So after weeks of rain and mud the temperature dropped suddenly and a bitter wind began to blow. I had to cancel a lesson because it was so horrible. Today is beautiful but Carmen is lame. I can't find any heat or swelling- I think that it's likely a stone bruise/ possible abscess from the sudden change in footing.
At least I'm 90% sure that's what it is. The other 10% is convinced that she's going to die. But let's not dwell on that.
|would rather be doing this....|
First thing I did was sign up for an online course at Equine Guelph on gut health. I learned that I already know a lot but there were a few things that helped me figure out what to do. The main thing is to not have their gut empty. Which is a huge issue when you have a horse that would eat herself into blimpdom.
Forage: A slow feed haynet is the answer. Carmen also shreds them like paper. I started using the web ones and so far so good. While they don't slow down as much as a small hole haynet it does help.
Feed: During the warm months she has access to pasture which is so good for them. I switched feeds to the local feed store brand of fibre nuggets. It is essentially fortified hay and both horses are doing really well on it. You can feed it straight or soaked. I do both- I need to soak it to add in the vitamins and minerals I add.
I have gone from a person who 'didn't believe in supplements' to one who uses them regularly. I try to make sure that there is science behind it. These are what I add:
Magnesium Oxide: I started Irish on this to see if it would help his head shaking. There is research that it helps about 50% of headshakers. It turned out to really work for him and now he barely shows any. I wondered it if had to do with my pastures and hay being low in Mg so I feed it to both horses. It can be an expensive supplement but I buy the Mag Oxide from the local feed store by the bag (it's a cattle feed additive) and it works out to about $40/year.
Pre/Pro Biotic: This was recommended by the equine dietitian on the course. I use the Mad Barn brand but there are many out there.
Vitamin E/Selenium: Irish is on a mega dose of Vitamin E for his neuro issues but that's another post. There is evidence that our area is really low in selenium and I don't want any issues to pop up down the road.
Chaste Tree Berry: Now this one is a bit of a stretch. Carmen is more spooky and reactive when she's in heat. She also acts sore and needs a long slow warm up. I had been doing some research and there is evidence that this can help. It is also supposed to be good for those horses who are insulin resistant. As an Andalusian I know that this is a risk for her. It seemed to be a cheap experiment so I decided to try it. I am not sure if it's helping with everything but I do find that she's not so tight and sore during her heats. Sometimes it's hard to tell if she's in heat so that is staying. She also loves the taste of it.
|this is the brand I use. There are others.|
Ulcer Meds: When Carmen and I head to a show I start dosing her with Omeprazole two days before we leave and while we're away.
Acid Management: While I groom and tack up Carmen I put a wheelbarrow of hay in front of her. This makes sure that there's something in her stomach to absorb any acid. The day that we trailer anywhere I give her Di Calcium Phosphate in her morning feed. This is an acid neutralizer. It's not good for an ongoing basis but every now and then is fine.
I also do my best (as you know) to manage her stress levels overall during our rides. I don't always succeed but I feel that I have more good rides than bad.
I don't know if all of this is needed but, as Ed says, it's all cheaper than treating for ulcers. This year she didn't show any signs of ulcers so I'm feeling pleased with myself. Now I hope that I'm right about her lameness.