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Discussion on 23 year old gelding stumbling

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Debbie Green
Member
Username: Green007

Post Number: 19
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Monday, Sep 27, 2004 - 10:39 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hello,

Two weeks ago, we rescued a 23 year old QH gelding who had been neglected and then abandoned by his previous owner. He is wonderful, sweet and kind. He is 15.1 hands and walks, trots and canters under saddle. Becuase he was abandoned, we have a host of issues we are confronting so need guidance on each. The vet is coming Friday for a wellness exam and teeth checkup, and the farrier is coming in a week.

1) Stumbling

At first I thought it was just arthritis in his knees, but when I watch him move he has a tendency to land toe first up front. His head never bobs, his front legs just give way on occasion. If I get on and get him more active and marching from the hind end, he stumbles less, but it doesn't go away. He does much better in the softer grass of the field - the stumbling gets worse in the riding arena which is packed down and hardened from years of overuse. He hasn't been shod in years, so hopefully his feet are just tender and shoes up front will help. Any other suggestions or issues I should have the vet check (navicular?)


2) Poor coat condition

His coat has a lot of dandruff - almost looks like rainrot. We are bathing him in betadine shampoo but wanted to know if this is symptomatic of a larger condition (hormones? nutrition?)

3) Diet

He only ate grass before, and was quite underwieght, so we have worked him up to 8 quarts of Equine Senior a day along with Equinyl (glucosamine + chondroitin sulfate), MSM and an omega 3 fatty acid supplement. I don't want to overfeed in the event he has navicular, but he needs something to give him energy and to help him build muscles as we gradually increase his workload. Are there supplements out there that are geared toward older, arthritic horses who are being worked lightly? How long before we can expect results from our feeding program?

4) Uneven sweating.

He will sweat even if we are just walking, but if I ask for gentle leg yields or a little more engagement in the walk or trot, he sweats quite a bit between his hind legs. This is fine, but the problem is that long after the sweat is bone dry on his front end,he is still very wet and hot between his hind legs. Is this normal? I have never seen anything like it. Workouts are less than 30 minutes long, and only include walk/trot until he builds enough strength for canter. Is this too much work for an old horse? Could this be a hormone issue?

We are doing the best we can, but I don't want to hurt the old guy.

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Little King Ranch
Member
Username: Eoeo

Post Number: 79
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Monday, Sep 27, 2004 - 11:13 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Holy Crap,Debbie, you say this horse was neglected AND abandoned and in two weeks, less because you have been riding him etc. already, you want him to do all these things. Put this into perspective, sort of. Say your 92 year old grandmother who had not been fed properly, was underweight and sat around watching TV was given all sorts of goodies like ensure, good meals, etc. and you wanted her to go out everyday and do the chores. Do you think she would have the strength in less than 2 weeks to go out there and do a day's work? Back off on him and give him some time, like a couple of months. Get his feet trimmed, put him on some joint supplements, coat conditioners, etc. and give them time to work. Sounds to me like you are throwing a lot things at him overnight and expecting results overnight. JMHO EO
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Debbie Green
Member
Username: Green007

Post Number: 20
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Monday, Sep 27, 2004 - 11:23 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Believe me, we are not asking a lot. Mostly he just walks around the field on a long rein. We don't trot for more than 5 minutes in onr day. Most days we only ride for 15 minutes total. It is all very, very light work. The only reason we work on leg yields is because he is barn sour, and does the "jack knife body" technique if we use too much rien. He needs to listen to the leg just so we can leave the barn! It isn't a drill, it is just confirming to him that we need to go away from the barn.

We are going slowly, I just want to know what to look out for, as we are going along.

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Aileen
Member
Username: Sunny66

Post Number: 550
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Monday, Sep 27, 2004 - 11:37 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Debbie,

First of all, good for you for taking this good boy in and taking care of him!

My two cents, get the vet out now and get xrays before you put shoes on him.

It sounds like you already know that you have to introduce things - changes in feed and work - slowly at first.

Good luck!
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: Dro

Post Number: 11263
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Tuesday, Sep 28, 2004 - 3:23 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I do think you are doing too much with this guy and would not put him under saddle until his feet are trimmed properly and he begins to put on a bit of weight. Taking your other questions in order:
1) I would certainly have a thorough exam done but a good trim and improved condition will certainly help this.
2) This is probably related to the poor nutrition and care and I would expect it to improve along with his body condition.
3) We have articles on both older horse nutrition and arthritis, I would review these.
4) Hmmm yes possibly Cushingnoid, they sometimes have unusual sweating conditions, see Equine Diseases Endocrine Disorders Cushing's Syndrome and Pituitary Tumors.
DrO
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Debbie Green
Member
Username: Green007

Post Number: 21
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Tuesday, Sep 28, 2004 - 3:39 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

We have changed the program and are now hand walking him for 15 minutes a day to build his strength. We will do this for a month and see if there is improvement. We will continue to feed him the Senior Feed, along with plenty of carrots. My husband feels like he is living the final chapter in Black Beauty ("and then the people started to feed me and give me kind words"...)

