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The Light of Life in His Eyes

The Photonic Health Red Light

Helped Save My Horse Gift


I have a very dear horse that is extremely close to my heart. Yes, they all are but this guy is extra special to me. He has not had an easy life, some due to his own craziness and other well maybe, wrong place/wrong time.


At the age of 7 months old he was being hauled to Florida and had a trailer accident. What exactly happened I am not sure but when I purchased him at 8 years old his battle wound scar was easy to see on his left hind leg.


Within weeks of purchasing this beautiful horse, a rattlesnake bit him. I will never forget the call I received early one morning. “Donna I am not sure how to tell you this but Gifts’ leg is so swollen and hot it looks more like an elephant leg. I have already called the vet but he doesn’t look good and he is very hot.” Once I caught my breath I was out the door and on my way to the barn. He did not look good. His head was low, he was lethargic and his leg was gigantic and hot to the touch. The vet arrived and worked him over informing us that he was bitten by a rattlesnake, he had an extremely high temperature and was very ill. I am not sure what the vet gave him but the vet was calm and clear and said not to worry as horses have a natural antivenin and he would be fine. And he was!





Fast forward 7 years; now I am on a work visa in Northern British Columbia. Yes, I went from Florida to Northern BC, hauling Gift and my other two horses. Gift lived out in the most amazing 100-acre pasture with a herd of geldings. (Truly the most beautiful place I have ever seen) One day I brought him in and he had some green stuff coming out of his nose I thought this was very odd, I had actually never seen this before.


I called the vet and took him in and I was told he was choking! The young vet was tubing him to see where the choke was and was having major difficulties. She tried numerous times as blood was dripping out of his nose. I was getting anxious, I knew we had to get this done but this was not working so I recommend we sedate him so we could get the tube down. He was being a very good patient but what the vet was attempting was not working.


She successfully worked the tube down and found the impaction about 2/3 the way down the esophagus. PHEW!


I was told we got it and he would be fine. I thanked her and happily loaded him up and took him home. I took him for a long walk then turned him out into the smaller pasture around the barn area so that I could keep an eye on him. He went to graze and was looking good. This did not last very long because early the next morning I see green stuff coming out of his nose again. I have had horses all my life and I have never experienced a choke so I thought he must be choking again. I loaded him into the trailer and took him back to the vet. They tubed him again and said there was no choking. The tube went down nicely and they were in his stomach. Maybe he had some damage to his esophagus and it needs time to heal or we might have additional rare issues. I took him home and watched everything he ate to see exactly what the problem was. This time I put him in one of the shaded round pens so I knew exactly what he is eating and drinking. Stuff was still coming out of his nose, he was not eating, and he was losing weight. I didn’t know what to do and that day we were having a big event that I was in charge of running. Knowing I was stressed, a friend came over hooked up my trailer and graciously took him back to the vet.




I saw the trailer come back and my friend says he wasn’t choking and not to worry as he would be fine. Phew! Now to get through this big event I’m in presenting. I finally got through the first part of the event and went to check on Gift. I was at my wits end! He looked SO bad, he was so lethargic, so lifeless, he was so dehydrated that white foam was coming out of his mouth. I talked to the vet who was very cold and not at all concerned. (The vet was mad because my friend that brought him in earlier that day did not have an appointment) I started crying and telling him my horse was dying right in front of my eyes. He said I could make an appointment and if he had time he would see me on Monday. It was Saturday!!!! The area in BC that I was in only had one large animal vet in town.


At this point I have 250 people that I am in charge of and dinner is about to be served. I pulled myself together and put on a big smile. I did what I could to make Gift comfortable and went back to the event. Later that evening it was calm and peaceful and just me and Gift. I thought Ok buddy it is up to us! He now had not eaten or drank in a VERY long time. I thought to myself it couldn’t get any worse. I figured he was dehydrated lets get some electrolytes into him. I had some water and added some electrolytes and had a very large syringe. He was at liberty (so no halter on) I figured if we were to get through this we would have to do it together. I would hold up my large syringe filled with electrolytes and ask him if he wanted some. He would come over and I would squirt it in. He would pace around some and I would prepare the next one and we repeated several times. It felt good to be getting this little amount in. I came back every two hours and repeated.


Sunday I picked some soft grass I put it in water and he would eat just a little. It was still coming out of his nose but I was hoping some was getting in and I was happy he put some effort into eating. I repeated my water in the syringe - some just water and some with electrolytes. Time to add another worry into the equation. He has not pooped in a full day plus now. I thought ok, let’s get some oil into him. I knew the risk of what I was doing and the liquids going into his lungs but really he was dying in front of me. He came and would take the oil he wanted and when he was done he told me clearly. I repeated my treatments every 2 hours throughout the night. At this point when I would start to approach the round pen I was nervous each time. Would he still be standing? Would he still be alive? And each time to my surprise he was!


I remember clearly at 4:30 in the morning I walked to the pen and saw a fresh pile of poop. Anyone that has been with a sick horse knows how exciting that is. I talked to him like I was talking to a 2-year old child pooping on the toilet for the first time. Gift you pooped!!!! I walked up and put my arms around him filled with love and a little hope.


Knowing I was not going back to that vet again, on Monday morning and friend suggested we load him up and drive to Dawson Creek, an hour plus drive. The vet said the moment I arrived they would drop everything and help me. This same friend had called another friend and said, “go with Donna, she can’t be alone right now”. She was right! I so needed a friend! So off we went to the new vet. The second we arrived I was greeted by two vets, we marched right into the horse area and we escorted to the front of the line. We put Gift into the tight metal vet pen, which they use for working on horses. It was hard to walk him was he was weak. Gift is normally a “looky spooky” kind of guy but not this day, he just went where he was told. The vets took our story and could see he was in bad shape.





