Monday, September 5, 2011

Clean Plate Club

This morning it was cool - about 50F - and windy.  When I brought Pie in from his paddock - I got a big whinny in greeting - he was shaking and snaking his head and popping his front end up a bit (although very nicely staying behind me and completely out of my space) due to feeling frisky.  I was delighted to find that Dawn was somewhat more bright-eyed and had licked her feed pan clean last night - when our p.m. barn lady left last night Dawn still was refusing to eat dinner.  No diarrhea and no swelling at any of the injection sites - so far so good.  This morning she ate her breakfast with relish, which is normal for her, and when I had Drift in the aisle in front of her stall to spray him with fly spray, she squealed loudly and double-barreled her stall wall - Dawn's back! (and I think she's coming into heat as well).  After I gave her her bute and probios, and slathered on the DMSO/furacin, she walked out to turnout with more energy, although she's still obviously protecting her uncomfortable neck.  When I let her go, she galloped off (first day she's done this since she's been sick) and I saw a lovely lead change.  It's clear the antibiotic has started doing some good and I hope we're turning the corner on the cellulitis.

One of the things I like about being involved in the care of my horses is that in the mornings I'm usually the one who feeds them and turns them out, which means I can observe their demeanor in the stall, the condition of any manure in the stall and whether they've been drinking from their water buckets and have urinated, behavior while eating and also notice if they aren't eating normally.  Changes in demeanor or eating behavior, or behavior when being turned out, can often be a sign that something's not quite right.  We also have an excellent p.m. barn lady, who brings the horses in and feeds them 6 days a week (we rotate the 7th day) - she's really good at noticing the subtle behavioral changes that can indicate a problem.  I call this "eyes on the horse" - having someone who knows the horse personally and knows the subtleties of their normal behavior and is around and clued in enough to notice any changes.  I've had mixed, and often not good, experiences with this at boarding barns, although there are good boarding barns where people pay close attention to the horses.

A horse not eating, or behaving abnormally while eating, is to me a big red flag, even if the horse shows no other obvious signs of illness.  Unless the horse is unusually stressed or distracted by something going on in the barn or a new supplement has been added that the horse is unsure about, not eating means something.  It can be a sign of anything from infection, pain - either from an injury or mouth pain or pain while swallowing, colic, or a serious systemic problem like kidney or liver issues.  It means that all isn't right in the horse's world.  A horse that has ulcers will often eat hay but be unwilling to eat grain, or will display signs of aggression or pain when fed.

I'm hoping to get some rides in today - yesterday I had planned to ride, but Dawn and I had our vet visit and then one of our kitties - his name is Fat Cat and he's a very sweet grey tabby - somehow managed to injure one of his rear paws.  He came limping out in the afternoon, and it looked very much as if he had broken something - he wouldn't put any weight on the leg and the paw looked odd.  So off to the emergency vet he went.  He had broken several bones in his foot, and is now splinted and wrapped and seems much more comfortable.  We have no idea how he managed to do this and didn't hear or see it happen - he's an indoor kitty  and all we can figure is he fell off something or got it caught on something.  So it was a day with vets, instead of riding, but that comes with having animals.


  1. I feel sorry for your gray kitty - that must have really hurt. Glad you were able to see the vet and that she seems more comfortable.
    Hooray for feisty Dawn!
    I kept a horse at a friend's stable. She had 'the eye'. Both she and her husband were great at spotting slight changes in demeanor and on several occasions caught things before they became a major issue. I treasured her. It was wonderful to know that if I wasn't there, she was keeping an eye on my horse, and often saw things before I did.

  2. Not eating is often a symptom of an underlying disorder but not always. Knowing the horse's normal behaviours well enough to know whether worry is warranted or not is the key. We've got a couple around here that sometimes, for no reason apparant to me, don't eat very well. It sure freaked us out the first time, that's for sure.

    When someone who normally eats doesn't eat at all, this always raises a major red flag. Sometimes it's colic and sometimes it's something else, but it always gets a vet call around here.

    When someone stops eating abruptly midway through it raises a red flag for choke.

    Thought your readers might find this interesting and useful.

  3. I'm with you 100%. I love having the horses with us and doing all the care because we know their rhythms and if something is slightly off, we notice right away.

  4. Jason - thanks for adding your good points. In fact choke can occur in a horse that's too eager an eater, and bolts its food.

  5. I'm glad to hear the Dawn is on her way to being herself and feeling much better.

    I agree that it's very important to monitor the horses in the morning and evening. It's a good way to observe if there's anything wrong or needing attention. After feeding at night we then go back and do a night check before tucking them into bed.

  6. I'm so glad Dawn is feeling better! It's always a good sign when they start eating again, or in Dawn's case, double barrel the stall... silly Dawn! LOL

  7. I am glad your cat is on the mend! As well as Dawn! Double-barreling the stall wall! That must have been very loud...and maybe for her satisfying to make such a ruckus! What a personality she has!

  8. Good for Dawn. I am glad to hear a good report.

    One of my cats broke some toe bones when he caught his claw in something as he was either jumping or falling.
    Fortunately cats seem to heal pretty quickly, so I hope your little one will be fine soon.

  9. Great news about Dawn, it is always a load off when they start to feel and act normal again. A lot of people tell me I am too soft with my horses but if something is even slightly off I monitor them closely. I have caught a lot of things early so they have prgressed to serious injuries or illnesses.
    FAT CAT!I wonder what he did?! I hope his little paw feels better soon

  10. What a relief that Dawn is feeling better!

  11. Poor kitty. I hope he heals up soon.

    It really can be tough at boarding barns. Sometimes the help is great, sometimes they are just going through the motions for a paycheck.

    So glad to hear the meds are finally kicking in for Dawn.


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