Sunday, July 03, 2011


Toby and the Vet

When I went out for very late feed after midnight, Toby did not come into the barn. I checked and found him lying down in the sandy floored run in shed in the arena. He was looking at his belly and at first, I thought he was colicking.  But then, I offered him some feed and he ate it. For him, that was a sure sign it was not colic.

I put a halter and lead on him, and encouraged him to get up. He did, but did not want to walk at all. He was very unsteady and unsure of every step, and finally refused to budge without my forcing him.

My first thought--laminitis.  There wasn't much to do at that time of the night/morning, so I left him alone and came back into the house to spend sleepless hours until it was a decent time to call the vet.  The new woman vet from the office called me back and after I told her what was going on decided she'd better come right away. She was nearly an hour away, but headed over and arrived by around 10 AM.

When we went into the barn, Toby was lying down in his stall in the bed of fresh shavings I'd put in.  Dr. McAndrews immediately checked him for signs of colic, our first worry, but ruled that out. So, we got him up and eventually led him outside where her further exam with hoof testers showed him to be sore in both front toe areas, a pretty clear indication of lamina inflammation. She then gave him a dose of injectable bute.

Then the doctor took xrays of both front feet. Fortunately there was no sign of rotation, so that was good.  And, with the bute, Toby was already looking much happier and comfortable.

Dr. McAndrews then decided to put some foam pads on Toby's feet which she secured with Elastoplast and duct tape.  He will be staying in for the week with a restricted diet, bute and the pads with a follow-up visit on Thursday or Friday. The vet believes Toby will need a set of shoes for a few weeks--his soles are thin and she wants to be sure his hoofs heal well.  However, she will also consult with Scott, my farrier, to see what he recommends. There are many options at this point.

It looks to be a very mild case, so far, and hopefully all will be well. I've been giving Toby a lot of feed--with the vet's approval and recommendation--so that could be the cause.  But there are many other possibilities. I plan on adjusting his diet, so any suggestions are welcome. He is on a low carb ration with beet pulp and some alfalfa cubes now. I have a grass hay/timothy mix as well.  My pasture is not lush, but with all the rain we've been having, the grass does tend to grow, although Toby has never had a problem with that before.

Still, he is older now and metabolisms do change. We may put him on some Cushing's medication any how, but for now we are going to see how he does by the end of the week.

Regular readers of this blog will recall I posted that I was a little concerned about Toby's behavior over the last week or so. Now I know why.

This is one more example of how important it is to really "know your horse."  It is one of the advantages of having the horses in the backyard as you do get to see them all the time. When I boarded, was was at the barn almost every day and tried to keep an eye on how my horses acted at feed time, turnout, etc., so I would be able to spot issues before they became serious. Good barn managers will often do the same for each horse in their care, but I still believe it's the owner's ultimate responsibility.

I never could quite understand "absentee owners" who only showed up infrequently, yet claimed to really care about their horses.  What a heavy burden that leaves on barn management.

Something to think about.


  1. Anonymous3:25 PM

    Very worrisome. Glad he's a bit more comfortable now. Could be metabolic changes due to aging - be sure to have his thyroid checked and also possible cortisol (this one requires several blood draws during the same day and can only be handled by a few labs in the country properly) - this can indicate insulin resistance. The foam pads are a good idea, not so sure about the shoes. You may want to put him on a supplement with chromium in it - this positively affects glucose metabolism. We use a custom supplement at our barn, but there are commercially available supplements that come close - I'll look up and let you know.

    You are so right about knowing your horses and how often subtle things are overlooked by barn management.

  2. Anonymous3:27 PM

    D Carb Balance is the closest commercially available supplement to what we use:

  3. That is one of the main reasons I check Tetley every day - it is ultimately my responsibility to recognize any problems as soon as possible and to do something. I can't blame someone else for not seeing a problem. We have a new to horses person at our barn. Her horse developed lameness and then an allergy reaction to some meds for it and she came to me blaming everyone who walks by her horse for not seeing the problems. I tactfully made her aware that it it her responsibility and she can't blame others.

    I wonder if it is a change of metabolism related to age. I just remembered that laminitis is common with Cushings horses - thus your thought to give him meds for Cushings. Glad he is feeling more comfortable now!

  4. Regarding shoes:
    I do not think you need to shoe really. Especially if he has been barefoot for so long. I will use the Cavallo boots that you have already got for Tucker, with pads in. If they fit Toby.

    NO ALFAFA cubes. When Teena goes laminitci, no erba medica = Lucerne= alfafa.

    When he is better, just try to re-introduce it as it is a great source of calcium and protein.

    I will give him a supplement of MagOx, magnesium oxide. I got it PURE from the human pharmacie. they use it as an additive for some medecine.
    Here is the article for MagOx

    I hope Toby will get better soon. You are in my prayers. ((((((((Hugs))))))))

  5. You have a good team to work with and find the best solutions. Totally agree on the power of spending time with and being observant of our horses' behavior.

  6. Poor Toby, this sounds too familiar to me. Dusty is dealing with the same thing only she's got rotation. We did have shoes put on her fronts with pour in pads to make her more comfortable. She went from a painful walk to really comfortable in a matter of hours. We did check her for insulin resistance, so you might want to give that a try.

    Other than that I think the vet and farrier can probably figure out what is best for him. Good luck and I hope it's nothing serious.

  7. Oh dear. I'm glad there was no rotation. I totally agree with knowing your horse, you are very blessed to have your horses on your property. My thoughts and prayers and with you and him :)

  8. Anonymous8:07 PM

    If you want a source for pure magnesium oxide, HorseTech is good.