Yesterday something pretty amazing happened with Haley. Amanda came to give him an energy session as she does about twice per week. He is very sensitive and will usually tolerate about 15-20 minutes per session. He's had an abscess open up on the right hind foot as I posted a few days ago. This as you can imagine has been very painful for him. He has been gimping around moving very short strided behind.
About 15 minutes into the session, he spotted a distraction 2 farms over. I couldn't even see what he was looking at. His head went way up in the air as he stared at a couple of children playing. None of the other horses were bothered–they simply didn't care. Haley has always been my watch dog. He is very alert and can spot anything out of the ordinary. I know well enough to step back and let him do his thing. Well, he trotted off to get a closer look. And then he proceeded to trot, in a half pass fashion all around the lower field. He finally came back to where we were standing, then off he went again to the fence-row to have a closer look. I walked over to take his halter off and decided to let him be. After watching him half pass around the field again, Amanda had the good sense to tell me to capture this on video. Remember this is a horse who is disabled from not one, but two neurological disorders that you see floating around the field! He continues to amaze and astound me every day!
Francis: Yesterday I was so proud of Francis! He had an energy session with Amanda and was SO good! You see, Francis has trust issues–pretty big ones. I feel like over the past few weeks he has come to trust me more and our bond has deepened. I am nothing but gentle and kind and reassuring with him, but I am sure somewhere in his past, being a hard working carriage horse, he learned a great mistrust of people.
Amanda brought with her a lead she had gotten from a recent Linda Tellington-Jones training. Instead of a chain, it's a soft, round rope that fits over the nose, which is attached to a flat nylon lead. Francis can get beligerent at times and sling his head around, so he was the ideal test candidate. It worked so well, I said "I want one!!" The beauty of it was that he didn't get very beligerent at all 🙂 but when he started to mildly protest, I just gave a slight tug, told him "no" and then released. It was very non-invasive and we all stayed focused and relaxed!
As far as his contracted tendon goes, well he has good and bad days with that. Sometimes it's hard for him to get moving and is painful to do so, then other days he is moving about more. He's never in a hurry though :) I make life for him as comfortable as possible and it appears he has learned to live with his past tendon injury.
Mary: Mary has a personality as big as she is. Since she has a lip tatoo, she was probably a trotter on the Standardbred racing track then became a Carriage horse. When haltered, her ground manners are impecable and she is very patient and tolerant. She can be a bit nervous when working around her head, as if she may have been hit in the past. I love to wipe her eye buggers and pat her big face, and she will often wince as if she is going to get a beating. Poor girl :( I can't imagine who would possibly want to raise a hand at her–she is very sweet.
The other thing about Mary is she LOVES to EAT! You can tell by her size that she gets plenty too. She will go to the gate and stand and often speak to me at meal times. She's not a greedy eater though–she does not gorge her feed, but does eat with a fairly rapid pace, needing to move on and see what's next. She has been known to canter off and shake her head with impatience if she thinks the meals come a tad later than they should.
I use a variety of small mesh hay bags and feeders with them. Their paddock is sparse with little grass so they get quite a bit of grass hay over 3 feedings each day. These kind of hay feeders allow them to slow down, and eat with a normal pace, and take longer to eat each bag. I've put in a huge pea gravel area under some trees and hang hay bags at night for them there. The pea gravel is round and smooth and good for their feet and they like to stand on it.
I knew by the way Haley has been acting and standing that another abscess on the right hind foot was most likely brewing. This morning it popped open right above the coronary band on the outside of the right hind foot. Fortunately he was close to the run in shed so I led him into his stall for breakfast and while he ate soaked that foot in the Davis Soaking boot. He is very good about this as over the past year he has had this done many many times. The warm water was very soothing and the tea tree will help kill the infection.
