Buzz off, flies!

So Rosie has been getting her and flax seed oil regularly for a little while now, and happily there has been an improvement in the condition of her skin and coat. I fear, however, that the oil might be the reason that her hair has decided to grow like crazy. I’m thinking she will have to have yet another clip before I cover her up for the winter as right now she is far too fuzzy for her between seasons rug.

The problem that is (literally) bugging us now is the damned flies! Not mozzies, or midges, but regular house flies (I don’t know what you call them when they live outside). They swarm on her so badly that I can’t leave her uncovered, which on a beautiful sunny day like today is a tragedy. They pester her paddock mate Frankie too, but nowhere near as badly as they do for her. Mostly they go for her legs where they pile one on the other. And yes, they are the biting kind, so her poor legs are constantly crusty with dried blood which I’m sure only attracts more, but the biting is so constant that cleaning it off all the time only encourages it to bleed freshly! I am at my wits end trying to get rid of them because fly spray doesn’t deter them whatsoever.
ACV is supposed to work from the inside, as is garlic, as one supposedly makes their blood acidic and the other  makes it taste awful. Yet they seem to love Rosie’s blood anyway =(

Any suggestions? What do you use to keep away those nasty flies?

 

- C.

Rosie update: In which I apologise for being a slacker

So I haven’t written anything on here in a coon’s age. This is mainly inexcusable, but my excuses involve work, uni, a broken collarbone, moving house, and being a lazy good-for-nothing slacker. The latter being the true reason behind my inactivity.
Anyway, many things have happened in my absence. Rose was coming along well. We went to the Hellensville PC Novice Ribbon Day (in the Geriatrics ring… Oh Lord…) and gathered in a pretty good haul of ribbons. Rosie did her best but it was all a little much. She was totally knackered by the end.
I have now moved out to my own place+land and so have her at my own home, which is totally ideal. I can now give her her medicine day and night, as opposed once a day whenever possible and I think this is indeed improving her condition. She definitely put all her weight back on and -was- looking good.
Unfortunately,  I had to go and crash my scooter into the back of a car and snap my collarbone, requiring surgery and an admonishment from the surgeon to refrain from raising my elbow any higher than my waist. As you can probably imagine this makes it rather hard to care for a horse. Rosie was fed and watered by my amazing flatmate while I was in hospital, and during the first little while after I got out. The weekend following my release she was clipped (AGAIN) and the next day my mom came out and gave her a much needed bath. However after that point, being unable to remove or replace her cover and being unable to leave her UNcovered (due to the fact that the flies around here tend to swarm upon her and drive her insane) she proceeded to live in her cover for almost 2 weeks, sweating a lot as a Cushings horse will.
This meant that when I was feeling up to it and ventured to take her cover off for the first time in a little while, I was in for a nasty surprise. Rosie now has what I originally guessed and have now confirmed (via internet research :P) to be what is basically the horsey version of dandruff.  Cushings horses are prone to skin conditions due to their hair growing so long, and them sweating so much – the combination of moisture and hair is not so good. Adding this to her mud fever which in those intervening weeks got well out of hand, I was feeling rather shocked and at a complete and total loss.
I now have the situation in hand. Now that I am able, I can groom her daily. I have also gone and bought a flea comb for my cat and have been using it on her to scrap away the icky scabby stuff that is literally all over her. It is working like a dream and is actually really really good for getting the mud fever scabs off as well. Way better than fingernails! Next step, once I’ve de-scabbed her whole body is a wash with pinetarsol dandruff shampoo, and hopefully we’ll be home free!

