Monday, April 30, 2012

New Thoughts On My IR Horse And More On Colonic Distress

As most of you know, about a year and a half ago, I stumbled onto the whole Insulin Resistance concept  because I was looking for a reason for Frosty's behavioral problems and weight issue.  I was very excited to finally have a logical reason for why this horse was acting the way he was and could not seem to improve.

There are several different recognized metabolic disorders and in fact a few genetic disorders have metabolic consequences (think HYPP).

One of the most commonly recognized ones is Cushing's disease...which by the way has been renamed, Equine Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction, aka PPID, to more accurately reflect the exact condition that affects horses. PPID primarily affects older horses...but that does not mean that that these horses did not suffer from metabolic problems years before full onset of the condition.

Equine Metabolic Syndrome is another condition that is affecting more and more horses. Same as people, diets and work loads have changed and equines are struggling with weight issues, which lead to metabolic and health problems.

And of course there is Insulin Resistance. A horse can suffer from Insulin Resistance alone, but horses that suffer from EMS and PPID almost always suffer from IR along with the other problems associated with their particular condition. So, I think it is safe to conclude that problems with insulin regulation is where it all starts.

Okay...I had to include this link...It's pretty basic...but I got quite a laugh out of the photoshopping...If nothing else, give yourself a giggle...

Feeding The Metabolic Horse

That's some funny stuff right?

Now, even if you didn't read the whole thing...I'm sure most everyone at least looked at the list of symptoms and the one thing that is very prevalent is the fact that chronic laminitis and/or founder is a real problem with these horse. In a lot of cases, changes in the feet can be the very first indication that something is going on internally.

Changes in gait length, undiagnosable lameness issues, stretching of the lamina and/or even event lines on the hoof wall are all indicators. Or can be in lu of any other reasonable explanation, even if your horse is not unreasonably 'fluffy'...but chances are, weight control is an ongoing issue.

For all of the in-depth hoof practitioners out there...the following link is for you. I'm not even going to pretend that I understood everything in eyes glazed over a few times...but I got the gist and I think those of you who are interested enough will too...

Endocrinopathic Laminitis In The Horse

In the simplest terms, problems in the metabolism lead to problems in the hind-gut and problems in the hind-gut lead to problems in the feet.

There is that wretched hind-gut thing again!

That does not mean that all horses that suffer from laminitic episodes are automatically insulin resistant. It is the imbalance of sugars and starches in the hind-gut that can cause laminitis. Insulin resistance (and other metabolic disorders) are just likely to be contributors to the problem, since the body's ability to balance insulin and utilize sugars and starches properly are compromised, resulting in a higher load of them being dumped into the hind-gut.

The basics of 'fixing' an IR horse are quite simple;

Reduce starch/sugar intake levels
Add a feed supplement that helps the system manage insulin levels
Increase exercise to aid in weigh loss

Sounds easy right?

Sometimes Yes, sometimes Not so much.

I did everything they said to do for Frosty;

Restricted his grazing time and made sure that he was not out when the sugar levels were high in the grass
Put him on strictly grass hay
His grain intake was very, very low
Added a beneficial supplement
And put him to work

It all helped. At least it got me to the point where he was not globby fat, his focus improved and life got better. But in an entire year...we never really got over that know, where he turned into the kind of horse I knew was lurking in there and for all the riding and hauling that horse saw last year...his saggy belly never went away. There was nothing helpful in all of the IR articles that I read that really went beyond the basics of how to care for these horses. No what-to-do's for the horse that just can't seem to get completely healthy.

I believe I underestimated the impact of insulin resistance on the system...the entire system. By the time a horse starts to show symptoms of IR, they are already negatively affected on a cellular level. In layman's terms, cells have become resistant to absorbing glucose out of the blood, the pancreas produces more and more insulin because the body is telling it is low, the thyroid becomes out of whack with the rest of the system (typically it starts to underproduce as it is robbed of vital nutrients) and the colon is left to deal with exaggerated levels of glucose (sugar), which causes inflammation.

The same phenomena affects people affects people and dogs.

I even ran into an article on dogs suffering from Cushing's Disease, which made me think of Nuzzling Muzzles' little Midge-excessive drinking, excessive urination, repeated intestinal infections and erratic behavior. I will have to remember to ask her about that when she comes online again after her move. There are good vets in AZ, that are probably more likely to be helpful than what she has experienced.

So anyway, back to the horses...

If you are googling IR info on particular attention to the date of the article. Articles from 2009 (and before) will give you the basic info, but feed recommendations are a bit outdated and conflict with more current thoughts on the subject.

One of the things I noticed about poor Frosty when he was on the older version of the diet, is that he seemed so unsatisfied. Spooks, who I would not consider a full-blown IR case, but still showed some tendencies, also seemed to suffer from the 'I'm starving' mentality. Even upping their hay intake a bit more did not seem to help the hunger issue and of course, by last fall, Frosty had started to get peaked through the hips. The horse was getting 'thin', but that ungodly belly was not budging. Spooks really doesn't have problems with losing weight...he loses it just fine...but he suffers from other symptoms; overall body soreness, tender-feet, lethargy, does not come into condition well and has an insatiable appetite. He is also prone to a cresty neck and fat deposits on his rump...even when the rest of him is garnering on 'thin'-looking.

It was while I was researching and reading all of the colonic stuff for Moon and decided that the addition of alfalfa might help with his ulcers, that I got the surprise on Frosty. Since my grass hay supply was dwindling, I decided to add a few pounds of alfalfa to all of the horse's diets. Previously, legume hay was considered a no-no for IR horses. Mostly because of it's higher caloric value, which made weight loss harder. But, I figured...'Hey, the horses are on pasture, green grass hasn't started to come yet, he's getting rode and a few pounds a day shouldn't hurt.' Imagine my surprise that after just a couple of weeks on the alfalfa...Frosty's sagging belly started to pull up. It was like magic.

Of course, newer research reveals that alfalfa can actually be a more ideal feed for IR horses than certain grass hays. Most alfalfa is lower in the sugars and starches that horses with metabolic and colonic problems are so sensitive too. Without a doubt...amount of consumption needs to be a consideration. I followed the 3lbs per day recommendation as sited as a sufficiently beneficial amount to reduce ulcer problems.

