Saturday, January 21, 2012

Snowed In!

We've had over a foot of snow and extremely cold temps in the last week. Things started to warm up a bit today, but I heard we are in for more snow next week. Horsekeeping has been interesting!

The good news is Miss Loretta has been in "remission." It's been six days since her last colicky "episode." We had a rough few days a week ago. Even the Banamine wasn't making her feel much better. I honestly thought I was going to lose her. Thank goodness for vets. They are so great with my frantic calling (during the day or the on-call vet) asking for advice!

I don't feel comfortable that Loretta is out of the woods yet. She has gone this long in between episodes and they have resurfaced. I am just praying that this time she's good- for good!

I hope you are all hanging in there with whatever winter weather is being thrown your way. I am hoping to get some great photos of horses in the snow tomorrow and will post them next week!!

P.S. Lo is wearing a turn-out halter since her last episode. She is typically a VERY easy horse to catch. Being caught and given Banamine numerous times in the last four weeks (which now we have to twitch her to do, getting the twitch on is easy though) has made her become a little difficult to catch at times and I couldn't resist not being able to catch her when I needed to.

Ranch Girl

Friday, January 13, 2012


Well, Loretta's teeth were not the issue.

She started up yesterday after breakfast with her colicky symptoms. I spent most of yesterday and all night on colic watch. Of course, by the time the vet got here this afternoon, she was feeling back to normal. Which is good, except I wanted him to watch her while in agitation mode. Luckily I did have a few videos I had taken on my Iphone.

I had a different vet come out today to take a look at her. I have loved all the vets I have used in my area. I appreciate their different perspectives and feel everyone, although trained with the same basics, has had different experiences with horses in their practice. I felt the more opinions I could get, the better. Since this is the 4th time since the week before Christmas that Loretta has colicked, it's serious. In fact when I asked the Dr. how often they see horses like this, he said, "Oh, about one a year....maybe one every other year or so." Yikes. 

I can not explain what he told me, it was very medical. It has to do with tapeworm infestation. Actually, if you read this piece on tapeworm threat by Equimax it describes and shows photos of where these worms attach and how they can cause colic-producing issues. It was exactly what the vet was telling me today in vet lingo. At this point considering the chronic issue with colic and the evidence we have, it is his diagnosis, so to speak. She had a good wormer (Qwest Plus, given to me by the last vet that saw her) last Saturday after her teeth float appointment. However, it can take up to two or more weeks for the inflammation from any tapeworm damage to go down. The vet had the fibrinogen levels in her blood tested. A definition from Wikipedia: "It is used in veterinary medicine as an inflammatory marker: In horses, a level above the normal range of 1.0-4.0 g/L suggests some degree of systemic inflammatory response." Loretta's came back in the normal levels, which is good! For example, this would show that there was no chronic inflammation which could be from adhesions in the intestines.

I don't have a lot of history on Loretta other than what I have from the owner that had her before me (she only had her for 6 months.) I know she wormed her, and we wormed her in November. But before that, she could have gone a long time with little worming at a young age. The person who had her before the gal I bought her from supposedly got her from a "rescue situation." With younger horses, more frequent worming is important. It makes you realize how knowing your horse's history is so important, if it all possible. Sometimes though, we just don't.

At this point, we are just waiting it out. I have to give her Banamine when she has a colic episode and watch her. I just have to hope she starts to feel better in a few weeks. If these issues continue, the next step would be to take her to a clinic with ultrasound and scoping equipment to see if there is a larger issue, perhaps something else going on, or more severe damage from worms. I am keeping my fingers crossed the worming worked and this will resolve itself once the inflammation goes down.

I just keep my fingers crossed that her episodes are fewer and far between. I am to continue her on the same feed, adding bran mashes at night with Probiotics and Sand Clear. I had a great conversation with the on-call vet last night, about worrying about your horse. She is the same way I am about my animals. She said you can stay up all night watching for them to roll and it could happen in the hour you fall asleep. She said if they are going to twist a gut they will despite your best intentions of preventing it. I know I am doing the best I can to help my little mare through her ouchy tummy and just hope she is on the mend soon! I will keep you all posted as I know that I learn from all of your horse health experiences and hope you have learned something, too!!

Photo in this post was an out take from our photo shoot this past September. I can not believe how much darker bay Loretta is now with her winter coat!! She was almost gray in the summer, she was so roaned out! I did not realize this until I looked at these photos the other day.

Have a great weekend everyone!!

Ranch Girl

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Back to Normalacy

It's been 4 days since Loretta had her teeth floated. And so far, she has been back to herself. No agitation or irritation symptoms. I am keeping my fingers crossed it wasn't colic or ulcers and that getting her mouth on the right track helped her out. Time will tell.....