In addition to this somewhat annoying and distressing step backward, I have attempted to take a few forward. Rose is now on 2 additional supplements which I have been trying out. Apple cider vinegar has long been claimed to be great for Cushings, I’m not 100% sure why but I think it has something to do with metabolism and immune support. I don’t know if I fully believe it, but i’ve put her on it anyway. Falloons in Dairy Flat sells jugs of apple cider vinegar mixed with manuka honey and garlic. I figured if nothing else, the garlic and manuka honey are well known to be immuno-supportive which is definitely something that she needs. I also -just- bought a massive jug of flax seed oil (which is actually linseed oil, not flax like native NZ flax…). I mainly purchased this at the urging of my mom because of its claims at supporting healthy skin, hair, and hoof growth (Rose has recently been prone to sand cracks). However it is also supposed to support the immune system and help with joint stress worries by helping with inflammation. As well as this it supposedly calms nervous animals and does various other things which lead me to believe it may have an effect on the stress response. If this is so, it could be very good for a Cushings horse!
I suppose the results will speak for themselves in a short while, but to cut a long story short – though Rose continues to be difficult and crop up with more and more annoying issues, so far I have been able to deal with them rather easily. This lets me live in hope that I can continue to manage her condition.
She is unfortunately showing the degradation in the topline said to be common to Cushings horses and so I am going to be working her a lot on the lunge (once I have healed, myself) to try and build some of that muscle back up before I get on her again.

Has anyone ever used flax seed oil, or apple cider vinegar as supplements? And did you notice any change? Also, if anyone has any tips on rebuilding a topline from the ground up, so to speak, I would be eager to hear them!

- C.

Ollie’s all better!

It took only six weeks. That surprised me!! But here she is, a picture of health and with an attitude of “hell yeah, I can do everything!”. Finally – it’s not just about fat any more! It’s time to think about muscle! It’s going to take a bit of a mind set shift, as I still see her as the starving pony in the paddock!

Six weeks, and the fat is all there!

Ollie Posing for the camera.

Ollie happy, finally!

What now? Now it’s time to replenish some energy from restoring her health, and once I’ve done that, well… who knows? I have every plan to make sure no more horses have to suffer…

-O

Ollie Update and My Soapbox Outburst!

This has taken a while to write because I want to talk about two things. First off, I want to share Ollies improvements and bask in that glory. Secondly, I want to use this glory as a soapbox to talk about my thoughts of “rescues” and “rescuing”. So please bare with me!

Ollie One Month on

Ollie one month on (please excuse how filthy she is, she was covered in oil to grow her hair back on got carried away rolling in the dust!)

Ollie has come leaps and bounds and is doing remarkably well. It’s astounding what a difference TLC makes in a horses life. Even more amazing the difference feeding a horse makes, and how some people fail to know that.  Especially a place claiming to be a rescue. But anyway, enough about that later.

Ollie has gained a substantial amount of weight and hair. Her ribs only just show, her flank has filled in and so has her rump. The biggest improvement has being along her spine, this filling in beautifully and making it much less predominant. Her neck is also improving almost daily. I have moved her into a paddock with a hill to help her begin muscling up as well.

Her behaviour has also become more horse like, and even cheeky. She has begun jumping the electric tape if she thinks there’s more or better grass on the other side! That, or going under it. She does respect it when I have it at its strongest and tightest, and I’ve had to refine my electric fence building skills.

Overall, she’s very sweet and eating lots of food!

We’ve cleaned the worms out of her now, and the next step is to get her teeth all tidied up. This will happen in the next month. Her feet were in good condition when she arrived, and will be getting trimmed again today. It is actually quite remarkable her feet are so strong considering the mud she came out of. I guess that’s the difference between her and a Thoroughbred!

I am thrilled with her progress, and see her ending up under saddle before I dreamed possible, maybe even before the end of the season.

-Gets out soup box. Politely turns it upside down-

Now for the result of all my horrible experiences over the last month – my conclusion on getting it ‘right’.

I can only say that “rescue” shouldn’t be one persons job. There shouldn’t be “Rescue” centres, the SPCA shouldn’t take “rescue” horses in long term. Instead, a database (which is heavily vetted) should exist so the rescue can be matched to the correct helper. No one should obtain more then 2 (3 for special reasons) rescue horses at one time.

Why?

Simple. Money.

