Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Know Your Horse's Normal

The magazine The Horse has a great article on Knowing Your Horse’s Health in the May issue . . . and urge everyone to read this piece and to pay better attention to their horses.

I can’t stress the importance of knowing what is normal for your horse both in vital signs (temp, pulse, respiration, and capillary response of the gums), but also behavioral things like drinking water after grain, calling for you when you come home for work, etc.

If I had not known these, and had not know what was normal and not right for my mare, Bees (the one featured on the home page of our website www.good-horsekeeping.com ) she would not be with us today.  After 8 long weeks of working with two vets (one of which as recently as last week urged me to put her down and was the same vet that I blame for being aggressive enough with a diagnosis/treatment and for only offering the option of putting her down), Bees appears to be on the road to a full recovery. ***Please see earlier post for initial story.

In my 40 years of horse ownership this has been the biggest test of my will and of my gut instincts.  Seeing Bees trotting again and walking almost normal is better then any award we have ever won.  It took everything I had in me to take care of her from hand feeding her and watering her in those early weeks when she laid down for 10-12 hours at a time to getting only 4-5 hours sleep for the past five weeks so I could break up her meds and feeding regimen as a means to prevent colic and ulcers.

The x-rays last week showed minimal rotation and now after being one-week on an antibiotic (for what my original vet thought was a shoe boil . . . . even though I said is was way beyond a shoe boil when Bee’s entire forearm, chest, and leg swelled up), she has dramatically turned around.  I pushed for the antibiotic feeling in the back of my mind there had been some kind of weird infection that caused her original lameness and possible case of laminitis.

The message I want every horse owner to get from my hard and horrible experience is to know your horses, pay attention to them.  Although I do, and know when they even have a hair out of place, I fault myself for not getting a second opinion earlier.   Don’t be afraid to question your vet, and if you think you need a second opinion, get it!  When I finally called in another vet, Bees had a fighting chance . . . .Although with the new vet’s help and my tenacity of believing something else was going on besides laminitis, she’s alive today.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Making Sense Of All Of The Horse Care Information Out There . . .

The  past 6 weeks has been very insightful regarding all of the horse care information out on the web . . . . as I continue to treat and care for my laminitic mare, Bees.  Nearly everything I have researched from the meds the vet prescribed to some of the herbal remedies has been met with contradictions . . .

It's frustrating enough to read studies and articles from credible equine professionals that can't agree on protocols or medicines for treating common equine ailments . . . .then go to some of the forums and discussion groups and you really want to pull your hair out trying to figure out what might work.

It doesn't even seem like anyone can agree on whether or not you reduce swelling with heat or with cold compresses!!!  Very frustrating as I've been dealing with some secondary things that have cropped up from my mare's convalescence, which most recently has been a large shoe boil.  Yesterday I spent over one hour trying to decipher the best way to treat it.  Some said cold washes and DMSO, others said heat, others said leave it alone, while even others said drain it . . .

About the only thing there seemed to be agreement on is the use of a shoe boil boot to protect the elbow when the horse lies down.

Finally, I decided once again to follow my gut on the treatment.  I used a bag of frozen green beans as cold compress to get some of the heat out of the boil, and applied some Arnica to the swelling, and put a rear shipping boot (turned backwards) on the leg so that the lower flare of the boot covers the hoof.  It looks better this morning.
So I guess the bottom line here remains:  do your research, make sure Internet sources are credible, and whenever in doubt, follow your own instincts.