Saturday, November 8, 2008

Ups and Downs

It’s been quite a week. Some positive things occurred and some negative. Typical of my horse-oriented logic, I can draw parallels between what is happening to my country and to my horse’s feet. Go ahead, call me crazy.

On the positive side, the election is over, and we can move forward. It’s going to be difficult, but there’s so much good energy that I believe we will become a better, stronger nation when all is said and done. The response to Obama’s win from around the world was really incredible, making me proud to be an American.

Yesterday, they did the radiographs of Siete’s feet. There is indeed still an abscess in her front left hoof that needs to drain. While the vet wants to look more closely at the results and confer with her colleagues, there’s not anything dramatic and really horrible.. She does believe that there are some possibility of laminitis in the front left leg. She wants Siete to lose weight, although my horse weighed 1095 pounds yesterday. Frankly, that’s not as bad as I thought it would be, but the vet wants to get her down to 900. For the last month. after the vet told me to give my horses the Platinum Performance supplement to build their immune system, I’ve seen a noticeable weight gain in both of them. I even decreased the dosage. Now, she wants me to stop giving it to Siete and prescribed some medicine for hyperthyroidism to get her to lose weight. My little horse is also getting Banamine for a few days and I’m going to continue to try to drain the abscess. Siete is on a no-grain, no sweets, no grass regime. Of greatest concern to me is that the vet said that my horse is insulin resistant.

Now, that might eventually prove to be true, but I was really freaked out when she announced this right at the end of our phone conversation last night. It started to really sink in after I hung up, and it reminded me of something that happened years ago with Silk. When we lived in California about eight years ago, I arrived at the stables one day and found Silk totally lame on both front legs. My regular vet was on vacation, so his partner came out. He took one look at Silk and pronounced that she had laminitis. I went through a terrible weekend, worrying and crying. On Monday, when my vet came back to work, he looked at Silk and said there wasn’t any laminitis. She had just been trimmed too short by the farrier and her feet were sore.

So, to tell me right now that Siete is insulin resistant seems kind of premature. As I understand it, there’s no accurate way to test for this until her feet are better. I think it’s a good idea to treat her like she has this condition for the moment, but why frighten me by putting it so definitively? And believe me, it did frighten me real good. I wouldn’t have reacted so strongly if she had even told me that there’s a “strong possibility” that Siete is insulin resistant and we should explore it. To some, that might be splitting hairs, but to a worried horse owner who knows what insulin resistance is, it was a big statement. I calmed myself down by deciding that before I automatically accept this diagnosis, I am going to look into it a lot further.

So, like the new president is moving forward cautiously yet with as much speed as possible, I am learning this new lesson with my horse. Siete is going to be fine because I am going to do everything I can to find the best course of action to solve these problems. It's going to take a while. I slept better last Tuesday after the election results were announced. And knowing that Siete’s coffin bones have not dropped down in her feet made me sleep much better last night.


LJB said...

My Morgan mare is insulin resistant -- poor girl, it took me two summers of watching her get plumped out on grass (our lovely pastures here!) and then her feet splaying and getting cracks before I admitted fully to myself that she was IR. She recovered, complains a little when her best buddies are out of sight eating and she has only so-and-so to share her pretty much bare paddock.

But she is so much more healthy, her feet are solid, no scary fat on her crest or rump... so I consider my control of her diet is working. She does get to graze now and then with a grazing muzzle.

It sure bothered you to have your vet declare her IR. Would you like to consult with an equine nutritionist/friend of mine about diet? Or simply check his website first: Best wishes.

billie said...

I'm glad you have some definitive diagnoses to work with - even though it sounds so scary and I know it's hard to hear, especially when it's not certain.

Many many people I know are feeding their horses "as if" they are insulin resistant b/c overall, it's a healthier and more natural way to feed horses. is a wonderful resource with tons of good info. There is also a big Yahoo list for learning more/coping with insulin resistance in horses. I am not on it - but have friends who are, and they get much good info there. I'm sure if you do a Yahoo group search it will pop up.

I think Eleanor Kellon (I'm taking her equine nutrition online course right now) also offers a course on insulin resistance in horses. It might be a good way to learn all you can when/if the dx is clear.

If you need/want more info later on, let me know. I'll try to gather all the links and resources and send them on to you.