The financial burden, as I have learned with Ollie, is too much. Ollie eats almost two bags of chaff a week, one of lucerne chaff and one of chaffage. Her sacks of nutri-rice hardly last a fortnight, normally a week and a half. This is EXPENSIVE. You cannot expect someone, like the place she came from with 20+ horses, to be able to afford this large scale. Even with donations and sponsorship, it is JUST NOT AFFORDABLE. Anyone who thinks so is delusional.

I’m not going to put my hand up and say yes, I’ll start the database. Screw that, I’m not the SPCA who is meant to be doing something about this sort of thing. No – but when Ollie is healthy I may consider saying, yes, you can put me on the database.

The problem is that people will not volunteer to go onto the database without a substantial support system. Which is where the problem lies, obviously. The logistics of that is perhaps beyond my organisational skills, and I’m happy to admit that, but surely there is someone out there with an awesome idea of how to make this all work?

And no, I don’t mean you [the person who I got Ollie off]. You can’t even handle keeping weight on a Warmblood mare. How do you think you can organise people to rescue horses?

Oh look what standing on the soapbox made me do… opps.

-Gets off soapbox, puts back in stable, and wonders off to feed Ollie-

Cushings and the Crappy Immune System

An ongoing and highly annoying issue for both Rose and myself (obviously Rose is more annoyed about it than I am, since she actually has to live with it and my pestering on top) is the effect that Cushings Disease has upon the immune system. One of the leading signs that something was wrong with Rose back before she was diagnosed was the fact that she had a crappy eye infection. It was one of those things that doesn’t really seem too bad but it also never clears up. It was gross and frustrating, but I was (am) poor and it really just seemed like one of those things that would go away on its own. Unfortunately, it wasn’t, and when it became coupled with a disturbing swelling beneath the curve of her jaw, it was vet time. Flushed tear ducts, confusing statements from an ineffective vet, and a tonne of antibiotics later, nothing much had changed. We discovered that the swelling had nothing to do with it whatsoever and was likely due to a mouth ulcer, and just disappeared. Rosie’s eyes, however, continued to be skungy and gross.

Now that I know a whole bunch about Cushings, I know that it compromises the immune system, and I now know why Rose’s eyes have never cleared up – to this day. Everytime I go out, I wipe them off with a damp towel-end while she tries to life her face slightly higher than I can reach and generally throws her head around like a battering ram (I imagine by now her ‘tear tracks’ are rather tender, but really. Leaving it all on there is only going to make it worse, you foolish creature), but it makes no difference at all.

To try and counteract this failing of immunity, I feed her a massive scoop of garlic powder with every feed. She also gets apple cider vinegar, which some say supports immunity. I’m not so sold on this property of it – I feed it for it’s effects upon metabolism and digestion – but I am considering changing to the apple cider vinegar/garlic juice/manuka honey mix once I run out. This because of the amazing immuno-support that manuka honey has, and because I assume that garlic juice will be slightly more potent than powder. I presume that the chaste tree berry extract that I feed her also helps as the immunity problems are due to the general hormone trainwreck caused by Cushings.

What I would like to know is: What do you feed your horses when they’re feeling under the weather? Be it a long term supplement or a big blast of healthiness to knock an infection off its feet before it gets started, I’m very curious to learn new ways (cheap ways??) to fix this irritating problem.

– C.

The Woes of a Wannabe Dressage Snob

Monty Dreams

Dreams are Free Monty

Last night I swear to god Monty looked at me while I tacked him up, he sighed and he said:

“Mummy, can I please get those cool white boots? You know, the ones the grown-up dressage horses wear? And those cool swishy saddle blankets? I wanna be cool like the grown-up dressage horses.

It hit a cord. I knew how he felt. I want to be cool like the grown up dressage riders too! I even went and rescued a Warmblood mare to say I had one in my stable. Yes, I’m a dressage snob. I have a Warmblood Mare at home. I drop that in, a long with a list of names, and the fact I work for a well-known brand, every time I can. It makes me feel like I fit in.