Now...alfalfa may have been a boon for Frosty's digestive system...but it's not for everyone. It had a wickedly adverse affect on Moon's respiratory system and about the same time I noticed a marked improvement in Frosty, I noticed that Spooks was starting to move stiffly. Particularly in his hips.

More research ensued and those two went on an alternative...a high-fiber pelleted feed. I did not go fancy, I simply went with a low starch, low NSC, high-fiber pellet (It must be at least 20%, but 30% is optimal). There are a lot of fancy feeds out there, particularly formulated for horses with starch/sugar sensitivity, but they are expensive! I started with 2 lbs per feeding, along with 1 lb (weighted dry) of beet pulp shreds and a double handful of oats (for taste and texture) and soaked the mixture down. In the beginning, I would add a lot of water to the beet pulp, swirl it around and drain it immediately to rinse as much of the molasses off as I could. After the horses improved, I didn't bother rinsing anymore.

I also added 1 cup per feeding of low starch, low-sugar, high-fat supplement. It's mostly ground flaxseed with a bit of soybean added to raise the fat index. The lack of fat, according to the original IR diet I had the horses on, probably had a lot to do with their lack of satisfaction. The introduction of necessary fat in a horse's diet has become a big thing these days. The type of fat fed is vitally important, depending on what exactly is going on with a horse. As we have gotten wiser about what is good vs. what is bad, the options have become more limited. Many sites will  recommend feeding a horse 1 cup of corn oil a day. Armed with today's knowledge...corn oil is not a good selection for horses that suffer from IR or colonic issues. Corn oil (and most other commonly used oils) are loaded with Omega 6 fats and are inflammatory inducers. Only Omega 3 fats are able to produce  the beneficial anti-inflammatory response in the system. Obviously, this makes any fat that has MORE Omega 3's vs. Omega  6's  the better choice. People have begun to feed their horses fish oil for the Omega 3 factor and I have not read where this has been a problem. Coconut oil is supposed to be quite beneficial and people who use CocoSoya swear by it. Soy is a better choice than most, but you should be aware that it is high in starch and for horses that are struggling with starch sensitivity, it may not be the best option at first. That pretty much leaves Flaxseed. Ground flaxseed is my personal choice as there is suggestions that the ground hulls have additional benefits that help sooth the intestinal tract.

In essence, I began to feed my IR horses exactly as I was feeding Moon, who has colonic problems.

Moon and Spooks get the high-fiber mix a.m. and p.m.. Frosty got the alfalfa in the a.m. and the high-fiber mix in the p.m. All three showed a significant improvement in their level of 'satisfaction' with their meals. Moon's appetite improved and he began to eat more hay. Frosty and Spooks' appetites actually decreased and instead of gobbling up their grass hay and looking for more, they slowly nibbled on it throughout the day.

So what does the high-fiber pellet do?

I don't think it does much more than reduce the sheer amount of roughage the hind-gut has to process. When the hind-gut is struggling and inflamed, it simply cannot cope with processing a large amount of dry roughage and no matter what you are trying to feed to rectify that, it just doesn't do any good. Introducing a significant amount of more easily digestible fiber, allows the colon a chance to rest and recoup. The good microflora are still provided with the kind of fiber they need to survive and thrive. The non-beneficial microflora...the ones that thrive on lactic acid and sugar complexes...end up starving out. This takes a few weeks, whether you are adding a probiotic or not. Nature doesn't work quickly in the hind-gut. :(

If a horse is struggling with insulin resistance, their bodies are not properly utilizing sugars and starches  in the foregut and that excess gets dumped into the hind-gut, continuing the promotion of the non-beneficial microflora and inhibiting the ability of the beneficial microflora to thrive. That is where I think Frosty was. The supplements helped, but he was unable to complete the transition in the hind-gut.

Now...finally....supplements for IR...

There's a ton on the market. The most commonly accepted 'aids' include; magnesium, chromium and sodium (salt). Iodine may also be included.

Iodine is absolutely necessary for thyroid function and except for a few areas, it is a difficult nutrient to come by naturally. It is most abundant in seaweed (kelp) and some types of seafood. Iodine has historically been added to salt as a way to provide it on a regular animals and to humans. However, many people have switched to using different types of salt that do not contain the added iodine and are more lacking in it than ever. On average, horses are unable to attain enough iodine through salt blocks to meet their nutritional requirements...particularly insulin resistant  horse.

Which brings me to salt...most horses simply cannot lick enough salt off of a salt block to meet ideal needs...particularly insulin resistant horses. There is debate though...In humans, a high salt diet, coupled with obesity is said to promote insulin resistance. Different studies show that a low-salt diet also has a propensity to promote insulin resistance. So what do you do? Well, since most of the commercial supplements come with sodium chloride as part of the combination...I would go with what is provided. I put out iodized (not mineralized) salt blocks for my horses and have taken to adding an ounce of loose salt in their feed. I have noticed my horses sweat easier and are drinking more. An ounce a day is well within recommended guidelines for a horse. At least I know they are getting some and it has significantly decreased how much the salt blocks are used.

Chromium...The function of chromium in the metabolism is huge. Insulin may be the 'master' behind metabolism...but chromium is what assists the glucose movement into the cells. Increasing the level of chromium definitely appears to assist the body in overcoming resistance at a cellular level.

Magnesium...affects both secretion and utilization of insulin in the body. Assisting the body to maintain  a more level utilization of insulin will also help 'calm' many flighty/spooky horses. If nothing else is provided outside of dietary changes for IR horses, the addition of magnesium has been proven over and over to be beneficial. In fact, the addition of magnesium has been indicated to improve recovery time and reduce muscle soreness in performance horses as well.

In the course of researching and reading, I did come across this article that poo-poos pretty much every idea set forth about IR and related metabolic disorders. Apparently this guys' supplement is the ONLY thing that works and everything else is garbage...

HERIO supplement

LOL!  Okay then... think your horse has some IR issues going on?

Where do you start?

That depends on exactly what you are dealing with at the moment.

If you have an overweight horse that has resisted losing weight in spite of diet changes...Most likely the addition of a supplement...and an exercise program!!!!...might be all that is needed to help them recover.

