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Little Bit

Little Bit at 14 days old
Little Bit at 14 days old
Momma holding her Little Bit
Momma holding her Little Bit

I fell in love with this tiny little brown & white horse the minute I laid eyes on him! I had gone to a play day for our AMHR club and his owner had him laying in her lap while changing the braces on his little front legs. She then put him and his Momma out into a pasture with a couple other mares and their foals. Little Bit was running after them as fast as his little legs would carry him, and I couldn't take my eyes off of him. I was so afraid he was going to get hurt; he was so tiny! He was all of 12 inches tall and weighed 10 pounds when he was born. All 4 of his legs had to be braced and he was born with his tongue out of his mouth; it always stuck out of his little mouth a couple inches….it just would not have been Little Bit without that cute little pink tongue sticking out!

Little Bit running with his dam
Little Bit running with his dam
Little Bit & his big brother Wesley
Little Bit & his big brother Wesley

A couple days later my good friend Eloise, called and asked me if I wanted to take that little dwarf, she said her friend just did not have the time to mess with him. I said "Oh Eloise, you KNOW I want that baby!" She said, "well, he's here at my house, come get him." He was 12 days old. His owner let me bring his Momma home with me too, so that I could gradually wean him over to the milk replacer. Since he was too short to reach his Momma's teats, I had to milk her and he drank it from a bowl. I had the monitor on them that night and went out every time he got up and wanted to nurse, which was about every 1 1/2 hours. By morning his Momma had developed mastitis, the vet told me not to let him have any more of her milk, that it had infection in it. So the owner came and got his Momma and took her home to doctor her, now I was Little Bit's Momma...He never once called for his other Momma, and followed me everywhere. I noticed that he had not had a bowel movement all night or the next morning so I called the vet, she told me to put mineral oil in his milk replacer each feeding. I then noticed that he was eating shaving and pieces of hay! That's when I decided that he needed to live in the house with us. It took him four days to have a bowel movement! He never did act like he was in pain, and the vet just kept telling me to add the mineral oil to his milk. That was just the beginning of our 3 years and 2 months journey together...Little Bit crossed over the Rainbow Bridge June 2, 2003. My heart still aches for him. I thought that after 10 months, I would be able to write his story without crying, but I can't... Little Bit slept on a therapeutic dog bed right next to my bed, his pasture was our big back yard. Tessa, my other little dwarf, was his big sister who came in to graze with him most every day.

Tessa &Little Bit grazing together
Tessa &Little Bit grazing together
Little Bit wanting more coffee cake
Little Bit wanting more coffee cake

Little Bit surprised many vets in his short life. The vet that saw him the first night he was born didn't figure he would not make it through the night. When he was about a month old he developed aspiration pneumonia because he had a cleft palate and aspirated the milk replacer into his lungs. After that I used a catsup squeeze bottle to put just a couple swallows of milk into his bowl at a time and that's how he drank his milk, every 1 1/2 hours for the first 3 months and then every 3 hours for the next 5 months.

Little Bit getting his ninnie
Little Bit getting his ninnie
Little Bit & Tessa under the Christmas tree 2002
Little Bit & Tessa under the Christmas tree 2002

