Boy, it has been a long time since I have blogged. February…now we have middle of July but somehow it just feels like a few weeks to me. Time is flying by and we have been through a lot again. Ups and downs, forth and back. I guess everybody who owns a horse can relate to that.
Well, where do I start. Winter is over, we had a beautiful but short spring and Barley remodeled himself. He grew in height and is now 159 cm (about 15.6 hands) tall. He surely also gained more muscles and starts to look like a real Quarter Horse instead of a shrimp colored broom. He exchanged more of his baby teeth and went through some growing pain. I felt that his movements became more unbalanced and he lost some of his softness. I wasn’t able to point the finger at it so we decided to get an appointment at an equine center to have him checked out. The result was that everything came from the growing and that I should put him in the pasture and forget about him for four months. The cost for those two visits were HUGE and I think I am still in shock about those invoices. But somehow I felt like that it’s not a good idea to “just forget about him”, especially after he started to be really irritated and annoyed and behaved like a little brat. So I went to Sven Lindblom, a guy whom many call “the horse whisperer”. With an experience of 40 years on diagnosing horses, he felt like the right person to get a second opinion from. Somehow I feel like veterinarians are important, but you can’t trust them blindly. Sven assured me that it’s no big deal and that I should keep riding him. Every day a nice walk outside, climbing hills, going straight instead of circles in the paddock or arena.
THANK YOU !
The next day I took him in and started to prepare him. While brushing he behaved again like a brat, I could tell that he was bored out of his mind. Then I went to the tack room to get his pad and saddle. I showed him the pad and put it on his back and guess what?! Barley started yawning !! Not once or twice but about ten times in a row and in between he blew out as well and his head came down.
The rest of the procedure he stood still but when I wanted to bridle him he couldn’t get the bit into his mouth quick enough. I felt overjoyed and all my fear of having a bored horse that is so full of energy and will just buck me off was all gone. I mounted and we took a relaxed 30 minutes walk around the premises. He yawned and blew out some more while we were walking.
Picture: Barley after our first tour after 6 weeks of rest!
After that tour I had my horse back! He was gentle and happy as always.That was in the middle of June. By that time is was already out in the pasture day and night with his buddy Olle, a 3-year-old thoroughbred gelding. The two bachelors enjoyed there time together and became known as the horses that chilled the most of all.
Picture: Olle chillin’ in the pasture
Picture: Olle and Barley checking out the other horses that actually had to work! Reminding me a little of Waldorf and Statler from the Muppet Show.
Picture: Barley once again not bothering to stand up. Instead he flipped on his side so that I could scratch his belly.
Most mornings they didn’t even bother to get up for the daily check, if they are alright. The owner of Olle told me that Barley once lay flat on the side and just opened one eye. “Oh, it’s just you!” Talk about feeling save!
Before that we tried to put him together with another sweet horse, called Excellent. Unfortunately Excellent didn’t manage the strong spring grass, but the time they spent together was fun.
Picture: Barley and Excellent having spring feelings, trying to charm the gals in the pasture in front of theirs.
I was happy that could offer him such a life, to be able to go in the pasture day and night. Take him out once a day for a relaxed ride, just to put him back into the pasture where his buddy Olle already waited.
Every evening we went by to give them a little treat and Barley got “a handful” of his food, so that he could take in the liquid supplement GladiatorPlus. I asked my boyfriend to prepare the food that we could take down to the pasture. Just a handful. Well, in the beginning it was just a handful, but it became more and more and that while they were grazing day and night, while the grass was at it’s best. I don’t mean to blame my boyfriend, quite the opposite. He meant well and didn’t think it could do any harm. It’s rather that I blame myself for not saying no and changing the amount to a real small handful instead of 300g. He should have just received enough to take in the 25 ml of the supplement, not more.
The combination of very strong grass together with his muesli ended up that he had small signs of laminitis. His coronary bands were swollen and he had pulse in all four legs. So it was out of the pasture and into the box for ten days, receiving pain- and anti-inflammatory drugs. 3 kg of hay during the day (and the rest only straw). After just 4 days the infection went back, he didn’t show any signs of pain after the medication stopped and no signs of rotation or any other symptoms of laminitis. You can’t believe how happy I was that it went over so quick, it feels like we managed to get away with a slap on the wrist. This doesn’t mean that I don’t feel guilty as hell to this day, but I am happy that it didn’t mean further complications and pain for him.
But that’s not all. On top of that he was infected by ringworm (dermatophytosis), a fungal infection that is quite nasty.
I recognized a strange bump on his hint. It was about the size of a 1€ coin (a little over 2 cm) but what caught my attention was that it was only swollen on the outside and flat on the inside. I had the veterinarian there just 1 day after, because Barley had managed to cut his lower eyelid on the long grass when he scratched his eye on his front leg. Just wanted to make sure that the cornea wasn’t damaged. I asked the veterinarian about the bump but she just said: ” This is nothing to worry about. It must be from a horse fly!”
But as already said, trusting veterinarians blindly is not my strong side. During a phone call to Barley’s breeder we came across this topic of the strange bump and she asked me to send her a picture. Barley’s breeder owns a farm not only with horses, but also with cows. The cows been infected with ringworm at the same time, so she was well aware of the symptoms and was able to explain what to do. She explained that it starts out like a normal bump, like one caused by the bite of a horse fly, but then it flattens on the inside and the swollen ring starts growing out. If the fungus has reached the roots of the hair, they start to fall out. In the picture you can see one lesion that looks like a coin, that was the starting point. The rest isn’t round at all. Ringworm is highly infectious and I am happy that we were able to keep it on his hint and it did not spread over his body. We washed him daily with a strong disinfector and an anti-fungal drug. All things that had been in contact with Barley were treated with the same, all our clothes were washed daily, the box was fumigated with the disinfector already three times and we didn’t dare to touch any animal at all during this time.
Not cool at all!
Well, at least I can say, that we survived this period as well. All these things caused a total of 12 weeks rest. I didn’t dare to ride Barley during the time he was infectious, because I was afraid that I might not be able to treat the tack in a way to be 100% infectious free. After the ringworm was almost through the symptoms of laminitis started to show and he had to rest anyway. I also recognized that the last time I had a bridle on him (about 6 weeks after the first rest, when I thought I could start riding again), that he was very sensitive in his mouth. When I check I saw that he was about to through out some baby teeth again, so I looked around for a bit-less solution and found the hackamore.
Classic riders might say, this is not a hackamore. Well, it is! This is the “western” hackamore,which is used already for hundreds of years. It’s the combination of the bosal (the nose piece) with the bosal hanger (piece of leather around the head) and the Mecates (reins and lead rope traditionally made out of horse hair). He loved it and I, too. Feels good to be able to avoid the bit when he needs it and for our walk tours through the forest it feels like no bridle is needed anyway.
Wow, it sure was a lot to cover during five months of blog absence and once again I promise to keep you more frequently updated. I just felt the need to blurt out what has build up inside the past five months and I hope that my experiences and my mistakes might help you to avoid such terrible times. I’m in my first week of a four weeks summer vacation and I am sure I will find time more easily for some smaller updates.
Hugs and kisses,
Cowgirl in training