Thursday, March 22, 2012

Dawn Sees the Vet, and Off to See the Boys

I decided to have the vet out to check Dawn over.  Although she's finishing her grain - balancer pellets plus Ultium - she isn't eating much of her hay at night and her water consumption and manure production at night are way down, although what manure there is seems normal.  She doesn't seem to be having trouble chewing, as she eats her grain well and eats hay from the round bales in the pasture - I've seen her doing that.  She doesn't act like a typical horse with ulcers - she's not ouchy or grouchy or reluctant to work, and she's happily eating grain but not much hay.  She's been wormed and is on daily Strongid.  She doesn't seem to be colicy.  It's quite a mystery.

The vet checked her over and drew some blood for various tests, including basic blood panels as well as some metabolic checks.  There's nothing obviously wrong with her - her vital signs are all normal, lungs are clear, mucus membranes and hydration are good and her teeth seem to be all right.  The vet hypothesizes that the stress of the move and subsequent herd position struggles - Dawn's moved up enough that there are at least three horses I observed who move when she says so - have, together with my riding her, resulted in her moving a lot more and burning a lot more calories.   She may be eating less hay since the Ultium is pretty calorie dense and filling.  There is a possibility of ulcers, but I would have to trailer her to a clinic for scoping to determine that definitively.

So we're going to give her some corn oil with some electrolytes and probiotics in addition to her feed.  I've also ordered some Ulcergard paste at the vet's instruction to see if it makes a difference over the next three weeks or so - if it's working I'll order more for a full 8 weeks.

One step at a time - she doesn't seem to be unhappy or in any pain, and is glad to work, but I'll feel better ruling some things out.  She has been coughing a bit at the start of work, but that could be due to how hot and dusty and pollenish everything is now.

And tomorrow I'm off to see and ride the boys . . . can't wait!


  1. If the Ulcergard has an effect, you probably don't need to scope her. The drug itself is sort of "self diagnosing."

    Could well be the Ultium, though. She just may not be too hungry after her feed.

    Looking forward to the "Boy Report." Hope you have a wonderful time!

  2. Hope you have a great time with the boys!

    I'm sure Dawn's problem will sort itself out. I think the stress of the move away from her old herd plus the fact that she may not be very hungry after the Ultium might be the culprit.

  3. Hope all is well with Dawn! Hug the boys!

  4. Here's where I go with this after some 15 years of trying to pound a square peg through a round hole. We've have had an extremely hard keeper. Did everything under the sun to make sure he was getting enough, liking his choices OK, not hiding a bigger problem, not being worked too much etc, etc, etc. Bottom line, you can't force feed a horse. Well, you can, but you get my drift. If she's getting enough chow during the day and enough calories and nutrients via supplements, then she's self-regulating. Some horses run lean. It sucks if they develop a problem because you don't have much reserve to work with, but that's just the way they are. Give her 6 months to a year in the new place and reevaluate, but be wary of adding too much too soon. If she does respond you'll have no idea what actually helped. And do bear in mind that it can take weeks to really see the results with some changes.

    Good luck!

  5. I hope you figure it out and that it is simple. Awhile back Jackson was having trouble keeping weight on so we did a trial of GastroGuard which made a big improvement just in a week -- so I did the whole treatment cycle. Now he's fat! --and that was after his blood work came back normal. I didn't want to haul him to the vet hospital and have him scoped. Hope it works for Dawn too. With her nervous/sensitive nature, it might be the issue.

  6. In January of 2011, Paj's symptoms were very similar to Dawn's. He was eating less and less hay, but showed no discomfort. Blood work was normal. We had him scoped, and he had ulcers. We did the GastroGard routine, and he got back to normal very quickly. I've been told that GastroGard heals ulcers whereas UlcerGard is a preventative.


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