Friday, May 23, 2008

No feet...no horse

Well, my first week as a horse owner took a difficult turn yesterday. Last night during feeding I noticed Duke favoring his front leg and I was beside myself trying to understand why. He was sound when I purchased him on Saturday, everything was fine. What happened? And how could it have happened so quickly. Lots of things crossed my mind, and I feared the worse. Last night I cried. Every horse owner understands four simple words...no feet, no horse.
 
First thing this morning I contacted a local vet, the best horse doctor in the region. I had already planned to have him do a 'new horse' exam this weekend. I met up with him this afternoon and he confirmed my worse fear, Duke had a minor case of laminitis. Unfortunately, Duke is an 'at risk' horse for laminitis according to the vet for several reasons. Fortunately, we caught it early enough that the prognosis for full recovery is very good. What puts Duke at risk is first his weight, he needs to lose 100 pounds. Second, he had a severe bout with it three years ago, which his prior owner fully disclosed to me long before I decided to purchase Duke. I've done a great deal of reading about laminitis since learning of Duke's history, and everything I read gave me hope that while it could recur again, it is preventable through careful diet management. And third, he's large boned. But it was neither of these reasons that brought it about this time. The vet believes stress is the reason this time; the stress of a new home and new owners. While Duke has outwardly taken the change in stride, internally it was another story. Horses are like that, especially a horse like Duke. I've watched him carefully every day for signs of stress, but he never exhibited any outward signs.
 
It was frustrating, to say the least. Duke can't have alfalfa hay because of the high concentration of protein in alfalfa (which caused the bout three years ago), so I searched everywhere to find him grass hay (it's in short supply). His prior owner also fed him sweet feed and beet pulp to supplement his grass only diet. But I've heard some unfavorable views on sweet feed and so after consulting my other horsey friends, decided against the sweet feed and pulp. The vet agreed Duke doesn't need the extra bulk at this time. In the end, one of the last things he said was he's never seen a horse with such a great disposition (even in the pain he was in) and my decision to purchase him was the right one. We have a friend who also recently purchased a horse (a quarter horse) and the same vet rejected the first three horses he considered buying. This vet will tell it straight and honest, he knows how much is at stake with these horses and their people.
 
So, from here treatment consists of: reducing Duke's daily food intake from 20 pounds down to 10 pounds (he's not going to be happy about that!), administering a dose of horsey aspirin twice daily, soaking his feet in ice cold water every day and 30 days stall rest. No riding, no exercise. So, photos of me riding Duke will have to wait.
 
It's been quite a week.
 
As for the new job, it's been hectic too. But in different ways. New job, new people...Duke's not the only one feeling the stress of adjusting to change. But it's going very well. It's a nice change not feeling constantly overwhelmed.
 
Tuesday, before the lameness reared it's ugly head, Sam took photos of me and Duke after I played with him in the round pen. During a break in lounging, Duke and I posed for one shot and somehow we both managed to close our eyes at the precise second Sam pressed the shutter. Like minds Duke and I....like minds.
 
 
  
One...two...three...close your eyes!
 
Hey, I see other horses over there! Let's go check 'em out!
 
Eyes open and forward this time. Notice the one ear turned toward me, a sign that his attention is focused on me.
 
 
 
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10 comments:

karebear4x4 said...

Beautiful Duke!  Love the pics   well i'm happy now that at least he has a better home and owner better taking care of him   no doubt you made the right decision for Duke by bringing him home with you   i have a dog who i brought home who hadn't been well taken care of either   you'll be on Duke soon enough   look forward to more pics   take care of you two   hugz~kbear

my3gifts said...

He's just beautiful Dona! I'm glad you have such a great horse vet, that's so important!!! I hope in the next couple of months you'll be able to get up on him and start riding!

Hugs
Christy

my3gifts said...

He's just beautiful Dona! I'm glad you have such a great horse vet, that's so important!!! I hope in the next couple of months you'll be able to get up on him and start riding!

Hugs
Christy

bhbner2him said...

Sorry to hear of this delay.  But perhaps this will allow the two of you some special bonding time.  -  Barbara

nhd106 said...

Some tough stuff for you to deal with...so sorry.  Interestingly, my dog has been struggling w/ some health issues and I too, started a new job.   Ironic, huh?
Anyway, let's both try to hang in there.
Duke is so very handsome, btw.

Hugs,
Nancy

welshponyland said...

I feel your pain. Been there myself with a pony getting laminitis a month after we purchased her due to an impact injury from jumping. (Unfortunately past diagnosis wasn't disclosed to us.) None the less, our pony has lost over 75 lbs on Triple Crown low starch pellets and grass hay. She lives in a a sand ring and a dry paddock that we rototill constantly to keep it soft with no access to any grazing.  We split up her daily hay ration and feed it to her three times a day so she feels like she's grazing all day long.

I soak size six pampers with water and then stick them in the freezer for use on the days when she's crawling around and I then wrap around her hooves and legs. The tabs make it so easy and she doesn't have to stand in buckets of ice water nor do I have to sit there for hours either. Go to the kids section of any dollar store and you should find interlocking foam hopscotch or floor pads. Trace your horse's hoof and cut the pad a little larger. Double up the pads and Vet wrap that onto Duke's hoof for an instant and comfy boot. You'll be amazed how he'll be walking around within moments.

Good luck, give him lots of love, and research Co-Q10 supplements to get the blood circulating better. Worked amazingly well for our little mare. Unfortunately you now have to deal with flare-ups of this awful disease but these steps will help you get through the most difficult days. (A good chewable banana flavored pro-biotic from your local health food store will help keep his tummy in good shape if he's on bute for a long amount of time.)

Good luck , know that your not alone and Duke is very lucky to have found a caring owner to help him through this, he won't forget your kindnesses.

labdancer51 said...

Hi Dona,  I hope Duke gets over this latest bout of laminitis, I`ve heard it`s a very painful complaint for a horse.

Love Sandra xxxx

ajquinn354 said...

Duke is such a beautiful horse, hope with your care he'll be better within the month.  Know he'll adjust to being with you in his new environment since he's getting lots of love and attention. Hopefully your love of each other will be a good stress reliever for both of you.  Arlene (AJ)

kokoapuffy1 said...

Hope Duke recovers quickly. I don't know much about horses. But is sounds like you have done a lot of research, so wish you luck with Duke's new diet, and meds. Thanks for sharing the photo's, really enjoyed them.    ~Deborah

frankandmary said...

He is so very beautiful. I am sorry for all the trouble he is having & I am sure he doesn't really want to be on a "diet" any more than we do. Hope adjusting to the new job goes well, since that is always difficult in the beginning.
~Mary