Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Bit Of A Scare

You might remember our little Arabian boarder, Royal Tardez (aka "RT").
 He took over "baby-sitting" when we lost our Corky a few years back.
He's coming up on 32 (this April), and has always been as healthy as, well, a horse.  Other than a little bit of arthritis and his teeth:  the last two years he's had a little trouble with a couple that were a bit loose, and was getting yucky impactions of feed in his gums.  Vet finally pulled two this last summer, and the rest are worn pretty much to the gum line, so he is pretty much on total senior mush (plus a little beet pulp)--though I always leave some soft grass/alfalfa hay for him free-choice, and he spends lots of time just gumming it into wads that he then spits out.
RT, he do love his mush.
Especially on frosty mornings.
Anyway, last week we had a cold front blow--really blow-- through the Valley.  That evening the herd was all being pretty silly, but it concerned me that RT didn't come streaking in for his dinner, as he usually does, in spite of any shenanigans the girls might be participating in.
When he did come in, he dove into his mush pretty much as usual, though he would stop and look around periodically, and even left the stall once or twice.  I figured that was because of all the wind-blown sounds in the barn, and headed to the house.

The next morning, the wind had died down, but the temps had dropped considerably.  Al didn't notice anything unusual in RT's behavior at breakfast.  (Al feeds in the mornings during winter, due to medical issues that make it risky for me.)  Though he's not horsaii (a born horse person), Al is very observant--it had been he who first noticed when Corky was off a few years ago, also at a breakfast feeding.  So I still didn't have any concerns.

But that evening RT was definitely NQR.  I had to walk out into the [dark!] pasture to find him and persuade him to even come in for dinner.  Then he just poked at it and hardly ate any.  I threw his blanket on, in case he was chilled, checked his temp and respiration--both normal.   He didn't seem to be in any significant pain--no pacing, pawing, or wanting to roll.
I called my vet's after hours number and, after consulting with Dr. Ben, we decided it was a "wait and see" situation, rather than a "come out right now."  I would decide in the morning whether to cancel a rather busy day at work to pull the trailer out of the barn and haul him in.
Called Bri, and also her mom (who would have to help with any vet bills accrued), and apprised them of the situation.  Both agreed that, even if he started feeling better, it would be good to get him in for some basic blood work, to see what might be going on.
At my last-thing check, he had worked through maybe a third of his mush and was standing comfortably gazing out the stall door.

At breakfast, he hadn't eaten any much more, but showed some interest in the fresh, warm batch that I brought him.  Checked on him one more time before leaving for work and he had eaten about half.  I arranged with Hank's wife, Nita, to keep an eye on him throughout the day and call me if she saw him down or anything else unusual.  She also had one of her boys go over at noon and soak another small batch of mush I left for them to give RT.  Called and made two appointments, one for the next afternoon, a Friday, when my commitments at school weren't quite as significant, and one for Saturday morning--If he seemed to be improving, I'd wait until the weekend, when I wouldn't have to cancel anything at school, and we could take our time hooking up the trailer, with the advantage of daylight.

Thursday evening, Nita reported that RT had finished his breakfast by noon, and he had cleaned up the lunch batch when I checked.  He summoned called out to me for dinner and was pacing the fence looking for it in his usual manner--a good sign.  He didn't finish dinner up by the time I finished my other chores, but when I went back out after our dinner, he had--it usually takes him about an hour, so this wasn't atypical.  It was, however, another good sign.  Because the appointment was for 4 PM Friday, and he would have had to stand in a pen all day at the vet clinic if I took him in before work on Friday-- which, in itself would have been pretty traumatic for the old guy--I decided the trip could wait for the weekend.

One thing I noticed in here someplace while I was lovin' on him, was a bit of a knot in his neck muscles on one side.  When I check the other side, there was one there too, to match.  Asking Bri about it, she said he used to get those once in a while back when he was showing, mostly tension, she figured.  I began to wonder if, rather than internal, the problem was possibly that RT had slipped on the slick footing somewhere, and strained some muscles.

