Saturday, March 19, 2011

Evaluations and things to consider

Bar having his pulse and heart rate taken

The rain let up yesterday just long enough to allow Dr. Leslie to evaluate not only our three horses, but two of our friend's horses, too. The wellness exam consisted of listening to hearts and lungs, a general weight and physical evaluation, checking feet and teeth, and watching movement. Ours were also scheduled for vaccines, which this time were West Nile and Intranasal Flu (their favorite).

Checking Bar's movement. It was good, trust me.

Lisa was there holding Winston when I rolled in, and he came through with a pretty good bill of health, though he could use some groceries. He's getting more exercise, and he was glad to hear that meant he got more goodies, too.

Forrest was next and (as we know), definitely needs weight. When we told Leslie he hadn't been himself Friday night--picking at his food, generally listless, digestive system (always our first thought) working better than fine--she immediately took his temperature. Turns out he had a bit of a fever, poor guy! So no vaccines for him until he's better. Katie gave him some Bute to help him feel better so he'll eat and drink.

When Leslie looked in his mouth, she said, "Oh, he is young!!" He needs his teeth done, and has a new tooth coming in behind (on top of?) the baby tooth in front. Lena actually had the same thing, but never has had the adult tooth come in all the way.

Leslie checking out Forrest's teeth

Next came Lisa's young horse, Whiskey, who was entirely unsure of this whole process, but cooperated fairly well nonetheless.

"What is all this about?" says Whiskey River

All the horses have been poked and prodded and pronounced fairly healthy overall, and Leslie said Bar looks the best she's ever seen him. His coat and musculature look great and he is more in his head than he has ever been. Yay, us and all the work we've done! Of course, then he had to act like a spoiled Thoroughbred when I interrupted his grazing for the trotting part of the exam, but even then he wasn't crazy. Bratty, yes. Crazy, no.

Calabar looking strong and healthy

Lena is beautiful, strong, and her only need is more exercise than she's getting currently. She is blessed with good feet, a good mouth, plus smooth and comfortable movement. Leslie watched her trot past and said, "Oh. She's a really nice horse." Lena heard her, too. It almost made up for the flu vaccine up her nose. Almost.

The lovely Lena Rey and Katie, too

Forrest is on the mend, and Bar and Lena are in good shape. It was definitely worth it ($30 each) to have Leslie look at horses I see every day from a professional and outside perspective. Not only did she catch Forrest's fever, she was able to give good advice and options for us to consider that are geared towards having healthier, happier horses--not ongoing vet care or chemical interference. We talked about the best way to put weight on Forrest, hoof care and the dynamics of the horse's foot, and alternatives to the cycle of medicinal/chemical worming.

One of the things Dr. Leslie advocates is doing regular fecal tests rather than worming arbitrarily. Even mixing up the worming regimen by switching from one wormer to another can contribute to what are becoming increasingly resistant parasites. By doing a fecal, you not only determine IF you need wormer, but what specific wormer you need. Leslie prices it about the same ($15) as a mid-range tube of wormer and the logic seems really sound to me.

Turns out both Bar and Forrest need to be wormed, but not immediately. There are very small quantities of Strongyles in their samples, so we'll wait a few more weeks to be sure we get all the little buggers--actually, large and small--with a good dose of Ivermectin.

We also had an interesting conversation about feet and allowing horses to go barefoot. Bar has had shoes on all four feet (unless he loses one) since we got him because of how shelly his hooves are. Lena has great feet, but we wanted to protect them while out and about on rocky trails, so she has always been shod all the way around, too.

Looking at feet

Leslie brought up some really good points about the natural way a hoof works, and making sure the frog is able to do it's job of helping with circulation by being in contact with the ground. Her point was that you don't really know what kind of foot you have until you let it go natural for a little while, and winter is a good time to try it.

We haven't decided yet what we want to do, and Steve is in charge of talking to Mike. There is no way on earth I want to alienate my farrier, so Steve's particular form of diplomacy is definitely required. Of course, with the rate that Bar loses shoes in the winter, it may just be easier to let him go barefoot! And, of course, invest in regular trims and a full set of boots for both horses for trail riding.

Despite the rain and the ornery Thoroughbred (mine, not Forrest), it was well worth the time and cost to have this done. Not just the vaccines, which are important, but the outside view of this horse I see every day.

The big, brown, fuzzy love of my life


Dom said...

Glad to hear everyone's healthy :)

Sarah said...

That last picture is about the sweetest thing I've ever seen.

Imagine me chanting "barefoot, barefoot, barefoot" in your ear:) I know it's not for everyone but I do think more often than not horses do best without shoes, especially if they're not like, high level competitors. BUT you have to have a really amazing farrier to guide you...found that out the hard way.

Whatever you do will be best for your horses though, of course. Question...I have Miles' vet coming out to do spring shots and draw coggins in April...did you do all your shots at once, and if so which ones?

Jessica Boyd said...

Hey, Sarah.

I wanted to answer you earlier, but we lost power all day yesterday and it's actually still out. I actually came into work to get internet!

We do not do all our shots at once. We do a Spring set (WNV and flu) and a Fall set, 3-or 4-way, and Rabies separate from all of them. Leslie has had horses have bad reactions to doing it all at once, particularly with Rabies.



Jessica Boyd said...

Oh! And, yes, definitely debating the barefoot thing, at least for part of the winter. Though this winter seems to be NEVERENDING!