 Thank you Ranch Girl, for bringing me back my sweetheart!!

 Awwww.... (would have been a cute photo had the hot wire tape not been in the middle of it!)

My roany pony happy to be back home and nibbling.......

 My "girls" are ready to go out and help me feed!!

Lizzy loves to get the old muck boot belly rub!

In other news, we had another horse colic the other night. Ranch Boy's mother's most favorite horse! We went out to feed at dark and this one laid down next to the hay breathing heavily. Catching him (amongst 30 other horses) was not easy but we got him hauled in from pasture and called out the vet.

Luckily this handsome Andalusian gelding just had some gas and minor dehydration and is on the mend. He is enjoying his bran mashes!

Have a good rest of the week everyone!!
Ranch Girl

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Have You Smelled Your Horse's Stomach?

Okay, where do I begin.....

Friday afternoon was Loretta's vet appointment. We tried to load her on her own but she wasn't having any of it. It wasn't time to do a training session, we needed to get her in to her appointment.

So, we ended up loading an older gelding from the ranch first. Why didn't we use My Boy? He has always loaded like a champ but in the ranch's straightload, can be a bit iffy and I didn't want to deal with that nor have Loretta see that as an example!

So, good ole Buck jumped right in, and as I was loading hay into the front Loretta hopped right in, too! Whew!

At the vet clinic, we entered the barn and went into a stall and she started shaking (I've never taken her inside a barn.) She got her sedative and then we led her into the stocks.

First the doc did a rectal. He found no impaction, nothing abnormal. Only a little poo which he said was just slightly dry.

Next up was drawing a blood sample. They'd analyze it while we were there so this could rule out any other issues.

Next, headgear for the teeth inspection. That was interesting. (I'd watched My Boy get his teeth floated but never actually got to look inside his mouth.) Loretta had several sharp points on her teeth. Now when I've heard about "sharp points" I'd always imagined large sharp shark-sized teeth. These were tiny sharp points on her bigger teeth, like little puppy teeth! She had several lesions (like canker sores) along her gums and one in her tongue that was a hole and fairly recent. She only had one small wolf teeth grown in, which he said he would pull even though it's location didn't look bad it was just best to do it.

After her dental, Miss Loretta got some oil and water just to help hydrate her system. After they got the tube in her stomach the assistant said "Her stomach smells sweet." She asked me if I wanted to smell the tube. What was I thinking? At first sniff it was a bit sweet....but it still melled like stomach. I did pucker a gag.

Her blood work came back good. One area showed that she might be slightly dehydrated. 

We gave Loretta half an hour in a stall to come out of sedation before loading her and hauling her home. Getting her into the trailer wasn't too bad. The vet assistant lifted her leg up and Ranch Boy gave her a swat and she leaped in. She was NOT fond of backing out. That is something we will have to work on.

That night, she got another dose of Banamine and a senior feed mash. Saturday, she started getting a small amount of hay again, and mashes with free salts and some oil. She has been separated from My Boy and I think they miss each other! My Boy whinnies for her off and on during the day. She can hear him but they can't see each other.

Today, she continued to look okay. I am guessing today would have been the day her tooth pull would have been most sore, and I did not give her Banamine as I only have one dose and she wasn't showing any symptoms of pain. I brought her out for a nice walk and we found some yummy grass where the snow had melted. When I put her away she refused to go back into the corral. I don't blame her, I think she wanted to go home! But I need to monitor her for another day before returning her to the pasture with My Boy.

It will take a week or two for those sores to heal. At least now when she is chewing, she should not be experiencing the same level of pain in her mouth from those points digging into her cheeks and tongue!

So, we will see what happens from here. I think how she is tomorrow will be a good indicator. If her agitation starts up again, then we have to go back to the drawing board, perhaps change diet or have her scoped for ulcers. I truly believe the pain when chewing was a major contributor to her behavior, and even her gut issues as improperly chewed hay will not digest as well. I just want her to get better, she has lost a bit of weight over the past few weeks and she didn't have a lot to lose to begin with!

Before I go, I wanted to show you my new cap by Balconi! Ranch Boy got it for me for Christmas. He saw it in my Country People magazine and ordered it online. It was mild enough today to wear something over the ears but would have been too warm with a full-stocking cap. You can find it here if you want to check them out:


Have a good week everyone!!

{All photos in this post taken on my I-phone4 and edited with the free app Instagram. I LOVE it!!}
Ranch Girl

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Here We Go Again

Well, my sweet little roany pony is not getting better. So if we can get her loaded into a trailer tomorrow, she has an appointment to get her teeth checked/floated and some blood work.

