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Berraco the Miracle Horse
(story updated January 7, 2004)
It was the hardest 6 months in my 38 years to date.  Watching my beloved dream horse go from an incredible 1400 pound mountain of muscle and energy to a 700 pound sick and dying horse.  We had a very bad epidemic of strangles here at IHS in 1999.  Treating 34 horses was a grueling job for me.  Every day, I would see more horses get this dreaded illness.  The day my beautiful Berraco got sick was not a good one, but I figured he would get over it just like the rest did.  He had several mares to breed that week, so I took my vet's advice and gave him antibiotics to help him get over it faster.  A VERY BIG mistake.

Photo taken before his illness as a 3 year old.

He did get over that stage of strangles very fast.  In record time, but three weeks later, I noticed him going down  hill.  He was loosing weight, refusing to breed, not eating and had an elevated temperature.  I took him in for some blood tests.  When the tests results came back the next day, my vet had to gather the strength to tell me the truth about Berraco's condition.  He said that this was the worst cast of bastard strangles he had ever seen.  He had a severe infection in his body cavity.  His blood levels were off the chart and he had an abscess the size of a basket ball pushing on his bladder.  If that abscess burst, he would be dead in just a few hours.  He had never seen a horse as sick as Berraco still standing.  He said that there wasn't any hope.
I would not give up on my boy.  I knew he had a great will to live, so I gave him that chance.
Three days after that diagnosis, I found in him the pasture, down, toxic and almost dead.  I called my vet in a panic with the news.  He said that I should put him down immediately.  The abscess had burst and he would be dead in just a few hours and would die a horribly painful death.  I just could not bring my self to do it.  I have had to put horses down before and know when to call it quits, but I just could not destroy all hope for him.  I went to the closest vet and got enough Rompun to last the night.  Bil and I gave him IV injections every 1/2 hour for 12 hours.  I stayed with him all night, holding his head in my lap, sobbing, begging him not to leave me.  Berraco and I are very close.  We know each others thoughts and emotions.  I knew he was going to leave me.
At two AM, I could tell that he just could not take much more.  The pain was overwhelming, even with the Rompun.  So I told him that if he needed to, he could go.  With 5 cc's(a triple dose) of Rompun given to him just minutes before, he looked at me with clear eyes and stood up, shook himself off and tried even harder to live.  The rest of the night was very hard for him, but I could tell that he had decided to stay and was fighting very hard for his life.
In the morning, he stood up and ate his breakfast.  I could not believe he made it through that horrible night.  But there was more to come.
Now we have to deal with over 1 gallon of toxic puss rotting his body cavity and vital organs.  Berraco stood 3 times a day to get unbelievable amounts of antibiotics, herbs, homeopathic, reiki and I can't remember what all.

(photo taken in November when he was still sick)

For three weeks after that horrible night, Berraco was hinging on life and death every minute of the day.  I spent many hours with him day and night trying to give him the strength to fight.  It paid off.  I took him off his antibiotics January 8th, 2001 and have not needed to start them up again.  I had tried several times before to take him off the antibiotics and he always got sick with in a few days.  He staid on all the herbs and immune support as well as the pro biotics for almost a year longer.
He is alive today and fully recovered.  I have been doing some endurance riding as well as lots of mountain and beach rides.  He has been shown here in WA and wins most of his classes.  He is now the mountain of muscle and power I always imagined him to be.
I owe many thanks to my friends and people who love Berraco.  May people who have never met either of us.   I asked for prayers, energy and positive thoughts sent to him.  The energy was received and I am sure, with out a doubt, that he is alive today because of it.
Miracles do happen .  There is one standing out in my pasture right now.                                                                                                         Photo taken September 2003