I spend a lot of time with my animals, and watching them. I pick up pretty quick they are not being themselves, usually before they do anything that I can even pinpoint as "wrong". This can be frustrating because sometimes I know they are NQR (Not Quite Right) but it is hours before it gets to the point where i can figure out exactly what is NQR about them.
When I was working at the second horse farm I worked at for pay we had a back paddock that was a full half mile from the barn. There was hill back there with a tree and when the horses stood under the tree you could see them pretty well. One day I looked back and saw three horses dozing peacefully under the tree. I think it was Cubby, Colt and Stonewall... all solid bay thoroughbreds. I could tell which was which even from that distance (not at all impressive, their body shapes were SOOO different. Stonewall's face was the longest face i have ever seen on a horse and his neck was like a pencil. lol) and one of them (Colt) looked NQR.
I asked my friend, "Do you see the horses out back? Colt looks like something is wrong." She looked and said, "Seriously? I don't even know which is which from this distance. And they all look fine to me, but what the heck, let's go say hello to them anyway."
When we got back there Colt was standing in a puddle of his own blood while a fine spray shot out of his pastern at every heart beat. He wasn't messing with it, or fussing at it or anything. He was not walking off on it or favoring it in any way, he was not standing with it out as if he was doing the pointy toe "this hurts' stance some horses do. he just didn't look "right". Even from a half mile away he didn't look right. there was nothing i could pin point as wrong, just that something wasn't normal for HIM.
Well, yesterday I had Sparrow in the stall getting extra feed because i want more weight on him (he isn't skinny but I'd like to see him with a little more weight while I work on getting more muscle in his top line). Brego went out on the pasture for a few hours and Mary stood around in the barn lot looking pissy once her hay ran out. Brego alternated between running around because he was alone and grazing. He was only out there for 2 hours or so, but in order to keep him from sharing his evening meal with Mary I gave him his feed in the feed pan before moving him back over.
When I went back out to move him back in with Mary he was just standing over his feed pan making Elvis lip. Something about the way he was standing, which is not obviously different from how he stands almost all the time, made me feel sick to my stomach. When I went out to put his halter on he had fussed with his feed but not eaten much of it. *sigh*
OK, being NQR is one thing, but not eating his dinner? *swear word*
So for the next, oh, 2 or 3 hours he was lethargic, no appetite, just looked depressed. Guts sounds seemed normal, pulse/respiration/capillary refill all good. He laid down for a while but didn't roll or look at his belly or paw like it was belly pain. He wasn't standing camped out or otherwise like he was in obvious pain. He didn't do his normal run to the water tank to fill up on water, either. Even though they always have a bucket of water in the pasture area they still always run right to the tank for a top off when I move them back.
So of course I ran in the house to post on FaceBook because i needed emotional support, then ran immediately back outside to just sit and watch him in case he started to show an obvious sign of what was bothering him. Every half hour or so I would go and check his pulse/respiration/capillary refill. The last time he did this it turned out to be a sore foot. Go figure. he acted fussy about his off forefoot, but nothing big. Today is trim day so if there is anything going on there I'll know. After a bit he started to drink quite a bit, and the Elvis lip stopped but he still just stood in the barn doorway and looked generally blah. I started just going to check on him during every commercial break while I watched tv and tried to not worry myself into an ulcer.
Then around dark he was out there stuffing his face and generally being a jerk to Sparrow over who got what hay pile.
Every hour or so I managed to drag my carcass out to the barn to check on him. No more signs of discomfort or distress.
I feel like I could just sleep all day but I have a whole day of stuff to do which includes checking on him every hour to hour and a half.
I've had other horses act off. It always worries me. With Brego it is like when Jamie would be NQR. I literally tremble inside until they have been ok for a day or so. I mean i worry about them all, but with Brego... I can't even explain it.
But I have decided that I need to make and market a "Horseman's Clock". It could also be used for people with other livestock and such, like goats. When you turn on the alarm it goes off every hour all night long to make sure you get up at regular intervals to check on your sick/recovering/due to foal/calve/kid critter. It would save having to reset your alarm clock every time you come back in from the barn from checking on them.