Tag Archives: senior horses

Fecal Water Syndrome

My senior Belgian Draft mare has a chronic condition where her stools are relatively solid but after having a stool, she passes fecal liquid separately, Her tail and hind end, and legs are covered. Initially when she came to me she had loose stools and the vet did a fecal and we put her on Biosponge. Her Fecal Sample showed minimal infestation and the Biosponge did not do much. Over time, her stools became more solid but the liquid continued. Now, after being with me for about 6 months we are still having this issue.

So, I did some research and came across an article on something I had never heard of before- Fecal Water Syndrome. According to an article on SmartPak.com, Fecal Water Syndrome is typically caused by the following;

The underlying cause of FWS in horses is not known at this time and there are many theories as to why some horses develop it. A group of researchers in Germany set out to explore some of the proposed theories and discovered that neither dental disease nor a heavy parasite burden seemed to be associated with FWS. However, it was found to be more likely to occur:

  • in horses of low rank or “pecking order” in the social hierarchy of a herd
  • in winter when subordinate horses were confined to a smaller space, leading to anxiety
  • in geldings vs mares, which are usually more dominant than geldings
  • in paint horses

However, the article also noted that due to FWS being a relatively new diagnosis, more studies are needed to look at the role stress, nutrition, and potentially, other factors in the development and management of FWS.

Diagnosis of FWS

Most veterinarians approach the diagnosis of a horse with FWS similar to one with diarrhea or loose stool. That is, they start by taking a thorough history from the owner, then perform a complete physical examination with special emphasis on the digestive system, and finally may recommend specific tests to evaluate the health of the horse in general and the GI tract in particular. It can be helpful to confirm the presence of soiled hind limbs and tail as well as dirty stall walls and bedding. While on the farm, the vet may want to walk through the regular feeding and management programs including turnout and herd status.

Treatment and Management of FWS

Although there is no standard treatment or set of recommendations for the care and feeding of horse suffering from FWS, all potential causes for disruption in the GI system should be addressed, including social stress.

  1. Making adjustments to the horse’s turn-out time and group.
  2. Making adjustments to the diet (with the input of a veterinarian and nutritionist.)
  3. Trying out various medications and supplements one at a time on the passage of fecal water. For example, adding omega 3 fatty acids for a normal inflammatory response in the gut, and to the stabilizing effects of “baker’s yeast” or Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
  4. Make sure to keep the hindquarters clean and dry to prevent any sores for forming.

Living Her Best Life

In the evening I take Ottille for a walk and set her free. Her carefree happiness is palpable and her beauty takes my breathe away every time. I still can not fathom how anyone would work this sweet girl until she reached 17 only to send her to a slaughter auction. Welcome to the rest of your life, sweet girl! Like I promised the first day we met, you can trust me to take care of you the rest of your days. ❤️

Spotting Lameness: The Game Plan

Spotting Lameness: The Game Plan
— Read on horsenetwork.com/2018/10/spotting-lameness-game-plan/

Dealing With Equine Colic: Here are 33 Do’s and Don’ts – The Horse

What should you do (or not do) if your horse shows signs of colic? And how do you prevent colic in the first place? Find out from our veterinary experts.
— Read on thehorse.com/features/dealing-with-equine-colic/

You’re Always with Me

Tonight I lost my best friend, Chance. The one who whinnied the moment my car pulled up, would run away and wait for me to catch him only to turn around and run away again. He made me laugh, knew all my secrets and nuzzled me when I was sad. He taught me about unconditional love and having a positive attitude despite circumstances. He nodded when I asked if he loved me and gave kisses to get treats. He’s the 17.1 hand horse who would stand behind me and fall asleep as I did my school work and would get upset if any horse got near me but would never hurt a fly. He let children hug him and dogs run into his stall and let me dress him up with flowers. He loved rolling in the snow, laying in the sunshine, and would light up the moment he saw me. I’ll miss playing in the barn on cold nights and curling up reading in his stall when he wasn’t feeling well. I’m thankful that he waited for me to get there tonight to say goodbye so I could hold his head in my lap and talk to him while he passed. There will never be a sweeter horse with a more gentle and pure soul. Thank you, Bubba, for being with me through it all- high school, college, the break ups, the losses, the good and bad days. You gave one hell of a fight for 30+ years. Lucky and I will miss you- there will never be another you❤️ #myfavoriteredhead #chancewetake #20yearstogether #thebesthorseintheworld #myheart

Ice Packs & Horseshoes

When it’s hot outside and you are getting your feet done, it’s imperative to have an ice pack on your head. 

Home is Whereever You Are 

Recently, I had to move to a new farm. And, if you are anything like me you loathe not only moving but moving your horse. The what-ifs running though my head- what if he won’t load? What if he hits his head? What if he freaks out? (Or to be completely transparent, what if I do?). What if he falls? Etc.  Personally, when I am faced with a anxiety provoking situation, I need to have a sense of control however small it is. So, I did what I do best and planned and organized. Everything.  

Chance had a bad prior experience with being trailered. Plus, with his age (31) and past health issues my anxiety was at an all time high. It was recommended that I plan to meet him at the new farm instead of being there for loading. Made sense. I scheduled the vet to be there in case medications were needed. And they scheduled a therapeutic trailering service with a large trailer that had an forward unloading ramp. The horse communicator was also scheduled as she knew of Chance’s past experience and did energy work. 

