Junior’s Emergency


Report from Meg Puckett, Herd Manager

Last Thursday morning we noticed that Junior was acting a bit colicky. Colic in horses can be caused by any number of things, from stress to gas, bad feed, secondary to another issue, or just about anything in between. Luckily our vet was right around the corner, and already on his way to us for a previously scheduled, non-emergency appointment. When he arrived at the farm he immediately began to treat Junior for colic, which included a rectal exam to check for any blockages or twists in his intestines (neither of which were found), administering pain medication, and giving him fluids through a nasal tube. Junior responded somewhat well to treatment, but within a couple hours was displaying signs of being uncomfortable again. At that point our vet referred us to the hospital at North Carolina State University in Raleigh.

We arrived at the hospital around 5:30pm where Junior was admitted and vets worked through the night to stabilize him and try to figure out what exactly was causing the colic. Friday morning they scoped him and found a section of his small intestine that was highly inflamed, and fluid that was collected indicated a very high white blood cell count. Junior was taken into surgery Friday afternoon where vets discovered he had strangulating lipoma. This is when a fatty cyst attaches to the intestine and damages it. The surgeons were able to remove several feet of damaged intestine and repair what was left, perform an abdominal lavage, and administer medication directly into the affected site. Junior did really well during surgery and while recovering from anesthesia.

The days immediately following surgery have been difficult, but Junior has been slowly heading in the right direction. He still has an abdominal drain inserted and is on antibiotics, but yesterday he was taken off IV fluids and pain medication and has handled that well so far. He’s eating a small amount, and the vets hope to increase his food intake little by little every day. Overall he is doing as good as anyone could hope for, but he is still in critical condition. We anticipate at least a ten day hospital stay for him, and then four to five months of recovery at home before he’ll be able to resume a somewhat normal life. He will live with an increased risk of colic and the formation of lesions on his intestines, but all of that is a bridge we will cross when we come to it. For right now we are taking things hour by hour and hoping that he continues to improve a little each day.

Junior has adapted well to being in the hospital and hasn’t shown any signs of stress in that regard, for which we are very grateful. Our vets tell us he’s been an excellent patient and we are just so proud of him for how brave and well-behaved he’s been. He is tough and smart, and as long as he is comfortable and keeps telling us he’s not done fighting we will do everything we can to keep him on the right path. We are going back to Raleigh tomorrow to visit him and plan on posting another update on Wednesday assuming nothing changes in the meantime.
If you’d like to make a donation towards Junior’s substantial veterinary bill you can do so via our website: https://www.corollawildhorses.com/one-time-donations/ Just write “Junior” in the comment section. Checks can be mailed to PO Box 361, Corolla, NC 27927. You can also donate via this post – all proceeds collected through Facebook come directly to CWHF with no fees taken out. Any funds raised that surpass Junior’s veterinary bills will go towards horse care and general operating costs at the rescue farm.
Even if you’re not able to donate at this time, prayers, positive energy, and love directed his way mean the world to him (and us as well).
Lastly, we’d be remiss if we didn’t take a minute to extend a sincere and heartfelt thank you to our entire veterinary team, both here at home and at NCSU. There is no way to put into words just how grateful we are for everything – not just for the incredible care you’ve provided Junior but also for the support you’ve shown us humans too. This is true in every case, with every horse, but especially so now. Thank you, thank you. 🙏
(Photo is from Friday morning, before Junior went into surgery. He had a nasal tube inserted, which is why he is wearing a basket muzzle.)