Saturday, December 15, 2012

Cappy Update – IT IS TIME!!!

Time to regulate Cappy’s diet!  YAY!!! 

Cappy had his teeth worked on this morning.  The vet said that he believes Cappy to be closer to 27 years old that 23 years old.  He does have teeth top and bottom, but there are several issues.  Due to neglect of his teeth, several are concave and worn down nearly to the gum line.  Other teeth were really long.  Some were sharp.  When the dental work was done, Cappy is much more comfortable, but his teeth aren’t now, nor will ever be, good enough to eat hay exclusively.  He will always require hay pellets and cubes to maintain proper weight.  Hay placed in a slow feed net will provide him with something to keep from being bored, and something to chew on, but that is it.  On a good note, his front teeth required no work!

In spite of being rescued at 650 pounds, Cappy has beat the odds and is back up to optimal weight – which is 935 pounds (as taped by the vet today).  You might think “Hmmm… he is still skinny.  I can see his ribs.”  Visible ribs do not, in and of themselves, speak to a horse’s overall health and condition.  If you look at past post of Foxy, you will see visible ribs in every single picture.  The mare was 16 hands and weight 1280 pounds when she was humanely euthanized.  Some horses, like Foxy, don’t carry “ribs meat”.

You have to look at the whole horse, and at each part, to determine proper weight.  If you look at the before and after pictures, it’s easy to compare them and see his condition has improved.  But how can you tell when “good” is “good enough”?

I look at several parts of the horse.  One part is the flank.  Is it filled in?  And if so, does it create a bridge from the barrel to the hip?  On Cappy, the answer to both is YES!

I also look at the point of the hip.  Is the point sharp and angular?  Or is it padded and smooth, creating a transition from the flank to the butt?  The second describes Cappy’s hip.

Then I look at the haunch and butt.  Standing off to one side, I look at the hind quarters.  Is it thick, smooth, and well padded?  Are there any sunken areas between the spine and the hip or between the hip and the gaskin?  Standing behind and lift Cappy’s wee tail, is there a defined gap or are his “cheeks” kissing?

 (This is the "Before" shot - I don't have an "after")
Then there is the shoulder.  Horses don’t have a lot of “shoulder meat”, not like a cow does, but there is a definite difference between the before shoulder (which looks lean and hard), and the after shoulder (which looks softer and more padded).

When you look at all these parts (even his neck has more weight), then stand back and look at the horse as a whole, you can see that Cappy is now at optimal weight.  Yes it is true that his ribs are showing.  It is also true that his topline isn’t plump and padded.  But continuing to free feed and “throw the food to him” to fix these two areas will indeed add weight, but to the detriment to the horse.  Going from starvation critical to obese in four months is not very healthy for the horse.


So what am I going to do?  First off, Cappy was moved to a large run with free access to the pasture.  This will allow him to move around and get some exercise.  The edema that he experienced last month is completely gone as a result of access to more exercise.

On the weekends (because I leave for work at 5:00 am and done get home until 5:30 pm) Cappy will begin short exercise excursions.  My thought is that I might have to longe him, but I’m thinking if I turn the mares in the arena out onto the pasture, and turn Cappy loose in the arena, he will “self-exercise”.  He has become a little mothered up with Chiquita (who likes no one but Bullwinkle), so separation from her will produce the desired activity level, while pick up poop, or whatever.

Cappy is also going to be working under saddle soon.  Once he has built up his back muscles, he will start carrying a rider.  If he was truly a rope horse in a past life, he’ll be fine.  To be honest, I’m not so sure I agree with the whole “rope horse” story, unless he was used by a child to rope goats.  He just isn’t big enough to carry a man, AND those heavy rope saddles AND stop a calf of any size OR turn a full grown steer.  But one theory is that he was perhaps a heel horse - all he had to do was stop and drop his butt in the dirt. 

I am trying to get my wee trainer over to take him for a test drive.  I say “wee” because Ariel is like 5’0” and weighs about 90 pounds (fully clothed and soaking wet).  She is a tiny little lady.  However, she is experienced at starting 16 hand 3 yr olds, so any “naughty” behavior by Cappy will be a walk in the park for her.  But until Cappy’s back muscles are rebuilt and conditioned, he will pack an empty saddle and do his best “OMG I’m all alone and I NEED my woman” impression.

On December 13, 2012, it has been a total of 84 days (30 day with his rescuer, 54 days with me) for Cappy to go from starvation to rehabilitated.  His journey is far from over but from this point forward, he will no longer be considered a “special case”.  He is now a part of the herd.

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