Friday, October 10, 2014

So Defeated

I'm so defeated that I'm having to force myself to write this post. I just don't feel like rehashing the same things over and over again, and having to say it all out loud, and having to decide what to do about it. I'd rather just stick my my head in a hole and disappear until everything is somehow magically better. Instead, I'm going to have to act like an adult, weigh my options, and try to come up with some kind of solution. In the meantime, I'm counting on my Blogger friends to coddle me, tell me everything will be fine, it's not a big deal, and make me feel like I'm not a complete failure, even if you think I am. Lie to me.

Over the past four weeks or so, I've noticed a few changes in my girl:

* I have noticed that she's a bit foot sore in the cross ties. They have a concrete floor, and when I walk her in, she's a bit gimpy making the turn. She's more tender on her right front than her left front, but she's slightly uncomfortable on them both.

* I have noticed that she's put on some weight. She's always been on the pudgy side of things, just because she's such an easy keeper, but she's definitely put on weight recently. If I had to guess, I'd say she's put on about 50 pounds.

* I have noticed that her hooves are starting to change shape. Her right front (seedy toe hoof) has become more upright, and her left front has become more forward. I even noticed a few days ago that the heels on her left front looked a bit 'crushed'. I had to get out my rasp and clean them up because I didn't like the way the heels looked.

Some other noteworthy tidbits include: we're having saddle issues again, it's time for fall grass, and when my trimmer was out yesterday, she had nothing to trim.

Now, keeping all those things in mind, and putting the pieces together, I'd say we're dealing with some metabolic issues induced by the wonderful fall grass.

She's put on weight, her hooves are sore, she's keeping more of her weight on her left front hoof to relieve her right front hoof, which is causing it to change shape, which is also causing body soreness and totally explains why she suddenly hates her saddle.

This has all happened over the past four weeks... prior to this, her weight looked good, we had a really nice looking hoof shape, my trimmer was using her nippers to cut off hoof growth, and while she couldn't walk down a gravel driveway, she was comfortable on surfaces I'd expect her to be ok with. Now we have none of that.

At least she's still beautiful.

If you'll recall, I had Lilly tested twice for IR. Once in the fall last year (early November) and then again this spring (early April). The fall test showed that her glucose and insulin levels were fine, but her ACTH baseline was 126. A normal reading would fall somewhere between 9-35... so she was off the chart high. My vet reassured me that numbers fluctuate wildly in the fall, and it would be a good idea to do the test again in the spring. So when we received the test results from the spring tests, I was relieved to see that her number was normal, at 17.

I guess I really don't understand what the numbers mean. I didn't question them much in the fall because my vet didn't seem concerned, and then when we had good numbers in the spring, I dismissed it. I imagine if we tested her again now, she'd show similar numbers to what we saw in November. But what does it mean if her ACTH levels are super high, but her insulin and glucose level is fine? Since we only seem to see these kind of symptoms in the fall (September - December), can she be medicated for IR just for those four months?

My vet is coming on Wednesday to do vaccines and float Lilly's teeth, so we'll have a very lengthy conversation about it. I know she's going to freak when she sees how fat my girl is.

Bottom line is her hooves are really suffering, and I can only do so much to help them if I'm fighting a losing battle with her body. I could probably manage this until January when things go back to "normal", but I need to STOP it. I know it'll improve as it did last year, but we'll spend all next year getting her back to where she needs to be just in time for it to fall apart again. The cycle will be never ending and I will completely lose my mind.

I think I'm already too far behind to stop anything. The changes are already there, and they're quite visible. So for now, I'm playing catch up, and I have to do something to make her more comfortable. My trimmer was very upset about what she saw in Lilly yesterday too, and we talked about a variety of solutions.

Option 1: Riding boots with pads - I still have my Renegades, but I'm not happy with the fit, and they can't be padded. Perhaps the riding I've been doing without boots (even though it's been in the sand arena and she seems comfortable there) has been too much and it's making her sore. Maybe simply riding her in padded boots would be enough to help her become less sore. Movement is the best medicine for bare hooves and fat bellies, but I don't want to be working her if she's not comfortable. I'm probably looking at $200 to buy her another pair of boots.

