All Better. For Now.

tldr: Rodney had a tummyache. He is back on ulcer meds. I am riding again.

Back in the saddle. The tongue thing is new.

As I’ve said before [Rodney’s Feet], one of Rodney’s tells for pain is to act scared. He was doing this, but only in the barn. Out in the pasture, he was galloping about without a care in the world. Put a halter on him: Sky is falling! Sky is falling! I took this personally, leading to gloomy posts such as this [The December Dismals] and this [Looking Back 2017, Home Team].

We were increasing his feed yet having to tighten his girth. In hindsight, duh. But hindsight is like that.

I took him for a simple, in-hand walk around the field. He was awful. He was so awful that I gave up halfway back to the barn, removed his halter, and allowed him to run off. I could have wrestled him home, but to what end? I tweeted my medical advisor. He heard the frustration behind the tweet. The options for problems were muscular-skeletal or digestive. The former was clearly out, so perhaps his gut had gone funky again. Medical Advisor came home, got the leftover bottle of pills from the shelf, put them in my hand, and said, “One month.”

I thought we had put Rodney’s stomach issues behind us [Zeno’s Horse Training]. Wrong. Apparently, if one is a super-special snowflake who feels the world deeply, one can have flare ups.

After one dose, Rodney was noticeably better, i.e. happier. I retraced the walk that he had done so poorly. Success. After two walks, I sat on him again. We are now doing mini-micro dressage moves and ridden walks around the field within sight of the barn. I’m thrilled. It’s not much on a grand scale, but at least the vector is back to pointing in the correct direction.

Was it the new feed? Probably not. It’s been over a year [Feed Adventures] and Rodney was fine earlier in the year [We Leg Yield, Who Knew?]. For a long while, I blamed the massages [Massage Day, Dismals]. Sorry Molly. My current thinking is the sand colic pellets [Sand Colic?]. Since it had done great things for Milton [QR], we tried Rodney on a week’s worth. Perked him right up. So we repeated it the next month. Wrong. I hypothesize that the scouring action of cleaning out his gut was okay once, but too harsh on a regular basis. Rather like using strong toothpaste on my sensitive teeth. I have no idea if this theory has any bearing on Rodney’s digestive reality. Any equine physiologists out there?

So, we are back to grinding pills and dosing him with a syringe [Say Aaaah!, Rodney Update] We won’t keep him on ulcer meds. They are expensive if he doesn’t need them all the time, and, more importantly change his attitude [Zeno]. He’ll probably get a maintenance dose one week each month, as Milton does with the sand stuff. Do they need it? Who knows. For now we are not messing with success.

Why change one variable when you can contaminate the experiment by changing multiple variables at once?

We reinstituted naps to give Rodney alone time.

We added probiotics. Medical Advisor has been reading data that suggests probiotics are more than mere manure additives.

We acutely dose Rodney with an oral syringe of antacid – the white stuff not the pink stuff – before each ride.

We ordered new brushes. While Rodney is less fearful in the barn, he is still prone to sudden spooks. We think he might be unusually affected by static. Either he generates more shocks, or he is more sensitive to them, or both. His winter grooming kit now consists of a hoof pick and a cotton towel. I wear leather gloves. I thought a rubber curry comb was safe. Turns out electric insulator and generating static electricity are two different properties. We have ordered static-free brushes. More on these once they have been judged by the staticee. Super-duper-special snowflake.

Something in this avalanche of changes is working.

Right now Rodney is behaving better under saddle than in the barn, which is unusual for any of my horses.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Categories: Horse Behavior, Horse Care, Horses, Riding

9 replies »

  1. Very happy to hear the improvements! He sure is a sensitive fellow. Takes a lot of brainpower and serious attention to figure him out. It’s really interesting and follows true too in the dog world – change in behavior -> look first to physical issues. Some huge percentage of the time, that’s the underlying cause. It’s not always easy to see, find or resolve but I’ve been there too. And you’ve seen it in yourself too. They sure keep us hopping, don’t they?

  2. We tried several different kinds (brands) of probiotics for our gelding with the runny poop issue, to no avail. Enter, new vet. We were told commercially sold probiotics are not nearly strong enough. Yes, they sell the only-available-from-your-vet kind. It wasn’t ridiculously expensive, so we gave it a whirl. I mean, winter was coming and the thought of the mess to horse & (possibly) blanket was keeping me up nights. First week, nothing. Second week our Porta-Grazers arrived and were immediately put to good use. End of second week, runny poop vanished and has stayed gone. (Yay!) Was it the probiotics? The slow feed grazers? A month later, I think it might be both. (But I can’t stop raving about the grazers. They’ve been a game-changer for us on so many different levels.) I’ll continue with the probiotics until spring, then wean him off and see if there’s any difference. The cause? It’s very likely he’s super sensitive to the preservatives/drying agents on our hay. (We buy our hay from a broker and I had to do some digging to find out that yes, our hay did indeed have preservatives on it. This is very common now in our region. Ugh)

    Second thought: Have you had Rodney’s eyes carefully examined? I ask because I have a little QH foster who is very spooky at times and it turns out he has lost a lot of the pigmentation in his eyes. Think: macular degeneration in horses. Apparently it’s not uncommon … my hubby’s buckskin has a bit of it too. (It’s more common in lighter color horses) It also turns out my very spooky mare has a ocular anomaly in one of her eyes, too. Good grief, who would think that three out of three horses have some sort of eye issue? Still, having that knowledge has really helped me understand their behavior a lot better, especially the mare and the little gelding.

    Happy New Year!

    • 3 out of 3 of my dogs have had digestive issues. Trying to wean them off prescription food to commercial food resulted in loose poop, which for the 2 inside dogs is a real issue…
      Check anything and everything, sometimes odd things turn up. And sometimes changing vets help, as each has a different perspective.

  3. Thank you all.

    @Anonymous. I often wonder how much closer to world peace we would be if every individual was physically pain-free.

    @rontuaru: My medical advisor would like to know what kind of probiotic you use. Our current one is from the cowboy WalMart.

    Eyes. Vet has checked, at least cursorily. The spooking/headshyness seems to be a) seasonal, much worse in winter, b) object specific, hands & towels okay, brushes & curry combs not, & c) getting better, if one takes the long view.

    “three out of three” I hear you. Problems seem to come in groups. Our previous two were all about joints. These two are teaching us more than I ever knew about equine digestion.

    • The probiotic we use must be purchased through the vet or you must have your vet’s customer code when ordering. We use Kentucky Performance Products: Wiser Concepts/ProbioticWise. It’s specifically designed for use in horses with diarrhea, so not sure if that’s what you actually want. They do carry other quality products, including some for ulcer care. I’ve been pleased with his response if it is indeed related to this product. This has been an off & on again major problem for a couple of years now and he has never responded very much to anything we’ve tried prior. When the vet mentioned trying it I was VERY skeptical (read as: just another money-maker for them?) To his credit, he did make other suggestions we could try first, and I did .. to no avail. Glad I decided to try this. I also believe his ability to eat slower, over a longer period of time has helped greatly also. So it might be a combo of both?

      The reason I mentioned eyes: Two previous vets in our past have “checked” eyes as a routine part of wellness visits & shots. None ever caught these issues, and it’s pretty obvious they aren’t something new. (All but one are degenerative and the anomaly has likely been there since birth) I figured it was worth throwing that out there, just in case. My mare (the one with the weird anomaly) tends to run more spooky in certain light & conditions than others. Knowing that doesn’t necessarily fix it, but at least it makes more sense to me now.

      (http://kppusa.com/by-category/) (http://kppusa.com/)

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