About this Blog

Meet my very 1st horse, Lazarus.
I couldn't wait for Santa anymore or ask one more time for a pony for my bday (after age 30 it got embarrassing). I took matters in my own hands and I finally decided to pick a pony that needed a new home. Laz found me as I contemplated with this idea. He was sweet yet very sassy, fresh off the track, Thoroughbred (OTTB).
Join us for our re-training, rehabbing from laminitis and testing all parts of mixed up horsemanship and partnership, and luck...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Complete frustration

So, yesterday we had our round two of xrays and we review in person with the vet tomorrow morning. As of yesterday the Vet said could be removed of the Styrofoam boots, that are now causing sores on his heel bulbs, and to limit Lazarus's hand grazings to twice a day, for a half hour. OK, I thought...we are moving in a good direction!!
However, today's phone call was a bit of a downer. He prepared me that Laz's right rear is still rotating and it appears to be moving to the side. He wants the Styrofoam boots back on and Laz is now 100% stall bound with no outings allowed for a week, then a 3rd round of xrays.
Not what I wanted to hear, and I'm hoping for more answers tomorrow after our meeting of the 2nd round of xrays. Keeping the Styrofoam pads on are now causing issues with his heel bulbs, which now we have to soak his legs and treat that as well. Keeping him in his stall, when he is soooo eager to be out; won't that cause his ulcers to flare up again? And on that note, the Gastrogaurd that he is on...is there a generic (google says no) that doesn't cost $36 a day? Oh and xrays that cost around $300 each round we do.
I'm fearing that I'm facing a battle between the care of my horse and the financial destruction of my family and if I could be guaranteed he would be healthy and ok in the end, and in no pain between the ulcers, the laminitis, etc., then ok....but it seems that with every small baby step forward, there is a crashing halt of progress and more hurdles to face. I feel discouraged, frustrated and above all, horrible for Lazarus right now. My husband assures me to try to take it one week at a time, which I'm doing, but it's getting so difficult with working full time (he's unemployed currently and going back to school) and full time care of Laz, I just really needed and wanted a ray of light of some hope that what we are fighting for, is tangible.
The only choice I have and can do 100% is I will just breathe and continue doing what is asked and keep hoping and loving.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Relaxation

Today was just beautiful and so, so, so peaceful. What a great Sunday!
The sun was shining making it feel so warm, the fall colors are insanely beautiful and Lazarus was a happy, relaxed boy wanting to graze and walk around. We hand grazed for an 1-1/2 hr before he started getting tired. He was yawning, blinking and just came to me for some cuddle time (which believe me when his tummy is empty there is NO cuddle time wanted by him), I take what I can get!!

This video just shows him when he is the ultimate chilled boy. Yesterday was a feisty, up, spooky boy but I think it had to do a lot with the windy day as well. Again, seeing his normal moods (and mood swings) coming back is a very welcome sight!
He was a goofy baby angel today!

video

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Enjoying a Fall day

Call me crazy, but when your baby doesn't eat for a week, seeing him MOW like his normal self is quite the relief sight! Below is from this morning, eaaaaarly, of Lazarus eating his breakfast of three flakes of hay.

And after we changed his Styrofoam shoes, re-ducted taped, and re-wrapped his quilts/bandages, Laz dove into his Purina Senior feed which he loooooves.

(SIGH) Enjoying the Fall sun after I hand grazed him for an 1-1/2 hour.
Love Michigan in the Fall!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Recovery going well so far

So we have had 10 days and counting, towards Lazarus feeling better everyday. The farrier came out today to trim his feet and square up his toe per Vet's request. We still need to Styrofoam/duct tape 'shoes' for Laz for foot relief. He is eating his grass hay, and alfalfa hay with his normal gusto. He is now allowed Purina Senior feed as well and continues to drink his water like normal too. Still stall bound with 3 hr long hand grazing outings allowed. Today he was quite "UP" and I actually needed to reprimand him a bit for almost running me over. I definitely don't want him to come out of this an entitled brat with dangerous habits but we are working on his ground manners again. It is hard reprimanding a healing patient though.
One more week hopefully of the Styrofoam shoes (they are a pain to change out and STIIINNK!!!) and probably a few more weeks of quilts and wraps but those are easy.
Above is a view of his 'stall' back door that leads into his own pasture area and is next door to the two other herds.
He is minding well in the stall, but sometimes weaves when he's bored...I wish he wouldn't!
This is Mason, our sweet 6 yr old Chocolate lab that met Laz for the first time last week. They did very well with each other! Mason was licking the horse's noses!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Xrays are in!