Friday was was pretty much business as usual, but I still hauled him (and Misty, to keep him company) in Saturday morning, and Dr. Joan took a look.  When I pulled his blanket, she said she was pleasantly surprised to see his condition--she half expected a gaunt old horse, on his last legs--and that's not how RT looks, thankfully.  The one thing she did note, that I hadn't, was that his gums were a bit pale.  She drew blood for a a general CBC, and some for a mineral screen.  She was wondering if I might be inadvertently over-supplementing RT:  beside his Senior complete feed, he get's the same vitamin/mineral supplement that the girls all get, on the theory that he isn't getting the total recommended ration of Senior (yet).  I had done some research concerning this, because over doing selenium can be toxic pretty easily.  But our soil locally, and therefore our hay, is very deficient in selenium, so I wasn't too worried (nor was Dr. Joan).  We'll see what the test says when it comes back in a couple of weeks.
I also asked if she thought his weight was okay, as the last few weeks I have been looking at him critically, wondering if he was just starting to drop a little weight as winter went on.  He was a little drawn up in the flanks, but that could be due to the week's events.  She felt that the layer of fat over his ribs was sufficient, but that it might be good to add more mush before he did lose any condition.
I have since upped his Senior by 50%, pretty much the full recommended ration for his weight, and dropped part of the vitamin/mineral supplement, (pending the screening test results).  She also suggested adding a dose of Red Cell for possible anemia (the pale gums), and it too has selenium, so I may drop the V/M that the girls get altogether, at least until I cut back his Senior when the spring grass comes up.

Dr. Joan thinks maybe RT did have a mild bout of colic.  She commented that horses, in general, and old horses in particular, are sometimes very stoic about such things, knowing instinctively that if they show weakness, the cougars will get 'em!

At any rate, this week, you wouldn't know anything had been amiss.  RT is back to his normal demanding self:
I want my dinner!
I want my mares!
I want out into my pasture!
(I had locked him in the paddock, to keep him close to the barn and it's lights.)  The basic blood test came back Monday, pretty much as it should look.

Our winter has been so mild until now that RT hasn't even needed his blanket.  In the week since he's been wearing it, however, he has already started rubbing the hair out at the points of his shoulders, as he had last year.  So I decided to try adding some shoulder protection.  I got this jammies hood when I was showing Maddie some, just to help keep her clean between bath and show.
But it's way too big for little RT!
This won't do!
Plus, as it works down his face, it pulls off his withers, and I don't want it to rub his mane.
So I altered it.

And a bit more in front, so it doesn't rub there.
In spite of the fact that winter is finally here (we had about a foot of sn*w this last week) RT seems to be back to his normal self.  And I can sleep a little easier.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

This Is Significant!

Do you see it here?
Or here?
It's January, and there's no snow to be seen, but that's not what I'm looking for.
There are tracks to follow...
What's that I see peeking around the corner?
There it is!
In spite of my not getting the garage built last summer, the horse trailer finally got a ROOF over it's head!
With my herd down to only four, I was able to move Misty's panel stall to the east end of the barn (once I used up a little bit of hay and moved a little more around).  With Pat's guidance, and a little maneuvering, I was able to back the trailer in, and on the second try, I was even able to maintain the aisle-way for tractor traffic/parking.
I have promised my shiny new (to me) equine taxi that I would get it under cover since I got it two years ago, but that cover the last two winters has been only a tarp.   It finally has a space to protect it from the weather, though I wouldn't be sad if we didn't have anything worse than we have so far. (However, that would mean darn little irrigation next summer...Oh well, I guess it can snow in the mountains.)

One of my goals for the new year is to get the garage up, with a pull through stall for the trailer, to eliminate the need to back up. Likewise, I'd like to put the last 16 foot wing of the barn up, so that my south-side run-in stalls can be a little more permanent, and maybe I can take on a couple of retirement boarders (a la Paradigm Farm).
We'll see what the new year brings!

Speaking of reducing my herd, Beth is doing well at Anita and Terry's.
They have changed her name, but just a bit:  Beth must have sounded just a little too old-lady-like to them, but they wanted to keep the same basic sound, especially the short "e."  They tried "Jet" for a day or two, then went back to the "B" and added and "s".
The little spitfire is now "Bets".
She's had a few medical set-backs, with the wound on her chin becoming nasty from time to time, which leads us to believe there may still have been a bone fragment or splinter of some kind hiding in there.  But a second and third round of anti-biotics seems to have cleared it up for now--here's hoping the nasty has worked it's way out unseen and everything can heal permanently now!  The spot on her jawbone that she actually broke the chunk off has healed completely.
The little Arab mare, Casey, who created such a stink about Bets being in her round pen the first few days, has now become her best friend forever.  They are inseparable.  Bets has also discovered BOYS!   She's fallen in love with all the geldings in the neighborhood (I guess RT wasn't a boy, he was just Uncle RT), so it seems like she's been in heat all fall.
Terry has been working a lot on the ground with Bets, and most of it has been real good--tho there have been a few peeks at the sassy side of her personality.  Terry is so mellow, he just steps out of range of whatever naughty she's doing, then puts her to work, to let her know that wasn't acceptable.
[*Anita brought me some snapshots of Bets that I wanted to include here, but my new computer is not currently talking to my old scanner, so you'll have to use your imagination... Suffice to say, she looks pretty settled in her new home.]

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