Thursday, February 17, 2011

Spooks On Cattle

If working cows on Moon helped me figure out a few things about him (and myself)...

Working cows on Spooks was just as effective for figuring him out a little.

Spooks is a bit of an odd duck.

Besides trying to figure out all of the little physical things that are going on with him, I've been trying to figure out his mentality as well.

Spooks is not a real personable horse, but he is not totally lacking in personality. He is not timid, but he is not dominant either. He will stand his ground with the other horses, but he mostly just quietly eases himself out of any line of fire or stands back and waits things out.

I have yet to figure out exactly what is going on with Spooks physically. Everything I've done seems to have helped a little in it's own way, but even all added up together, there is still something 'funky' going on with the way this horse travels. Sometimes he seems to be in obvious pain, other's he just travels weird.

As a run-down to what has been done to him;

Teeth-not as bad as I thought they were = No change.

Feet-ran into old abscesses and bruising when I was trimming him last summer, had him shod and kept him shod for 6 months = better shaped feet, bruising gone, heels back on his hind feet and a mild improvement to his gait. Had shoes removed a week ago = Not sure what to think. He acted very tender-footed at the clinic, but it almost felt like it was in his right front shoulder (that's new) and he is back to slapping his left hind on the ground (not new, but did notice that it was less exaggerated when he was shod). Prognosis = probably going back to shoes. :(

Possible old injury-Spooks has an old scar on the inside of his hock on his left hind. I suspected possible tendon damage. Vet checked = If tendon was damaged, it has healed together and his flex tests show normal use should not be affected. **However, a full flex test and chiropractic exam on him was not an option at the time, as he was dopey from getting his teeth done and we wanted to give him some time after having feet and teeth done to see if those were causes. I will be scheduling a chiropractic appointment for him in the very near future.

Condition-Last fall, I noticed Spooks' mane noticeably thinner and it suddenly decided to part in the middle of his neck. Spooks' has always had a rather coarse neck. There was no obvious crest to his neck, but when a mane suddenly starts parting in the middle of the neck (when it didn't before), it's a good indication that there is a crest there. Started feeding him IR supplement. He was already on double doses of MSM. His mane is back to laying on one side, is growing in thick again and his neck has smoothed out a lot. I have also noticed that what I thought was strange muscling over his hip has gotten soft. That was not muscling...That was a rock-hard fat pad.

**I have never wasted the money to have a horse tested for IR. There is nothing in an IR supplement that will harm a horse that is not IR (and the extra Magnesium is actually good for all working horses-I have Moon on the IR supplement and he is NOT IR). Sooo...either you see improvement and it probably was IR or you don't see any improvement and that's not what it was. (shrugs) Oh well, move on to the next possible cause.

Now here's the thing I am learning about IR's not just a matter of feeding them a supplement and it magically gets all better. Depending on how long a horse has been suffering the condition or how severely, they can come out of it relatively quickly or it can take months of work. The thing about it is, working a horse that is sore and/or obviously lame goes against everything we learned as good horseman(woman). However, it is paramount that IR horses have regular, structured exercise. Their muscles have lost elasticity and the only way to get that back is to make them work. Even if they are mildly lame.

At this point you are probably wondering what the heck any of this has to do with working Spooks on cattle?

Well, Spooks is inherently a pretty laid-back (read...LAZY) horse. I have been trying to figure out how much of his stiffness/lameness/ya-ya-whatever attitude has been really due to whatever physical issues he is suffering or if he is making a mountain out of a molehill. Some horses are just pea-hearted. They lack you want to call it.

At this point, I believe the horse to be compromised. Working cattle is in this horse's DNA. I could physically feel him lock onto the cow and he really was attempting to work, but he kept getting stuck. If you go back and watch his video again, you can see where a couple of times he simply didn't move with the cow and he was always late. Videos It's not that he didn't want to move, he just was having difficulty responding or stretching out.

If I am to work more cattle on this horse, I would not attempt cutting again. At this stage, it is too difficult for him. I would like to work him on cattle up and down the fenceline. That would give him the opportunity to have time to stretch out and that would help loosen up his muscles.

Now, I still have a couple of options left. First, while we are waiting for the chiro to give him a good going over, I am just working on lots of stretching, bending and getting Spooks to drive from behind. Second, will be a thorough going over by the chiro/vet and I will have her do accupuncture on him as well. Third, While I hardly think shoes should be necessary, since the ground is now soft and there is no gravel or rocks that should cause Spooks to be soooo tender-footed...I will have him re-shod. Fourth-Depending on what the chiro finds, the horse needs rode. Long-trotting is probably going to be the most beneficial, but he needs a lot of loping as well. That kind of work, coupled with a lot of softening work will help limber up his muscles.