Xrays came in on Wednesday (8 am) and my husband and I, and the barn owner all met with our Vet to review.
So crazy to see my boy's feet and legs up on a light box and the anticipation was gut wrenching! What the vet reviewed was some promising news as he finally admitted he was quite happy with Lazarus's progress, as he thought on this past Sunday, that we would be putting him down on Monday (lump in throat swelled with his admittance of that).
What we saw was he did rotate in his right front and right left, both 3 degrees. Which typically is not horrible, however, as I'm understanding laminitis to be one of the mystery ailments, with Thoroughbreds (or other breeds too) that are typically thinner soled hoofed animals, a 3 can still be quite painful. A typical thickness of a sole (from bottom of hoof up to bottom of coffin bone...I believe) is 20 m, and Laz is about 10. So being he is thinner soled, the 3 degrees is a bit painful. However, the vet thinks that with corrective shoeing now on all fours (he had fronts) and with using equipak (more of that to come) he could be pain free.
So, where are we at now...today?
We are slooooowly healing sweet Lazarus. This is the turtle's race, not the hare. He is still wearing the Styrofoam shoes which we change everyday after he crushes them down. This helps with alleviating his foot pain (whoever thought of that is a fricken genius!!!). I will say, Laz is great about allowing us to change his front feet, but his backs...oh boy he is wicked!
Two more weeks of this and then another set of xrays will tell us if the rotation has stayed the same, gotten better or worse. From there, we will walk down a path of a plan.
Lazarus is eating/drinking now more with his usual gusto, he is stall bound with three hand grazing outings allowed for an hour each daily until next week where we wait for Vet's review. His stall is so plush with about 6 bags of shavings on top of his mat and is in a larger stall to keep him comfy. This stall has a half door so he can look out at his herd buddies. His temp has stayed normal. He is still on gastrogaurd (to help with ulcers and keep him eating) and Equioxx (anti-inflam) once a day that we administer. He is getting spoiled with carrots and kisses that he may come out of this thinking he is a top Stud. ;)
Our goal: To have Lazarus walk/trot (maaaaybe canter but who cares if not) with me on his back, PAIN-FREE.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

This past week

What a roller coaster this week, and I hate roller coasters! All those feelings of stomach twisting nauseous turns, excitement of hoping, let downs and gasping for air...
BUT, I do think we have turned a big corner. We took xrays of all four legs/hooves and tomorrow morning we shall see the outcome of the laminitis, damage and treatment.
I whispered into Lazarus's ear, 'if you can just walk/trot without pain...that is your goal buddy and if you can carry me, that is a benefit.' We shall see what the vet thinks and we'll go with his recommendations.

Below is a picture (off my blackberry so sorry if quality is a bit fuzzy) from 7 am this morning. The red ribbon you see in his mane is what we braided in on Sunday night. Being I am of the Greek heritage, we have something called the "Mati" which translates in Greek as "Eye." This eye (the blue/white beads) wards off evil spirits and brings good luck. I thought Laz could use a little superstitious luck, and I wore the remaining ribbon around my wrist so we were connected with good thoughts/luck.

See, the "Mati" brings perked, happy ears!

This picture is from last week, I think the day before he was diagnosed with Laminitis. He dragged me around the pasture wanting to eat grass and after his Colic episode, the vet approved it. However, we didn't know that laminitis was just lurking in the dark. He was happy and peppy for moments and eating (which he hadn't in a couple of days) so I went with it. In the picture below, though, you can see when he felt punky and not great. The sad ears and uncomfortable look in his face. I think the other horses in this picture, Ellie (the Roan) and Jazz (the Sorrel) even felt his discomfort.