If you are already noticing problems in the feet or have limited success with weight-loss after trying the supplement for a few months (Yes, months...remember we are dealing with problems on a cellular level and these cannot be rectified overnight)'s important to put some focus on getting that hind-gut regulated as well.  If green grass is not the likely culprit...then you might be surprised to realize it is actually your hay. Some types of hay are much higher in sugars/starches than others. You may have to resort to soaking.

Soaking hay leaches the sugars out of the hay...but you should be aware that it also leaches most of the other nutrients out of it as well. If you have to resort to soaking hay, find a quality vitamin/mineral supplement to help provide the missing nutrients. The warmer the water, the faster the sugars will leach, so if you use hot water...30 minutes is usually sufficient. Cold water usually requires about an hour of soaking. Drain hay, rinse and feed. Have fun with's a pain in the ass and my horses did not like the wet hay. I had to resort to soaking a feeding ahead and letting it air dry somewhat before they would eat it.

Add a bit of alfalfa and/or a high-fiber feed. Beet pulp is a high fiber feed and can be used as well. I have no experience with the horses would not eat them after they turned to mush from soaking, so I am all about the shreds, which I generously moisten and feed immediately. If you cannot get no-molasses beet pulp-rinse the excess molasses off and rewet when mixing the feed. I have found that my horses will only eat about 1-11/2 lb (dry weight) of the shreds per meal. Any more than that and they get full and will not finish the feed, which means the supplements usually get left in the bottom. :(
In which case, the addition of the high-fiber pellets comes in handy. One to two pounds of that per feeding with 1 lb of beet pulp (dry weight) will give the horse a comfortably full feeling. The high-fiber pellets are not as much of an energy source as beet pulp is either. So if riding or working a horse to reduce energy levels are not an option...the high-fiber pellets may be a better option than more beet pulp.

The addition of a good probiotic can be helpful...but is generally not a miracle cure. I personally feed a  probiotic that also contains B-vitamins. Normally, the hind-gut produces the necessary B-vitamins through the fermentation process in the hind-gut...however, if the hind-gut is compromised, the B-vitamin production is compromised...which may actually be one of the reasons for problems in the feet. Maybe I've been lucky, because outside of a bit of tender-footedness and a smidgeon of stretched lamina  (which could also be from weight distribution on barefoot horses), I have not had any laminitic problems...and maybe it is because I have used the Formula 7 probiotic long before I even knew what IR was. ???

Don't forget to add the beneficial fat. Omega 3's is where it's at! People may laugh when you tell them you are feeding an already heavy horse 'fat'...but the right kind of fat has anti-inflammatory properties and lends itself to making the horse feel full...something an IR horse has trouble recognizing. I start with 1/3 cup and will go up to 1 cup (per feeding) if necessary.

The primary goal is to reduce NSC to around 10% PER FEEDING. NSC's are non-structural carbohydrates. All horse feed is primarily carbohydrates...the difference is in the type. Structural carbs are complex and break down in such a way that is beneficial to the horse's digestive system. NSC's are simple carbs and break down in such a way that they produce higher levels of glucose. It is important to help the horse's system by regulating the NSC's EACH AND EVERY FEEDING until they are stabilized. Read the labels of any feeds you provide. You might be surprised to notice how many feeds and supplements add molasses to 'flavor' the feed. Molasses is very high in NSC's and notoriously difficult for horses to digest...but by's cheap and horses like the flavor. ;-)

And last, but not least...Does this problem go on forever? Are you looking at a lifetime of special feeds and feeding schedules?

Certainly, once a horse has become noticeably insulin resistant or suffered from chronic laminitis...the chances are that they will always be more susceptible to re-occurrances. Ideally, the goal is to get the body functioning properly again and learn what the triggers are. Some permanent dietary changes may be necessary...but that is because they are more in line with a horse's true dietary needs than what was previously fed. That doesn't always mean that the horse was fed 'wrong'...just that their systems need to be treated a bit differently. Supplementation should eventually vary depending on the time of year, level of use or re-immergance of symptoms. Figuring it all out will come.  And that my friends is all I have on that.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

And The Verdict Is...

The vet came back prepared to doctor horses...

Both Beretta and Gunner each received a shot of long-acting antibiotic. They were vastly improved this morning, but the heat is just kicking their butts. It's been almost 90*F here the last couple of days and it sure wipes the kiddos out. They spend most of their day under the barn, nibbling on hay.

The vet  did not think the other three horses needed the antibiotic. Their coughs and runny noses are subsiding. They will stay on the immune booster though.

Moon, Frosty and Spooks received their Flu and Rhino shots and will also stay on the immune booster.  Actually, those three were already on the immune booster, which is probably why they did not get sick in the first place.

Shirley asked what immune booster I use and I actually have 2  different kinds. The one that I have used for years is a Frank Lampley product called Vitamix. It is a concentrate of vitamins and minerals and comes in a powdery/granular form. Moon has been on a maintenance dose of that for over a month now as it is what helped bring him out of his respiratory distress that was caused by the alfalfa. Lampley's said I could just keep feeding him one scoop a day and that would help boost his immune and respiratory system.

Frank Lampley Products

I have used Lampley's products for years and have talked about them before on the blog. I feed Basic Mineral to every horse throughout the worm season. I use the Horse Sense on Frosty and Spooks for their IR tendencies and feed it to any horse that acts overly excitable/nervous. I keep the Vitamix on hand for illnesses and am now feeding it to Moon daily. And I am NEVER without my White Lightening. That stuff is absolutely fan-freaking tastic for colic, tying up and poison.

The other immune booster I have came with the bronchial dilator product that I had ordered for Moon. Both products are purely herbal and made by Equine Science.  The bronchial dilator is called Mo Lung and is quite the mix of chinese herbs...being the research goob that I am...I looked them all up and confirmed their use, toxicity, etc., etc. The immune booster is simply called Immune Booster and is a combination of Echinacea, Dandelion, Ginseng, Garlic, Rosehip, Kelp and Cinnamon. Since Moon was already on the Vitamix and that was working, I didn't switch him to this product. I did however start feeding it to Frosty and Spooks and low and behold...they aren't sick either. So, I'm leaning toward the 'it works' thought.

