Life with my Indy is never dull. With my mare, everything was easy-peasy. There was a reason we called her the Sainted Mare. With Indy? Not so much. Every time I think things are rolling along smoothly we hit a metaphorical speed bump.
My daughter and I were at the barn the other evening and were putting the horses away after a nice, uneventful ride. Uneventful, right? Not so much.
Indy has a post-ride routine. He goes in to his stall, takes a long drink, and then goes into the top left corner of his stall. He circles a couple times, positions his butt on the back wall and his front end on the side wall so he’s sort of cattywumpus across the back corner, and pees. He does this every time. Without fail.
I was putting his halter on the hook by the stall and happened to look up while he was peeing and my eyes darn near bugged out of my head! His pee was a muddyish red in color! My first thought was that maybe he was dehydrated, and was making a mental note to reach out to the vet and check in with the barn manager about any changes in his drinking habits when I looked down at the shavings and saw they were bright red.
I rushed into the stall to get a closer look and it was definitely blood, so I called the vet. He asked me if I was sure it was blood. Seriously?? I’m female. We’re pretty much experts at the whole “blood coming from the genital region” thing. I texted him a picture of the shavings and waited for him to call back.
Meanwhile, Indy was quite happy that I was in his stall and came over to chat and search for treats. Then he positioned himself so I would scratch his withers, noodging me with his shoulder and turning his head to look at me as if to say, “Mom, stop standing there doing nothing. I itch. Scratch me.” He’d just peed blood, and you’d think he’d at least look uncomfortable, but there he was, bright eyed, eating hay, and letting me know I was failing in my job as chief treat-giver and itch-scratcher.
The vet called back and didn’t think it was an emergency and promised to come out the next day to observe Indy and take some blood and urine for testing. When he arrived there had been no signs of blood in Indy’s urine and he was still acting normally, with no indications of discomfort whatsoever. I went to clean tack while the vet waited Indy’s to catch a urine sample. ‘Carry on like you normally would,” was the vet’s advice. “I’ll call you tomorrow with the results.”
I was already at the barn when the vet called the next day. “The blood work is fine,” he told me. “There is a slightly elevated level of protein in the urine and it is a bit concentrated, but nothing that points to anything alarming. The white cell count isn’t elevated so most probably it’s not an infection. No signs of kidney stones either.”
I was heaving a sigh of relief when he asked me “Does he masturbate often?”
My brain short-circuited. Just went completely blank. WHAT.THE.HECK? When my brain clicked back my mind was racing a million miles an hour. My first thought: How would that even be possible? Followed quickly by: He doesn’t even have opposable thumbs! Then: Has that tarty mare down the aisle been teasing my innocent little boy?
Belatedly I realized my vet was still speaking to me. I shook my head to clear my thoughts and asked, “Wait. What? Does he what???”
My vet: “Does he masturbate often? Does he get an erection and whack it against his stomach?”
Me: “Ummmm, nooooo. I mean, I’ve never seen him do that.”
My vet: “Oh, he did it several times while I was in his stall.”
Me: “I guess he just finds you more attractive.”
The vet thinks the issue may be caused by something called a urethral rent. He explained that is a “blowout” tear in the urethra cause by high pressure in the penis. (Yes, I totally giggled when he said “blowout” because I am mentally still a thirteen-year-old even though I’m in my forties). The rent can heal on its own, he said, or in some cases require surgery. Since Indy hasn’t had any recurrences, we’re hoping it will heal on its own.
As I said, life with my mare? Easy-peasy. Life with my baby boy? Never a dull moment.