But truth is, I don’t. I have a single horse float, not a big flash truck. I have a collection of white saddle blankets which I’ve not updated in 4 years, and I have gaiters and jod boots instead of long boots because I simply cannot afford to get long boots fitted. Things like new bridles, saddle blankets and boots are a luxury I normally cannot afford. So unless it’s a necessity, or at a price I simply cannot walk away from, the chances are I won’t be able to get all the flash “in” gears.

I think this is more prevalent then people realise. The public perception is that all horse riders must be loaded to afford what we afford. Us horse riders know this isn’t true, but even within our own close knit community we have a social ladder which is there but never spoken about. As the child of a non-horsey family with little money to spare on flash horses and the things that go with them, the “classes” of the horse society has always slapped me in the face. Yet it’s such a “taboo” subject.

Having said all this, I don’t feel that disadvantaged normally. Most of the time I feel pretty justified in knowing everything I have I worked for, and that my hard earned dollars go into something I love. Normally, I feel pretty smug in the knowledge I can buy myself a cheap horse and produce it to something of a presentable standard. Sure – there’s tears, tantrums and (if you’re unlucky) concussions along the way. But normally I feel all this makes me a better person.

Normally.

But when Monty looked at me and sighed, I felt I wasn’t good enough for him. Me? Not good enough for Monty? He’s an ex-racehorse with the world’s ugliest front legs, and feet so bad most farriers try and charge me extra to shoe him. How can I not be good enough for him?

So I can’t help thinking – wouldn’t it be lovely if people paid for kindness in flash horse gear. Think about it – it would be a form of Karma payment. So instead of people saying “oh my, you’re doing so well looking after that horse” or, “kudos for training your young horse so kindly, he’ll grow up so well” they just give you something nice, new, and white. How much better I would feel seeing actions behind the words!

I think then, I wouldn’t be the “inadequate” one out of me and Monty. In fact then I would be able to look at him, sigh and say, “Okay, buddy, I want to be a grown-up dressage rider today. Can we please bring home the ten out of tens finally? Now you look like a cool, grown-up dressage horse, it’s time to pull through and make me look like a cool, grown-up dressage rider. Alright love?”

Chances are, knowing him, he’d spook at something and break the nice, new lead rope attached to his nice, new halter.

But dreams are free, right?

-O

A note on Rose’s ‘Cushings’ diet…

 

Rose scoffing feed post clip and bath.

 

