Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Anxious Horse or Anxious Horse Mom?

I've been analyzing Suzie more closely since her gastric upset issue back in January and the facts can no longer be ignored. While she doesn't smell or seem like she has bleeding ulcers in her guts, she is showing some of the tell-tale signs that she is in discomfort and it truly bothers me. I want her to live a happy, healthy life and some things are just not adding up to my liking. The lack of Veterinarians in the area makes me feel like a failure, and at a loss.

An awful (she just started to walk away
from one annoying mini), but recent photo showing her barrel.
 The CONS:
  • Her hindgut seems "tucked" up (although in all the photos I look back on, I can't even see it!)
  • Coat isn't as shiny as it could be (although keep in mind she was not blanketed 24/7 and is very dirty).
  • Didn't put on much weight over the Winter - she only really maintained and I had to supplement several times with beet pulp.
  • When she gets anxious or upset (ie. at a show, when Spud leaves, trailering, etc) , her manure instantly turns soft. Not diarrhea, but certainly less "formed" (the longer she is anxious/upset, the worse her manure gets).
  • Losing shoes. It could very well be a farrier issue, but I've read articles that pin-point ulcers in direct relation with shitty feet. Interesting.

  • 24/7 outdoor board. She has never been stalled while owned by me.
  • 4-5 flakes Grass hay with some (not much) alfalfa
  •  Salt lick, fresh water and is given Dr Reeds minerals (truthfully, I haven't fed it much this Winter...), and Previcox when she is sore.
  • Not girthy/cinchy
  • Does not smell sour like she did back in January

I am at a loss here, because Equine Vets are NOT prominent here. A mobile Vet from 8hrs away comes up twice a year to assist with routine procedures, but other than that we have nothing. No tack store either. So it's largely up to me to try and help my mare while we wait for the Mobile Vet to come up at the end of April for the horse's routine Spring appointment.

And the more I watch her, the more I freak out and panic that I need to do something yesterday. Compile that with researching online and tracking down distributors of gastro supplements and feeling at a loss because the company doesn't ship to Canada, the tub becomes exponentially expensive due to freight costs, or I cannot find it on the website.

May 2014: This photo shows it off better. This was back when we first moved her to the new barn.
You can see the "shadowing" across the lower right portion of her gut which seems
"tucked" up. Or am I just imagining things?
Because not even a few weeks later, she looked like this.
 I put in calls all afternoon all over the place:

  •  to a pet store that sometimes carries horse stuff and the woman had no idea how to even spell Farrier, much less what I was talking about (she kept asking if the Farrier Formula was drugs ??)
  • a "Feed Store" that is very, very small (and normally only carries alfalfa cubes, COB, etc) and although the older fellow who answered the phone meant well, he wasn't able to provide me with any helpful information. He kept referring to Farrier Formula as Farriers Friend, which is a very different product.
  • the small animal Vet Clinic in town - they do not even have distributors for it.
  • the small animal Vet Clinic the next town over that USED to treat horses. Nope, they don't carry anything or bring anything in anymore
By this point I was frustrated and borderline popping a blood vessel. But I remained calm and remembered a decent Tack Shop about 3 hours away (same town where the BVX was held) and gave them a ring, not expecting much.

I was blown away by the customer service and how truly helpful the woman was. She knew her stuff about ulcers and although they did not carry the ulcer product I was looking for, she gave me information on what she does carry. And the product sounds awesome! It treats hindgut ulcers and it is proven, effective, and has a maintenance plan as well. We talked about the plan of treatment and in addition, the price point could not have been better. And the best part is that they will ship the items to me on the Greyhound bus, which means it'll arrive within TWO DAYS! That's HUGE. And shipping would only cost $30 or so, depending.

Back when I first brought her home, March 24th 2013

I am majorly impressed, slightly less agitated (and nervous) and ready to start helping Suzie out. I may be over-reacting, but I honestly feel like a shitty horse owner because I don't supplement and I don't feed "extra". But there is no time like the present to get ahead and I feel like I finally have a good game plan going forward. I'll have to research the one ulcer brand a bit and call the lady back tomorrow with what I have decided.


  1. You're not a bad horse mom! Some horses don't need extras so don't make that be the only reason you treat. Glad the tack shop was able to help you.

    1. Thank you very much for your kind words. It is so appreciated.

  2. You are being a very good horse momma! I just got some omeprazole tubes from a Canadian website for Bacon, as I suspect she may have some ulcers going on as well. After some research on omeprazole dosing (1mg/kg had the same effect as 4mg/kg) and at $6.99 a tube, I found that really hard to beat. That's four doses a tube and made treating the ulcers much more attainable. In case you were curious:

    1. I actually had Suzie on those "blue pop rocks" when I first bought her but I didn't really see any improvement in her nor did I see any disadvantages when I took her off of them.

      Thank you for the info, I'll check it out!!

  3. You're a good horse owner. Sometimes things can gradually sneak up on you when you see your horse pretty much every day. I am glad that you were able to find a solution and hope that it works well.

  4. It's better to be cautious than clueless. I've learned that you always need to follow your guy on things because you know your horse best. What about calling the mobile vet and discussing your concerns? They may even be willing to send you medication. Many options for treating regular ulcers or hind gut ulcers out there that are proven to work and can be prescribed by a vet. I would think the mobile vet would be very understanding due to your distance. Good luck!

    1. I actually did end up calling them and unfortunately, they said without a scope it is hard to actually say for sure if she has ulcers. The mobile vet doesn't normally bring that kind of equipment up here, but I will ask. She mentioned using some Chinese Medicene to see if Suzie displays the "ulcer response".

  5. ^ agreed with all of these! :) I'd also try to find a vet to call and discuss these things with. :) You're not a bad horse mom, not at all. Things sneak up on us!

  6. i know exactly how you're feeling - when my trainer suggested Izzy might have ulcers i pretty much felt wretched (how had i missed all the signs?!?)...

    very glad to hear you found someone who could help and have a good plan - i've got my fingers crossed that it all works out :)

    1. The lady at the tack shop was super knowledgeable, which gives me hope!