Thursday, October 1, 2009

Feet, back, and stuff

I came home tonight and check my blog, then trotted over to the Fugly Blog. Imagine my surprise when I saw a picture of Beau and a shout out from Cathy. For those of you who have never gotten the chance to meet her, she is just as cool in person!!!



Close up of the front feet. You can see how mis-shapen that front left is.

Look at this back! Getting closer to "normal". If I could exercise him, it would fill in a LOT faster. BUT - the foot...

Here's a closeup of the "schmag" on his back. The M-T-G loosens it and brings it to the surface, leaving little mudballs. You'll notice there are no more bald spots..

OMG!!! Look at that face! How could anyone not feed that adorable little face!!


OneDandyHorse said...

Love Love Love Him! Great job!

Kahurangi said...

Fantastic job so far! While I suspect that the latest photos make him look a bit fatter than he really is if you don't look really carefully (photos are notorious for this), even so he's doing amazingly well and has put on a good amount of weight.

As a 'fellow rescuer' who also deals with severely malnutritioned horses (although luckily so far, none quite as bad as Beau), I've picked up a few ideas along the way that might help. Here are some I haven't seen already mentioned here...

Wormer: once you've had him on daily de-wormer for a few weeks, and/or have done a 'normal' worming, do a Power Pack - that's double dose of Fenbendazole daily for five days in a row. It sounds like a huge amount (10 times the usual amount!), but Fenbendazole is very safe even in horses as thin as Beau is, and this is the only way you'll clear out pretty much ALL encysted small stongyles. Buy it in liquid form (e.g. a cattle drench - just make sure it only has Fenbendazole in it - or if you really can't get that, use Oxfendazole instead), save yourself lots of $$$, and just add it to the feed to save yourself a 'Worming Battle'. The alternative is Moxidectin, however it only gets some of the encysted small strongyles, and can cause nasty side effects.

Feed: Make sure he's getting sufficient high quality proteins and fatty acids - not all proteins and fats are made equal! Flax/linseed meal is pretty good (this is the stuff left over after the oil is extracted, and is often sold at a good price if you can get it) - up to 1 kg per day can help if the rest of the feed isn't providing what's needed. The good quality proteins will help with body repair and muscle building, the fats ditto (and they're also good or the skin - could help a lot with the skin crud on his back). If you can't get flax meal, they try ground flax instead - up to a cup a day might help that skin issue.

Oils: Great for boosting the energy content of the feed as well as supplying much needed essential fatty acids (especially if you aren't giving him something like linseed). Canola Oil is great since it contains a natural anti-inflammatory; however it also promotes weight loss so mix it 1/2 and 1/2 with something like Sunflower or Corn Oil, and feed up to 1 cup a day (start with a couple of tablespoons and build up slowly).

Fenugreek - this spice is amazing for skinny horses. They love the taste, it helps with multiple aspects of digestion, it helps with topline building, etc. Feed about 60 grams ground Fenugreek a day for a horse Beau's size and condition.

Condition Scoring: Talking of condition, are you specifically condition scoring him? This will make it easier to track his weight gain, especially now that he's put on that first burst. Check out While you're there, have a read of the Beet Pulp Safety Warning for a good laugh.


Kahurangi said...


Ulcers: It's very common for stressed horses to develop gut Ulcers that then fester for the rest of the horses life, so it's a pretty good chance that Beau has them given his past care. Unfortunately, the most effective vet treatment is also highly expensive :-( However, certain herbs and spices can help a lot, e.g. Fenugreek, Chamomile, Slippery Elm, Liquorish, etc. Do a quick internet search and you'll come up with plenty of ideas to try. This can make a significant difference to some horses.

Creaky Joints: As well as the Glucosamine and MSM you're already giving him, you could try some Hyaluronic Acid as well if you can find it at a reasonable price. It ain't cheap, but sometimes it can seemingly work miracles. And something you can easily make yourself is 'Old Creaky Spice Mix' - 2 parts HOT chilli powder, 2 parts Turmeric powder, 1 part Ginger Powder. Mix well, and add 1 - 2 tablespoons to the feed daily. The 'active ingredients' in the spices are anti-inflammatory and painkilling - just be sure not to breathe any in when mixing the feed! The horses don't seem to mind the heat though. I buy in bulk at the local Indian Bulk Spice store (I get the Fenugreek there too - it may be called Methi istead though) and feed it to anything with a gimp.

