Miranda Prather curled up on a rubber matt next to her sick horse’s stall and pulled a horse blanket over her shoulder for warmth in the late August chill.
The barn was so quiet in the middle of the night. All she could hear was horses breathing and shifting about in their stalls. Munching hay. Sometimes a bat flew overhead as she listened in fear.
Her gelding Blue Blue Sea struggled with colic in the next stall, hanging his head in misery, sweating and trembling in the cool air.
“That night is one that I won’t soon forget. I had one prior experience with colic in horses I owned before Blue, but nothing like this,” Prather says. “I was a bit nervous about the whole thing” and I couldn’t leave him.
As the hours ticked on, Prather could only drift off for a moment or two, reawakening again and again to check on her horse. Every couple of hours she put his halter on, clipped on a lead rope, and led him out of his stall to walk around, keeping his gut moving.
As dawn was breaking, Blue spiked a 104 fever.
Race name: Blue Blue Sea
Sire: Sea Hero
Foal date: 1999“He had a look in his eye like he was unsure where he was and he seemed to have trouble standing,” she says. “When his fever shot up, he was shaking with a chill, but he was dripping in sweat.”
When morning finally came, Blue was better, and Prather hoped the worst was over. In late August 2006, it would sadly turn out that the bad part had only begun.
The ex-racehorse Thoroughbred who had raced in claimers at Rockingham and Suffolk Downs in New England, and who had never had any health problems, went downhill fast.
He dropped 300 to 400 pounds and colicked again and again.
“I was encouraged to euthanize him,” Prather recalls. “Veterinarians felt he would only live another one or two years.”
But she couldn’t put him down that easily.
Prather sent Blue for ultrasounds and blood work at the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center, and while most tests looked normal, a low-protein reading, led veterinarians to suspect Blue was perhaps suffering with some type of disorder that prevented him from absorbing nutrients properly.
For the next year, Blue struggled as different treatments were tried. An intense, five-day liquid wormer regimen failed to improve his condition, and after he colicked again, he was eventually placed on two types of steroids in an attempt to help him regain weight.
Blue made some progress, but still wasn’t right. And as she watched her horse struggle, Prather wrestled with the possible need for euthanasia. “I didn’t want to put him through a lot of pain and suffering just so he could be here for me,” she says. “But I didn’t want to just give up on him either.”
While keeping a close watch on her horse, she scoured the Internet for information relating to absorption disorders in horses and eventually found a veterinarian who recommended a veterinary nutritionist in California.
And this changed everything.
Blue, it turns out, is allergic to hay! Or if not hay itself, then to the mold and dust found in it. So, in December 2007, he was placed on a new feed regimen consisting of hay pellets and whey.
Blue regained his weight and thus far has survived longer than most vets predicted.
Sure, Blue will never be the dressage prospect for which Prather had hoped. But, the plain chestnut whom she purchased in March 2004 turned out to be the one horse for whom she’d do anything, and ask nothing in return.
“I’m not sure I would have done all of this for any of the other horses I’ve owned,” Prather says.
“There’s a saying that you get one special horse in your lifetime, and for me, Blue is it. There’s just something about him that tugs on me. And I can’t make the decision to let him go until he lets me know it’s time.”
11 responses to “Through rough waters, Blue Blue Sea soldiers on”
Miranda, thank goodness you were able to save Blue’s life. What hasn’t been mentioned is that, while he does spend a lot of time standing in the pasture looking at the fillies, he actually does have a part time job, at which he is really good. Miranda taught him to use a computer (I suspect he activated voice recognition, hooves are difficult to type with) and he spends several hours a day on face book. Now, while this may sound like a frivolous activity, he really saves a lot of people a lot of time. Being a fan of at least 50 horse fb pages myself, I know that no one really has the time to check on all those pages. No problem, ‘like’ Blue’s page and all that u need to know in the TB world is right there. He’s on top of all the news stories, injury’s, comebacks from injury, big race results. I can’t tell u how much time he’s saved me. He is good friends with many TB’s and I wouldn’t be surprized if he gets inside information. Blue Blue Sea is a treasure, famous, and loved by many on fb. Warning: u may get jealous when u see how many people say goodnight to him! THANK YOU MIRANDA for sharing your beautiful boy with us, and THANK YOU SUSAN for another great story.
Love this story …
“When life says ‘give up’, hope whispers ‘one more time.'”
Kudo’s to both of you…You hung in for each other.
What a beautiful love story! It is so wonderful to know there are owners like Miranda who will not give up and saved her horse for no other reason than she loved him. After just experiencing a “somewhat miracle” operation of a malignant tumor that was removed from my 29 yr old mare’s eye, I understand Miranda’s determination to save her wonderful horse. One cannot explain the unconditional love that is received from a relationship with that “special” horse.
I wish you all the best for you and your lovely chestnut. May you have as many wonderful years as I have had with my “chestnut” mare. 🙂
Thank you Susan!!
I thoroughly enjoyed this story and the courage of the people and horses you feature!
Wonderful to see him looking so good! Glad that such a sweet and charming horse is getting the chance he deserves because of a caring and dedicated owner like Miranda.
I just sobbed when I read this….bless your heart Miranda for sticking by him and listening to your heart. Last year we lost our inspiration and tried in vain to keep him alive ultimately despite EVERYTHING and trust me when I say everything – we lost him but I understand that dedication, the never give up, never surrender without a fight. That takes such courage and strength – Blue Blue Sea is a very lucky horse indeed.
I didnt know horses could be allergic to hay! Oh my gosh – thank you so much for sharing that story. I hope this encourages people to look harder at their horses health issues and find sources/solutions. Wow, Blue is so lucky he ended up with an owner as dedicated as Miranda 🙂
This story brought tears to my eyes. Thanks so much for sharing it. A few weeks ago, I was told I may have to put down my daughter’s 7 year old mare. We were devestated and stayed with her for 4 days while we fought to get he well. Fortunately, a friend made a call to her vet. The treatment he described to our vet saved our little mare’s life.
I am so happy things turned out so well for Blue Blue Sea…and our little mare, Dakota!
Thanks for the wonderful story on my horse, Blue Blue Sea. You have a way with words and really brought out his story very well in a short amount of space. That takes true talent.
It was a pleasure to write a story like yours. Your dedication to Blue Blue is above and beyond. No matter how long he lives, he has a true friend and guardian in you.