With the challenges of a long spring behind us and the recent loss of Allie’s foal we weren’t prepared to watch one of our favorite mares lose her battle to live over the weekend. After a period of a week in which she was treated with a variety of antibiotics, IV fluids, and anti-inflammatory medications, Daddy’s Girl died Sunday afternoon.
It began with an impaction of grain in her esophagus a week or so before. Then, after two days of antibiotics, Daddy’s Girl took a turn for the worse Saturday night with labored breathing and the display of lip phlegming, a sign of pain and distress. So, I called Dr. Diehl to come out and take a look at her. Soon after Dr. Diehl's arrival she treated her with IV fluids for dehydration and continued with her assessment and diagnosis. Daddy’s Girl’s condition was somewhat of a mystery. Dr. Diehl found no signs of internal abnormalities other than some suspicious activity in the trachea. An abdominal abscess was a possibility but could only be confirmed with an abdominal tap which we couldn’t have analyzed until Monday.
So, we continued giving her fluids and Dr. Diehl added two powerful antibiotics in hopes of stemming the tide of an aggressive infection. After twenty-four hours of watching over and treating Daddy’s Girl, I had become increasingly concerned when Cassidy came out to the ranch about four. From her experience conducting equine research at Texas A&M, Cassidy knew that Daddy’s Girl was in critical respiratory distress. Her temperature was 103 degrees, so we knew it was important to do what we could to reduce Daddy’s Girl temperature. We decided to place wet towels over her and turned on a fan to assist in the cooling.
Just a half hour later we returned to the barn to check in on her and we were stunned to find the stall empty. We had left the stall door ajar to encourage air circulation in the stall and Daddy’s Girl had managed to push it open. She made her way out of the south side of the barn and down the alley-way where she found the only space available to her outside. Driven by death’s coming she sought a place to isolate in the only way she could.
Her dead body was a shock to us even though we knew what great pain she suffered before she died. Pete, Cassidy, and I were moved by this act of volition. For her to find a way to escape that stall, making one final decision when everything else was out of her control; and then to go and die in her own way was perhaps driven by one last deep desire to be free.
It was with regret we said goodbye to Daddy’s Girl. She was one of our best all-time producing mares at the Kurtz Ranch. We will continue to cherish and remember her through her offspring. Andy, just recently home, quickly had his eye on one of Daddy’s Girl’s yearling colts as a prospect.