We really love this guy.
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Rick Obadiah
Member
Username: Onehorse

Post Number: 50
Registered: 9-2003
Posted on Tuesday, Sep 28, 2004 - 3:45 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Debbie:

Another thought to consider on the 'uneven sweating'... I believe that horses that are out of shape tend to sweat unevenly and the sweat has an odor.

Sweating is a way for a horse to cool but if the horse is in shape and healthy it would be an even sweat and somewhat odorless.

Perhaps as time passes and his health improves this aspect of his symptoms may dissappear.

Also, with the care and attention you're giving him (better diet, nutrition, shoeing/trimming, etc.) his body will be going through major changes ... give him time to physically adjust to these changes before putting him through too much activity. And I admire your willingness to take this 'old guy' in and add love and care to his life ... the reward will be great!
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Lisa Germann
Member
Username: Lisamg

Post Number: 35
Registered: 8-2004
Posted on Tuesday, Sep 28, 2004 - 5:13 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Debbie;

Does the old guy just sweat unevenly or are you seeing a "second sweat"? I have a pesnionier too. He is 25 and has never really been retired (only slowed down) in his career which is distance riding. The "second sweat" is something I have noticed him doing when he's been pushed too far. His heart and head tell him he can offer more than he can afford at times. This often results in a second sweat that can take awhile to dry. Often only appearing on one side or area. Like others have suggested you were probably asking too much of him too soon. My horse does this on occasion and he is fit. My experience with older horses is that, just like people, they have good days and bad days. It's our job to know when they are not up to a task we are asking.

Good luck with him, and it's nice to see someone appreciating an older horse. What they lack in physical strength they often make up for with wisdom and experience. In my opinion, they are often worth their weight in gold.

Lisa
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Little King Ranch
Member
Username: Eoeo

Post Number: 80
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Tuesday, Sep 28, 2004 - 5:16 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Debbie, I think you are on the right track. If he wasn't getting other things, you can bet he wasn't getting access to salt either. That will take a while to catch up too. Good Luck. EO
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Elizabeth Donahue
Member
Username: Paul303

Post Number: 440
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Wednesday, Sep 29, 2004 - 2:45 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Since you're giving him carrots anyway, you might try only giving them to him while he is working with you. Incorporate introducing voice commands and pressure commands during these hand walks. Later, you might think about ground driving in order to refresh his memory on reining. If you do all this in a gentle and encouraging way, when it comes time to ride, this horse will associate you with only good things. Also, your aids will all sound and feel familiar to him. This is a valuable time that will establish your relationship with this horse under no pressure.
With winter coming, you might want to look into introducing a little oil with his feed. Ask the vet.
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Debbie Green
Member
Username: Green007

Post Number: 22
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Wednesday, Sep 29, 2004 - 10:42 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

We are using the carrots along with praise when we catch him in the field. He is really quite easy to work around, very sweet, so we have been doing gentle neck stretches for his carrot "rewards."

Last night he was downright chipper coming in from the field, and he even decided to do a full body stretch all on his own when I put him back out in the field. He is leading with much more energy and alertness. It is fun to watch the transformation from beaten down to socially aware. His ears used to go straight out to the side like airplane wings, now they are attentive and flickering.

There is a salt lick in the pasture, but perhaps we should add some salt to the diet. Are electrolytes really all they are cracked up to be? I like using plain, cheap old table salt if supplementing feed. Is there any harm in this?

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Sue G
Member
Username: Warwick

Post Number: 85
Registered: 4-2002
Posted on Wednesday, Sep 29, 2004 - 11:36 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Debbie

Good for you for rescuing this old fellow. Sounds like he's settling in well.

I know you're busy taking care of him but is there any chance of posting a photo? I think everyone following this thread would love to see him.
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Holly Zukowski
Member
Username: Cowgrl

Post Number: 362
Registered: 6-2004
Posted on Wednesday, Sep 29, 2004 - 4:46 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Debbie.

Seems like he's on the right track to a rewarding and cherished second life. Just gotta love these senior citizens. They have so much to offer just being there and when you see them really respond, that's payment enough.

I know I'd love to see a picture of him.

Good luck.
Holly
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Debbie Green
Member
Username: Green007

Post Number: 23
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Monday, Oct 4, 2004 - 10:04 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hello,

I wanted to give an update on Honky Tonk (yes, thats the name he came with). We took pictures of him which I will download into the computer as soon as I have time. I am proud to say that he has gained weight in the past 3 weeks so looks much better than he did. All he needed was a little TLC.

The vet came on Friday and floated his teeth. His teeth were a mess. We could see immediate results at the next feeding; he wasn't dropping food all over the place.

The vet did say that based on his coat (which is quite long and wavy) and his age, he is likely Cushingoid, which explains the sweating, the tenderfootedness, the poor coat condition and the loss of muscle on his topline. It all makes sense. Blood has been sent to the lab for testing.

