Thursday, May 12, 2011

Plan for Pie

It's been a busy morning - I took the truck and trailer in for inspection and lucked out - when I got there there was one dump truck ahead of me but when I was done there was a long line of trucks and taxis behind me waiting for their inspections.  Our state has a twice-yearly inspection requirement for trucks and trailers as big as mine - I have a Ford F-350 (with crew cab, dualies and a long bed) and a 4-horse Featherlite gooseneck.  And then I stopped by the tack store to pick up two new 24" dressage girths - I've been using a 28" which is too big for Drift and Dawn and a hair long even for Pie - I got the machine washable fake fleece ones which aren't too expensive.  And I got a dressage Mattes correction half pad - it's very good for adjusting the saddle fit for my three different horses - there are front and back shim pockets and you can use from zero to three shims front or back.

Pie's off the grass for now, due to his foot soreness and resulting muscle issues.  If you didn't know him, you might not notice anything, but he's short-striding, protecting his front feet when turned in a small circle, and not weighting his feet evenly - all signs of low-grade inflammation.  In looking back, I think this started several weeks ago when we had a series of very cold nights - sometimes below freezing - followed by warm, sunny days.  These conditions, coupled with our ample rain, resulted in grass which was too high in fructans for his system to tolerate well (visit for more information on this topic, but he didn't go into full-blown laminitis (thank heavens), he was just somewhat sore.  His feet haven't been as cool as I'd like either, and he's been showing some aggravation - ear-pinning and general crabbiness as well as moving around when I was saddling.

Our vet/chiropractor's assessment is that he has been tensing his body to protect his feet, and that this led to the excessive sweating episode - his muscles were already hot and tired from working so hard to hold himself in an unnatural posture, and the combination of the high heat and some fairly mild exercise was too much and he overheated.  It's not likely that he has tying up in the classic sense - it didn't come on after a layoff and his muscles weren't that sore - and if we can fix the foot issue it's unlikely to reoccur.  In hindsight, we had one very warm day earlier this spring, and he had no problem at all then.  He's also seemed tight and sore to me during grooming for a while.

This morning he was still sore and tense in his body - his muscles all looked too sharply defined, his back was tight and you could see the line of his abdominal muscles.  I did some massage, which he seemed to appreciate. He wasn't walking lame, either on concrete or gravel, but he was short-striding.  He's eating well and seems bright-eyed, which is good.  His feet were still too warm - I'm not good at feeling digital pulses (but I should learn).  He's nowhere near as bad off as Maisie was for two springs before we moved her to Tennessee - she's doing well there on their less-rich grasses.

He got 2 grams of bute this morning - according to Dr. Alice bute is better metabolically for this kind of thing than Banamine - and will have another gram tomorrow.  He's staying in his stall during the day under the fan, and will go outside at night in a dry lot paddock, with hay, and with Drift across the way for company.  The Drift paddock was unfortunately seeded with grass last year - it used to be a dry lot - and needs eating down before can go in there with Drift, although that's the ultimate plan.  For now, I may "borrow" Scout, who is Pie's best friend, to spend some time in the paddock with him.

Pie is already starting on a chromium supplement, which may help, and when she comes to check on him on Monday, Dr. Alice will draw blood so we can check his cortisol and thyroid levels - the cortisol may indicate if he is insulin resistant, and some horses with low thyroid can react to grass.  It's quite possible that it's not a question of his adjusting to living in a warmer climate with richer grass, it's more that his system, with whatever underlying metabolic profile he has, was just never challenged by his prior living conditions.  Depending on what is going on, he may be able to go back on grass again, at least when the richness passes, with appropriate supplements, or in the worst case he might have to wear a grazing muzzle (I worry about one getting removed during "face play" although I want him to be able to socialize) or be on dry lot.

It's still an open question whether he'll be able to go to the clinic next week - I'm leaving on Friday.  If his muscle tension and foot soreness abate, he should be good to go, if not, then we're on to Plan B and I'll take Dawn as my second horse - there's certainly plenty we could work on.


  1. Always a bit of a worry when the grass is rich that some horses will not be able to tolerate it. I don't have enough grass here to be an issue. There's enough to nibble so they stay out of trouble, but not enough to founder them.

    Hopefully, Pie will be better quickly. The medical tests are a good idea at this point, particularly after that sweating episode. Hope he makes it to the clinic, but, as you note, you are not "horse poor" for a replacement.

  2. Poor Pie :( I wish you the best getting the situation resolved. Pie's lucky to have you!

  3. Poor Pie, hope he feels better soon and can go to the clinic. I'm working through the same thing with Dusty now.

  4. I hope Pie is able to make it to the clinic, but if not I think it is wonderful that you feel comfortable taking Dawn in his place.

    The blogger thing was annoying to say the least. I had the pleasure (not) of re-writing a depressing post. Thanks blogger/google.


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