Just now at lunch I took him his second meal of the day in the lower pasture under some trees he likes to stand in. I inspected the hoof and decided it was time to take action again so I jogged up the hill to the shed and loaded up the grooming tote and went back to work on the foot. I used Colloidal Silver and a toothbrush to get in the coronary band opening. I remembered that I had a Hoof Sock that I'd never used and thought it would be a good time to do so. Although a bit pricey, if it worked, it would be well worth it! http://www.smartpakequine.com/ProductClass.aspx?productclassid=6919
You must realize that it is extremely difficult to work on this horse's feet–he can't pick up either hind leg and stands with all his weight on the right hind and leans that way. So if he's out in the open, not in his stall with the padded wall to support him, extra caution must be used. So I wait until he picks up the foot on his own and slide the boot on. Of course he slams the foot down before I have it situated good. I'm crouched down waiting for him to pick up the foot again so I can adjust the boot. Eventually he does. I can't actually believe I found a bootie that I can get on him relatively easily and it comes with a pad for comfort!! This is an XL size and the box shows they also make a XXL for the big drafts! I'm seeing one in Francis's future as well 🙂
I would recommend having both the Davis Soaking boot and the Hoof Sock on hand if you have a horse that's prone to feet issues.
On Monday of this week I became aware of a local horse neglect case that was going to involve removal of the horses. I learned that the case was in Cannon County, which is where my property borders. It wasn't until Tuesday that I learned the exact location and how many horses were involved. I had already been in contact with the HSUS Disaster Coordinator who had her staff on the ground and in action. I had offered my time, services and goods such as hay. After hastily completing the feeding chores on my farm, Rachel and I sped off thru the hills and hollers of Cannon county to the scene of the crime!
It wasn't hard to spot the property as every news media truck was parked at the end of the road, local sherrifs officers were checking out every car that entered and several livestock trailers were there. The HSUS stands for the Humane Society of the United States and it's a non-profit organization that I have donated money to for years. They had taken the lead in the rescue operation.
There were 84 horses to be seized. Rescuers and volunteers had been working all day to round up, corral, halter and load up horses to be hauled the one hour + trip to the Nashville State Fairgrounds, where stabling was being used as a temporary shelter. It wasn't hard to immediately see why the horses were being seized. They were all very underweight, with skin conditions, large pot bellies indicating worm infestation. There were at last count 8 stallions. So this band of horses were running basically wild, allowed to breed and reproduce and appeared to not have been fed, wormed or given any medical attention.
There was a large barn on the property and the horses were being corraled in it, haltered and either stalled or tied up to wait for their turn to load up on the next available trailer. The barn was filthy with muck. These horses were wild eyed, scared, running from the humans, as they were not used to being handled. It was organized chaos. We haltered and caught as many as we could, all the while I was on the phone to friends to attempt to locate more livestock trailers to assist in transporting these horses. At 5 pm there were still 30 horses needing to go. I offered my 2 horse trailer, came home and got it, went back and took the mare and newborn foal. The foal was weak and the mare had not been producing milk. It was imperative that they receive medical attention asap.
So off I went on the one hour + transport to get them to safety. My husband was already in Nashville and met me at the Fairgrounds. Every horse being unloaded was filmed and documented. It was pretty amazing to see how much improved their conditions would be at the shelter set up their versus where they had just come from.
We stayed for a bit, watching the mare and foal get settled and checked over by the vet. I once again offered my time, hay, supplies, left my name and phone number and offered to come feed on Thanksgiving.
Here is an article the HSUS has posted on their website about it:
And here is a photo of momma and baby settling into their new stall 🙂
It's hard to believe that exactly one year ago some of the most significant, traumatic events occured in my life. My older mare, Turnip, who was nearly 30 years old, decided it was her time to pass. At the same time, Haley, her son, my big boy was having some severe neurological problems. The vet was called out for both of them. I thought surely I was going to loose Haley that morning, not Turnip.
I don't think I really ever grieved the loss of Turnip. Of course I think of her often and miss her, but I had to throw myself into saving Haley. I wanted to hold on to him for many reasons, one of which was that he was the last piece of her I had.
Many of you have followed our story over the past year and know that it has been a very difficult one. The ups and downs, the back and forth, the vet visits, the vet bills, the medications, the alternative treatments, and the list goes on. I have met many wonderful and supportive people thru this time and would like to thank all of you for never once telling me to give up.
