Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Very Good Day

This has been a very stressful week. It all started last Saturday morning when I opened an email from our vet and read the insulin results for my Grey Horse and Mom's gelding. Grey had a high reading (last year's was normal) and Face-Off was off the charts at a whopping 157 (the top reading on the normal scale is 40). This proved what we knew to be true. Face-Off was in the middle of a medical emergency, teetering on the edge of full blown founder. He needed a crash diet to bring his insulin level down.

To drive the point home, his half brother Hairy, who had foundered several weeks earlier, was failing fast. Hairy, never more than pasture sound for most of his adult life, had battled his sore feet cheerfully for several weeks. As he worsened, Mom made the tough decision to euthanize him in the coming week. We were both sort of wondering if we were making the right decision. Hairy made it for us on Sunday when he opted not to get up for breakfast. The arrangements were moved up to that afternoon, and Hairy lay in his stall all day on heavy pain killers, eating every forbidden treat Mom could find him. He never got up until Mom asked him to make the effort and walk to his grave where he was peacefully laid to rest in the sunshine while eating his fill of sweet feed. Here is my favorite of Hairy's baby pictures. He was the last baby we raised and lived to be 10 years old. He never left the farm, and was pampered his whole life. As you can see, even as a baby he was a little chub.

The fear that Face-Off was soon to suffer the same fate sent us both into a whirlwind of soaking hay, and researching diet options. Face-Off's energy level was very low and the foot soreness, typical of an Insulin Resistant horse, was worsening. Our sole focus all week was Face-Off and Grey and finding them a healthier diet. One afternoon I returned to my office and realised I hadn't even said "Hello" to Copy. Ace, whose hormones have been on red alert, was an added handful. Mom declared him officially "not a project for a beginner".

But today was a good day. Mom has worked out a system for soaking the hay. We have learned a lot and made some other diet changes. We have the supplies to test our hay for Carbohydrate and Sugar levels, and everyone is feeling better. Face-Off even trotted to the gate today. He hasn't felt good enough to trot in well over a month.

I had a nice ride in our little indoor. Grey proved again that he has matured into a well trained and perfectly behaved mount. I even took my stirrups up and did five minutes of trotting without them. I haven't done that in ages, and it proves that these past weeks at the gym are paying off.

Ace was acting starved for positive human interaction. A result of five rounds with the whapper stick the other day? Probably not. I was out in the arena sifting through the footing for the upteenth time searching for my expensive Blocker Tie Ring that Ace had removed from the eyebolt on the wall, and he was shadowing me, giving me no peace. He obviously wanted to play Wild Stallion, and I appeared to be the most likely partner. I did find my Ring, which is great because the darn things are expensive, and that put me in an even better mood. I decided to teach Ace something constructive.

I went and got the longe whip and introduced the idea of free longing. Ace wanted to stop at the gate each time and switch directions at will. I kept him to a more structured program. With the help of some bits of carrots I also tried the concept of "Whoa", which was not as well received. But he did stop a few times and let me come up and stand beside him. I had left the back door open and he finally decided he had had enough of my "rules" and exited.

With his excess energy run off, I thought it would be a good time to groom him. I brought him in and put him on crossties, which I haven't done since just after Thanksgiving. He stood like a rock, chewing happily on the snap the whole time. He let me wash under his tail and pick out all four feet. He did fling his hind feet around a bit, but not too bad, and all he got was a verbal correction.

While most people are lamenting the disappearance of their cute, fuzzy weanlings and the arrival of shaggy, pot bellied, pencil necked yearlings, I am admiring my perfect miniature replica of a beautiful horse. Ace is nicely proportioned and fit. His coat is thick but short like plush velvet. Just a little brushing brought out a healthy gleam that made him look as if he had been blanketed all winter. After his grooming, we went for a little walk around the arena. All the naughty antics of last week were noticeably absent. Ace is acting like a normal, reasonable youngster instead of the Devil incarnate. It was a very pleasant change.


Kaede said...

I'm so sorry about Hairy. I've enjoyed reading your blogs and the mentions of Hairy.

asbntx said...

Very sorry to hear about Hairy :(
I'm glad Ace had a grown-up day! Pretty soon those days will be the norm and the goofball days will be the exception.

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Pony Girl said...

Hairy was SO very handsome in that baby photo! Look at that neck!! I'm sorry to hear about his founder and passing. I've never really understood founder, I always thought it was due to rich pastures and feed. Are your horses on pasture? Could they wear grazing muzzles, would that help them not get as much grass/sugar?
I am glad to hear you are getting down a system of soaking hay and analyzing the feed. And that Ace had a good day! :)

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