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.