I don't know what the future holds, not today or tomorrow, so I must live in the present with my boy and support him however he needs and accept that one day, when he's ready, he will tell me it's also his time to go. But until then, I love him unconditionally and am grateful for every minute I have with him.
Tuesday of this week I found that Willie had a very swollen and inflammed sheath. He is not one who particularly cares to have that part of his anatomy touched, so I had to exercise caution when inspecting.
Willie has been with me for 5 years now and he is a sturdy little QH with a big personality! He has arthritis, can be overly suspicious but has not had any major medical issues in all this time. So for an issue like this to crop up suddenly was not normal. I suspected a bite or sting may have been the culprit. I did my due diligence and put together some herbs and homeopathic remedies to try to make him more comfortable.
When the weather turns cooler in the Fall, Willie takes naps like clockwork–he even has his 2 pasture mates tuned in to his schedule. He was not laying down to rest and was walking very gingerly as his hind end was sore. After 24 hours with no improvement, I had to call Dr. Williams to come out for a closer inspection.
He gave Willie a dose of Ace to make his private part drop down from the sheath, but it was taking a really long time, and Willie just did not want an audience for such a delicate matter. Eventually the medication kicked in and upon inspection , the vet found the sheath and penis to be clean and tumor free.
When the vet went back to the truck to get a couple of medications, we noticed that Willie had begun to break out in hives! It was the strangest thing. He must have had some sort of reaction to the tranquilizer. A shot of anti-histimine, diuretic, and anti-inflammatory were all given to make him more comfortable. He then told me I could follow up with some of my anti-inflammatory herbs. I told him I already had the Devil's Claw ready 🙂
The hives went away almost as fast as they appeared and he began to graze and then eventually urinated. A bit later he decided to take a much needed nap. Amanda, my energy worker, was coming out to work on one of my horses, so I had her run a bit of energy on Willie. Hopefully the traditional medicine jump started him on the road to recovery and the follow up can be managed with herbal and homeopathic remedies. It's nice that my vet and I have mutual respect for each others preferred treatment modalities.
Willie's enlarged sheath. Dr. Williams administers the sedative, while Rachel holds him, and Eagle looks on.
Don't let the title fool you, Francis has not been a bad boy, he literally got himself into a mess of trouble for a bit.
It's a beautiful fall morning and I decided to get the garden plot tilled up. From the garden, I have a clear view of Willie's field, the dry lot and can see Mary & Francis if they are under their favorite trees on the fence line.
As I was working, I noticed that Mary was pacing in the pea gravel shaded corner of her paddock. I watched Maggie and Willie come up to their shed to get water. Then I watched as Eagle got concerned that Mary was concerned. Where was Francis? Then I saw this big black blob on the ground with legs thrashing around. He had gotten himself cast on the cross fence! Yikes!!
Now let me assure you that it is much more than a just a few feet away to get to him. I quickly decided which route was going to be faster and then bolted all the way down Eagle's field, thru the old garden and into Francis's paddock. Lucy was on my heels ready to help 🙂 Mary met me with a gallop from around the corner. I was calling for them the entire way telling them help is coming. I only hoped I could manage alone since I was the only one on the farm today. By the time I got around the corner, Francis had gotten himself up and was coming towards me. I gave him a big pat and checked him over fortunately to find not a mark on him! I went to the fence corner and sure enough he had gotten caught there. I presume he had lay down and then decided to roll and went over the wrong way, too close to the fence. I told Mary what a good girl she was for signaling help and gave Francis a kiss for being ok and let them settle into munching a pile of bermuda hay.
Whew! Disaster averted. As I walked back up the hill through Eagle's field, I stopped to pat Eagle and tell him what a good boy he was for also letting me know something was wrong.
This morning I had a thought that I would write an entry about what a typical day on the farm was like for me. Maybe I will another day–when things are more "typical"–ha!
