Sunday, April 8, 2012

Smart Pak Factory & Loretta's Diet

When they stay with gramma, Ranch Boy's 6 year old niece has a tradition of driving her and her little brother to get "cocoa milks" in the morning at their favorite mocha stand.

About a week ago, they saw me feeding my horses as they drove by my house so they pulled in to say good morning. Loretta was having an off morning, and I was talking to gramma about Loretta's issues (this is not new news to gramma, she has been observing this right along with me since the beginning.) The kiddos were listening from the back of the car.

A few days later Ranch Boy's mom handed me this piece of paper. Little niece had drawn Loretta's stomach!
Can you see the stomach and front and hind leg?

In the stomach she drew apples, oats, water, carrots, hay......she said she was doing her "research." I thought this was so adorable!


Above is a photo of my own personal "Smart Pak" factory. I measure out at least a week's worth of Loretta's powders and potions into small Ziploc bags so that I can just dump it into the pellet and beet pulp mash when I feed.

Some of you have asked what diet Loretta is on. I have her on a big mash twice a day (a.m. and p.m.) and alfalfa pellets two other times during the day. I am currently trying to wean her off the hay completely and just have her on alfalfa pellets to see if the hay could be contributing to her issue. I think it will feel very weird not to feed your horse hay.) Loretta has a little to nibble on in her pasture but not as much as I would like considering she will not be on hay. I am hoping to bring her out to hand graze but honestly while she is having her "episodes" I can't even get her haltered, she is in such distress/pain. So bringing her out is impossible.

Our latest thoughts are that she has ulcers in her colon. This is a completely different scenario then ulcers in her stomach. Brown Eyed Cowgirls is going to do a great post on colonic ulcers soon, but in a nutshell her is a bit of information for you which I found here:

Colonic Ulcers in Horses

"Gastric ulcers have been in the spotlight in recent years, thanks to well-known treatment and extensive research in this area. As a result, many people associate equine digestive health with stomach health. But truly understanding the horse’s digestive system means understanding the significance of the hindgut.
This attention to gastric ulceration (i.e. of the stomach) is ironic, if not downright detrimental. The stomach represents less than 10% of the total volume of the digestive tract. On the other hand, the hindgut (consisting of the cecum and colon) is huge and vital to the horse’s digestive process and overall health. Most importantly, it is the home of a huge bacterial environment that converts fiber to energy; the horse is known as a “hindgut fermenter,” meaning it obtains most of its energy by fermenting forage in its colon.

Because the hindgut plays such a critical role in digestion and health, it may also be the source of so many of the problems we are seeing."

You can click on the link to find out more. I also enjoyed this article which reminded me a bit of what Loretta is on.

Here is what she is getting:

  • beet pulp shreds (I am doing about a half 2 lb coffee can or so each feeding.) A great, vegetative source of sugar-free roughage and fiber!
  • Pure alfalfa pellets (by pound, I am working her up to the full equivalent to hay.)
  • 1/4 cup oat flour (got in the health food section at Fred Meyer.)
  • 4 oz (1/4 cup) Aloe Vera juice (bought by the gallon at the GNC health food store.) Someone recommended this to me for treating ulcers, I've heard in humans it has been used to treat ulcers and cancers.
  • 1/2 cup ground Flax seed (also got at the GNC health food store.) Good source of Omega Fatty acids.
  • Probiotics~ gut flora is especially important in the hindgut!
  • orchard grass hay (small amount, going to take her off this completely at some point just to see what happens, as I have eliminated everything except the hay!)

I soak the beet pulp shreds and pellets first in warm water, then drain if there is too much water. Then I mix in the powders and aloe vera juice, stir well, and serve immediately.  I do this morning and night along with a light flake of grass hay, and then just dry pellets mid-day and sometimes again at dark.

Loretta had a great Easter Sunday! She seemed to be feeling a little better and after around 4 days of off and on tummy troubles, she seemed fairly normal. I actually scratched her chest and neck a bit (I was too afraid to touch her behind the whithers, she has NOT wanted to be touched back there.) I have a few more weeks to see how this diet is helping her before conferring with her previous owner again. Keep your fingers crossed!

Ranch Girl


fernvalley01 said...

Oh ! What a struggle for you both! I am sure it hurts you to watch her suffer, sure hope this protocol works and BEC has some good info as well

Paint Girl said...

I am so happy to hear that she had a good day! Keep it up and I am sure all your efforts will pay off!
That was a very cute drawing that little niece drew for you! So cute!

Reddunappy said...

If you find the alfalfa pellets are to much for her. Some horses dont tolerate alfalfa very well. they make timothey pellets too. Just a suggestion.

Crystal said...

Wow she has her own pharmacy going on there! Hope you find something that works for her, its awful when they are hurting and you cnt fix it

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

Oh look...You have your own little 'chemistry' set. LOL

That's what my feed-mixing station looks like too. ;-)

I so hope that Loretta starts having more good days soon. Poor girl. I am optimistic that things are helping since she is just having 'bad' days vs. full-blown colic.

baystatebrumby said...

Even though your horse kicthen looks complicated and like a lot of work, hats off to you for going the extra mile for Loretta. Really. It reaveals what a great human you are. I am so glad to hear Loretta is feeling better. My fingers are crossed!

This Kuntry Mama said...

Hi Ranch Girl! Do you remember me? (Formerly Kuntry Girl)... :)
I was so glad to come across your new blog (although it looks like I'm getting here a little late) you, I took a little break but am finally back to blogging...looking forward to catching up! :)

This Kuntry Mama said...

P.S. LOVE the items in your Etsy shop! I started a shop too...isn't it the BEST? I just love Etsy...selling, much fun! I liked your FB page too - definitely gonna keep you in mind for unique gifts! :)

Sares said...

Jeesh Michelle. You are a good Mama for trying! It's so hard when one of your animals is in distress and you can't figure out why. It would be amazing if you could nail down the issue.

Desert Rose said...

Ya know...I agree with your BEC...a bad day is sooooooo much better than what you were dealing with! That...hopefully means you are on to something and your girl will be feeling much better soon :)))
This year my Jesse has done super fantasic...thanks to the Bossman and his daughter...but my Shannna Lady Rose is the one who has been off a few weeks here and there :(((
lady will be coming home with me this year...but I doubt I will ever get to bring Jesse back to the PNW! He is more muscled and BIGGER than you have ever seen him :))) At a weekend ride he and Lady went on with the stables...the Bossman said that out of 300 horses there, Jesse was in the top 10 for being in shape and did not even want to stop so the Bossman could pour himself antoher drinky winky ;)
The stables owner rode he rents all of his horses out and he tells me she is one gusty mare! She will just do what ever he asks and takes NO Horsehit from any gelding ;) remind me to tell you about the mule and Lady on the highway and how proud I was of my girl!