Sunday, 30 November 2014


Today I re-read a bunch of papers that were written about horses that had odontomas similar to Allie's.

Gosh it put things into persective for me. So far, Allie has had one surgery, 5 days at the vets post surgery, then 2 weeks at the vets about 2 months after surgery when the pack slipped and they had to flush her sinus. She hasn't had to have any teeth removed (yet, keep your fingers crossed) and is doing well except for this on again off again snotty nostril. Plus, she was 7 years old when first diagnosed.

So, with that in mind, here's some case studies of other horses:

  • A 9 month old quarter horse colt had one in his lower jaw. During surgery, they broke his jaw removing the mass and 2 teeth. The poor thing had to be fed through a tube for 21 days. He was discharged 49 days after the surgery. 3 years after surgery, the horse had no issues with mastication.

  • An 11 month old quarter horse filly had an odontoma in the same place Allie did - the upper jaw. She had a similar surgery to Allie, through the sinus. They removed the mass and one tooth. She started to bleed out during surgery (just like Allie) and so they closed her up and gave her a blood transfusion. Rads after this showed that they had left some of the mass behind, so a second surgery was scheduled 21 days after the first. They removed the rest of the mass, plus 3 additional teeth! 150 days later, she had another procedure to tidy up (abnormal tissue was removed via currettage) and a dental bridge was installed (which was later removed when the hole filled in with granulation tissue and bone). 4 years after the initial surgery, there was no return of the odontoma, the horse had no problems with mastication and maintaining body condition, but had to have her dentals done every 6 months (undertandable, with 4 teeth missing).

So, what does this tell me? Allie is extremely lucky - she hasn't has any teeth removed yet (hopefully it stays that way) but only 2 teeth looked fishy to the vet anyway. She is still recovering. Her appetite is amazing (considering how easily she used to go off her feed all the time pre-diagnosis). She is fat, happy and just waiting around for me to pop this kid.

I can't wait now to get her next check up done, get some rads, see how it is all healing. See what the next steps are.

Plus, I really should get the all clear on that let hind suspensory - we never ended up getting it checked because she still hasn't returned to full work!

This is just a major bump in the road - but we are at the top, teetering on the edge of the fun ride down the other side.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Just a little general update on things that have been going on around here.

Nostril Roller Coaster
Allie's nostril sort of cleared up - then this afternoon it was pretty snotty and a bit stinky again. It is like she heals just enough to stop me taking her to the vet and then has another issue a half a week later. This time, it might have been caused by the weather again - Sunday we had a 45 degree day (113F) and then yesterday afternoon we got a windy, thundery rainy storm roll through. Might have whipped up a bit of dust up there? God knows. I'll give it a few days and see how it settles. And no, I am not dealing well with this but I am trying to ignore my anxiety.

Preggo Lady Stuff
So I am 26 weeks and 5 days pregnant now.

I feel enormous.
The baby kicks and rolls and moves ALL DAY LONG. I thought they were supposed to sleep sometimes? I had a glucose tolerance test this morning to check for gestational diabetes. If I am negative, I won't hear anything. If I am positive, I will get the result at my next midwife appointment.  I had three bloods taken. It was not nice. You had better appreciate this, kid.

We have bought a bassinet and a cot/change table duo. It looks fancy in the room.


Joey is continuing to get better with the training we are doing (as am I). The biggest thing we are working on is impulse control. He's getting there.

My little kitchen helper.
He had a play date with some other puppies at the dog park for the first time a couple of weekends ago. He had a blast.

See that happy white puppy on the left there?
He was super pooped after.

Gracie hasn't been doing much of anything either - she has been a bit sore over the back. She had her teeth done, had a massage, and is now waiting for Nat to find the time to get her back in work.
First time getting her teeth done without sedation. She was such a good sport about it! This dentist was a gem - I think she is going to be Gracie's lifetime dentist.
In Other Horrific News...

One of my trimming clients was towing 2 horses with a friend when a tyre on the float blew out, flipping the float on it's side on a freeway going probably about 80-90km/h (50-55 mph). The horses were trapped and had to be cut out of the float via the roof. Both horses are ok - have some deep gashes and some brusing and will be sore for a while. But they are fine.

The people are fine too - very shaken, horrified and incredibly sad. The driver (my client) has been accused (on Facebook, by strangers) of being drunk, speeding or driving while tired. That she somehow did something wrong and that is why this happened. Unbelieveable! This could happen to any one of us. Any one. It just happened to her and the poor woman needs to heal from that. Why does the horse community turn on each other so easily?

Also, her float was towed off the freeway at the closest exit and just dumped on the side of the road by the freeway operators. This is ridiculous. I'm outraged and horrified and angry on her behalf over the whole ordeal. I hope nothing like this happens to anyone I know (or to me!) ever again. The people and the horses are so lucky to be alive, let alone to escape with relatively minor injuries.

This is just terrifying...

Wednesday, 12 November 2014


She's still pretty, even from the left side.

<3 my frankenhorse.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Horse Welfare

We had the Melbourne Cup in Australia today and a horse died directly after the race from possible heart attack or similar. Facebook is blowing up with opinions and fighting. The whole thing has made me think about horse welfare and what that means to me.

Good horse welfare to me is caring for horses in a species appropriate way according to the 5 freedoms. From the RSPCA website:
  1. Freedom from hunger and thirst: by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigour.
  2. Freedom from discomfort: by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.
  3. Freedom from pain, injury or disease: by prevention through rapid diagnosis and treatment.
  4. Freedom to express normal behaviour: by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal’s own kind.
  5. Freedom from fear and distress: by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.
How often do we truly look at our husbandry practises with a focus on good welfare from the animal's point of view? Can we take a step back and look at the bigger picture, be honest with ourselves and assess if we really are providing our horses with everything they need?