Equine Science

Another product I use religiously is MSM. I am kind of an MSM freak. I swear by the stuff. But...I seldom bother with following the label. I only use the granular kind and I double the dose. Moon has gotten double doses in his feed for years. It helps his respiratory system and helps to keep the inflammation out of his body and joints.

These sickies have been getting double doses at each feeding...which means they are actually getting 4x's the 'recommended' amount. Vet said that has probably helped keep their lungs clear. Now that the babies have been given shots of antibiotic, I cannot continue to feed them the Vitamix. Anytime you use an immune the label carefully or call the manufacturer. Some cannot be used with antibiotics as they will cancel each other out. I can however continue to feed them the Mo Lung and the MSM.

Now...for the other news...

I have not felt like Moon has been traveling really 'right' yet this year. He feels a bit awkward at the long trot and has been swishing his tail in an irritable manner when we lope. He's not the most graceful moving horse, but he usually gets better at he gets into shape and he's not really progressing. I had the feeling I should probably get him flex tested again and see where he was in his hocks and stifles. I have been researching joint products and kind of keep coming up with the same problem...most of the good ones contain hyaluronic acid, which is not a good combination with Moon's sensitive colon. HA is prone to encouraging gastric ulceration. Encouraging meaning, it shouldn't specifically cause ulceration...but if a horse is prone to ulceration's one to avoid.

Moon's flex tests came up positive. He is a plus 1 (out of 3) in both hocks and although he is fine on his right stifle, he is a plus 2 (out of 3) on his left stifle. I didn't even need the vet to tell me he was off when he flexed his left stifle. The second the vet released his leg and I asked him to trot off...I saw his tail wring. That explains pretty much everything...the awkward movement and his gate resistance. The vet asked if I was having problems at 2nd or 3rd barrel and the only thing that came to mind was his open mouth and cocked jaw. The vet concurred that was most likely linked. (Although I still think I contributed to that because of the too short of a hold on the inside rein.)

We talked about several options and of course, most beneficial supplements are out due to Moon's colon issues. I'm simply not ready to start injecting hocks and of course, that does nothing for his stifle reaction. Bute and similar NSAID's are also out as therapeutic measures, again due to Moon's highly sensitive colon. I told the vet how badly Moon reacted to just a couple doses of bute last summer and he heartily agreed that bute is a big no-no if he is that sensitive to it.

So, my options are fairly limited. We are going to go with an Adequan regiment and the vet also suggested that before competing to administer a dose of Equioxx...a slightly different version of the typical NSAID. Equioxx is not supposed to disturb or cause problems with the intestinal mucosa like the older generation of NSAID's do. The use of it should be a temporary thing until the Adequan kicks in.

In the meantime I am going to be researching natural pain inhibitors/anti-inflammatory agents. I know some of the herbs that are beneficial...Devil's Claw, Yucca and White Willow Bark are a few that are well known...just not sure what kind of products are out there.

Anybody have any good products like that that they use?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Vet Call

Wow...This last week I have been dealing with a herd of sick horses. It started with the youngsters, Gunner and Beretta. Deep hacking coughs followed by gobs of thick, yellow snot. Since those two have been separate from the other horses for over a week, I kept things that way. With no likely outside influences, I was fairly sure this was just brought on by extra warm days, cool nights and tons of blowing dust the previous week. I put the kiddos on an immune booster and double doses of MSM and figured it would clear in a few days.

Two days later, their snot turned clear and their coughs had lessened. Then I had two horses in the pasture start coughing. Just like the colts, the cough started at dusk and the next morning they had thick yellow snot. At that point, everyone went on the immune booster.

A couple of days later, another horse started coughing. He got a runny nose, but has not presented with the same thick, yellow snot as the other 4. I pretty much figured I had nipped the bug at that point.

Unfortunately, the colts took a turn for the worse over the weekend and both have represented with an almost neon green snot, have become depressed and are not eating with much enthusiasm. Their coughs are not as bad as they were before, but that almost worries me more than the deep, hacking coughs they had at first. At least before, it sounded like they were hacking gunk out of their lungs. When the thick, yellow snot represented...their coughs seemed less productive. So I also started adding some of Moon's bronchial dilator supplement to their feed.

I called the vet first thing this morning and scheduled to have him stop by on his way home (he lives next door to me). I have only ever had to deal with one case of pneumonia in a horse ever...but that is what this looked like to me and that needs veterinarian care.

I was aghast to find both my poor kiddos snotting up a storm this morning. Neon green and their poor noses were absolutely coated in gunk...along with their legs where they had been wiping. I washed their noses off with warm water and wiped out their nostrils. The snot ran out in thick streams faster than I could clean them up. Poor, poor babies.

Of the other horses that have it, Rip and Bugs, seem to be recovering. They still have clear snot and are coughing a bit, but otherwise act fine.

Shooter also contracted it and while he is still eating, he seems a bit more docile than normal hasn't really turned the corner to coming out of it.

Spooks and Jet don't seem to have any symptoms.

Frosty, although he is not coughing or snotty, seems to be breathing a bit heavy. I have been keeping his workouts light.

It's hard to tell with Moon. He only coughs when I ride him, but that is normal until he gets warmed up. Last night he did seem to be coughing more than normal and it had a bit of that 'breath-taking' quality that I noticed when the other horses first came down with this. I cut my ride short and was relieved to see this morning that he does not have a snotty nose and when I rode him this morning, he hardly coughed at all.

Somehow the vet did not get the message that I was on the schedule and had very sick colts that needed to be looked at as soon as he could. This isn't the first time this has happened when I have scheduled through his receptionist, so as the evening wore on, I kept looking out my back door to see if he was home. At almost dusk I see his pickup home and immediately called his answering service and told them I had been skipped and needed him to come t.o.n.i.g.h.t!!

The vet is a really good guy. His receptionist sucks...but that will be the last time I schedule anything through her. He came over and checked the babies over. Relief!!!

They do not have pneumonia!!!

It is an upper respiratory flue virus that has been going around the valley. Lots of horses have contracted it. Not uncommon after a particularly mild winter and the absolute absence of any moisture. It's a nasty little bug, but horses are responding well to antibiotics, so tomorrow everyone who has it will be given a new antibiotic that lasts 3 days in the system. The vet says most horses have recovered after just one shot. ALL have recovered if by chance they needed a 2nd shot.

