As some of you know my business www.cometscorners.co.uk is named after Comet my gorgeous boy that died in June 2006 from a nasty disease called Equine Grass Sickness (EGS). This regular post will be dedicated to explaining what EGS is, how to help prevent it and the fundraising efforts that are going on around the country for the Equine Grass Sickness Fund www.grasssickness.org.uk who are desperately working towards creating a vaccine.
Equine Grass Sickness is a highly fatal disease that causes partial or complete paralysis of the horses digestive system. There is no one known cause and as of yet no vaccination and no treatment. In the 21st Century it is astounding that so little can be done for a disease that kills so many horses. Grass Sickness is responsible for the deaths of as many as 1 in every 200 horses! Once diagnosed prognosis is poor and only those with the chronic form have a slim chance of survival with 24 hour care.
This is why a group of us who have all lost horses to this devastating disease have launched EGS May 2013 – a full month of dedicated fundraising for the Equine Grass Sickness Fund. We are asking for volunteers to step forward with fundrasing ideas for your local area – such as sponsored rides, shows, a cake sale, sponsored leg wax – anything that can help to raise money and help to protect the horses we still have and love.
There are many areas of support for those that are nursing a horse through EGS or have suffered the same tragic loss as us – a dedicated facebook group has been set up by Ulla Balletta to create awareness of this disease and to provide much needed information and advice. http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/219636401382141/ Ulla is the spearhead of this campaign and I found her through this page and was so moved by all the work she has done so far… Here is Ulla’s story of the day she lost her beloved William….
“William was put to sleep on 30/4/11 after confirmation he had acute grass sickness. I’ll never forget that day it was heartbreaking. It happened so quickly, 1 minute I had a happy healthy horse & 24 hrs later he was gone. His symptoms started on the 29/4/11, it was Prince Williams wedding day. When I got to the yard & brought him in I realised he wasn’t himself, he seemed depressed & wasn’t eating or drinking which wasn’t like him. When the vet arrived he diagnosed colic & said his only chance was surgery, I remember him saying what a tough horse William was as you couldn’t tell by looking at him how ill he was, his heart rate had gone up to 80 (when we reached hospital his heart rate was 100). We were on our way thinking he was going to have an operation for colic which was bad enough, when we arrived he was checked over which was when grass sickness was first mentioned, I was warned that William was very ill & the vet was very worried. I’d never heard of GS so when I got home that night I was on the internet trying to find answers, the more I read the more scared I was, didn’t look good. The next AM the vet phoned me at 9.30 to let me know they were going to operate but if it was GS William would need to be put to sleep. I’ve never forgotten that morning waiting for the phone to ring but dreading what I’d hear. I kept telling myself the longer I waited the better it looked, hoping & praying that I’d get a phone call telling me it was all ok & he was coming home. It wasn’t meant to be, GS was confirmed & he was put to sleep. I’ll never forget how helpless I felt, everything was taken out of my control, I’d known nothing about GS. I didn’t know there were 3 forms of it or that horses could survive the chronic form. For weeks it haunted me. What if he’d had chronic GS & I wasn’t even given the choice to try & nurse him through it? He was taken from me so quickly without any warning. All I could think the next day was why did I not stay with him, did I give him a big enough hug & I hoped he knew how much I loved him. I felt for a long time & sometimes even now a year & a half on that I let him down. I still picture his head over the stable door looking so sad & every time I was out of sight he’d neigh as if to say where are you, please stay with me. I miss him terribly & the memories of that day are still very fresh in my mind, it was the shock of how quickly it happened. This was a devastating experience made worse by not knowing the facts about GS & this is what drove me to start fundraising & to raise as much awareness as possible. William was a great character & I still miss him terribly.”
Over the coming weeks I will be sharing more stories like Ulla’s and would welcome anyone to send in any of your own thoughts, stories and pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org. EGS MAY 2013 now has its own dedicated website http://equinegrasssicknessmonth.moonfruit.com/# which includes a link to our justgiving page https://www.justgiving.com/Grass-Sickness-Month-May-2013 and also you can follow us on twitter to keep up to date with the all goings on! https://twitter.com/EGSMay2013
Many thanks for taking the time to read this, please share and spread the word far and wide….
Emma Samm xx