General anti-inflammatory / painkiller: the herb Jiaogulan (Gynostemma pentaphylum) is great for improving healing and dulling pain, without the drawbacks of Bute. It's best fed daily, but you can get away with only giving it during bad periods too, you just won't see the full benefits.

Sheath Swelling: The three most likely causes of a swelling like that are a dirty / infected sheath, an allergic reation to biting insects, or generalised oedema due to metabolic issues. A further possible issue could be penile cancer, so if the swelling doesn't resolve (or comes back) now that you've given him a good clean and started keeping the bugs off, some blood work and a vet check 'up there' might be in order.

Back Crud: Could be fungal, but more likely it's internal / dietary. Try a couple of washes with a good antifungal shampoo (something with 2% Ketaconazole in it, for people). Follow the instructions and leave it on for several minutes before rinsing. Chances are though, that adding more essential fatty acids to the diet is going to help more, although it may take a few weeks to see results.


Kahurangi said...


Feet: That bad front foot is exactly that - bad! There is significant rotation, and chances are, if that's been going on for a looong time there is also significant remodelling of the coffin bone as well (not that that is necessarily a death sentance). I know it can be cost-prohibitive, but if you can swing it an x-ray might be extremely helpful. Make sure the vet puts a marker down the toe wall from the coronet to the ground, AND a tack in the true tip of the frog, so you can then see the external landmarks and how they relate to the internal structures. If possible do it when he is unshod (you could schedule the vet and farrier on the same day and time).

The x-rays will show you what you're really dealing with and how the farrier can best trim / shoe to get him back on tack. Feet like this can be a major hassle, however they can sometimes also turn around surprisingly quickly once the original cause is addressed. The main problem may be in identifying just what the original cause is/was. It may also pay to have the vet test him for Cushing's if there are no clear reasons for the rotation, since in some cases laminitis is the first symptom.

In the mean time, I'd ask the farrier NOT to trim ANY sole (live or dead) in the toe region - if that sole is already thin and the coffin bone is getting close to the surface, then thinning it even further in an attempt to make the rest of the foot look more 'normal' is just going to backfire. This hoof is going to look seriously funky for a long time, possibly forever - looks don't mean much compared to functionality though.

Shoeing - the huge difficulty with shoeing a rotated hoof is that the farrier is pretty much forced to apply the shoe (and therefore transfer the majority of the horses weight) onto a structure that isn't actually attached to the horse properly any more. In many many cases, all this does is cause even more damage to the newly forming laminae and keep perpetuating the problem. Not to mention the fact that peripheral weight bearing (where all the horses weight is suspended on the wall, instead of shared over all the underside of the foot) reduces the blood flow in the hoof, which in turn slows healing. Look into systems that will transfer some or all of the weight to the sole / bars / frog instead (depending on what is capable of carrying it, of course) and get the weight OFF the walls.

If the soles are very thin and sore, you've got added problems of course - you'll have to support and cushion the whole hoof to try and take the pressure off the wall but not put too much onto the sore sole. Booting with pads, or casting the hoof are good alternatives that can often be tweaked and changed much more frequently than a shoe. Lets face it, that hoof is going to need major care for over a year, possibly the rest of his life, so investing in a good set of boots is probably going to end up cheaper in the long run. You can also find a huge amount of information and support from groups like BareFootHorseCare on Yahoo.

Foot fungal treatments: Fungus can hide deep in feet without showing much obvious sign, yet still cause major problems. It wouldn't hurt to treat him for thrush / fungus for a few weeks and see what happens. Try Clean Trax, White Lightning or Oxine (Oxine is the same active ingredient as White Lightning at a fraction of the price). The results may surprise you. For info on Oxine, do a search on 'Oxine Horse Hoof', or go somewhere like the barefoot group I mentioned above, since this is an 'off label' usage and you won't find the correct instructions on the bottle.

Hope this helps some!

Claire Vale
Kahurangi Equine Rescue
New Zealand