Wednesday, October 19, 2011

It's Still Lurking . . .

Whatever's the matter with Pie is still there, lurking under the surface.  This evening, he was in his stall eating hay - it's horribly cold, windy (wind chills in the 30sF) and rainy out, so he's inside for the night - when he stopped eating and started looking uncomfortable - ears pinned, kicking at his belly and threatening to lie down.  Same thing - a little too much hay too fast - and same result - abdominal discomfort.  When I got to the barn in response to a call by our p.m. barn lady, he was just about to lie down - I had him stay up, got his halter on and we marched up and down the barn aisle for a while.  His gums looked fine and he had pooped plenty.  He was pretty alert and responsive and we said hello to a number of the other horses who were in their stalls. I also tied him up and groomed him - he seems to appreciate having his back and hindquarters curried and rubbed when he's uncomfortable.  Then more walking.  He started showing interest in hay again, so I put him in his stall with no hay - he pooped and seemed to be more comfortable and was very alert and interactive -  and left him there for a while - turned off the lights and sat in the office.  He was completely alert and hungry when I came back to check on him a while later.  I gave him only a little bit more hay for the night.

I think being in the stall contributed to the problem - he seems to benefit from being able to move around in his paddock as it helps the gas move on through.  I didn't really think that whatever it is that's wrong had just gone away - it's clearly still there although I think we can manage it for now by being careful with how much hay we feed him how quickly, and making sure to arrange for him to keep moving as much as possible.  Just keeping my fingers crossed every day that he'll be OK . . .


  1. How worrying for you, but at least it seems to be something manageable and not escalating. My fingers are crossed too. Hope you solve the puzzle soon as to what's causing it.

  2. I'm sorry to hear this thing is still lurking... sounds like you're learning more and more every time he starts to show symptoms, though, so that's good. You're able to keep him comfortable and I'm sure he appreciates that. Hopefully he'll get a diagnosis soon.

  3. So frustrating! Poor Pie! and poor you. Alll this worry.

  4. Is it possible to have Pie out all the time? It sounds as if he would do better. Just curious.


  5. Dan - he is usually out all the time but the weather tonight is really dreadful. He was in all the time at the vet hospital and had no problems - they did hand walk him a number of times a day - but we think it's the combination of too much food and too little movement that seems to bring on the symptoms, although he's had episodes even when he's been outside.

  6. Kate, have you thought about trying a different kind of hay? I had a older gelding with digestive problems who absolutely could not tolerate timothy hay. (I'm not sure what you're feeding, I just I would mention.)

    It took us a lot longer than it should have to figure out that Red's problems got worse every time he had timothy. Even just a few mouthfuls would make him dreadfully uncomfortable--and it was beautiful hay that the other horses gobbled up without any problems. I know Pie was probably doing fine earlier on the same hay you're feeding now, but if he's developing some digestive issues relating to some internal issues that haven't been diagnosed yet, maybe another type of hay might be a little easier for him to digest...? It would be a tricky time to try switching around as far as feed goes given what's going on with him, but it might be something to ask the vet.

  7. I'm sorry to read you're still having problems. It's frustrating when they have obvious issues, but no obvious answer to help them. I hope you figure out the right combination for him.

  8. Lena's first bad colic was when she was stalled. I know you can't have him out much in your weather, but you did exactly the right thing by getting him moving.

    Have you looked at some acupressure? Lena seems to respond really well to it when she's having any issues.

    Good luck, and keep us posted! (I know you will.)

  9. Hi Kate!...Sorry to hear that Pie is still showing discomfort.

    I was over at one of the local yards to see a friend this morning. She has around 8 in livery. Anyway!
    The thing is, one of the horses has been having problems with what appeared to be a mild colic. I began to think of your situation.

    The vet had with him a gastric camera. It was in use when I arrived. I go to see the pictures (fantastic stuff) But, the camera showed up a small obstructive growth in the entrance to the horses stomach. She has taken a biopsy of it, and we await the outcome. But from the vets comments at the time she doesnt believe it to be anything naughty. And has recommended removal. So I was wondering, has Pie had a camera down? maybe worth a look?

