Saturday, May 29, 2010

Worm, the pain and blade

A week ago Friday, I had the vet come out to my barn for a routine visit on all my horses. All the horses got their shots and Annie and Nadia both had their teeth floated. Since it cost so much (almost a mortgage payment!), I had a different vet do the work. My usual vets take payment up front whereas this vet was willing to do payments. I also got Coggins tests on Scout and Nadia in preparation for some planned traveling and trail riding. The blood tests came out negative, the same as my attitude towards the testing.

Coggins tests are required by most states (all?) when horses are in contact with other horses (events such as shows, trail rides, etc.) or traveling, on a yearly basis. The blood test is for Equine Infectious Anemia, commonly known as Swamp Fever, which is primarily transmitted between horses by bloodsucking insects. If the horse tests positive he must be completely quarantined for life which is nearly impossible to do. The more common alternative is to put the horse down. There is no known cure and we don't have a vaccine, although China does. Usually, horses that test positive don't even show symptoms. Frankly, I think it's served it's purpose. The test was developed in the 70's and eradicated all the infected horses at that time. I don't know if horses still test positive or not but it's always terrifying to know that a simple blood test can give your horse a death sentence.

Anyway, both Nadia and Annie had their teeth floated. Scout had his teeth done last fall although he could use it again already. I'm going to have to save more pennies or win the lottery really soon at this rate!

I also asked about Yalla's pot belly. He suggested three reasons: worms, protein deficiency, or normal growth pattern. See below for an example but please excuse the blurry photo. Also, she is still fuzzy with winter hair. It gets very warm during the day but last week we had a freeze.
I have been reading so much about too much protein and joint problems that I cut her back on her supplements, probably too much. So, I have begun feeding her Calf Manna (25% protein) about 1 lb a day, which is the recommended dose for growing horses (1- 1/2 lbs), along with a half pound of grain.

Although I wormed her last year, it's been several months since her last worming. Uh oh!! I know my other horses don't have worms, or very few, so I kind of forgot to keep on the schedule. (I am a bad horse owner!) The vet said that foals often have a lot more infestation than adult horses and should be wormed regularly. I asked which wormer to use on her and he suggested doing a fecal sample for analysis. So, I took in a fecal sample last Thursday. Waited until she pooped after the morning feed and scooped up an "apple" in a little baggie. I wrapped a paper towel around the baggie, foil around that, and then put it all on ice. Delightful! The vet called back with the results on the fecal sample and said she had no parasites. She did recommend worming anyway with a broad spectrum wormer and retesting her in three weeks.

I also talked to the vet about feeding options for Nadia and Annie because they appear ribby. Annie has always been tough to keep weight on and as Nadia gets older she seems to be losing her muscle and fatty stores. He suggested feeding them a daily ration of oil, a couple of cups, whereas I had only been giving her a tablespoon or so, daily. He said any type of fat was good, even bacon grease, because it provided the lipids needed to gain weight. Also, feeding beet pulp mash is a good addition to the diet because it provides calories without the energy and it has a low glycemic (sugar) index. I have read that beet pulp can be fed dry with no adverse effects but I am still reluctant, knowing how it expands and breaks up when water is added. However, I find soaking it beforehand to be such a hassle.

Tuesday morning, I noticed that Nadia couldn't reach the ground to eat! She would bend her neck so far and then quit. This is a dire predicament for a horse. After all, they eat off the ground and the water source is often low to the ground too. She appeared hungry and alert. I felt her neck and didn't notice any major swelling. I wondered if she had any infection around her teeth because the vet ground her molars down hard just a few days earlier. I didn't feel any fever either, so I thought it must be a reaction to the shots after all. I noticed she was a little dehydrated so I separated her from the other horses and placed a water bucket in her grain feeder so she could reach without bending. Luckily, there is a wall feeder in that stall so I threw in a bunch of hay so that she could munch at her leisure having to bend down. Then I gave her a big serving of soaked beet pulp with a little grain and decided to watch her.

She was no better on Wednesday and so by Thursday morning I called the vet when she laid down and then got right back up. She seemed alert and hungry but definitely not herself. She still had no fever and the vet thought it was a sore neck from the shots. He told me to come pick up some bute paste to give her for the pain which I did. I again left her in to eat by herself. She was hungry for the beet pulp mashes that I gave her both morning and night, well watered down so that she wouldn't dehydrate. Annie also enjoyed the mashes.

Friday evening she seemed to be improving. With thunderstorms in the area, I brought Scout in to share her pen and he happily cleaned up all the hay on the ground that she hadn't eaten. This morning, I again gave her and Annie beet pulp mashes along with their hay and left them in while I put Scout and Yalla outside. I plan on regularly giving beet pulp mashes with lots of corn oil to the ladies from now on. I have been meaning to do this. I had the beet pulp already. I've just been lazy, and there it is again- a bad horse owner! Sometimes, I think I should just sell my house, horses, and everything else and move to the big city. Yes, I have been very depressed lately.

Worm, the pain and blade - song; Voyeur of Utter destruction , artist: David Bowie, album: Outside


Dan and Betty Cooksey said...

