Saturday, January 31, 2009

A January Heat Wave

Today it was really warm out. We're talking low 40s. Crazy for a January in Minnesota. Today, coincidentally, is the last day of the month and the first time all month we've made it above freezing (above 32 degrees Fahrenheit). Yeah! About time. Let's hope that Spring is just around the corner.

So, today Gringo had his shoes reset. He was previously in what I'd call "regular" shoes with rocker toes, quarter clips and snow rim pads. The pads were put on back in December, a change from the full pads plus Equipak that Gringo had been sporting for months. Still not sure exactly what caused all the issues, but these last few he had been extremely off... even more so then what's typical for him.

We're thinking it's one of a couple different things:
1. too long between trims (went almost 8 weeks instead of the usual 5-6 weeks)
2. change from soles being entirely covered to be exposed
3. being careful when walking outside
4. combination of all or some of the above

Hopefully with the new shoes and having the Equipak again things will improve. We'll see.

Gus was really good today also. I haven't been out as regularly as I'd like because of crappy weather and my work schedule, but needless to say he seems to be improving. We always warm up at the walk for a good 10-15 minutes. I make sure that he's still moving forward and stepping up and through. Then, and only then, do I ask for a trot.

I usually start off to the left, in both gaits. I was pleasantly surprised when I asked for a trot (going to the right) that I actually had an almost sound horse. He was moving forward and downward, really stretching out today. C was in the arena riding H (same mare I ride in lessons once in a while) and commented that Gus did seem to be moving sounder today - least to the right.

Switching back to the left, I noticed that Gus was off again. Not as bad as he's been in the past, but definitely noticeable. He was comfortable trotting but not like he was to the other direction. We did probably 5-7 minutes of trot work today... or maybe 10 laps around the arena. We ended on a good note.

Not sure what's making things better for Gus today. He recently had his stifles done back in early January. He also has been on Recovery Eq since around Wednesday, January 21st. And, the weather's warmed back up (today especially). I do hope that this is a sign that things are changing for Gus, for the good. I'm guessing we'll soon see.

About that ACTH test. Not done, yet. Dr. N came to the same conclusion about doing the ACTH test, minus the Stim. We're also going to do a glucose and insulin check too, to make sure things are all in balance. We'll see what the results are. I do plan on rechecking Gus's thyroid here in the next month or two (or three) but sending it off to Michigan State University or at least UofM. From Dr. Kellon's response on the Yahoo group, Equine Cushings, it seems like Gus's values are well within normal range, but the reference range that the local clinic uses is invalid. The only way to know for sure is to do a test at another facility.

I'm hoping that nothing shows up on the test. Really hoping that. But I guess we'll soon see. About time to start thing about spring vaccines too. Uggh. Least I got another month until that, but still... kinda depressing but exciting at the same time. Cause a month from now it'll be March which means Winter in MN as we know it is on its way outta here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


So, Gus was supposed to be having some bloodwork done tomorrow (Wednesday) to rule out Cushings. We had decided on doing an ACTH Stim Test (see: However, after getting an email from my vet stating that the ACTH Stim Test was not accurate at all in determining if a horse actually has Cushings disease or not. In her email to me, she stated this:
The Marshfield lab reference says "The ACTH stim test is reported to be of
little value in detecting hyperadrenocorticism in horses." They do run an
"Equine Cushings Panel" with baseline cortisol, Cushings cortisol, insulin,
post-insulin, T4 and post-T4.

Well, this was news to me as I thought the ACTH Stim Test was accurate. So, I posted the question on, where else, CoTH. The answers I got were basically the same. I should do an ACTH Endogenous Test, which differs from the ACTH Stim Test. I should also have them check Gus's glucose and insulin ratios.

Posted the same question on the Yahoo group, Equine Cushings. Same answer. Should definitely do the ACTH Endogenous Test along with testing glucose and insulin. Okay. So now what?

Now, I'm waiting on the vet to come up with the same answers. She's going to do more research also... but I really hope she has the same game plan as me. Otherwise, I do think I'll insist we do these tests first to see what the results are and go from there.

Dr. Kellon, literally an expert in this stuff, stated that Gus's thyroid may very well be within normal limits. But due to the lab where his blood samples are run, they may use narrower reference ranges, hence the skewed results. She also recommended perhaps sending Gus's blood off to MSU. They can run a more extensive profile - testing things such as T3, TSH, Free T4, etc.

So, we'll see what ends up happening, but for now the testing is on hold.

On another note, I am switching Gus from Smartpak Equine's Smartflex Senior (at half dose) to a double dose of Recovery Eq, to see if we notice any differences. He'll be on 20,000mg of glucosamine and around 25,000mgs of MSM (due to additional MSM - thru SmartMSM pellets). We'll see if he improves. After two weeks to 4 weeks (haven't decided yet) I'll decrease the dose back to the normal dosage of 10,000mg of glucosamine and 15,000mg of MSM. If needed I'll bump him back up to 1 1/2 doses... we'll see how things progress.

Can't remember if I blogged about it earlier, but was the cheapest source for purchasing the Recovery Eq. I do hope it works as it's not cheap.

Otherwise, I am going to be bumping up Gringo's dose of MSM too. He'll be up to 16,000mgs daily (gets Smartflex Senior for the time being at half dose... which gives him 6000mgs, the SmartMSM pellets supply 5000mgs, going to up that to 10,000mgs) to see if that helps him at all.

Noticed this weekend since we had horse "chores" that he's very stiff and off coming in at night, but equally as bad leaving in the mornings. Not sure if the shoes are causing more issues or not. Seems foot sore. And, he has been having issues with snow & ice built up in the rim pads. I do need to call J and schedule another reset, may change things back... we'll see.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Almost a HEAT WAVE!