By the time Little Bit was given to me, his owner had stopped bracing his back legs. I braced his front legs for 3 months because his fetlocks were very weak, and he would walk on the very outside edge of his hooves without the braces. But the braces started making a pressure sore on the side of one of his fetlocks, and I knew I had to do something different. I took him up to the large animal veterinary hospital at A & M University, in College Station, TX. There, Dr. Cliff Honnas trimmed Little Bit's hooves; so much so, that they bled, but he said it had to be done. He then used a product called Technovit and made extensions around the bottom of his hooves. He stood him up and that was the first time I had ever seen Little Bit standing without his braces, I just stood there and cried! I took him back two weeks later because he had developed an infection in the bulbs of one hoof from having the soles of his hooves sealed with the Technovit. Dr. Honnas removed the extensions. The right leg had already gotten stronger and he no longer needed the extension. The left leg was still weak, Dr. Honnas sent me home with the Technovit and material to make his extension. I didn't want to cover the bottom of his hoof again, so I just made the extension on the outside of his hoof and it kept his hoof flat on the ground. That worked pretty good, but the extension kept popping off so I decided to design him a little corrective shoe and a friend of mine made it for me out of a thin aluminum, which I glued onto his hoof with a glue especially made for that purpose, called SuperFast made by Vettec. A friend I had met on the Internet had a little dwarf filly born and her front legs were just like my Little Bit's. I also designed little Angel some shoes and they helped her so much, that her Poppa called them, her little *Magic Shoes* so that is now what they are know as. These little shoes have already helped many little horses and not all are dwarfs. I was given a little miniature horse filly that was born with tendon laxity in all 4 legs, with the help of the little *Magic Shoes* she is now walking perfectly.

When Little Bit was 3 1/2 months old I took him to my vet for his vaccinations. He had a severe allergic reaction to the inner-nasal Strangles vaccine and immediately started coughing, and his throat swelled almost completely shut. The vet gave him a Dexamethasone shot and told me to take him home, that she had a colic surgery to do. That night he wasn't a whole lot better and I called up to A & M, they told me that all they would be able to do is put him into ICU and watch him, and that since he was right beside my bed, I could do just as well. He got to breathing better, but it took a long time and for 6 months he didn't breath quite right and I believe he developed allergies from it. When Little Bit was 8 months old, he got up in the middle of the night to have a snack and go potty, and as he did, his right hip broke. I did not know what was wrong at the time, but took him up to A & M the next morning. They figured that there must have been a weak spot in his hip joint. The vets did not think he could survive the anesthesia to operate and put pins in his hip, so they said to just treat him as if he were a large dog with a broken hip. I gave him some Banamine with Maalox for the pain for a while and then weaned him over to the BL Solution. I had to keep him confined to the bedroom, bathroom and family room for 3 months. I picked a LOT of grass for him! When I took him back for x-rays, they could not believe their eyes, his hip had mended back perfectly and there was blood flowing through the bone that had broken off! They called him a "Little Miracle". It seemed as though Little Bit's body was always changing. His little neck started going over to the left side, the vets couldn't tell me why. I did massage therapy with heat and liniment, and muscle relaxants, but nothing seemed to change it, so I figured that was just the way he was going to be. He had allergies in the Springtime and I think he was allergic to the ragweed in the Fall; children's liquid Benadryl helped him to breath better. At one time his right shoulder bothered him when he would first get up from lying down, we figured he was compensating for his broken hip, but then it stopped bothering him. The last year of his life, Little Bit's tummy had gotten so big that it was hard for him to get rolled up over his tummy to get up, when he would lay out flat on his side, so I would give him a little nudge at his withers and then he was able to pop up and off he would go. For that reason I never felt comfortable leaving him alone, well, I never had left him alone...if I had to go to the doctor or something, either my husband or my son or his wife were with
him. Sometimes months would go by and I had never left the farm, but I didn't mind, I just enjoyed being with my little guy. I'd like to mention here that a dwarf miniature horse's internal organs are the same size or larger than a normal miniature horse, that is why most of these little horses have big potbellies. Their tummies just cannot hold up all that weight of the internal organs and their little backbones stick up, because the muscles along their spine can't hold up the weight of that big tummy.