Since I got exceptionally lucky that none of my competition horses came down with it...they will stay on the immune booster and will be receiving a flu and rhino shot. That's all the vet said was really necessary for local competition.

Here I was all freaked out over the amount of snot the colts were blowing out of their system and when I was telling the vet what I had them dawned on was the bronchial dilator that was making them do that. LOL...I guess it works.:-/

More after the vet comes back...cause I had some other questions for him as well and we will be sorting that out...

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

I Got It

I figured out the gapping mouth...I've got just a bit too short of a hold on the inside rein...
Too long, too short...Geez!

Ed had me reaching down on the rein almost to the buckle, so I marked that spot with a bit of colored tape. Guess when Moon is's a bit too much. I'll just move my piece of colored tape back a couple of inches and see if that helps.

But look at that form! ^^^ Now that's what I like to see. Yeahhhh!!!

As opposed to this...
At this point, I am just trying to keep him going. Go Fat Boy Go...kick, kick, kiss, kiss. Can you see Frosty's expression?

Momma...there's a big scary voice behind me and I forgot what I am supposed to be doooo-iiiing.

LMAO...He is such a dork!

But he's my dork and as Funder would say, 'Bless his heart'.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Goals Met

Well...It was a good weekend. I didn't win any money, but did end up 2nd in the 4D Average. No money awarded for the average, just prizes. So will have to wait to see what arrives in the mail. I left looonnnngggg before the barrel race was over on Sunday. I knew there was no way the time splits were going to work in my favor and land me a check.

Strangely, I'm almost at a loss for words. There's not much to talk about when things pretty much go as planned. My only goal for the weekend was to get two smooth runs on Moon. And that is pretty much what I got. We did end up slower times than I anticipated...but I also know that Moon is not legged up near well enough to ask a lot of him.

I did have some trouble with Moon at the gate and had to be led from the holding pen into the alley, but I kind of expected that. I could feel Moon's heart thudding against my legs and although he acted calm, he was tightly wound. Forward motion is hard for him when he gets nervous. He prefers to spin in circles to the right. There is lots and lots going on at these big races and Moon is no dummy. He knew what the gig was. Horses can get the butterflies as bad as their riders and I'm sure Moon has some residual bad memories of how things ended up last year. I'm not going to fret over a bit of hesitation and resistance at this point.

The only bobble was on Saturday's run. Moon left in the wrong lead and was down the alley before I realized it. He didn't get his lead switched and bowed out leaving the 1st barrel. That cost us a lot of time and we ended up with a 17.166. I was hoping to run about a 16.5-16.6 the first day and that bobble cost us that 1/2 second. He got lined out though and drove right into his pocket on 2nd. I was kissing like crazy to keep him moving and he made a beautiful turn.

Hah...It's a lot more fun when I don't have the 'Oh shit' feeling and just go with him. If I learned absolutely nothing else from EW...that was worth it.

Sunday, I made a choice that could have been costly. I was so excited after Saturday's run, I went up to look at pictures and was a bit startled to see that Moon's mouth was open and his bottom jaw flexed to the side on the picture of him rounding 2nd. *I* looked great (LOL)...I was up over him, my hand was forward and where it is supposed to be...I even had that lovely little kissy-face going on. ;-) I didn't really see any reason for Moon's jaw to be out of whack. The rest of him looked really good.

So, I thought about it a bit and decided to switch him from his normal competition bit, which is just a Jr. Cowhorse, to a O-ring snaffle. He's more than used to that bit, as it's primarily what I ride him with at home. I thought maybe I was still being too heavy handed, not sure how that could have been, since my hand was way up his neck and the reins were loose, but what the heck...there is zero chance Moon is ever going to run off and according to Ed, if you just get up there and ride them forward around the barrel, there is very little chance of them going over the top of it.

Yeaaaa....ummm...Moon wasn't responding to the snaffle the same way he responds to his Jr. Cowhorse bit. When he left the alley, his head was way up and his nose was straight out, he was gapping in the mouth and would not break over at the poll so he could gather up and push off. He did pick up the correct lead, but that was because I took my bat with me and gave him a little pop on his left hip, which pushed it over. Once he picked up his lead, I dropped the bat in the alley. We were almost to the 1st barrel before he finally broke in the poll and squared up under me. When I let him go though...he put the peddle to the metal and gassed around the 1st barrel. I knew there was no way I was going to get him gathered back up again, so I just had to drive him through the 2 barrels. We made it around them by the skin of our teeth and I know one thing...I had had slacked up even a bit...he would have hammered them.

That's not to say they weren't beautiful turns. They were. But Moon was in the driver's seat and if he would have bobbled or flattened at any point, there wasn't a darned thing I could have done about it. And I don't like that feeling. The funny thing was, I looked at those pictures before I left and there was that open mouth and flexed jaw again. Actually worse than before, because Moon was leaning on the rein. Phooey! For once *I* am doing everything right and looked awesome and I didn't buy any pictures because Moon's mouth looked so ugly.
Why Yes...I am vain that way!

**Moon gets his teeth done regularly because of his scissor mouth. He's not due for a few more months yet, but I do plan on getting them checked in the immediate future. I think I will schedule him in with the really expensive equine dentist. I like the guy I use normally and think he does a good job, but the really expensive guy has a reputation for being really good with horses with irregular mouths and I want to make sure we still have everything aligned like it should be. I kinda doubt his teeth are the problem, because there is nothing else going on in everyday life that indicates he's having problems...but it's worth a look since Moon has had problems with his grinding action in the past. Eliminate the most obvious and go from there.

Moon did take a 1/2 a second off of his previous run time. Sunday was a 16.610. And that was even with him slow-loping almost all the way to the 1st barrel, so I cannot complain or be disappointed. His form was spot on and that's really what I was hoping for. least now I have a jumping off point. Time to really get to work on getting Moon legged up. It will be a few weeks before he has to run again and when it is time, I want him completely ready.

I was disappointed because last year you could purchase your videos and have the link emailed to you. They did not offer that option this year. But maybe at this point it's better to not have videos to sit there and over-analyse between now and the next run. According to EW, I'm over-analytical anyway. It's probably just best to focus on running each run as they happen and not trying to analyze every little thing after the fact. That hasn't worked well for me in the past. Occasionally, I see something I didn't know was the mouth thing in the pictures...but for the most part...I spend too much time picking things apart and that ends up being all I think about.