Option 2: Easyboot Glue-on - While they're not supposed to be left on for more than five days, it would provide her an option for protection during turnout, which she wouldn't get if I just purchased a pair of riding boots. Unless there's a secret boot out there I don't know about, boots just will NOT hold up in a turnout situation, especially since Lilly is turned out about 15 hours per day. I could glue on the boots, leave her in them for five days, and then take them off. I've been told I could get two or three applications out of them, so I could put them on again a few days later. They run about $25 each, plus the Sikaflex ($10), tips ($12), Adhere ($30), and fancy gun ($85). Spendy. Plus, if there is any kind of bacteria in her seedy toe (we don't think so, but who knows), it would seal all that up nice and tight.

Option 3: EasyShoes - The glue on ones are just ridiculously expensive. My trimmer told me she could show me how to apply them and it would save me some money, but it's still ridiculously expensive. If we only needed to shoe her for four months during the worst of it, I suppose I could budget somehow and spend the $1,000 it would cost me. If that's what she needed, I would do it in a heartbeat. There are, however, the EasyShoe NGs, which can be nailed on instead of glued on. My trimmer said they recommend both nails and glue, but I'd be willing to try just the nails. The shoes themselves are only $41 per pair, and nails only cost a couple cents. My trimmer doesn't do nails, though,so I'd have to find a farrier willing to come out and apply the shoes. Or, if I could find a farrier who is also a dealer, maybe he could get the shoes cheaper.

Option 4: Casts - A similar idea to the glue-ons, except a bit more permanent, and a bit less expensive. I can't remember how much I paid for a set of casts back in the day, but I'm thinking around $50. They're also something I could learn to do myself to save some money, but I would still worry about trapping any kind of bacteria in her seedy toe, and I wasn't super thrilled with casts last time we did it with Lilly. They're definitely an option to keep in mind, though.

Option 5: The dreaded steel shoe - As my trimmer has told me, this doesn't have to be an all or nothing kind of situation. If the best, most cost effective way to manage this is to put her in shoes for four months during the fall months, then we put her in shoes for four months and when January rolls around, we pull them off.

Other non-hoof related options we talked about include muzzles, moving to a new barn with a dry lot (or at the least a really crappy pasture), and simply running away from home.

She recommended that we take the 0-25 approach and start with a new pair of boots that I can pad, see how she does with those, and then go from there, rather than taking the 0-100 approach and slapping a pair of steel shoes on her.

Before I make a decision, I'm going to wait until my appointment with the vet and see what kind of information she can provide. She's always been a 'put shoes on her' kind of person, so I'm not sure I want to talk about hooves with her, but I am interested in what she has to say about the nutrition aspect of it and possible medications we could try. She'll say muzzle, muzzle, muzzle, and perhaps that can be part of the new Fall Plan that we have to implement next year to head this thing off. I'm totally open to that, although I hate the thought of my horse wearing something on her face all day during turnout with other horses.

I have so much time, money, and energy invested in this, coupled with how well she has been doing all summer, that I just feel really defeated. I've felt this way before, but we had made so much more progress this year that it just hit me really hard. I have a great team of professionals around me to help, and I do have a lot of options, so things aren't hopeless or anything, but it just really sucks.

Thoughts? Comments? Suggestions?


In other news, I do have some good news on the Rylee front... all her digestive issues have disappeared. I found a great probiotic/digestive enzyme supplement that has worked wonders for her. She's still on the raw diet and is doing amazing.

She makes me smile.  I just love her.


  1. Your farrier is right, it doesn't need to be a end all be all situation. I used to put Carlos in hind shoes when the ground got tough and then pull when it was soft, as he got a bit older i kept them on all year round because it is what kept him the most comfortable. Try stuff out and see how it goes.

  2. My horse had a laminitic episode - dead lame and bounding digital pulses in both fronts - on less than 24 hours of grazing on fall grass last year. When the day versus night temps fluctuate, grass responds by producing more sugar - tons more. It also happens in the spring. The grass does not have to look lush. If the pastures are stressed, the grass will produce even more sugar.

    I keep Val on a dry lot, and give him a token hour a day on some sparse grass for his mental health. If he had any other issues pointing to IR I would soak his hay and remove him from all grass period.

