Monday, November 16, 2009

CRM Xpression

I got a call from a friend the other day about a horse who had just been returned to her. She'd free leased her older gelding to a friend. My friend was so upset over the condition of her gelding. She told me he was morbidly obese & having trouble walking on his sore feet. I could hear the pain, anger & fright in her voice. She was afraid he was foundering & that she'd have to euthanize him.

When I started this blog to follow my own story of dealing with foundered & obese horses, I had hopes that my horses would help someone else going through the same painful journey. I did hours of research on founder, laminitis, IR & cushings. I was fortunate to have someone as mentor & to hold my hand as I went through the ups & downs of saving a horse I thought was unsavable. It was now my turn to "pay it forward".
As I was speaking with my friend, she sent me this photo. No it's not a pregnant mare, it's her gelding. It's obvious that he wants to rock onto his backfeet to relieve his sore fronts. She told me he kept pawing the air with one front foot, not wanting to stand on it. I couldn't see his expression in this photo, but she said his eyes were dull & wrinkled in worry & pain. Such a shame because this used to be a vibrant, bright horse who carried more than one person down the endurance trail.
I was so glad I could tell my friend that her horse was very savable. I told her to look at my blog & read about Maark & Lady. We knew her gelding had been on irrigated pasture & I explained that he could not be allowed any more grass. He needed to be on dry lot pasture. I told her how I spread hay out all over the pasture to keep my horses not only moving, but to prevent them from gorging their meal. Boy did I feel smart explaining about sugar & starch content in hay, & that she needed to find hay low in both. I told her how I rinse the beet pulp until the water runs clear to insure it's as low in sugar as possible. But I think the most important thing I learned on my journey was that these obese horses can NOT be put on a shorter ration diet. I've learned that like people with rapid weight loss, there can be internal organ damage associated with rapid weight loss in horses as well. My friend said she was so glad she'd called because she'd barely fed her gelding that morning. She was going to go feed him a normal ration of hay, spread around his pasture, as soon as we got off the phone. I asked if she'd gotten his weight & it was estimated (taped) at just over 1100lbs. This for a horse who's normal weight was barely over 900lbs.
A few days later my friend called to say her gelding was moving better & his eyes were brightening. We talked some more about what had happened to him & how to prevent it from happening again. Fortunately my friend knows the importance of good hoof care & she's already addressed what she feels was a very bad trim. I was glad to hear he was doing better & offered to loan her some Easyboots with pads if she thought her horse needed them. She said he was walking really well in his sand paddock. It will be a long, slow process, but my friend & her gelding will be just fine.
I can't stress enough that allowing your horse to get morbidly obese is life threatening. If you have an easy keeper, please monitor the weight & health so you don't have to go through the pain of trying to save your horse. Founder is extremely painful & no horse should have to go through the agony. With good management, you can prevent founder.

The Biggest Loser

Maark is doing & looking good. He's starting to get some muscle tone & he's enjoying running & playing. It's amazing to see him run & then check his pulse & respiration. When he arrived he was puffing just walking across the pasture. Today he can run with the rest of the herd with his pulse & respiration recoveries are almost as fast as my endurance mare. He's doing so fabulously well that I find it hard to remember that day in Sept when he stepped off the trailer. I've almost forgotten how I tossed handfuls of hay around an entire acre to keep him & Lady not only moving, but to keep them from gorging while trying to feed them appropriately. Maark's no longer that obese horse heading for a metabolic crash. He's gone from 1467 lbs to 1170 lbs. It's been tough feeding the calories he needs without contributing to his obesity. But I have succeeded. He's becoming the dynamic horse he was meant to be & one day soon he'll become an athlete. It's been suggested that I open a Biggest Loser Ranch for horses. I might just do that.