There is no doubt Moon is a struggle for me. I don't think many other people would have kept on with him as long as I matter how talented he is. And maybe he isn't as capable as I think he is. I am starting to wonder if there really is any more in there or not. Moon may very well be a 'tweener'. Around here, he is capable enough to run in the 1D times, but always seems to be just out of the money. At the big races, he's doing good if he can get into the 2D times and has certainly not been anywhere near the top of that bracket. It's just one of those weird things where he always seems to be just 2 or 3 tenths off...too slow to win or place in one division, but too fast to win or place in a slower division...he's a 'tweener'. I have no idea what the heck you do about that? Don't let them run as fast? That kind of defeats the purpose don't ya think?

Well, for lack of anything better to do with my time...I'm going to just keep running him and see where it takes us. With Frosty and Spooks to play with, that takes a lot of pressure off and maybe that is just what Moon needs. I know it is what I have needed. I feel a lot less frustrated and incapable. Spooks may not be a bolt of lightening, but he is a fun ride...and always seems to draw a weird how that works huh? Frosty is promising to be a run ride as well and I know that horse has way more speed than he even realizes. It will be fun to pull it out of him.

In the meantime, the little sorrel horse is coming idea what he may be capable of, but I know he is fast and has a lot of turning power. By next year the big bay will be ready to start running. He very well may be my secret weapon. The horse I didn't think was ever going to grow into himself. LOL

So short of barrel horse potential, I am not. It's just time to start putting some focus on some of the other ones and let the chips fall where they may with Moon.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Colonic Distress In Horses

Okay...I am resorting to providing links to some of the best articles I have used to figure all of this colonic stuff out. There is just no other way. For those of you who hate links...Sorry. But there is all weekend to peruse. ;-)

I'm off to a barrel racing this weekend. Keep your fingers crossed for Moon and I. I have been treating him with a bit of UlcerGard to prep him for the haul, got him trimmed up and shoes on and he is feeling quite froggy. :-) My horse is back!


As quick as veterinarians are to suggest endoscopy and expensive treatments for even mild cases of gastric ulcers, they are often slow to discuss or even acknowledge the possibility of hind-gut ulceration. Which to me is very odd, as the first indication most people have that a horse is having hind-gut issues is a bout of colic. And colic in horses is almost always an issue of the hind-gut. In rare instances, a horse can get a twist in the small intestine, which is considered part of the fore-gut, but necropsies still show significant damage to the hind-gut and the belief is that a non-functioning hind-gut was responsible for causing the small intestine to twist.

Okay, so all of this talk of fore-gut and hind-gut, what parts exactly are we talking about?

The fore-gut of a horse is, the mouth, the esophagus, the stomach and the small intestine. There seems to be a bit of confusion, on the part of some supplement companies about the small intestine. I have seen supplement companies refer to the small intestine as being part of the hind-gut...when in fact is is not. My guess is that the small intestine is often included in the hind-gut reference due to what it does...absorb nutrients. Which is similar to what the hind-gut does...BUT, there is actually a tremendous difference in what they do and how they function.

The hind-gut of a horse is, the cecum, large colon, small colon and anus.

There are individual parts to most of these organs...if you want to be really stomach has 3 levels, the small intestine has 3 parts, etc, etc. Certain parts are more prone to irritation/ulceration than others, but we'll ease into that.

This is an awesome article on the digestive system and give loads of info about how each organ functions...

Food Factory

Even in the absence of any sort of digestive issues or distress, I realized it's wise to learn what is absorbed, where in the system. So often we simply buy supplements and dump them into our horse's feed without really knowing or understanding how exactly our horse's systems are going to utilize them. If I learned nothing else from all this research, I figured out what was probably helping and what is likely a waste of money and effort. I have definitely made changes to my feeding/supplementation program.

Okay, so back to colonic distress...

While, gastric ulcers occur for pretty specific reasons and there is a multitude of produces to aid in prevention and/or cure them...colonic distress/ulceration is much more multifaceted. Even when the problem is diagnosed (as much as it can be due to the inability to visually see the problem), there is not much a veterinarian can prescribe to 'fix' them. In the rare case of infectious colitis, antibiotics are used. Outside of that, the only chemical treatment is the prescription of sucralfate.

Sucralfate For Veterinary Use

The only other way to deal with colonic distress/ulceration in horses is through diet. I'm not even going to kid you a little bit...there is a multitude of things that could be behind colonic distress. You may or may not ever learn what set it off initially, however, as you work through the dietary changes, you usually do figure out what has the propensity to set it off again. Colonic distress/ulceration can be a one time thing, due to certain events that have happened to a horse or they can be a re-occurring event...a symptom of an underlying condition.

I've got some far-reaching theories on this following subject, but I will save that to bore you with another day. For now, I prefer to have you think I am a sane and rational person. ;-)

Colonic Acidosis!

See, if nothing else, you get the chance to learn some nifty terminology that you can start throwing around when people think you are suffering from some sort of weird equine Munchausen By Proxy Syndrome. And you will most likely get some blank looks, rolled eyes and snorts of derision from people when you try to explain that you don't think your horse is 'right', but can't exactly pinpoint where or what the problem actually is, but think it may be associated with a hind-gut issue.

True colonic ulceration is a severe and dramatic ailment that leaves little doubt that a horse is suffering. However, that condition does not spontaneously erupt. Chances are a horse has been living in a state of colonic acidosis for quite some time and ulceration only developed due to a catalyst.

In the simplest terms, colonic acidosis is a condition where the pH level of the hind-gut (cecum and large colon) has been significantly reduced for an extended period of time. The optimum pH level of a horse's hind-gut is 6.5-7.0. The lower the pH level, the higher the acid level. On the converse side...a higher than optimal pH level means the system is dealing with an alkaline situation. High alkaline levels in the horse's system can also lead to problems. Some that resemble colonic distress due to high acid, but as the situation progresses symptoms change drastically. Things like loosing manes, tails and hooves are the result.

Where high acid (low pH) colonic issues are generally helped by allowing a horse to graze on green grass, high alkaline (high pH) poisoning usually occurs from the fresh grass. Most alkaline-based minerals have a tendency to 'leach out' in the drying process when hay is made, so alkaline poisoning from hay is unlikely.