I am giving this a couple of months to come together or I will be hauling Spooks back home and he'll go back to mostly pasture-puff status. He's sound enough that using him on the ranch here and there won't bother him. But if he isn't going to make a performance horse, he can't stay here.

I find it sadly ironic that when I brought Turk and Spooks out here a year ago, I had no idea if Turk would be salvageable or not. However, I did not consider Spooks to be a 'problem' horse. Just goes to prove (yet again) that you never know what you have until you put them to work.


Shirley said...

It was interesting watching the video after reading this. I know you are a good enough rider that Spooks being so late turning wasn't because you would be interfering with him or not paying attention to the cow, so I can see what you meant.
Maybe it's just that he isn't up to the level of fitness needed to make those moves and the regular work program you're putting him on will fix a lot of his problems. Hope so!

Cut-N-Jump said...

Sometimes the work is benificial to the older horses or the chronic horses. My mare with the laminitis flare ups- benifited from lots of hand walking. Mostly on pavement and she was barefoot. Some people would never consider it, where for her it helped immensely. Another good example of what works for one horse doesn't necessarily work on or for others.

Funny how you thought Turk would be giving you the headaches, not Spooks. Sometimes things just aren't what they seem. What is the IR supplement you use? We don't have any I would need it for at the moment, but always good to know for future reference.

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

Shirley-Thanks for the vote of confidence on my riding. LMAO-The last time I put up a video of this horse, I had some lady PMing me that I needed riding lessons. He can be like riding a pogo stick. Up, down, up, down. Bouncy, bouncy, bouncy...I should start calling him Tigger. :-) He just feels so bound up. I definitely think tight area work is too much for him right now. No sense frustrating him.

CnJ-That's true and these horses are starting to hit those ages where it takes longer to bring them back. I either need to get them coming around within the next year, or it just isn't going to be worth it. I have younger horses, I don't dare waste prime years on trying to bring a teenager around. I am lucky because I don't have to worry about them if they don't work out, they just go home and live fat and happily ever after and I grab the next bunch and start on them.

Right now I am using Frank Lampley's Horse Sense and it is working for me. However, my mom used Command Metabol-Ease and had success with it. It can be ordered out of Valley Vet. I use Command's MSM and have found it to be the most effective MSM I have purchased in years. It's the granular form and that seems to work so much better than the powdered form. Command also makes IR Ultra, it has more to it than the Metabol-Ease. I have also heard that the Animed Remission for foundered or prone to founder horses works really well. And my gosh-it is so inexpensive. 4lbs = 64-128 days for $17.95. I really think I should order this for Spooks. It might help his tender-footed tendency. I sure would like to not have to shoe him again.

Just remember that the Magnesium and Chromium both need to be present. Both work to help balance the insulin levels. Magnesium alone is beneficial for hard working horses that may be experiencing some muscle soreness, but is not as effective for the treatment of IR as Magnesium and Chromium together.

Sorry-Sheez...Do ya think I have been researching my butt off on this or what?

cdncowgirl said...

Rewatching the video after reading this makes such a difference! Have to admit the first time I watched it I just thought he was a little lazy/unfit.

Sure hope things work out for him, he seems like he'd be a real good horse. But like you said the worst that will happen to him is becoming a pasture ornament... you and he both are so lucky that way.

Funder said...

Poor Spooks! Really fascinating post though. I can't wait to see how he comes together, if you can get him over his soreness enough to leg him up.

Laura said...

Poor Spooks - he is lucky to have you give him such a thorough work up though... This post was so interesting - thanks for going through all of the stuff you have tried/are trying with him. Very informative.

Rising Rainbow said...

I remember the other video that got the "odd" response. You just can never tell what some people will say.

I hope you can find what is at the root of his issues. Sounds like a real puzzle. Hopefully the chiro will have something that will help although I can tell you first hand fixing those horses that have learned to move incorrectly because of some injury or illness can be quite a chore.

Crystal said...

Hope you find out whats bothering him. A Chiropractor/Massage often times does wonders for a horse. But sounds like there is more than that going on.

Cut-N-Jump said...

I was going to say...

If you had emailed me then nobody else would have the info. Thanks for posting it here. We don't have any at the moment that need the IR stuff, but who knows what the future holds?

Always good to know there is somewhere or someone to go to to find the info you need. I was the same way with laminitis/founder, back when I first brought Mo home. Hours online researching stuff and now some years later it is probably all changed a bit.