We started him immediately on IV fluids and they were trying to tube him so they could take their scope and look around but they couldn’t tube him. It was getting to the point I could not watch anymore. If it were another horse I would be fine but not my guy, not my best friend. My friend knew I was struggling and suggested we leave and let them work and go get coffee. I was thankful for her thought. After some time we got a call from the vet. They had successfully tubed him and they asked us to come back.


We arrived and the scope they had could only go so far and showed nothing damaged. They suggested hauling him to Edmonton to a vet that had a longer scope and could see farther down and try and find out what was happening. I looked at my horse who, could barely stand up at this point and said no way. Edmonton is a 12-hour drive. I would lose him in the trailer. She confirmed that he was not choking, that he has no block but had no idea why everything was coming out of his nose.


I thanked her for her kindness (especially after the last vet), we loaded up and went back home. I continued on my path of trying anything I could to help him. He did start to eat a little more and continued to try. I saw him go over and drink water and nibble on the grass I was putting out for him. So those were good signs. Another friend suggested I contact her sister in-law, Kelsey who had a strong laser. I told her that I was done spending money here - 4 vet bills and nothing was looking very good. Kelsey heard about us and decided she would volunteer and come out. How amazing was that? She came out and it was easy for her to see that Gift and I were exhausted and just holding it together. She did a few things with him, which he seemed to like then she used this laser on him (mostly down his esophagus). When you know a horse well you can see things and I could tell he was liking what was happening. There was a change in his eyes. His eyes were dull and lifeless before she worked on him but after they were clearer and had a spark. The SPARK made me so joyful.


A few days later I got a call from the Dawson Creek Vet (the good vet). She was in the area and asked if she could stop and take a look at Gift. Sure that would be great! I now had Gift out free grazing around the barn. He was grazing and drinking but it all seemed to be coming out of his nose. The vet and her assistant stopped out and assessed Gift observing how he would drink and a river of water would flow out his nose. She told me she ran our case by all the other vets and none of them had anything they could do to help. Did I want to put him down? I said no I wanted to ride it out. I asked her to load him up vitamins or whatever else she thought might help. She smiled a warm real smile and mixed up a nice cocktail of vitamins, gave him a shot and wished us well.


I tried everything I could think of to get him to eat something. Sneak e Snacks is an all time favorite treat for Gift and the only thing he would eat regularly. As I was running low a dear friend immediately shipped up 4 large bags to help us out. I tried 4 different types of grain. One day he would eat one and not the other. He kept changing his mind, I found finally a senior pelleted grain that he liked. So I would bring him in several times a day and give him his grain wetted down, with his Sneak e Snacks. He seemed to like it better higher up so I brought in a barrel and always had fresh picked grass and a fresh bucket of water, so he could pick whatever he wanted to munch on.


A dear friend took me for a walk in the field with Gift, he gently put his arm around me and said, “I know this is hard but we need to talk about putting Gift down. The vets have given up on him. He is not looking good and is losing more and more weight”. I took a deep breath, (I so appreciate the friends that can have these hard conversations openly with you) and I said, “I understand, but he still has a light in his eye, a spark that tells me he wants to live”.


At this point we are 2 weeks into this and about to take a big 2-week trip high up in the mountains with limited access to the outside world. Mostly all I could do was check my emails each day. A dear friend took me for a walk in his field, wrapped his arms around me and gently said, “I think it is time to make the hard decision.” I appreciate friends that can help in these hard situations, with tears in my eyes, I said, “no he still has a Light of Life in His Eye”. We had an amazing working student who was on her way back home who specifically stayed an extra few week to take care of Gift while I was gone. She was with me every step of the way through the process, I knew she would do an excellent job with his care and she promised to email me every day. I will forever be grateful for her love and support of both of us. Her last email said he was still doing good, but stuff was still coming out of his nose.


As I rode the bus home I was thinking what a difficult month this had been and if it was as bad as when I had left Gift I might have to make the hard decision. Seeing him I was prepared for the worst, he has always been a thinner type horse and he was almost a walking skeleton when I left. But I was happy when I saw him he had gained a little weight not a ton but a little for sure. While I was gone Kelsey volunteered another 2 times to work on him with her magic hands and magic laser. He was drinking and eating with a little more effort but the river that came out of his nose continued. UGH what is this and what can I do here????


A dear friend of mine, JoAnne, (who shipped me up the Sneak e Snacks) had joined me for our High and Wild adventure up in the mountains. A week after she arrived back home, she learned that Donna Woods was doing a Red Light clinic at the therapeutic riding center that I had started, InStride Therapy. JoAnne had told her what had happened with Gift and right away Mrs. Wood says his Hyoid is out. She followed up with an email to me and sent me the Red Light points to work on him.





Of course, I was game to try anything so I marched out with my chart and Red Light in hand and started the process. I remember getting to a point on the side of his head and he would go crazy! Oh, I thought I might be onto something here. It was the first time in the process I actually put my halter on. I had to hold the light a good 6 inches away from this point and he could not stand still. We paced around and I followed and kept the light on until he could settle and when he settled he gave many big licks and chews. I repeated the process several times a day. Within 5 days I could tell the river of food and water that was coming out of his nose was now a stream. A few days later the stream turned into a leak and then the leak turned into nothing. Yupp nothing!!!!! The entire process was almost 7 weeks. But here we are 4 years later and I have a happy health Gift who still brings me so much joy!





Thank you everyone who was a part of this journey and helped in different ways especially to Donna Woods and the Photonic Health Red Light.


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