All Things Horse

Forty-seven Years Of Horse Experience – At Your Service!

Sam’s Pride

This is my first post and it is a sad one. Last year I bought four horses. Two of them were almost twin-looking, Standardbred fillies off the race track. One, the youngest was called Sam’s Pride. This is the story of the last couple of days of her life.

Horse Seizures

I lost a 2-year-old filly, Sam’s Pride in February 2008, to seizures. I’ve had horses for 45 years and I had never heard of a horse taking seizures before.  Apparently, I wasn’t the only one.

I had asked the vet about the strange behaviors that this young filly was having and then the horse owners at the local race track, including her previous owner, if they could identify the actions. Mostly the men said “no”, gave me a weird look, like I was exaggerating and said it must be some form of colic. So I agreed with them. If nothing else I learned a lot about colic and I learned that my dear Sammy was never colicky.

We live on an island, in the middle of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.  At the end of January, the ice starts to form and fill the Gulf, stopping all ocean going traffic, leaving the islands in isolation for two months.  The ferry service resumes around the first of April.

The last week in February, at 5:00am, Sammy fell down in her favorite place, in the large greenhouse, next to the house and stayed down. We could hear the disturbance and we went running for the door. Sammy was lying on a very soft area of ground close to an electrical outlet, where I placed heat lamps and kept the temperature in the building warm.  I also kept hot water bottles around her, on the hay covered, soft ground and under the two winter horse blankets that she was covered with.  Her body temperature had dropped to a level that concerned me and at the suggestion of the veterinarian, I brought her body temperature back to normal levels.

Up until this point, I had been using the word ‘convulsion’ to describe some of her strange actions, which would explain severe colic in young horses.  When she fell, she had a ‘grand mal’ seizure, but since I had never seen this thrashing about before, I still used the word ‘convulsion’ when describing her strange actions.  But I also told people that she was thrashing about, even though it didn’t appear like she was trying to get up.   She didn’t seem to have any pain, however she seemed confused and very tired after the thrashing stopped. Thirty hours after she first went down, a group of horse men and I tried to lift her in a sling, set up with a block and tackle.  Mostly she refused to help and behaved like a kitten being moved about, in its mother mouth.  Still, it was obvious that she had strength and the ability for strong movement, in all four of her legs.

I had a second veterinarian in to see her, about an hour after we tried to sling her up and the lady couldn’t find anything to say the horse was even sick. Tests had already been done on her stools and blood. They came back normal earlier in the month. Her temperature was normal as was her heart, lungs, gums, ears, eyes and nose.  Her stools were clean and proper, her urine was fine.  She was eating, in fact like most horses, she rarely stopped eating, even while the vet examined her.  The lady couldn’t find anything wrong with her legs. There were no swellings or cuts on her body, to indicate that the herd had damaged her in any way.  I also know this was the case, since the filly stayed with me, because the herd didn’t want her around them.  She was a good weight for her age, not too heavy or too thin.

The veterinarian gave her a vitamin shot and antibiotics, explaining that they won’t hurt her, but she couldn’t find an infection.  She gave me more and explained how and when to give the shots.  The veterinarian said that if she didn’t get up on her own within forty-eight hours, then it would be best to put her down.  I had asked the veterinarian if she had ever seen anything like this before and she had said no, never in horses. To say she was perplexed would be an understatement.

My dear young filly, Sam’s Pride, “Sammy” died of natural causes twelve hours later. Having an autopsy preformed was impossible due to the lack of facilities on the islands and the costs of such a procedure.  Then, of course the worry came, that perhaps she had something contagious, something  that had been passed on to the other horses.  It was a week later, before I realized that she had been having increasingly severe seizures and eventually she went into one and never survived it. Calls to the equine hospital on Prince Edward Island, had finally determined that something had probably blocked the oxygenated blood from her lungs to her brain through the aortic arch.

I could never have saved Sammy, I know that now, even if I had been able to get sammyher to the equine hospital.  Living on an ice bound island at the end of February, made that impossible.  It was likely even with anti-convulsive medication, she would still be a risk around other animals and people.

Perhaps she had an operable tumor or a removable blood clot, that caused the seizures. I would have spent all my savings and everything else to save her, but in the end, no matter what, my Sammy had to die. My reasoning is that she could never be trusted, not to take other seizures and therefore had to be kept isolated. That would not have been fair to this young horse.

My dear little Sammy had lived a hard life, as an investment at the track and was just learning love and to show love, when she died.  She would try to mimic me when I gave her kisses on her neck and face by putting her lips to my cheek and make a sucking sound, much like sucking up water.  She also let me know when she needed a hug, something I gave her frequently. When I was near, she would come close, close enough to push me off my feet and wrap her neck and head around my neck and wait for me to wrap my arms around her neck and chest and hold her. She had just learned what love was….

I love my other horses, but the loss of Sammy broke my heart.


November 6, 2008 - Posted by | health | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. […] nervousness on to Dream, who continued to lose weight and have regular bouts of diarrhea.  When Sammy died, Dream knew it.  He could smell her death, even though I kept the horses away from the building. […]

    Pingback by Equine Breathing As An Holistic Training Method - Does It Work? « All Things Horse | March 27, 2009

  2. […] all is said and done, it is possible and probable that my dear deceased Sammy (Sam’s Pride) was the culprit who infected Frilly. Her stools had been tested and came out positive for some […]

    Pingback by Worms! Yew! « All Things Horse | April 4, 2009

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