  10. Kate...what about alfalfa or regular hay pellets. I had a pony who was on them and they worked very well. They were soaked and very easy to digest. Easier to go through the system. I sure hope this mystery is solved soon for sweet Pie.

  11. How about one of these while you experiment with hay and scopes?
    We have to keep ours out of the pasture when it's too wet. I'm looking for ways to keep them busy and thought I'd give one of these a try.

  12. Just came thru this with my horse, lots of gas in his belly and not eating. ER Vet:gums okay, but 102 temp, bamamine shot and another shot to get gastric something going, next day the regular vet came, 103 temp, another shot bamanine and the mineral oil tube thru the nose and began an antibiotic for the fever. He said to expect 'glistening' manure in 4 - 6 hrs., well only had a little bit of manure and not interested in hay, but finally thru the day after walks in the pasture and him beginning to eat grass, another manure! This morning 3 manures in his stall from 9PM last night.
    Also, a friend brought me some bran and we made a warm water slurry, added some pancake syrup (molasses even better or Karo syrup ok) and he did eat that.
    Hope this helps. Praying for you. Barb

  13. Just came thru same thing with my horse - stopped eating and shifting weight in back legs. ER Vet: 102 temp, bamamine shot and another shot for gastric something. This helped gas to begin releasing. Began eating a little hay, but not much. Gave him a little more hay at 3 PM. No manure in the morning. Walked in pasture every hour and he would eat grass, but not hay. No manure
    Next afternoon regular vet, 103, still lots of gas in belly, another bam shot, rectal exam showed some pain at turn of intestine (?) and started an antibiotic. Mineral oil tube thru nose. Vet said to expect 'glistening' manure in 4 - 6 hours, but he only did a little pile about 12 hours later. More walking, eating grass but not hay. Finally had a pretty normal manure yesterday about 4PM so I let him graze in pasture and he was eating normally and now this morning he's doing very well!
    Hope this helps. Prayers are being sent your way. Barb

  14. So upsetting when your horse has health issue with no explanation.

    Sounds as if figuring out a truly effective feeding regimen will help, and full turnout would be ideal. Any place where there is turnout with free choice shelter so he doesn't have to be stalled during the bad weather?

    Wishing you and your sweet boy well.

  15. How awful for you... oh, and for Pie, too! It reminds me of my son's colic when he was an infant.
    Would a slow hay feeder help? Or isn't there anything out there that would limit the amount of hay enough at any one time?

  16. So frustrating! I hope a solution to his discomfort presents itself soon!!

  17. Fetlock and Lori - it doesn't seem to be the type of hay but rather the amount. When Pie was at the vet clinic, they fed him small amounts of our hay frequently and he was just fine. He also doesn't have any digestion/absorbing nutrients problems - the manure is normal in amount and consistency.

    Dreaming and Unknown - we are using a Busy Horse now for him and that seems to help. It actually keeps me from over-feeding him - I tend to want to throw a hungry horse more hay - as the Busy Horse only holds a couple of flakes of hay at a time.

    Cheyenne - the vets at U Wisconsin thought it was a hindgut not foregut issue, based on the timing of the colics and the nature of his pain, so he wasn't scoped. Probably not ulcers nor a structural foregut issue - seems to be the internal lumps they found inside his abdominal cavity and outside his colon.

    Barb/QuiltWhinney - Maisie used to get impaction colics that sound much like what you've been through - glad things are getting better - that must have been pretty scary. If you're in a cold climate, you might consider (if you're not already doing so) heated water buckets and tanks and adding plain (uniodized) table salt to feed to encourage drinking. Maisie's impactions were almost always due to poor drinking in the winter.

  18. I know how distressing this can be Kate, I really hope you can get to the bottom of it and find a regime that works.

  19. Poor Pie. Poor worried you. I hope he can move past these issues somehow.

    Perhaps you could get him a small mesh slow feeder so he could still eat hay all day, but in small amounts, just like horses do that graze all day.