Big hug - and don't fret too much. I think it's a very manageable condition, although it is more complex at first.

Grey Horse Matters said...

I think the vet dropped some bombs on you this week and I also think you should get another vets opinion. Two opinions are better than one, just to be sure that everyone is on the same page. I'm sure you will sort this all out and Siete will be fine in the long run. Have a great weekend.

deejbrown said...

Siete is here for a reason. She is teaching you, and you are on course with your family, your horses, and your blog, from which we all benefit. There are many who are with you, "in spirit," during those long dusty hours in the barn.

Cactus Jack Splash said...

We have an older insulin resistant horse. We watch what she eats and use Vitex in soaked orchard grass pellets. She is doing well on that.
Did your vet to blood work to determine if she was insulin resistant?

Farm Girl said...

I had a Rocky Mountain that had severe Insulin Resistance and foundered 3 times before I found this site and learned how to manage it. (My vet was NO help). This Yahoo site that Billi spoke of saved his life. You can join here and it is free.

But here is a page that may help:

You can know for sure if Siete has IR by one simple blood draw. then you can decide what you want to do.

I hope this helps.

Gecko said...

What a relief that here's nothing TOO horrible wrong with poor Siete, I bet she'll be glad when you can figure out everything that's going on and what to do about it. Thoughts with you and your horsies! =)

detroit dog said...

I suspect the vet just told you that only since there have been numerous and slower-to-heal incidences with Siete's feet. Perhaps she should have tested before saying anything alarming.

Having said that, though, I am glad to see here that you have such knowledgeable, compassionate, and experienced blog-pals to reassure you and educate you.

I wasn't sure what IR in a horse is when I read your post, so I did a quick Google search, and found this fact sheet from the UConn web site:

Best wishes for Siete and you.

Lori Skoog said...

Virginia...Last year I was taking my POA for driving lessons and the trainer suggested that I get some weight off her. I did it with a Nutrena product called Safe Choice (which was recommended by the vet)...she lost 100 pounds. I have learned that when there is grass (and my pasture is more like a lawn than lush) I put her on safe choice. When there is snow on the ground I can convert her over to what the other horses are eating. I have never kept any of my horses on a dry lot, but they don't have 24/7 access to the pasture either. Controlling the amount of grass available seems to work. I know people who won't let their horses on pasture until a certain date, when it is growing like crazy. To me, this is a mistake, as it gets so rich their bodies can't handle it. If there is grass, mine are on it..they keep it down but there is enough to keep them busy and happy. I supplement with hay year round.
I agree with Grey Horse Matters...if the diagnoses is of a serious nature, a second opinion might be the way to go. One of the vets in the practice I use is extremely cautious and has scarred the heck out of people when it was not necessary.

The 31 year old Belgian I have here, has repeatedly had trouble with abcesses. His age does not help his immune system. You sure have had your share.

I am learning so much from the people who leave you comments. This is good.

Hope the sun comes out for you real soon.
Thanks for the comment regarding the indoor.

billie said...

One more thing occurred to me when I woke up this morning - a good friend had a huge percentage of her herd gain weight and some developed laminitis after she put them on a soy-based ration balancer.

Several of her mares developed swollen udders and three had fairly extreme behavioral issues develop within a month's time.

All of the above completely disappeared when she went off the soy-based RB.

When I increased Salina's feed that included soy, she began to develop swollen udders as if she were pregnant. This was the final straw that prompted me to change our entire feeding regimen to whole foods.

I know Siete has had more than her share of abscesses before you started the PP, but if much of this recent stuff came after that, and if it contains soy, you might also consider soy being a factor. It's not true for every horse by any means, but apparently there are horses who don't do well with it. Unfortunately for those who do, it's in the vast majority of processed feeds and many ration balancers and supplements.

Sounds like with the current plan she won't be getting anything with soy anyway, but I wanted to offer this just in case.

Oh, and I'm glad farmgirl gave you those links - that is the list - and I have heard SO MANY wonderful things about it. It has apparently saved a lot of horses' lives.

Victoria Cummings said...

LJB- Thanks for the contact with your nutritionist friend. I'll check it out. And I am going to get Siete a grazing muzzle.