We hoof tested and flexed him and he's as sound as can be. No pain in the navicular region, and knees are quite good for his age. Due to the Cushings, we do need to be on the lookout for laminitis outbreaks, so we are thinking about adding beet pulp to his diet. Is there a better senior feed out there than Purina Equine Senior for Cushings horses?

The farrier came on Sunday, took a lot of toe off and put on basic steel shoes - front only. As a result, he is not stumbling anymore, but he feels a bit off now. This farrier is new to me and is a big advocate of barefoot horses - she doesn't like to shoe, and is not a shoeing specialist. I may need to switch farriers as I am thinking he might need heart bar shoes or pads. Even though he is at risk for laminitis, he is so footsore I can't help but think he would be more comfortable with his soles off of the ground. Would heart bar shoes and pads be ok or would that cause more trouble with a horse that is at risk for laminitis?

Pictures coming soon, though he is half asleep in all of them!

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Lisa Germann
Member
Username: Lisamg

Post Number: 36
Registered: 8-2004
Posted on Monday, Oct 4, 2004 - 8:39 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Debbie;

If you are at all close to the Midwest (like Ohio or Michigan) I feel that Buckeye Senior Feed is far superior to the Purina Senior Feed. I've used both. My horse only ate the Pruina because he got hungry enough. He would actually eat his hay first. On the Buckeye senior feed he eats that first and the other horses would eat that over regular oats given the choice. Plus my 25 year old horse keeps his weight better on the Buckeye feed.

Hope it's available to you.

Lisa
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: Dro

Post Number: 11290
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Monday, Oct 4, 2004 - 9:59 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

While I disagree with Lisa's assessment that the Purina product is inferior to the Buckeye, we have many old horses in the practice that do great on it, it is true that some horses do not like the flavor, a somewhat licorice one. In that case you certainly should try other name brand senior feeds. For the management of horses with founder, including information on heart bars see Equine Diseases Lameness Diseases of the Hoof Founder & Laminitis.
DrO
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Debbie Green
Member
Username: Green007

Post Number: 24
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Tuesday, Oct 5, 2004 - 9:17 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Flavor is not the problem with Equine Senior when it comes to Honky Tonk! He nickers like an idling motorcycle the whole time we are preparing the feed bucket and plows into the feed tub with much gusto when its ready. He loves it. I was thinking more in terms of starches/carbs/sugar content, as he may have a more difficult time metabolizing these. Cushings horses need high fiber, protein and fats while minimizing the former ingredients.

I discovered a wonderful group of folks in yahoo groups that focuses on Cushings horses, so will find out more. He is healthy now, so we will probably just cut his Equine Senior ration in half, and use the beet pulp for the other half, plus oils for fat. Should work out, but we will watch him closely.

Pictures coming soon!
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: Dro

Post Number: 11298
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Wednesday, Oct 6, 2004 - 7:13 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Though adding beet pulp is a reasonable step particularly if his teeth are a problem, cutting his concentrate is not since he is underweight.

Equine Senior is a high fat(4%), high protein(16%), feed with fortified vitamins and balanced minerals, while beet pulp gets all of its calories from carbohydrates. Though these carbs may largely be complex carbs with a lower glucose index, it is devoid of vitamins and the minerals are badly balanced.

I know the Yahoo group (I have debated others in our pages) does not like the molasses in it, personally I think the small amount added for flavoring is not of consequence. If beet pulp makes sense in your total picture, I recommend you add it, not substitute it, to his current regimen and this is based on managing dozens of Cushingnoid horses personally.
DrO
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Debbie Green
Member
Username: Green007

Post Number: 25
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Wednesday, Oct 6, 2004 - 9:11 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thanks Dr O,

He is actually gaining weight magnificently. Since we don't have "before and after" pictures you won't be able to tell when I finally get around to posting the photos, but he has gained weight so well under the nominal amount of feed we are giving him, we may keep status quo or even cut back. We don't want him going from too thin to too fat, especially not too quickly!

Thanks for your help. I love this website.



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Debbie Green
Member
Username: Green007

Post Number: 39
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Thursday, Oct 21, 2004 - 10:20 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I finally have photos of Honky Tonk to upload but am unable to do so due to size (they are 1466 KBs). Does anyone know how to shrink files? I tried using a zip file but that only seemed to make it bigger.
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: Dro

Post Number: 11380
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Saturday, Oct 23, 2004 - 9:01 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Debbie, most image software programs have settings to reduce the file size of a image. Check the software you used to import it into your computer.
DrO
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Alden Chamberlain
Member
Username: Alden

Post Number: 129
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Tuesday, Oct 26, 2004 - 4:10 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Debbie,

I've used Irfanview for years, I believe it is still free to download and use.

http://www.irfanview.com/main_download_engl.htm

If you want to make it even easier you can download powertoys from MicroSoft and it adds a menu item to the right mouse click that will resize images without opening them.

But in my opinion a computer without Irfanview is an incomplete one, I use it almost everyday with my digital camera.

Good day,
Alden
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