    We've had good luck painting his hooves with Keratex. It is pricey, but I saw results within one week - harder hoof wall and tougher soles. Farrier commented and was impressed.

    Good luck!

  3. I know this is an unpopular opinion thing but last fall we went through a similar thing with Dee getting gradually more and more sensitive into late summer, and that was with her being dry lotted. We caved and put 4 shoes on. She wore them one cycle before winter hit and we had to pull them again. Now a year later she's back to being as sound barefoot as I've ever seen her, with the last signs of whatever went wrong finally getting trimmed out a couple weeks ago. Why did she get all sensitive last fall? No idea. But putting shoes on for one trim cycle didn't seem to do any harm and seemed to help her get through whatever issue she was having.

    That said it sounds like you have a good team on the job. I'm anxious to hear which approach you take.

    Oh, I had to smile at the caption on your pic of Lilly because the first thing I said when I saw it was "well she sure looks good" lol.

    And speaking of looking good, glad to hear things are going so well with your raw diet for Rylee. Looks like she's smiling too!

  4. Consult with your farrier and vet on shoeing/pads/boots - the important thing is to make her comfortable. But remember that those things just conceal symptoms, they don't solve problems. You might want to give Platinum Performance Chromium Yeast a try - chromium can be very helpful for metabolic horses.

    Has your vet suggested a trial on pergolide (there's a new pill formulation I've forgotten the name of)? A trial would indicate if she's really got pre-Cushings (which can be independent or coincident with IR).

    I would try to get her weight down, and make sure any feed and hay she's got are low sugar. Avoiding grass may be a good idea as well, at least until things are under control.

    Good luck - these things can be challenging.

  5. Also, a zinc/copper supplement can be very helpful for hoof health - I use BiotinZ.

  6. Whether or not shoes are used, there is still the underlying issue of why there is a problem in the first place - shoes/boots/glueons/etc will help with her pain, but not with the underlying problem, and if the underlying problem isn't addressed the changes will continue to happen. Weight gain, hoof changes, footsoreness, all in the fall... it's very classic Cushings, or pre-Cushings, even if she isn't diagnosed at this point. Have you tried her on Pergolide, just to try it? And keeping her 100% off the grass, and keeping hay soaked or under 10% total ESC will really make a different, if she is IR/preCushings/Cushings.

  7. :( Poor Lilly, poor you, I cant imagine how frustrating this must be. You just want to have a healty sound horse you can enjoy n ride, I'm sure! Praying for wisdom all around.

  8. Oh no! So sorry to hear Miss Lilly is going through a rough patch. You two have overcome so much, I have no doubt you will overcome this too. Meanwhile, it sucks! Hang in there, my blogger buddy.

  9. I'm sorry, but I stopped reading at the 'what to do with the feet' scenarios...

    Having a full-blown IR horse, I can tell you one thing that nobody else is mentioning...Exercise, exercise, exercise!!!

    The other thing I can tell you with absolute certainty...IR-problematic horses are the biggest sissies. They make mountains out of molehills.

    If Lilly really cannot stand the saddle right now, get her out and either round pen her or lunge her. EVERY.SINGLE.DAY! and make her work. She may not sweat very easily at first, then when she does, it might smell (that is one of the biggest things I have noticed...horses having IR problems...Their sweat smells bad), but she needs to get to work and get her system functioning again.

    It might seem mean at first, and obviously, if she comes up dead lame, you will have to stop and figure out what else might be going on, but in the long run...Kindness is what kills these horses. The only thing that keeps their systems working properly is regular exercise.

  10. I am so sorry you're having to deal with all of this again :-( But you have a great team around you to help make the best decisions. Hang in there!!

  11. Oh man, that just sucks. Horses with IR issues are the HARDEST.

    If there is any way at all you can get her off the grass and into a dry lot, I'd go with that. Heck, maybe just having her on grass at night would be better than 15 hours/day. That's a LOT of grass with a lot of sugars. Can you maybe get it down to 8 hours per day? Even that might help. A grazing muzzle might be a good investment too. And I second (third?) the idea of trying her on Peroglide if your vet is OK with it.

    Hugs... I know the stress you're going through!