The process of colonic acidosis is based around the amount of starches and sugars (from simple carbohydrates) that end up in the hind-gut (cecum and large colon). These organs were designed to process fibrous materials from roughage. Unlike the fore-gut, that produces a significant amount of digestive juices to aid digestion, the hind-gut produces NO gastric juice. Digestion is the sole responsibility of foreign organisms (microbes, bacteria and enzymes) that live in that portion of the horse's digestive system. Like most simple organisms, they have a narrow realm in which they can thrive, which is why the pH level (6.5-7.0) is so important. They are not so sensitive that they cannot survive regularly occurring spikes and drops in the pH level, but a long-term reduction will significantly inhibit their numbers, which leads to reduced digestion, which can lead to irritation of the intestine, which sets a horse up to be more sensitive to any change in circumstances that could act as a catalyst.

Here's a couple articles on what exactly happens to the hind-gut that can result in a state of colonic acidosis...

The relevant info is on the 1st page of this article, the rest of the article describes how the supplement they are selling can possibly help...

Subclinical Acidosis

This is a series of articles from another supplement company, however, the information is relevant. If you look on the right hand side of the page, the links to the entire series about ulcers is there.

Colonic Acidosis

Have a great weekend and we'll continue this next week. ;-)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Off And Running

I finally made it to a local barrel race, which is something I desperately needed to do since I entered Moon in a big barrel race in Salinas, Utah next weekend.

Things got interesting real fast at the barrel race. I unloaded horses, tied them to the trailer and went to enter. I had debated over and over in my head whether to just pay for a couple of exhibition runs on Moon and test the waters or to just enter him and run. Since I also cracked Frosty out at this race...I knew I HAD to get a couple of exhibition trips on him before the race. I decided to just enter Moon in the race and let the chips fall where they may.

There was already quite a few riders warming up and knowing Frosty like I do...I was hesitant to just jump on him and ride into the thick of things. So I saddled Moon and then saddled Frosty, with the intention of ponying him around for a bit and giving him a look-see. When I pulled the cinch of Frosty...he blew like a stick of dynamite and flailed around the trailer for a good bit. Luckily the lead rope did not snap. Frosty bucked at the end of the leadrope, flailed forward and smashed his head into the trailer, fell back, bucked forward, smashed his head again, fell back and came to a quivering halt. Eyes bugging, nostrils flared and with a massive hump in his back.

Ooohhh...He's a smart bastard isn't he?

My only concern was that he did not damage my trailer with that noggin of his.

Nope...trailer is fine...


Some pretty good scrapes on his head and he split his lip.

He'll live to do it again. Jackass!!

I couldn't get his leadrope untied because he had janked it so tight and he was acting like a fool still, so I grabbed another lead rope out of the trailer and eased up to Frosty, speaking softly and trying to soothe him, so he didn't blow up again and actually damage the side of my trailer. There is proof that horses really don't understand English, only the tone of your voice, because I called him every name in the book and cussed him up one side and down the other...but I did do it in a soft and gentle voice, so it was all good.

What I really wanted to do was beat the ever loving tar out of him. He's never done that before. Hopefully his head hurts tonight so he won't do it again. Jackass!!

By the time that fiasco was over, I barely managed to make one trip around the arena before they called for it to be cleared for the exhibitions. Oh LOVELY! I'm ponying the fire-breathing dragon and I have to get on this horse and run barrels on him?

To make a long story short...I took him back to the trailer, tied Moon up, yanked out the longe line and gave Jackass an education. Hearing Ed Wright's voice in my ear...telling me to stop babying this horse, I climbed on and rode over to the arena. I was prepared for the absolute worst. Know what I got?

Nothing! Not a damn thing! He tipped his ear at a couple of horses that passed him in the warm-up area and that was it. He was good as gold. (shakes head in disgust)

I made sure Old Bucky Buckskin was pretty well warmed up, LOTS of bending, little circles, big circles, reverses, stops and backs. He was an absolute sweetheart. (Thanks Ed for being the voice in my ear!)

I had paid for 2 exhibitions on Frosty, back to back. We started out long trotting the first one, but Frosty eased into a lope on his own...that's a good thing. The second one, I asked him to lope and stretch out a bit more, but not too much. He did really good. (Two Thumbs up)

I put Frosty back at the trailer and got on Moon while they were getting the arena ready for the race. Moon seemed less than thrilled to be back to doing 'this crap', but outside of a momentary panic (on my part) when he stopped and stretched like he had to pee and then did nothing...It was all good. Apparently I just didn't wait long enough because he did stop and pee after his first stop and stretch. Moon peeing and taking a healthy dump during warm-up is ALWAYS good. It's when he doesn't that I start to worry.

When it was our turn to run, I gathered Moon up and he eased through the gate just like he used to. Just inside the gate though, he thought maybe he aught to try to spin around, but again, Thanks to Ed's voice, I just let him overspin and he ended up facing the barrels. He took off in the wrong lead, but I was not going to let him get started with that crap again. I rated him down, circled him, making him pick up the correct lead and made him give me his face and round his body. Two circles and he gave up and just rounded and softened like he should. I let him go.

First barrel was good. Actually the whole run was good.

I told myself that the goal this year is not to F**k with Moon in his runs. If *I* do what *I* am supposed to...he will do what he is supposed to.

I A.L.M.O.S.T. started to sit down and pull before we got to the second barrel, but I saw my hands coming back and made myself push them forward, as well as keep my outside hand on the rein until Moon was into his turn. He wrapped that barrel!

Unfortunately...just a tish too tight. He bumped his hip on the barrel coming out of the turn and it went down. I knew it was going to, as we were coming out, I looked down and my leg was brushing the barrel and Moon was already flattening out. I knew his hip wasn't going to clear it.

He wrapped 3rd and I let him coast home. Once a barrel is down, it's an automatic no-time at the 4D barrel races so unless I have a horse that is scotching before the timer, I don't push them for the gate. Moon didn't really do anything wrong to tip that barrel, We went into it well, it felt good, just didn't get it cleared. I wasn't really asking Moon to run, so I think we just didn't have as much momentum as usual. So, I am actually really pleased. I think Ed gave me all the tools I was needing and I had a winter to mull it all over. My days of trying to train on Moon at competitions are over. He knows his job. I trust that. Now I just need to focus on doing mine.