Little Bit at 2 years old
Little Bit at 2 years old
Little Bit eating his 3rd
Little Bit eating his 3rd. Birthday cake 4/13/03

I don't think that Little Bit's digestive system was ever quite right, because he could not eat any grass hay until he was a year old, just a tiny amount would cause him to be very constipated, but as he got older he was able to eat hay and he loved it! His digestive system is what finally got the best of him. On May2, 2003 he had an impaction colic. We rushed him back up to A & M and they did the sonogram and x-rays and could see that he was very impacted. My first decision was to just have them do the fluid therapy and see if he would be able to pass it, but my dear friend Eloise, when I talked to her on the phone, said, "Honey, I know how much you love Little Bit, and I think if you don't let them do colic surgery on him and then he has to be put to sleep, you will always feel like you did not give him every chance to live." So....I told the vets that I would let them to do the surgery. They were not sure he would survive the anesthesia; they could not get a tube into his airway so they had to do a tracheotomy. He made it through the surgery! The surgeon told me that his colon had folded over onto itself and twisted around itself. She said they had never seen it happen in a miniature horse before and very rarely in large horses.
She said he was completely impacted from his stomach to the colon! They let me see him for a few minutes after they brought him back into the ICU, but wouldn't let me stay with him. I slept out in the hallway on a chair until 7:00 the next morning, and I couldn't wait any longer, I had to go and be with him! To my surprise he was standing up and really looked pretty good for having just had colic surgery!

Little Bit after colic surgery
Little Bit after colic surgery in ICU at
A & M
Little Bit & Poppa Kitty
Little Bit & Poppa Kitty in the yard w his family

They kept him in ICU for 5 days and then they let me bring him home. They bent the rules for me and let me spend a lot of time with my baby. As you can see he was in a foal crib. The vets and the students all fell in love with my Little Bit, and they were all SO good to him. One student in particular named Jenny, took him under her wing, and spent a lot of time with him when I couldn't be there.
For 4 weeks Little Bit seemed to be doing quite well and recovering from his surgery, his trach incision healed completely in 3 weeks, the incision in his tummy had 25 staples and he had to wear a tummy band, because they were afraid that the incision might break open from all the weight of his internal organs. But it healed nicely and my local vet removed the staples. However Little Bit kept getting gas colic several times in the evenings. The surgeon suggested changing his feed gradually and I did, but it didn't seem to help. Then 4 weeks to the day after his surgery, he stopped having bowel movements again and his tummy started hurting him very much. The Banamine was not helping him at all. So we rushed him back up to A & M at 2:00 in the morning. He was in SO much pain; it was all that I could do to keep him from thrashing. That was the longest hour and 15 minutes I think I have ever spent! We took him in the back of HIS Rover; that was what he always rode in. A different vet met us at the back door of the ICU and they did the sonogram and x-rays again and could see that he was all impacted again. It took quite awhile for them to get enough pain meds into him to get him comfortable. I knew I just could not put him through another colic surgery! And the vet agreed with me, so they started him on the fluid therapy. I stayed with him as much as they would let me. We had a lot of family and friends in for my son's wedding that was the day before Little Bit got sick. So I would make the 1 1/2 hour drive back home for a little while and then go back to be with my baby. The last time I saw him alive, my son and my Momma went with me and we spent a long time with him that evening, I took his salt/mineral block to him and his favorite pretty (a teething toy), he stood up and played with his pretty for the longest time. I sat beside him and talked to him and brushed his beautiful long mane, he seemed comfortable and very content, and he was tickled to have his pretty to play with. The intern student put a call into his vet to see if he could have his salt/mineral block....It got to be about 10:45 that night and my Mother was tired and so we left Little Bit standing in his crib playing with his pretty. At 4:08 the next morning the phone rang and woke me up, I knew it was the vet calling...She told me that Little Bit had just closed his little eyes and passed away, at 4:00 a.m. The intern student that was with him said that after I left the vet called and said, " yes he could have his salt/mineral block," and that he stood and licked it for a long time. The vet could not tell me exactly why Little Bit died, but she thought that it was probably all just too much for his little heart. I could not leave Little Bit's beautiful body at the hospital for them to do research on; I had to bring him home with me. When we arrived at the back door of the ICU within 2 hours, his sweet little vet, Dr. Knight, had him all snuggled up on a his blanket on a book cart with his pretty and a bouquet of flowers that she had bought him. She helped me lay him in the back of HIS Rover on his little bed. The vet and all the students were crying, one little girl said I know we are not supposed to cry at times like this, but I just can't help it. They hugged me and told me how sorry they were.


