I lost my buddy…

Posted on 05 October 2019

Wiley was 14 years old, in his prime, healthy and strong. He was my personal horse. He was a smart one, who tolerated and tested my lack of patience. Wiley taught me a lot.

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On Tuesday the 17th, Wiley began to show signs of colic, so we called a local vet for an emergency visit, and his prognosis was good. At around 7PM that evening the vet gave him something for the pain and a something to help relax his gut. We’re on a mountain above the closest town, and it takes about an 60 to 90 minutes for a vet to arrive once you make the call.

At around 11PM that same evening, Wiley began to show increased signs of pain, so we called for the vet again. Wiley was collapsing from the intense pain, but was trying so hard to stay on his feet and walk with me until the vet could return. At 1AM early the next morning, the vet sedated him, tubed him with oil, and gave him a thorough examination, but believed at this point, he was going to be okay.

We stayed up all night with him, took him for several trailer rides to try and loosen up his gut, but by morning, he was very lethargic, and still showing signs of colic.


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We took him to town to our regular vet for an examination, and he concluded that although it was colic, the prognosis was good, that he believed he would pass any blockage that was obstructing his gut.

When we returned to the ranch, Wiley was in rough shape, he was having trouble standing, he was quivering from pain, it was absolutely terrible to watch. We gave him additional pain medication and called the vet. We had two options, put him down or take him to Washington State Universities equine hospital in Pullman, WA.


We called the university, and told them that we were 5 hours out and on our way. It was a tough trailer ride for him, we stopped a half dozen times or more to check on him, but we had to keep moving if there was a chance to save him. We arrived at about 11PM on the 18th, and were greeted by more than a dozen students and doctors, who wasted no time taking away Wiley’s pain and working to diagnose his illness.

What a stoic horse Wiley was, he was in such intense pain, but his heart-rate, breathing and temperature were all recording as normal. It was making it difficult for all of our vets to identify the problem.


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After hours of hard work by the incredibly talented and caring staff at the university, they could not pinpoint what the precise issue was, without further exploratory surgery. Wiley at this point had been struggling and in pain for nearly 36 hours, and I couldn’t subject him to unknown surgery and the complications of recovery, which he might not survive anyway.


At 3:22AM on Thursday the 19th of September, after 4 vets, and traveling hundreds of miles, I made the decision.

I’m sorry Wiley, I had to take away your pain.


Before Wiley passed, I donated him to the university, so that his death was not a waste, that they might be able to learn something from him, that he could help others. Although burying him on the ranch would have been nice to do, he was far more valuable to the university doctors and students.

His autopsy concluded that he had a displaced colon, and twisted intestine, likely caused by not drinking water the evening before when we had a little storm with a sudden temperature drop.

Washington State University sent us Wiley’s shoes, along with a very special card, filled with kind and loving words. Wiley was loved by our entire family, and he will be missed.

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