Now...for the fun actual 'greenie' for me to play trainer with...

Frosty was up in the next drag after Moon and I was again just a bit unsure how he was going to act. Sometimes after he sits at the trailer, he's great. Sometimes he is not so great. I didn't have much time to sweet-talk him into being nice.

This time he grew a brain while resting at the trailer (Whew!!) and we rode right over to the arena, so I could re-warm him up. He was soft and relaxed and I was happy.

If I can get a green horse to pick up the correct lead when they go through the gate, I just head toward the barrel. If they don't, I circle. I had to circle Frosty, but he lined right out for the first barrel when we came around. Here's the tricky thing about Frosty...he's soft and fluid...but he doesn't have a whole lot of stretch out and goooo....So, I have to really get up over him, move my hands forward and mooch. That's all well and good, except I can't seem to forget that if Frosty decided to bog his head and suck back...I'm toast. Arena Dart! So I'm always a bit cautious of really getting into it. LOL

Frosty headed to first barrel and was doing sooo nice...and then the announcer starts talking. Frosty was pretty committed to that first turn and even though he started to kind of look around to see where 'the voice' was coming from...he rounded the barrel nicely. When that voice kept talking and it was behind him...Oh yea...he completely forgot what we were out there to do. He lifts his head and starts looking around to find that 'voice'...and the ducking and dodging was on.


His head's going left and right...and his feet are following. He still tried to rate up at second barrel, but as green horses are prone to doing...he flipped out of his lead and found the turn difficult to complete. He kind of faded off to the center of the arena and was having a hard time getting his momentum going forward again.

I finally got him focused on that 3rd barrel and got his body moving forward again, but we were almost there and he decided that he might need to 'cut' that barrel. He was ducking and dodging back and forth in front of it, rather undecided which way he should go around it.

OMG...I love green horses! They are such a freaking hoot. (And no, I'm not being fasicuous.I really do love greenies.)

We made it around the 3rd barrel, the announcer FINALLY shut up and Frosty stretched out for a nice lope home.

We had the slowest time of the day (29 seconds) and I thought it was very successful. I am so excited to finally be 'attempting' to run Frosty. I just think he is going to be awesome and I love the way he feels on the pattern. He is so soft and gathers up for the rate so easy. He is the total opposite of Torpedo Man Moon.

As for the yakity, yak announcer...It's just something Frosty will have to get used to. Noise and commotion is part and parcel of competition. I have no idea whether Frosty will get over it quickly or whether it will take some time. But if he's ever going to be any good...he's gonna have to learn to deal with it.

Now that I have the first runs of the year out of the way, the butterflies are gone and it's time to get down to business. I am soooo excited.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Where Does The Time Go?


Not sure how 2 weeks passed since I last posted...

Well...maybe I do...

Things were going along fairly smoothly here and then whammo!

Without going into the gory details...the kid is no longer coming out to ride, so I am stuck with nine head of horses. I can actually get nine head of horses worked in a day...but it leaves no time AT ALL for anything else. To be completely honest...I really only have to work 8 because there is no sense of me wasting time riding Megan's blue roan. He will be going back to SD as soon as I can get Gunner riding and get those two out of here. I may HAVE to take more back as well, but haven't made any firm decisions on that. I am running low on hay, what's available is morbidly expensive and I just really feel the need to focus on just the few horses I can actually use. It's tough because there is not a single horse on the place that doesn't have a great deal of potential if the right amount of time is invested into them. Such is the way with horses. In spite of all the stuff that people worry about...bloodlines, conformation, disposition, etc, etc...In the end...The true value of a horse is based on the time someone bothered to invest into them. Winners aren't born...they are made!

Beings that the kid copped out (AGAIN!) and the hubby has started his new job in North Dakota...I am very much alone here. I wasn't sure how I was going to get the first few rides on the youngsters, beings that I am not real keen on stepping on for the first few times with no one around. I kinda like to have someone here who can dig me out of the dirt if necessary, ya know? Luckily, my friend L said she could come over and be my pony rider when I need one. That will make it easier for sure. I was thinking I was going to have to haul to someone else's place for those first few rides on everyone. Problem solved though.

Since I have been so sporadic at posting for so long, the thought has crossed my mind that maybe BrownEyedCowgirls had run it's course. But, I'm not quite ready to throw in the towel just yet. Blogging allows for a much more complete train of thought than many of the other forums and since I am habitually suits my style. LOL My posts may be sporadic, but I'm gonna hang in here.

I have to say...I actually have been working on that Colonic Ulcers post I promised a long time ago. Holy Hell! It's been incredibly difficult to kind of compact the info and still have it make sense. I can feel Ranch Girl drumming her fingers waiting for it. ;-)

Competition season is upon me...have already missed a couple of barrel races due to timing of other stuff going on. On a good note...Moon has returned to his normal self...belly issues gone and respiratory issues under control. It's time to get a run on him and see where we are. Frosty was doing absolutely fabulous and I am really excited to get him to some runs. However, I had his shoes pulled about a month ago...didn't figure he would need them with the soft ground this time of year. Wow! Will be getting those put back on ASAP.

I have always known that Frosty was a bit thin-soled but had never gotten shoes on him until last fall. He was a long 9y/o before he got his first set of shoes...ever. I've never really ridden him in an environment that I though would (or should) cause a problem due to tender feet. At first I didn't notice too much difference. It was still a lot of work to get him to move out and lift his shoulders and all the stuff I was working with him on. After he was reset, there was a noticeable difference and he came on like gang-busters. All of his silly behavior went out the window and he settled into being the kind of horse I always knew he should be. Three weeks after having his shoes pulled...he started getting silly again and has been steadily easing back into not wanting to move out, or lift his shoulders or move his feet. It's like...Are you kidding me? The sensitivity of this big, brute of a horse just floors me. Sooo... the shoes go back on. It's a small price to pay considering the difference in his attitude.

And with that...I've got to get rolling here. Between the horses, the yard work and giving the house a deep spring cleaning...there is always something to do and when I sit down to write...I am actually thinking that there is at least one other project I could (should) be working on.