Today we finally got a diagnosis for Francis's hind leg lameness. But before I tell you about that, let's start at the beginning of his story 🙂
Exactly 7 weeks ago Francis arrived at my Senior Retirement farm from NY, having been retired as a NYC carriage horse to Pets Alive, a no kill animal sancutary who I adopted him from. I knew he had issues with a hind foot that abscessed, but that's about all I knew of any issues with him. He was lame in the right hind leg when he arrived and had been given bute for his long journey down here to keep him more comfortable. As the days went by unmedicated, I could see that he was most uncomfortable and began scratching my head as to why.
So my vet, Dr. Nathaniel Wright from Tennessee Equine Hospital, came out for a look. What he found at this time was thrush, seedy toe and white line issues with the right hind foot. So clean it up, wrap it and give him some anti-inflammatory and see how it goes. A week later with no improvement I have the vet come out again, this time prepared with his x-ray machine. He took x-rays of all four feet. What he saw was some chronic laminitis and dropping of the coffin bones, but no fractures or rotation.
I then order and put him in Soft Ride therapeutic boots on the front feet. He is more comfortable in them, however it does not improve anything in the hind feet & legs. So I have Dr. Wright out once more for nerve blocks to try and pinpoint where the issue is exactly. He blocks both hind feet from the pastern down to the feet and no there's no improvement which tells us the issue is higher up the leg.
So today instead of having the vet make another farm call, I trailered him over to their nice new state of the art facility. The actual logistics of trailering this horse anywhere made me a bit nervous. When he gets upset, he can be really hard to handle. As my vet put it–he's a bulldog! Meaning he will drag and push you around in a nanosecond if he gets upset and doesn't want to do something you are asking of him. Francis is VERY attached to Mary and I knew she had to come along for the ride today. I had already planned on lightly sedating both of them (safety first!) but they were so calm and quiet this morning, I did not have to :) They did however get calming herbs, oils and Bach's Rescue Remedy–and don't think I didn't use it on myself too! So the load up went fairly well and we were off to an early start. Thank you Rachel and Amanda for helping today!
When we led the horses into the facility, I could actually see Francis smile as he stepped onto the cushy pavers that line their entire facility floors! Their clinic is newly remodeled and just beautiful. Mary got put in a stall while Francis was held by an assistant, a small statured girl–poor thing, while the vet worked. I had decided that I was going to be an observer and let a paid staff member handle him in case he got hard to handle. After all, wasn't I paying for that service??
After attempting to use a hoof tester on his hind feet unsuccessfully (I told Dr. Wright that he must just want to make Francis mad as whenever he tries to hoof test him, it never ends well). He just can't support the weight of the other foot and once actually kicked him. I thought he would have learned by now :) My horse is getting a reputation for being a big brute!
We had already determined that the right hind tendon was much larger than the left one and he palpated it and had some other vets look at it and feel it as well. It was now time for the sedation to keep him calm and still. Then he took ultrasound imaging of both hind legs starting with the left one explaining what we were looking at the entire process. The left hind tendons appeared normal. It was time for a little bit more sedation as he was very alert. When the right hind tendons were ultrasound there was a remarkable difference–what we saw was an old tear/lesion/injury or whatever it may have been at the time, with lots and lots of scar tissue-huge amounts. The Deep Digital Flexor Tendon (DDFT) was the one affected. I can only speculate that at the time he sustained this tear or injury, it was not treated and he then was retired from carriage work. So now he is left with a contracted tendon that is most probably painful as he steps that leg down and walks on his toes because the tendon just won't stretch enough to allow him to place it normally. We can only guess that what is going on there is causing his left hind leg to move in a stringhalt/hitchy like action.
While we were at the clinic, the vet wanted to take x-rays of his hocks, thinking that he had bad arthritis, but he was astounded to find none! He could not believe how clean they were.
There's really no treatment for him, all I can do is have my barefoot trimmer continue to work on his feet and have my Ttouch/Energy Worker do what she can for him. I will look into the possibility of using therapeutic boots on his hind feet.
Oh and guess what came in today's mail? The vet bill for the 3 times Dr. Wright was here–ugh–can't wait to receive the one for today!
Do I have any regrets about adopting such a special needs older horse? Absolutely None! He has a forever home here no matter what his issues are.
Mary and Francis after they got home. Francis was looking for a good spot to roll and he found one!