Windchill the colt back on feet, with help
SOUTH RANGE -- Things are looking up for Windchill, the nine-month-old colt who was near death when he was rescued last weekend. Windchill had been left outside with no shelter for at least four hours last Saturday, when whipping winds made it fe...
SOUTH RANGE -- Things are looking up for Windchill, the nine-month-old colt who was near death when he was rescued last weekend.
Windchill had been left outside with no shelter for at least four hours last Saturday, when whipping winds made it feel like 30 below, and he had been without access to proper food or water.
When he was rescued and brought to Jeff Tucker's Raindance Farms in South Range last weekend, Windchill was suffering from dehydration, malnourishment, hypothermia and frostbite. A veterinarian who visited him on Tuesday recommended putting him down.
But a second veterinarian who visited Windchill this morning said he didn't need to be put to sleep, and the colt was even able to support his own weight for ten minutes or so after being hoisted off the floor -- a definite sign of progress for a colt whose frozen forelegs have prevented him from standing on his own.
Credit plenty of help from Northlanders -- and the animals of Raindance Farms --for Windchill's recuperation.
Tucker and Kathi Davis, who works at the farm, have taken time off from their regular jobs to spend time with him. Larry Erickson, a neighbor of Tucker's, brought over horse blankets. And people like Suzy and Archie Clark of Duluth, who were on hand Saturday, have dropped by to give Windchill their best get-well wishes.
Annie and Dance, two of Tucker's mares, take turns keeping maternal watch in the stall next to Windchill. Walker, Tucker's Australian Sheepdog, gives Windchill's nose the occasional encouraging lick and Olivia, the barn cat, sleeps on him each night.
All the assistance seems to have helped. When veterinarian Jamie Meagher came to examine Windchill this morning, the colt had a healthy appetite and had tried to stand up a few times. Miraculously, he has thus far avoided pneumonia.
"I don't understand how that could happen unless someone's looking out for us," Davis said.
Early this afternoon, several people helped load Windchill into a horse-sized sling and hoist him up from the floor of his stall, where he had lain since last weekend.
Tucker said the operation went well.
"He took it in stride. He was very calm," Tucker said. "He perked right up and drank a bucket of water right away."
After lifting Windchill into a standing position, the sling was loosened so that Windchill was supporting his own weight. He stayed up for about ten minutes.
Meagher said the time spent off the ground will be a morale-booster, if nothing else.
"That's not a natural place for them to be, down like that and not able to rise," Meagher said.
Still, Windchill has a lot of recovering to do if he's going to make it.
"I haven't seen one this bad," said Meagher, who has been a vet for 20 years. "Unfortunately every year we see a few, but this one is bad."
Meagher estimates he weighs only 400 pounds. A nine-month-old horse should be around 750 pounds.
Meagher prescribed B vitamins for Windchill's liver, probiotics like yogurt to help his digestion and a blood-booster.
"He's got a long road ahead of him," Meagher said.
That's something the people at Raindance Farms know, but it was hard to suppress a feeling of buoyancy today after Windchill reached his milestones.
"He's going to be the miracle baby. He's going to pull through," Davis said. "He has to."