The property where I graze Rose has four large paddocks, one small paddock, and access to a middle-sized portion of the neighbours’ land fenced off by their drive. They have one other mare about Rose’s size (Rose is just over 15.3hh), two cows, and a small flock of sheep. Before Rose came along a number of months ago, her new paddock mate had grazed with a small pony. They cut their own hay, and had sold of quite a bit of it, as I understand, as the two horses and two cows didn’t eat too much. Rose, however, eats a lot of hay! When living on my parent’s property, which is just over 5 acres including the house, drive, 2 garages, lawn and garden, 4-stall stable and yards, large sand arena (20×60? I think?), bedding pit, and about 2.5 acres of native bush, horses are stabled by night and turned out by day as there just isn’t enough grass for three (Rose’s eldest two children Delphi and Comet live at home). So they are fed a lot of hay! So much, in fact, that the contractor we often buy it from has expressed his doubt that we can use that much, and worrys that we are reselling it!
Anyway, over the winter, the grass got pretty low (I don’t think they’d fully anticipated how much 2 full-sized horses eat, compared with a horse and pony, especially when one of the horses is quite the piglet!) and they ran out of hay. I tried to get out there are often as possible to hard feed Rose, but in the terrible winter weather, having only a scooter to ride on, it wasn’t quite as often as it ideally would have been. As a result, Rose started to lose weight and got a bit ribby and a bit bony. My family firmly believes in keeping horses nice and plump and round (we don’t like to be able to feel ribs without having to push all the fat aside :P) and Rose, when in prime condition, is typically very ‘solid’ as judges have sometimes put it (I usually just say she’s fat…). At the time I was feeding her Mitavite Gumnuts and lucerne chaff, with some soaked copra meal along with her supplements (tonnes of garlic powder the boost her immune system, salt, vitamin powder, magnesium powder, chaste tree berry extract for her Cushings, apple cider vinegar which is supposed to be good for Cushings too though I’m not 100% on why, and selenium once a week).
Since she is barefoot, my mom and I moved her to the neighbours’ paddock which is too boggy for her paddock mate’s shod feet, and I started feeding her giant feeds as I could now leave it sitting in the paddock with her and she could take her sweet time chowing down.
Then, I took my parents to the airport and sent them on their way to Kentucky to see the World Equestrian Games, and then on to Canada to visit their families, and I had the use of the car. The first thing I did, after a bit of online research, was drive out to the feed store and have a good look around. In the end what I bought was:
–Fibre Fresh ‘Fibre Ezy’ which is a chaffage with alfalfa and rye and contains 1% or less sugar. Sugar content in feed is important for Cushings horses and so I wanted to keep it as low as possible. Also, the lusher grass in the new paddock hadn’t been agreeing with her entirely, if you know what I mean, so I wanted to get a whole bunch more fibre in there. Also again, alfalfa (and lucerne) are considered to be the grasses with the highest energy content which was in line with me wanting to fatten her up.
— More Mitavite ‘Gumnuts’ which are an extruded feed (good for old lady tummies that can’t digest grain) containing mainly barley (good for putting on weight) but with added protexin (probiotics which I have to add to Rose’s feed anyway before each worming to prevent her from colicking… She has a rather tender tummy).
— Nutririce ‘Veteran’ which is an extruded feed made from rice and rice bran. Rice, though not something I would have imagined that I would ever feed my horse, is supposed to be the easiest grain for them to digest and Nutririce is supposed to be very good for horses with stomach ulcers, or those prone to developing them. With Rose’s history of her mystery colic disease, the fact that Cushings makes horses far more prone to developing ulcers, and also that within the last 6-8 months or so she had had a mouth ulcer, I thought this would be a good way to go.
— Copra meal. Because it smells amazing, it’s full of oil to make her nice and fat, she loves the taste, and when I pour the soaked sloppy mess on top of everything else, it starts to soften all the extruded pellets while I add her supplements.
I had intended to buy corn oil also and add that to her feed with her supplements, but I couldn’t find any. And then, amazingly, this new diet worked SO WELL that I felt I didn’t need it anyway. However, now that her weight gain has slowed off a touch, I’m thinking I might get some in the next week or so, just to step it back up a bit.

How I mixed her feed was: a few big handfuls of her leftover lucerne chaff, twice that or a bit more of Fibre Ezy, a feed scoop each of Gumnuts and Nutririce, and a margarine container full of copra, soaked overnight. To that I added a heaped ‘scoop’ (probably about a tb or tb and 1/2) of garlic, a scoop of vitamins, half a scoop of magnesium, a tb of salt, about 60-80ml of apple cider vinegar (she hates the taste so I don’t use heaps), 20 ml of Bomac’s Cushy Life chaste tree berry extract (which smells BIZARRE and AMAZING), and then every Friday I add 2ml of selenium.

The results, I have to say, blew me away. Within 1-2 weeks she looked stunning! Though her topline and hindend still need a bit more padding, there are no ribs to be seen, her neck has filled out to the point of almost looking cresty, the hollows to either side of her withers, which have always been a pain to plump up, are looking plump! It makes me so happy to go out there now, especially now that I have given her a full-body clip and snuggled her into her brand new (super ugly) Snowbee ‘B-tween’ rug, and see her galavanting around like a foolish child, frolicking naked in the sun (when it’s sunny enough to leave her coverless), and scoffing down her feed with gusto! And looking soooo GOOD!

 

Even with her yucky Cushings coat, Rose now has dapples!

 

If anyone reading this has any suggestions on how you feed your own Cushing’s horse, or older horse, I would be so keen to hear them!

– C.

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