Compiling all my evidence (I truly have become a pet detective) I have begun to think (and hope, as it seems the lesser of all evils and treatable) it is her teeth. She is at the age to have issues with adult tooth eruption, sharp baby caps, and wolf teeth. In the last few episodes, she is much better after being on Banamine, being pulled from pasture and hay, and fed strictly soft mashes. Any time she has to eat hay or graze and chew and there is no Banamine in her system, she will stamp front and hind feet, shake head, rub nose on legs, run around, stamp more, ears out to side.....and stand there and yawn and chomp her jaw. Never has she tried to roll or lie down during any of this. Her poop is always normal. But~ teeth issues can contribute to colicky issues, as well, as she may not chew her food not properly due to painful teeth, which some of you mentioned.

Thank you for all of your advice, I GREATLY appreciate your ideas and support! I even got an email from one of my Rockin Heart Jewelry customers mentioning a HYPP diagnosed horse at her barn that had been exhibiting colic symptoms. This opened a whole new train of thought and brainstorming. It is through this blog community that we learn so much more about these sometimes complex equines of ours!!

So, I will update you tomorrow night or on Saturday after what happens tomorrow.

Keep the roany pony in your thoughts and prayers!!

Ranch Girl

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Any Pet Detectives Out There?

Okay, I need your horsey advice! Loretta colicked again.

So, here is a quick synopsis of both episodes (one the week before Christmas, the other this past Thursday.)

Episode One:
  • I fed the horses late the night before she colicked, as we were out of town for the day- I usually feed my horses around 8-8:30 a.m. and again at dark (approx. 4:30 p.m.) I fed that night around 10:30 when we got home.
  • No changes in type of feed or amount, access to water.
  • She had a soft impaction, and her heart rate was 80.
  • Thoughts: perhaps being fed late created hunger and stress (gas?) or because it was late and cold, she ate but did not go over and drink as much water as she should have.

Episode Two:
  • I was out of town for two days, came back and fed as usual Thursday night.
  • Snow melt and huge rainstorm had created a huge lake surrounding the horse water trough. The thought crossed my mind- would they walk through that to get to their water?
  • Friday morning, I went out to feed and noticed immediately she was uncomfortable- stamping hind legs, walking or trotting off, similar behavior to last time but seemed worse.
  • I  brought her out, gave her a dose of Banamine.
  • Walked her over to the corral at  the ranch. She paced here (because she was separated from My Boy) and did poop once or twice.
  • Didn't  notice any stamping once we got her to the ranch corral (Banamine kicking in?)
  • Vet came out around 11. Took her heart rate, said it was 48 (last time it was 80.) Heard a lot of gas sounds. Gave me two options~ 1) Give her a shot of something for gas, feed her mashes, monitor her. 2) Sedate her, rectal exam, oil and water her stomach. He said considering her heart rate he'd be comfortable with option one. 
  • Vet took stool sample to do a fecal count, mentioned worms. Also mentioned the possibility of this being an ulcer.
  • I decided to try option one. Prepared a wet mash with senior feed (lower in sugar and I only had barley.)
  • Loretta ate up mash! Gave her another mash later in the day. NO hay.
  • Moved My Boy over with her at dark as a check-in with the vet said the stress of being separated might cause her to have more gas.
  • Fecal count came back good, no strongyle worms!
  • Morning: Loretta seemed fine. Gave her another mash and gave them a small amount of hay.
  • Brought Loretta out for a walk as the corral they are temporarily in is like a small round pen, and with the two of them there, they don't walk as much, just stand around together.
     Loretta has been on mashes and small flake of hay since then, have not noticed any more discomfort. Poor thing has lost a bit of weight since dealing with the colic and reduced feedings. 

    Future Plan~ If she should colic again soon, then vet suggested that she have a scope for ulcers. He recommended removing her from the rolled barley and putting her back on a complete feed, which I am going to continue to  make into a mash for her (they only get their grain and vitamins once a day at their night feeding.) I have been bringing her out and walking her every day, even if just for 15-20 minutes at a time.
    Vet also recommended putting her on probiotics, which are to help with digestive system.

    Questions~ Have any of you had horses be more colicky in the winter? She never showed signs of this in the summer. I don't think she seems like an anxious horse, but the vet said her age (4 1/2) could be an age for ulcers to happen. Any other advice you can offer would be helpful. I have to admit I can't look at her throughout the day (especially in the morning) without worrying I'll notice that she'll be in discomfort again! Loretta never tried to lie down or roll with her colic, I don't know if this behavior depends on the severity of pain or just depends on the horse and how they deal with pain.

    Also, if any of you have had horses that colic often, do you tend to treat them yourself and watch for symptoms to worsen before calling vet?

    I remember dealing with colicky ponies as a child, but have gotten lucky with My Boy and his iron gut (knock on wood!) he has not colicked.

    Ranch Girl