After a couple hours of grazing and walking, he layed down with me in the pasture. This was concerning (again, this is last week..not today) and just sad. When he normally lays down, its for a few minutes in the pasture, but mainly he'll wait until evening in his stall to lay. The middle of the day laying down definitely was not the norm for him. He just seems like a little baby here, wanting a cozy blanket, hugs and warm carrot soup.
Then a few minutes later, he was up again and perked. It was strange! Here is a shot I got of him while we walked the property down to the grass hay field where he mowed! I do love this picture too, the perked ears, attentive eyes and the trees colored by Fall's cool weather.
Tomorrow we get his xray results and we'll see what paths we have to take to continue to have Lazarus feeling better.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Laminitis...you suck.

So, it's been a long and to say exhausting weekend is a huge understatement. Friday evening, my husband Billy and I headed back to the barn where we slept and stayed until this morning (Monday). Between us, and the insanely amazing farm owners, "C & J" we iced Lazarus's swollen legs with baby diapers, kept him quilt and bandaged wrapped, and created Styrofoam shoes, per Vet to create a Nike Shock effect of relief for his hooves/legs. We slept for a few hours, got up and treated our sweet patient, and did that the whole weekend trying SO hard to save his life.

We think we turned a huge corner this morning. The vet (who has been coming twice a day since last Monday) think he will be able to take xrays tomorrow and see what the damage of the laminitis is..to see how his coffin bones are, and what Lazarus's future holds. If he told me, all we could do for the rest of his life, is walk/trot, I would thank my lucky stars. I just want him pain free and healthy.
Below is what we have been doing with his sweet legs. We moved him to a larger stall that has a lookout so he can see the horses at pasture when he's being kept him, and currently on top of the matted floors, he has 5 bags of shavings where he obviously has been laying and enjoying. The vet commented that our personal care (of course with his amazing treatments) has been better for Lazarus to heal at home, vs taking him to MSU. Between the trailer ride there and the trauma of new environment/people, would have been hard on his ulcers and legs. We were happy to do all of this for him....still keeping fingers crossed on outcome in the next couple of days.
A good thing is his fever has been consistent at 101 (still a little high but the last couple of days so less fluctuation) and his appetite is back! Ripping at hay, gulping down water and nickering for his carrots. Vet is having us start him on Purina Senior feed tonight as long as fever says down.
He is a fighter and I'm so proud of him, wanting to fight through this...I know it can't be easy for him either. Laz is as sleep deprived as we are, but still nickers when we see him and poke and prod and tape and ice and wrap.

Friday, October 9, 2009

We think colic is over, now Laminitis is here...

Ok, really...seriously scary, frustrating and basically, seemingly never ending this week. Vet came back out this morning to find that Lazarus is now dealing with Laminitis which he said was brought on by the fever and colic.
However, not that I'm a vet..not even close, but our Vet (who I do really like and know a lot of great horse owners that have used him t/o 30+ years) told us yesterday to allow Laz to eat as much grass at he wanted, as it's 'nature's remedy' for colic and helps with the moisture intake for his gut. I thought that sounded good, but now in researching and what I found online below...it seems maybe the lush hay grass and clover he was mowing on yesterday was maybe too much?
I will be back to the barn tomorrow and may just stay over into Sunday too. Work today into evening keeps me away today, but thankfully "C" is who owns the barn, lives on the same barn property and will be there for me today. What would I do without her support and knowledge? She is very familiar with treating laminitis and we have more questions for the Vet later when he returns this evening for more Penicillin shots (and Laz was put back on Banamine to help with the pain, and fever was 102).
Have any of you dealt with this? Does this sound normal, familiar, etc? I know there are many, many variations of laminitis and Laz is being effected in all four legs (of course poor boy) with his right hind being the worse. Vet recommended putting him back out on pasture to roam and graze and keep him moving, and being ground is soft and wet will give him more comfort, and tonight when in stall to quilt wrap and polo wrap his legs for support.
With every UP this week, it's followed by a big DOWN. How fragile are these magnificent creatures? How I wish, I could have Lazarus just lay in my lap and heal.

Causes

Laminitis has multiple causes, some of which commonly co-occur. These causes can be grouped into broad categories.