    You might remember my post I did on our small mesh slow feeders a few years ago:

    I use them for Apache, too, even though she is a very slow eater. In the winter time using the slow feeders helps keep her warmer and in the summer, they help her occupied.


  20. awww... poor guy and you too. It must be so frustrating. I hope you find out what's bothering him soon.

  21. Poor Pie. I am thinking good thoughts for you two. This is frustrating and scary.

    I can't remember, did you talk to Pie's old cowboy man about all this? I wonder if Pie had pain at his farm? Did the adrenaline of the unfamiliar hospital help things move faster and not block up?

  22. I was going to suggest a small hole haynet but it looks like you are already doing that, so frustrating for you. But, as someone else said, at least it does not appear to be escalating. I wonder if soaked hay cubes and/or pellets might move through him differently than plain hay?

  23. juliette - I don't believe Pie had any real problems with his digestive system until recently, but he was also living outside 24/7 and no one may have noticed.

    Melissa - we'll go there if/when we have to but for now if I don't overfeed him he seems to be holding his own on regular hay.

  24. Oh Kate, I'm so sorry. It's so stressful worrying about our dear horses. Paj is my delicate one, and I worry every time the weather changes. It's very stressful.

  25. Oh, Pie!

    I do not remember if you feed plain beet pulp. I have read that it is easier to digest than hay. Based on the symptoms, it does sound like a hindgut issue. I hope that Pie feels better soon.

  26. Hi Kate - I'm new to this blog so I don't know your horse's history.

    We've go tan old pony who was doing similar to your horse. Turned out he had stomach ulcers. Whenever his digestive juices started running that's when the trouble arose.

    Just a thought but he has to have a dose of antepsin (antacid) half an hour before feeds and it's done the trick. Hope I'm not stepping on toes with this one but I've never read of anyone else experiencing similar symptoms :)

    Good luck anyway. Lorraine

  27. Lorraine - thanks for commenting - please feel free to comment anytime. This issue that Pie has has been going on for a while, and he recently spent 4 days at the U. Wisc. veterinary hospital for a variety of tests. His discomfort comes on about an hour after he eats too much hay - if he eats less there's no problem. His pellets also cause no problem. Most horses with ulcers show pain right at feeding time and often prefer hay to pellets. The timing, his behavior and what causes the problem indicates a hind gut rather than a stomach problem. And when he was on Gastrogard briefly, it made no difference to the timing or nature of the symptoms. The suspicion is that his digestive system backs up a bit when overfull due to a restriction somewhere down the line, and in fact he gets very bloated and passes a lot of gas. When the food starts passing by the restriction and the pressure eases, he feels fine again - about 1/2 to 1 hour after the pain starts.

    And in fact the vets found, via rectal exams and ultrasounds, that he has numerous small lumps inside his abdomen but outside his digestive tract - although one lump may be attached to the outside of his colon. There are a number of possibilities - bastard strangles (unlikely as he's otherwise very healthy), lipomas (unlikely in a horse his age and the size and shape of the lumps isn't what you'd expect with this), or lymphosarcoma, an aggressive cancer that's most commonly found in young horses (Pie is 5). The fact that the series of recent episodes started the day he was vaccinated is suspicious - when his immune system was activated, the lumps, if they're lymph nodes, reacted badly - but it's not a specific reaction to any of the vaccines. He's not sick enough yet to justify more invasive tests, and if he has lymphosarcoma, he's in the earliest stages as his discomfort is only intermittent and his appetite, weight and health are otherwise great.

    We're just taking it day by day, which is all we can do.

  28. I got the impression as I left my naive comment that things were bigger than I thought! You must be going through Hell and back.

    I have complete sympathy - you'd almost rather their leg was hanging off, wouldn't you? (Please God don't let that happen now!) At least you can see what exactly needs doing.

    Of course a nice easy-to-treat stomach ulcer would be good too.

    I hope you get to the root of this eventually. Good luck.


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