We buried Little Bit in his big back yard by the pond under his favorite trees.
Little Bit's grave
Little Bit's grave
Little bit's grave stones
Little bit's grave stones

I made him a cross and my dear friend, Maxine Priesmyer, gave him a beautiful grave stone that reads: "If tears could build a stairway, and memories a lane, I'd walk right up to Heaven and bring you home again." And another dear friend of mine, Kathy Hancock, made him a beautiful gravestone out of stained glass and cement. I planted ferns and flowers on his grave. It makes me feel good to tend to his grave; I guess I feel like I am still taking care of my baby. The ferns are multiplying and the flowers are growing and blooming. I truly feel that Little Bit found my other little dwarf Inky and my "special" little filly, Fairy for me, to help me with loosing him and to keep me busy. He knew that they needed me, and that I needed them. After spending a little over 3 years talking care of this special little horse and then loosing him; would I do it all over again if I had the chance? Yes, in a heartbeat! He was more than a horse to me, he was my baby and I couldn't have loved a human baby anymore than I did my Little Bit. He taught me so very much and he gave me so much joy. I think he was with me so that he could teach me about these special little horses and so that I could help many more. Would I recommend a dwarf miniature horse for everyone? Absolutely not!....Little Bit was like adopting a special needs baby, he was a huge commitment and responsibility. Not all dwarfs have as severe dwarf characteristics as Little Bit did, thank goodness, but they are still much more time consuming to care for properly; they cost much more in vet, farrier and dental bills. However, there are many special little horses out there that their breeders do not want to care for them or spend any money on them and yet do not feel right about euthanizing them at birth. I commend these breeders who will at least find another loving and caring home for these special little creatures to be ADOPTED into. After all, the breeder did create this little foal, and it is their responsibility to do right by it. Anyone thinking of adopting a dwarf miniature horse should do their homework, talk to other dwarf owners and really get a feeling for what it is like to be a dwarf Momma or Poppa. I also know that unfortunately, sometimes a dwarf can be born with such severe health problems or deformities, that the only humane thing to do is to have the little things euthanized. This story may seem like Little Bit's life was just one trip to the vet after another, and it's true that we made many trips to the vet, but there were so many good times as well...I could write novel about my baby, and perhaps one day I will. I feel that Little Bit had a good life; free from pain and that he was very happy and content. He was very intelligent, and SO loving...I have never had a horse like him and I know there will never be another Little Bit.

He was so intelligent, perhaps it was because we were together 24/7 for a little over 3 years and that I talked to him as if he were my child, but I swear that he knew everything that I said to him! All the important stuff anyway. He had a big sweet tooth, and there was nothing that I ever offered him to eat that he didn’t like, but his favorite treats were Graham Crackers, Animal Crackers, baby carrots and raisins. After eating a goodie, he would suck his tongue, I think it was because he never got to nurse. His favorite thing to do was to put his little tongue on my leg or my hand and then suck his tongue. Some times when I’m sitting here at the computer, I can feel his little tongue on my leg, just like always.
Little Bit touched the hearts of everyone who met him; he truly was a blessing to have and love for such a short time. We had a lot of good times together. He LOVED his Momma, and as you can tell, I loved him with all my heart! I can honestly say that I treasured every day that I had him, because I always knew that I would never have him nearly long enough. I know I will always miss him, but I do feel that he is still right here with me....I know he is in my heart and he always will be.

Janell Jensen 4/6/2004

 

Momma loves you baby…I miss you so much!
I’m looking forward to being with you again.
Enjoy your freedom and your new wings little Angel.

No farewell words were spoken,
no time to say goodbye,
You were gone before we knew it
and only God knows why.

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