Endotoxins


Carbohydrate overload

One of the more common causes. Current theory states that if a horse is given grain in excess or eats grass that is under stress and has accumulated excess non-structural carbohydrates (NSC, i.e. sugars, starch or fructan), it may be unable to digest all of the carbohydrate in the foregut. The excess then moves on to thehindgut and ferments in the cecum. The presence of this fermenting carbohydrate in the cecum causes proliferation of lactic acid bacteria and an increase in acidity. This process kills beneficial bacteria, which ferment fiber. The endotoxins and exotoxins may then be absorbed into the bloodstream, due to increased gut permeability, caused by irritation of the gut lining by increased acidity. The endotoxaemia results in impaired circulation, particularly in the feet. This results in laminitis.


Nitrogen compound overload

Herbivores are equipped to deal with a normal level of potentially-toxic non-protein nitrogen (NPN) compounds in their forage. If, for any reason, there is rapid upward fluctuation in levels of these compounds, for instance in lush spring growth on artificially fertilized lowland pasture, the natural metabolic processes can become overloaded, resulting in liver disturbance and toxic imbalance. For this reason, many avoid using artificial nitrogen fertilizer on horse pasture. If clover (or any legume) is allowed to dominate the pasture, this may also allow excess nitrogen to accumulate in forage, under stressful conditions such as frost or drought. Many weeds eaten by horses are nitrate accumulators. Direct ingestion of nitrate fertilizer material can also trigger laminitis, via a similar mechanism.


Colic

Laminitis can sometimes develop after a serious case of colic, due to the release of endotoxins into the blood stream. Refer to Carbohydrate Overload.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Colic scare getting better?

I don't want to jinx us...but I think Lazarus is on the mend! :)
This was taken today in the grass hay field, look at that mouthful!!!

After Vet came back out (visit 3?4? loosing count), he tubed Laz down his nose into his stomach, but instead of pumping in water, he actually opted to pump OUT his stomach juices. 2-1/5 five gallon buckets of bile, acid, tiny looking coffee grinds (indicating ulcers), green juices from his belly, etc...Laz started feeling better. The latest bloodwork indicated that he has a bacterial 'something' going on, not viral. Originally, as a preventative, Laz was given an antibiotic yesterday (Tex? Something..I'll clarify this once I have my bill listed out what is what..and more sleep) that didn't really help him out. Today, the vet did a two part (one in am, one in pm) shot of penicillin which Laz will be on for the next five days, as well as Gastrogaurd for his stomach ulcer that we've confirmed. He may be on Gastrogaurd for a while..couple weeks? He's been off grain for a while now, but officially especially off. Vet encouraged me to hand graze him, which I did and Laz thankfully, was hungry now with his stomach empty of the most stomach turning acidic smelling acid. He grazed eagerly for 5 hrs. Yea!!! Nature's remedy according to vet and my 'google' research. Moisture in grass helps replenish, etc...thank god it's not in the middle of winter.
Vet assured me that he thinks that Lazarus is through the worst of his colic and it's now fighting the fever which is cause by this ulcer and "P" something diagnosis. The "P" something name I can't quite remember, I'll get it from him again, but it basically means that his colon was probably punctured by something Laz ate and it seeped the bacteria into places it shouldn't have, one being the stomach. The good bacteria we have in our stomach wasn't able to work against the bad bacteria, therefore causing discomfort. The question is, did the ulcer come before the colic, or after? Was the colic brought on by this maybe puncture? We don't quite know. Laz's fever has gone from 105 this morning (oh god, the tears) to 99 and vet assured me it will take another few days of possible spikes in his fever and low. He does not want him on any more banamine and if fever gets to be 105, he'll come back out. With Lazarus eating grass, and hay now, drinking a bit more, we are all hopeful he will start his recovery!
My main concern is, will his body digest normally or will he have to have his stomach pumped again for relief? The next few days will indicate a lot.
Again, to all my friends, family and blogger friends...thank you SO much for the prayers, thoughts of concern and advice!!!

Colic scare is still here

Well, things have been a bit of a roller coaster unfortunately.
This is a quick update due to me running around like a mad women between work (so I can afford my horse's care) and time with Lazarus. I think I've slept a total of 6 hrs since Monday.
This picture is from last night. Lazarus still is struggling. Vet has come out three times. He has been tubed twice (though vet is coming again today and may again tube him) with water. Put an IV in him for antibiotics because it seems he is fighting a virus as well (he is updated on all shots other than Flu because the day he was supposed to get the Rhino Flu, was the day he colicked).