The day arrived. I went to the farm early and wrapped Chance’s legs, brought he and Lucky inside, packed up all my stuff, and met with the horse communicator. She did some grounding exercises with Chance and myself.  I left when everyone arrived and went to the new farm and unloaded our stuff. About 1 hour later the phone rang and of course, I thought the worse. Chance refused to load even after 2 rounds of medications. Lucky was on the trailer. They requested I come and try. I drove the 30 minutes back to the farm- praying to everyone and anything- that Chance would load. I read some tips on Google (yes, I’m ashamed to admit, while driving). One article suggested doing groundwork to get the horse to pay attention. For example, stop him, make him stand, back up, etc. Once he was listening that is when you try to load. The article went on to say that anger and frustration would not work. Because a horse is in sync with our emotions. And that physically, a horse has stamina that we as humans do not share. However, mentally the horse will give up quicker. Patience. Kindness. Persistence. 

I arrived. I followed the advice of the article. I walked him and gave commands. I was cool, collected, firm, and kind. We tried once. He walked part way up the ramp, stopped, and backed up. Again, I did the commands. Tried once more. Same thing. The third time the lady who was there to Trailer him lightly smacked his butt with a crop and suddenly, he was on the trailer! I couldn’t believe it. We quickly shut the doors and off we went. 

The trip was about 45 minutes. And, thankfully, uneventful. The trailering company was amazing and patient. I’m beyond grateful for everyone’s help! 

Below is information for trailering issues, how-tos, and professionals that can make the transition 10000% easier and, almost, stress free.

Resources:

1. True North Equine in Marshall, Virginia

2. Trailering service: Always There Horsecare: 703-915-6255 or http://www.alwaystherehorsecare.com

3. Article: Think like a horse

4. Article: The hard to load horse

5. ArticleLets Get Loaded


“You Are What You Eat…”

Chance has gained almost 1000 lbs in over a year and he could still use a few pounds.  He lost wait quickly when he became sick.

Chance also has some factors that put him at a higher rate of weight loss and an increased difficulty maintaining and gaining weight.

  • he is a senior horse
  • a thoroughbred
  • a cribber
  • had an injury which caused him to not run around as much thus losing muscle mass

I slowly upped over the last year, with advisement from a nutritional specialist (her information is at the end of the post along with the name of her book which I found extremely helpful) and my vet, his feed from 3qt twice a day to 11qt twice a day.

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Chance’s current regiment includes:

AM:

  • Two 4qt scoops of Nutrina Safe Choice Senior feed
  • One 3qt scoop of Timothy and Alfalfa pelleted mix
  • I add his supplements
    • 2 scoops of Body Sore (All natural supplement)
    • 2 scoops of Cervical Formula (All natural supplement)
  • I mix it all together with warm water so that it is sloppy (this makes it easier for him to eat at his age and lessens the chance of choking.  Plus, it helps keep him hydrated especially in the winter when he is less inclined to drink as much water).

PM:

  • Two 4qt scoops of Nutrina Safe Choice Senior feed
  • One 3qt scoop of Timothy and Alfalfa pelleted mix
  • I add his supplements
    • 1 Smartpak (Senior Formula, Immune Booster, and Vitamin C)
    • 2 scoops of DuraLactin (All natural anti-inflammatory and pain reducer derived from cow’s milk also called MicroLactin)
    • 2 scoops of Body Sore (All natural supplement)
    • 2 scoops of Cervical Formula (All natural supplement)
  • I add about 5 flakes of hay (Alfalfa mix)
  • Two 3qt scoops of hay stretcher in a separate feed bucket for snacking through the night

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(Chance’s feed before adding water)

I also make sure that he eats his feed from a bucket on the ground.  According to my vet it is the best way for a horse to eat.


Here are Some Nutrition Resources



Horse Feeding Blog

Fox Den Equine

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Hannibal. 

Today Chance got his teeth floated by his very first dentist from 2000!  Due to his cribbing history his front teeth were significantly worn down.  His molars were not in bad shape but were a bit jagged.  The dentist noticed that Chance’s left side was more sensitive to the filing and put a jaw opening device in C’s mouth to keep it open (see below right photo). The molars all looked like they were holding strong and there was no smell that would be indicative of an infection or decay. The dentist indicated that Chance was missing three back molars and that he felt that he was about 24 years old.

The dentist asked me about the nutritional care Chance was receiving due to his age, and I gave him the run down- 2 quarts twice a day of hay stretcher, hay/alfalfa mix throughout the day, 4 quarts of Nutrina Smart Feed Senior twice a day, 2 cups of Rice Bran twice a day in feed, SmartPak Senior Flex and Immune Boost, DuraLactin once a day for arthritic pain and inflammation, Vitamin E once a day, and Transfer Factor for an immune system booster. He continued to explain that when he asks the owners of most of the older horses he goes to sees, they do not have them on the proper diet. I explained that we are still trying to get more weight on Chance but that he has put on a good amount of weight since last summer. He suggested that our next appointment be this December before Chance has the opportunity to go into the winter and lose any weight, which is common in older horses, especially cribbers and thoroughbreds, in the winter months.

Later that day, Chance seemed to have some difficulty eating his hay; wads of hay were scattered around his stall. This is something that I have seen intermittently, maybe once or twice, but not to this extreme.  I decided to give him alfalfa cubes to substitute the hay until the next day when, hopefully, he would be able to eat more easily.  Sure enough the next morning there were no wads of hay!