We all love our horses very much, that is beyond doubt. But how much of their care is for us? How much is for them?

Let's take a closer look at what horses really need. Keep in mind these two words: species appropriate!

Freedom from Hunger and Thirst
The average horse requires 30-50 litres of water a day. It is generally accepted that horses should have free access to water at all times while not working. So that is pretty easy.

Diet on the other hand... oh boy. That is ne BIG subject! But basically - horses have evolved to be trickle feeders - their stomach produces digestive juices all day long, whether they are eating or not. Their stomachs also don't have a huge capacity compared to their size - 9 to 15 litres. They are designed to take a few small bites of grass and chew while they walk to the next patch. Bulk of the diet should be pasture or other roughage, with a small amount of concentrate to make up the difference on calories, vitamins and minerals. The bigger the feed, the quicker it moves through the digestive system. Feeding large feeds is actually wasteful.

Hardly anyone around here feeds hay, and we don't normally have any grass. Large meals once or twice a day are the norm. This is not species appropriate feeding guys!

Freedom from Discomfort
Horses evolved to travel up tp 80km a day in search of food, water and shelter. They like wide, open spaces (all the better to see predators with) and will rest while another horse stays awake and at least semi alert to keep watch. Horses can learn to be confined, but they are not born that way. Species appropriate environment is a paddock with friends, with shade trees and an open sides shelter.

Freedom from Pain, Injury or Disease
I think, in general, horse owners like thos ein the blogging community excel in this area. We are not afraid of a vet bill and will involve whatever professional is required to keep our ponies healthy. But prevention is always better than cure - aside from freak accidents, can we really be sure that we are doing all we can to prevent injury, pain and disease in our horses? Are we feeding a diet high enough in appropriate forage to avoid colic or have we got our mineral balanced so that th ehorse doesn;t have a magnesium definciency causing mucle soreness? Do we all ride in a fitted saddle?? Do we ensure their feet are done every 5 weeks to ensure a long toe doesn;t contribute to navicular disease? So we warm up properly, cool down properly, and keep the training program paced appropriately for the fitness and current streanth of the horse? Do we never push the horse past what she is able to give us? Do we have safe fencing, compatible herd mates? So many variables in this one.

Freedom to Express Normal Behaviour
This is the I think we have the most to achieve, the most ground to cover, to get where we need to be. Normal behaviour in horses is varies and hotly contested. Can we all agree that horses need freedom to move, freedom to socialise, freedom to release stress in a healthy and normal way? Stress behaviours (cribbing, weaving, wind sucking, agressiveness, etc) are clear indicators that sometimes, we let the ball drop on this. I am rather against 24/7 stabling. I understand that inclement weather  or injury may necessitate stabling but we should get them out in a herd as soon as possible again.Would you agree? To me, stabling or intensive yarding next to a neighbour is not enough (probably because I am a barefoot person and their hooves go to shit when kept confined). Horses need to groom each other, follow each other, watch over each other. It is convenient for feeding to keep them seperate. But there is that word again - convenient. For the carer, not the horse.

Freedom from Fear and Distress
This is a hard one. Our horses often react to situations that are completely non threatening in an inappropriate way. Gracie is rather scared of traveling. Does this mean we should never put her on the float? Horses often display seperation anxiety. Does this mean I should never take Allie away from Gracie to ride? No. Training and fulfilling all other species requirements are key here. If my horse lives a stress reduced life, she will be more equiped to deal with stressful situations when they arise in an appropriate way. She won't overeact, she won't melt down. Avoiding mental suffering in their day to day lives is key here. Temporary fear or distress is fine. Daily fear or distress is not. Tick all the other boxes and this one can often fall into place.

So guys - what are your thoughts? What does horse welfare mean to you? Can you honestly say you provide the very best for your horse according to his needs? I know I can't. Allie is kept in a large yard without another horse in with her. I am not happy about this at all. There isn't any grass in there either, so a slow feeder hay net is required to be filled every couple of days - but this encourages her to stand in one place all day and eat, which doesn't fulful her exercise requirements. I'm pretty happy with her diet other than that and she is rather good at dealing with stress. I would love to move her to paddock turnout with a herd of horses, but I refuse to turn her out with shod horses. Hind shoes can kill, I have seen it. So that is my compromise, but I am not happy about it at all. How about you guys? What do you want ot change about your horse care? What do you think you do well?

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Sick of Nostrils

I just want to see clean, dry nostrils on my mare. Is that too much to ask?

So after the antibiotics finished, Allie's nostril was almost 100% back to normal. Just a little clear discharge. Then yesterday happened.

We had gale force winds, flash flooding, hurricane type weather roll through. And today, her nostril is goopy, dusty, heaps of gunk, running and worse than before we went on antibiotics. :(

I had a bit of a breakdown. At the moment I'm crook with a head cold, I've had hardly any sleep this weekend and I just couldn't handle it. I cracked it and cried on the phone to Natalie all the way home from the horse. I'm convinced that she has to have her teeth out, that they're dying, that we won't be able yo get the huge hole to close once the teeth come out and that I'll have to have her put to sleep.

Natalie talked me back from the ledge (so to speak) explaining that she isn't a normal horse with a normal sinus and normal immune response in that sinus. She is going to struggle for the rest of her life. She thinks the new gunk in the nostril is from the weather yesterday - it's pretty dry and dusty at the moment, her yard is dusty her hay is dusty. So we have a new plan.

Her feed is already wet each day (she is on copra, sunflower seed and oaten chaff with some other supplements) so we will be wetting her hay down, resting her yard so it grows some grass, and generally keeping her in dust free environments to see if she can clear this up. If it doesn't after about a week or so, back to the bloody vet it is.

Gah. I just want her to be better now. Please?