final time. Using all of his might, he shot his stocky golden body up and stood shaking. Then while I held his head with everything I had left in me, he began to walk forward. It was like his heart was moving his legs. As if he wanted to get far away from me. He was getting ready to die.
Running my right hand down the soft hairs on his forehead I thanked him for his hard work these past few months and asked him to rest. It was already the next afternoon and he was still fighting.
Finally, at 4:01 pm Sapo’s eyes went mate-black and seconds later he took a final breath. I sat next to him in the frozen ground crying like a father who lost his son. Feeling defeated.
That night, having not slept for over 24 hours, a vet finally agreed to come to Touhlin to check on Picasso.
He medicated the tall bay and said he would be okay.
“There was something wrong with those alfalfa cubes,” said the vet about the cubes the owner of the ranch we were staying at had given the horses the night prior.
“Either rat urinated inside the bag or they came bad from the factory. Sapo must have eaten most of the bad cubes and Picasso ate less. This was an intoxication from those cubes.”