Buck up. You love your horses. Give yourself a break and just do what you have to do now. Let the past go and trust God for the future. Be present in the now and enjoy those beautiful animals as long as you can.


Tammy said...

I think you would REALLY be depressed living in the city without the critters. And what would you spend your money on then? :)

I'm having the vet out today, too. Blue is lame. The farrier noticed an abscess when he trimmed... he wasn't sore then, but who knows... Baby was sore 2 days ago. I think standing on snow for 3 months really compromised their soles this year.

If you go w/adding oil to their diet, you can get the gallon size of corn oil at Walmart. Buying the jumbo size is a lot cheaper. BTW, when I tried putting weight on a old mare with oil, she did NOT like it. So start a little at a time if you do.

lytha said...

i had no idea about the EIA. i had to have it done to come here, of course, and would have been worried had i read your post then!

making the beet pulp twice a day is a pain, but also kind of fun for me cuz i only have the one horse. he loves getting "so much" in a bucket and i don't think i'll ever stop making him mashes the rest of his life: ) also we do canola oil (because it's available here) but i read that you shouldn't give more than a cup..or was that 2? anyway, oil is the cheapest way to get straight fat into a horse, and we're not rich here either so i have to be careful with the euros: )

i sure hope nadia feels better and picks up her weight again. and yalla too, i wonder what kind of wormer you will use? please tell.

and why do babies get more worms than adults if the environment is the same?



fernvalley01 said...

Hope Nadia is better soon. I am curious, if Yalla has no worm load ,why would the vet reccomned worming again? I would think that would promote resistance . From the photo I would guess she is just a growing baby ,increase her protien and is there any grass,it looks a bit like a baby hay belly

Reddunappy said...

I used to feed beet pulp, but only one of mine gets grain right now, and she gets Purina equine sr., it keeps her 25 yr old self in really good condition! She had quit eatin her beet pulp, she had been on it for years, but she was up to so much that she want eating it all. she scarfs down the Eqsr and nickers at me when I give it to her LOL
Whatever you do dont feed BP dry! My sister fed her arabs BP one day dry and her older mare choked! she now has windpipe damage and whistles when she breaths! its not worth the no hassle. I would soak ours with HOT water 20 min before feeding, a few hard center pellets didnt bother me as long as it was wet. cold water soak can be done overnight, my girlfriend used to soak a 5 gal bucket worth for all her horses each am and pm. Beet pulp is great, but you do have to be careful with it.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

I had a feeling something was up with Nadia. Last week I kept seeing her laying down and then getting right back up. She did it several times...and she's been looking very thin. As you know, usually she stands guard while the other horses lay down. I rarely ever see Nadia lay down, except in her stall. It also seemed that Yalla! and Annie were herding her around a lot more, too.
I hope sweet Nadia will be ok.

How do you like Dr. Bobbitt? He's my vet, too. I like that his new office is so close to us if we want to save the house call fee, and that he also does house calls if we'd rather do that, too.

You mentioned Coggins testing and trails rides...does this mean you might be doing the ACTHA rides next month? Yay!

Not sure what your plans are on Monday, but if you don't have any and you want to get out and ride some trails in a group, maybe you'll want to trailer down to Cedar Hill Farms for a guided trail ride from 1-3:30pm?

I'll be there with Apache and other WNCR Horse rescue folks, and I'm pretty sure I can invite friends. Colleen only charges $40 for a 2+ hour ride and we always have a lot of fun.
Let me know,

Dunappy said...

equine infectious anemia hasn't been totally eliminated and that's the reason for continued testing. It's far more common in other parts of the country. NM has an extremely LOW incidence of EIA and 99% of all horses that have tested positive in this state were actually brought in from a different state. I've had horses in this state for more than 30 years now and not a single one ever had a hint of a positive test.
I totally believe that the testing is totally crapola. Seriously your horse could be tested today and be negative and be bitten by an infected mosquito tomorrow and you could still travel with that horse for the next year or until you get another test and find it positive.

Sydney_bitless said...

In her old age Naigen thrived on beet pulp and brewers yeast. The brewers yeast is what brought back her fat when she was emaciated without giving her that wild bronco energy (not that that sweetie could ever be a bronc)
We have a mare in my one barn that has the same thing Nadia does A few times after her shots. We have to raise her bucket and feed her out of a hay net. Vet said something about hitting a nerve.

cdncowgirl said...

Coggins test... that one really gets me. It was a serious issue, and in some areas still is. However IMO the test is kinda b.s.
You get your horses blood drawn and tested sure, but what about the mosquito that bites your horse 5 minutes later? What if THAT mosquito is the one that infects your horse?

Paint Girl said...

My vet has had me deworm Chance every 4 weeks since babies usually do get a heavier worm load then adult horses. I have not had a fecal done on any of my horses yet, but have talked about it.

We do not have to have the Coggins testing done in our state, only if we travel to states that require it do we have it done. So at work, we have Coggins done since we go to Arizona, and it is required there. With my own horses, we don't do Coggins since we don't go out of state with them and even if we did, certain states don't require it.
Hope all is well with your horses and that Nadia is feeling better!