Yesterday, I walked in round pen where he seemed to want to move and stretch and did successfully for about 15-20 minutes at a slow and easy pace. He is very lethargic right now. He has been battling a fever that goes up (104.5) to back down to 100, very concerning. Vet put him on banamine (sp?) again, and a stomach ulcer coating to protect him tummy from all the meds. Laz layed down in the round pen with me yesterday where I rubbed his belly, legs and back which he seemed to really enjoy. He stood up after 20 minutes of that and layed down on the other side, so I massaged that side. He has been pooping, but not much, and the oil is starting to come out. His appetite is small. We did get him to eat some hay (about 1 flake) and he did drink about 8 inches of water.
I talked to the barn owner this morning and she said Laz seems to be alert and more himself, however, he again has a high fever of 104.5. Vet is coming back out...
Beyond heartbreaking, scary and I'm struggling to find answers on what is doing this to him so we can nip it in the bud!
More to come as I can...and so many thanks to all of you that are sending your good thoughts! It helps!!!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Colic scare

I'm writing this with red, burning eyes from lack of sleep.
Yesterday, I was unable to see Lazarus because of work (like normal weekdays) and received a phone call from "C" where I board at. She was concerned with Lazarus because from Sunday night after the horses came in to be stalled for the night, he seemed to not drink any of his evening water in his stall. Lazarus is usually quite the healthy drinker...so it was definitely strange. She made a mental note of it and turned the boys out to their paddock for the day and noticed at lunch time, Lazarus did not want to eat. Again, not normal behaviour. In fact, when she walked out to him, she mentioned he nuzzled her a bit (which he adores "C") and layed down but then got back up after a minute. She said she suspected Colic right away, like he was acting mildly uncomfortable. From there, she moved him from his herd of 3 others, into the 'sick and injured' pen so he could lay down, if he wanted to, quietly. She watched to make sure he wasn't thrashing or acting up to protect himself from injury or twisting his gut.
So, actually, when she called me yesterday afternoon, it was from the round pen where she was lunging him trying to stretch out his belly to see if some movement would help with what was seeming like an impaction colic. He was willingly free lunging and trotting for her. From there, it was a similar routine. He was not drinking, he was not eating.
Now, she starting to take action. Took his hay away. Gave him fresh and lukewarm water in his stall and a watered down bran mash to help entice him to get liquids and loosen up his gut. He took two nibbles of the mash and was done. When we talked, I was very concerned obviously and living an hour away, I sometimes feel it's an eternity. She assured me she would check him throughout the night, which she did (she is literally the greatest) and I slept with my phone next to me in case of an emergency phone call. "C" stated if she felt he got worse, she was to call the vet. (As luck would have it, the horses were due this morning for their round of flu shots, so the vet was due to come out this morning anyway.)
So, my sleep was like the following: asleep by 11:30 pm with my own stomach ache. Woke up at 1 am (did she call??), 2:30 am (ok she didn't call, he is ok), 3:30 am (I wonder if she'll kill me if I text her?) 6:00 am (1 more minute and I'm up) and off to the barn we were at 7:30 am.
So the vet (who is wonderful, calming and explains what he is doing which I really like) came and started with a procedure I guess to be normal for an impaction colic. He took some blood to test, took his temperature (a little high, 101.1), checked his gums/tongue, etc., removed any fecal he could with his hand, and tubed in some water followed by mineral oil, followed by water again. Holding Laz's head while I watched blood streaming incredibly fast out of his jugular for blood work, swallowing the tube through his nose into his stomach was nothing short of heartbreaking. I had whispered promises every time I cleaned the inside of his nose out, that I would never hurt him...and I felt like I was going back on my word. I KNEW this was helping him, I just felt his pain. He was a perfect patient, stood the most still I've ever seen him, and totally cooperated with the Vet. I was proud of his manners and I knew, he felt like "just make me feel better."
After the vet left, Billy, "C" and I hung out with Laz in the 'S&I' pen to give him some love and company. He stood alternating in my arms and in "C's" arms for about an hour, allowing us to rub his ears and forehead. He stood so still. "C" suggested we take back to the round pen to see if he felt like moving. He walked a bit, trotted a bit and we allowed him to stop to nibble the grassy edges. After about an hour of that, he seemed to feel a little better and the water/oil seemed to be absorbing into his system (his belly wasn't hanging as badly).
We are in the waiting phase right now. After moving him and allowing his nature's remedy snack (grass) per Vet's suggestion, Laz will be walked for 10 minutes every two hours and we'll see how the eating (1 flake every 4 hrs if he eats) and the drinking goes. By the time we left Laz was nibbling on his afternoon hay in the 'S&I' pen. His spirits seemed to return a little, his ears were a little more pricked and he was a bit more active.
I'm back at my home office, designing while sitting on pins and needles. Of course this week, I'm bombarded with appointments so the next time I see him is late tomorrow evening. I just feel better when I can see/touch/breath him. I know he is literally in the best care where I board him at, and I'm so lucky to have that feeling because I know it's entirely too rare. He is loved there as if he was one of their own, which is how I would treat any of their horses.
So, now we wait and hope it's a simple colic that will be healed by the coating in his stomach to loosen everything up. Mental note of this is, weather change, can quickly change the pattern of how he drinks his water and therefore lead to a colicky situation.
Last phone call update at 4 pm and "C" said Lazarus finally pooped (still dry and compacted looking) but just once, he half heartily ate parts of his 1 flake of hay (he eats three without batting an eye normally) and still not drinking. "C" thinks he will drink in his stall when they all come in tonight when he feels more comfortable. She said he is looking over the fence at the paddock wanting to be with his herd but being we need to see what he drinks/poops, etc, he has to stay in "S&I" pen. He did buck out at her Mare (the "S&I" in behind barn, in between the two paddocks where her horses are and Laz's gelding herd is) when she charged at him over the fence, which cause some gas to be 'honked' out if you will, which is a good sign that things are literally moving.
If Lazarus doesn't drink through the night, I think the Vet will want to tube him with water/oil combo again. I am praying he drinks and trying not to think of that saying "you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink." Very frustrating as I know it would help his aches go away.
More to come...hopefully with better news.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Rain dance