Billie - I appreciate your comment about how an IR diet is actually healthier and more natural. These are great resources and I'll follow them right away.

Arlene - I am going to get a second opinion. Fortunately, this vet practice has some great people working there and the new vet is willing to consult with them. They know Siete from last year's episode of Lyme so it's logical that they would be brought in and I trust their advice.

Deej - I'm really glad you're with me in spirit and I can feel it. Thanks!

Farm Girl - Thanks so much for this info - I will definitely check it out!

Gecko - I keep reminding myself not to over-react. I am grateful because this could be much worse.

Detroit Dog - I am so lucky to have all of you as my friends. Thanks for caring enough to do research to find out more about IR - I'm really touched by your concern.

Lori - I will look into Safe Choice. Thanks very much! My old vet who retired thinks that Siete is very sensitive to the environmental changes here, particularly when it's dry for a while and then gets wet. That's really what was happening at the beginning of this ordeal. The weight gain could just be due to lack of exercise in the last 3 months of sore feet.

Pony Girl said...

I hope that Siete's hoof is able to drain soon and give her relief. It sounds like you have gotten some great advice from blogger friends. I think a second opinion or an actual test would be helpful and ease your mind. Hang in there!

Jeanne said...

Hi, Victoria, I'm sorry to hear that Siete is going through all of this, but I hope my words will reassure you. IR isn't the end of the world. It's just something to be dealt with and managed. My mare is IR; after three years of experimenting with dietary changes and natural hoof care, my AANHCP trimmer and I have brought her from being so lame she looked like she needed a wheelchair to where she is 97% sound.

She even has "good days" where she kicks up her heels, plays, races around the pasture, and acts like a "normal" horse. Now that she has a good hoof, we suspect the remaining intermittent lameness has its source elsewhere in her body and are researching that.

Caring for her doesn't require anything difficult; instead of sweet feed, I buy oats. She gets supplements (ACV with the Mother and a mineral blend) added in. Instead of chemical dewormer, we used all-natural N.O.M.S. powder. As far as trimming goes, I have the trimmer come out every six weeks for around the same price as a traditional farrier; the bonus is, I actually save money because she doesn't wear any shoes. She's completely barefoot and better for it.

I'm lucky to be boarding where they promote 24/7 turnout, and the pastures are sparsely seeded. She gets fresh air, lots of movement, and enough grass to nibble on that she thinks she's in heaven (without the side effects). I don't ride her; she'd be better off with a small, light rider. But we hang out, I do Parelli Games with her (lightly), and she's a good friend.

IR is manageable. I agree, get second and third opinions. If it is IR, you'll be fine. :-)

Ewa said...

slowly but surely Siete is getting better...
so will your country, now when there is possibility to return to regulat path and prove the power of you as incredible nation.
Congrats to result of election. I am very happy for you. His speach made me cry - no politian did it before...

PS. Vic, you are NOT crazy.

Esther said...

Victoria: Oh I feel for you, you and your girls have certainly had their fair share of problems! Hoping for you!! Sending big hugs and kisses to Silk & Siete!


C-ingspots said...

Victoria, I would advise a second opinion. That seems like a premature diagnosis and we never put a horse on meds until we've ruled out Cushings disease first. It's a very simple blood test done in 2 steps. 1) Initial blood draw (pre-dex), then horse is injected with dexamethasone IM 2) ~19 hours later, blood draw #2 (post-dex). Results are obtained within 24-48 hours.

Does your horse have fatty deposits at her tailhead, cresty neck and around her girth area specifically? or, is she just overall a little chubby? Was the medication a brand of the drug Levothyroxine sodium? - usually a powder given as a top-dress once daily. This drug can be harmful if not definitely a hypothyroidism condition. From reading your posts, I get the distinct impression that your horses are very important to you. If Siete were mine, I'd procede with a little more caution and make sure.
I'm sorry that you're going through so many trials (and Siete), but you are definitely catching it early if there is a problem. Count your blessings that there is no coffin bone rotation. Keeping her toes bobbed shorter than usual and more squared in the front is very helpful as well. This removes a lot of pull on the tendons/ligaments on the bones inside the hoof as well as the pastern by increasing her point of "breakover". The natural balance aluminum shoe is very helpful as well. With just a few adjustments, she'll be fine.