Goodbye to Buttercup

Arrived March 9, 2014

Passed away April 29, 2016

Today, our sweet Buttercup passed away. Those who have followed us know that for the last 2 months, we have fought a terrible battle against PSSM, a genetic disorder which reached a crisis point. Butters gave it her all. But this gentle mare might have been as much as 20 (by her teeth), had melanomas, and a history of being used as a baby factory (all the while dealing with PSSM as well), and it was more than she could defeat. We mourn her loss, this soft and sweet girl.

Buttercup was a Premarin baby. That means, that chances are good she never really got all that she needed even in her mother’s womb, as her mom was being exploited by Big Pharma - kept pregnant, kept dehydrated so her urine would be concentrated, kept confined during half of her pregnancy. Then Butters was used as well. She was ‘rescued’ by Animali Farms, but they placed her, sadly, in a home where she was used again as a recipient mare. After the second pregnancy, she had a left stifle injury, and her adopter wanted to euthanize her. A local woman couldn’t bear it, and made arrangements to bring Butters here. Oddly, her vet had diagnosed Butters as having “thumps” - and needing calcium. But our vet, and our farrier, and even I, could see that her stifle was damaged - swollen even - and dealt with that as best we could. (My experience is, horses really can’t function well with bad stifles - it’s analogous to our knee joint).

What we didn’t realize then is, she probably had already begun her slide due to the PSSM. This genetic disorder causes a horse to store all the energy they get from alfalfa, any kind of grain, carrots or other sweets, as fat. Leaving nothing to provide energy to the muscles, which begin to contract and weaken. And Butters was very heavy when she came in. (Sadly, what she needed was oil, to use as energy, but with the vet wanting her to lose weight, that was the last thing that came to mind!) That stifle injury could have been due to this disorder, but we didn’t know.

For her first 24 months here, Butters was calm. She was friendly, but spent a fair amount of time alone. We called her our ‘tsunami’ - It was kinda hard to get Butters moving, but once she started, she was inexorable, moving steadily and almost impossible to stop! I did try several times to back her up, as often that can help a stifle injury, but no dice. Butters didn’t do reverse. Despite being three legged, she was good with the farrier, and trucked everyday out for breakfast, and back for dinner, slowly, steadily, but without any real problem. We thought.

For a brief period, Hershey loved her. Maybe he just wanted a bigger bodyguard. She was ok with it. She also has chosen Anya several times for mutual grooming - but also Gio in her early days. In her last 8 months or so, she and Anaba found common cause - two white mares with bum stifles. She had an easygoing nature. If you were nice to her, she was nice to you.

And o, my darling loved her treats. Carrots, cookies ... she loved them. As it turns out, I made her last two months miserable, as these items were NOT allowed with PSSM and may, in fact, have contributed to the crisis that eventually ended her life. Her last month was made worse by me refusing her the beloved bermuda blend pellets, which contained alfalfa. Damn. I did get permission to give her those again, but it was too late.

Two months she struggled. She walked on tip toes - really, the heels of her feet never touched the ground due to the contracted muscles. Our farrier made a heroic effort to put on shoes with risers on the back, so that if she tried even a little to set the heel down, it would provide support. It wasn’t enough. The diet made her miserable; daily massage seemed to be appreciated but ineffective; pain medications became less helpful each week. The strain of her existence had become unbearable, and she was almost always on the ground.

Butters is gone now. Her pain is over. Being used by humanity is a thing of the past. Her gentleness in adversity must have earned her a better existence and I hope she’s happy now.