Today was a cold, cruddy, muddy day...BUT still a good day because I was able to spend time at the barn. Weather was cool, low 50's with spotty sunshine for minutes, down pouring of heavy rain intermittently.
I had to groom Lazarus for an extra long time while we waited in the barn for the rain to ease up a bit before starting our work. He was not in the mood for enjoying his grooming. His haunches were tight and ready to spring the whole time.
Below, I captured his anxious brat face when he does his nervous 'chewing' habit. We think it's in anticipation of 'what's to come??' to him, it was racing in the past. The chewing has gotten a lot better (ie; he doesn't always do it). The cross ties bring it out, standing there, getting groomed makes him act, "I'm ready, I'm reeeeeeeeeeaaaaady!! Let's go!!!"
Some days are more mild. Today, he was UP, which I fully expected being they've been in the paddock vs pasture due to muddy, wet weather. We try to preserve the pasture on days like today so it's even footing in the winter for the horses...the soft ground makes it easy to create holes and if it freezes that way, they have to deal with those obstacles all winter.

So today's lesson was lunging. Getting the energy OUT with lots of trotting, some cantering on each side, (correct leads hoorah!) more trotting and worked on his transitions. Walk to canter, back to walk. Walk to trot, reverse sides, trot to WHOA (stop), etc.

Starting to calm down and think. Once the 'willies' were out, we did more mental work where I had him turning, stopping and listening to me. He is able to concentrate much better after a good 15-25 minutes of nothing but trotting out and stretching and playing a bit.

Look at those clouds...sort of beautiful.

We worked on the lunge line for an hour, cooled down with me hand walking him around the big arena where he spooked a lot today. He was high energy today and I'm trying to get him more familiar in there for winter riding. After almost of year of using the round pen A LOT, he seems very comfortable in there, and now I have to spend more time with him in the large arena. I hand grazed him for a bit so he could enjoy some grass and back in the paddock for his afternoon feeding with his herd mates.

I meant to work on some stretching/pilates moves that I read about, but forgot!!! Has anyone done that with their horse? It's done from the ground, with treats and having your horse stretch down in between their legs, or 'hugging' you with their necks at their sides all to get the treat. Supposed to help with their neck, back, stomach muscles.
I'll have to save that for the next rainy day! :)