Well, we've had such super crappy weather lately here in MN. Finally, today, it warmed up to 20+ degrees... a HUGE improvement over the -34 we had yesterday. And, yes, that was the actual temperature, without the wind factored in. It was absolutely miserable here in MN this past week.

That being said, Gus didn't have the opportunity to be worked at all this week. That really stunk because he needed to keep those stifles moving. Horses were in on Tuesday and Thursday, with limited turnout on Wednesday. Friday was the coldest, but they were eventually turned out later in the morning.

Gus was so happy to see me today, and I was of him. Yesterday was his 19th birthday. I've always made him something special for this birthday. This year, I did something a little different. A bit of sweet feed plus an apple, orange and small container of applesauce. Added hot water and a few peppermints... then chow time. Gus loved it. Gringo got a modified version tonight also (pears instead of the orange and applesause).

Gus was still off today when I got to the barn. He was still tracking up well with both hind legs, but they seemed weaker. He had two bad stumbles, where he almost lost his own hind end. We're back to square one with just nice long walks. Can't wait til spring... really can't.

On Wednesday we're testing him for Cushings with the ACTH Stim test. Please keep your fingers crossed that nothing shows up. I'm really hoping that the results fall within normal limits... we'll have the results within a week or so at the latest, so I'm told.

Gringo seems to be doing well enough. He still is getting snow packed into his hooves... and that's causing a lot of pain. I'll be talking to the farrier about this... as it's not normal, and he's so ouchy. I do feel bad for him because I'm not able to get out there all the time, but he shouldn't be this uncomfortable. So, we'll see with that.

Otherwise, both boys are doing okay. Both still have their lameness issues but both are happy and in otherwise good health, from what we can tell. And I'm so happy that the weather is starting to warm up a bit.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Injections and Recovery Eq

Well, Thursday was the day. Gus had both stifles injected, again. First time since March that the left stifle has been injected... the right was done then and again (in all three joints) in May/June when he was originally diagnosed with the torn CCL.

So, that being said, he spent all of Thursday in his stall, then was turned back out as usual on Friday. I was out Friday after work and I am very pleased with this progress thus far. He already seems happier and freer. Then again, he did have his ears back while I was riding, but that's a typical Gus thing... so, perhaps he was feeling happy enough to be grumpy again. Oxymoron, huh?

I also talked to Dr. N about a couple new things to try, one being an injectable glucosamine (Acetyl-D-Glucosamine), the other being Recovery Eq. Well, Dr. N has had no experience with either product but T, the receptionist, has. She said she noticed a good improvement with one barrel horse (older mare) when she was on both... the other mare was just on the injection (?) and was better, but not as significant.

So, I decided to switch Gus to Recovery Eq for a couple months. Found a good deal at using coupons I found online. So, we'll see if I notice any improvement with that added. I'm really hoping this works. Otherwise, I may consider doing the glucosamine injections, but Gus really is a needle phobic.

I am also upping both horses to 15,000mg of MSM to see if that makes any bit of difference. I do plan on dropping the Smartflex Senior on both boys, as it's definitely not making anything better (or worse for that matter). Not sure if I want to find something else to put Gringo on... so, we'll about that.

Gus is also switching to Mega-Cell multivitamin from SmartVite Senior. It's cheaper and has roughly the same values as the other.

We'll see how things work out. I'm really hoping that the injections in combination with the Recovery Eq will do the trick, but only time will tell.

Another neat thing is that Stacey (from picked me as a winner during her BTB Anniversary contest. So, the boys got some super yummy treats. I'm sure they will find them absolutely divine, like usual.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Cherry's Home!

Well, My Sweet Cherry Wine made it home on Monday. She's now at my BO's, indefinitely. Today was the first time I was able to get out to see her. Well, under all that scruffy coat, I do see a lovely redhead lady.

Went out to get her from the pasture. All I had to do was holler "Cherry". She came a runnin'. She's turned out with the mare herd... today was her first time out there, and the boss mares are not making things easy. M & H (in general) are being total b*tches. Hopefully, things will change as the days go on and Cherry will feel more at ease.

Well, getting her in the crossties was easy... but she doesn't stand well. She does stand in crossties, but is very antsy and unsure of everything. I was able to brush her out really well (and she could definitely use HOURS of grooming, but I just didn't have the time today) and kinda, sorta pick out her mane and tail. The hooves... total different story. I was successful with the left front, and eventually both hinds. That right front though, was nearly impossible for her to keep up. I'll be working with her on that.

Otherwise, here's some photos of her:

(Left shoulder looking towards hind end. Note prominent hip bones.)

(Left hind looking towards front end.)

(Left flank. Has lots of dry, flaky skin... very, very dirty.)

(Butt. Picture is a bit deceiving... lots of muscle loss in hind end.)

Happy New Years!

Yeah. It's finally 2009. Not that I'm excited that another year has come and gone, but I'm hoping that this will be a better year for me, in terms of my horses.

Went out to see Gus today (and Cherry, but more about her in the next post). He's doing okay, but isn't any better. So, I talked to Dr. N. We decided that Gus is going to have both stifles injected again, next week. Hopefully that'll make things work a bit better, but honestly, who knows. Those injections are my last hope. If no improvement, well then he'll just be retired. It's really upsetting to know that he may be done as a riding horse, but I owe it to him if I can't make him better. It's only fair.

So, otherwise, nothing new with him. We've been doing our regular "walks" under saddle. Probably about 15-20 minutes a day, maybe 2-3 times a week. It's been hard to get on a schedule because the weather is definitely not cooperating at all. Such is life in the Midwest in winter.

Here's a couple shots of Gus from this afternoon. Please don't mind the crappy graininess, they were taken with my camera phone.

(Gus sporting his fly mask in the dead of winter... it's to protect his eyes from the sun...)