I realize that Thoroughbreds all change age on January 1, but I still like to acknowledge the actual birthdays of my horses. Now, I’m not one of those crazy people who forces my horse to wear ridiculous birthday hats (Amanda), but I do give extra dinner or special scratches or something. Plus it’s a nice time to reflect on the time each horse and I have had together.
One of the first photos I saw of Simon!
Today, Simon turns 8! I first brought him home a couple weeks before his 3rd birthday so this makes FIVE years together! As per usual, in some ways it seems like he came home yesterday and in other ways it seems like it has been much longer than five years. What first sold me on Simon was his chill. An accomplished riding friend went with me to look at and try him on like January 2. It was less than 45 days since his last (of 2) race, he was 3, it was unseasonably cold in Texas (I think the high that day was in the 30s, if not colder) and we rode him in a pasture. Even with the perfect recipe for a baby racehorse to go bonkers, we could hardly get him to canter! Partially because he had no idea what we were asking of him and partially because he just didn’t want to go forward.
The day he moved to my house. I love that I got his fancy leather halter with the nameplate from his birthplace in Kentucky!
I bought Simon with the purpose of filling Jaguar’s shoes as my hunt horse and he’s done that exceeding my expectations. He’s whipped in, gone first flight, gone third flight and hunted in seven states! I’m biased, but he’s always one of the most attractive horses at a gathering. He has a soft, kind eye. A fun big blaze. He’s tall, dark and handsome. He moves as nicely as he looks. He jumps beautifully. He’s game to try most anything I ask of him, including foxhunting and moving cattle within days of each other. Plus he’s gone on hundreds of miles of trail rides. The only thing he hasn’t done is go to a horse show.
Hunting in Georgia
I’ve mentioned previously that he’s had some soundness struggles and we are still figuring out what is ailing him. A couple weeks ago he was standing outside my office, asleep with his buddies, and he collapsed. I’ve had a sneaking suspicion for a while that he does not lie down to sleep very often, if ever. He often has rubs and scabs on his front legs that match exactly the movement he made when I watched him fall down in his sleep. He also has a difficult time getting up from rolling. I’ve seen him try 5-10 times to get up from rolling and even have to lie still for a minute to catch his breath to try again. So, today (his birthday) we are visiting our veterinarian (again) to try to figure this out.
Moving cattle in Montana.
PC Gretchen Pelham
If you google these symptoms you’ll find diagnoses about lameness, neurologic issues and general weakness due to illness. None of them exactly seem to match his symptoms. I’m (I think) hopeful that it’s a pain/lameness issue that we can diagnose and treat. I’ve had a PEMF practitioner tell me he seems like he has EPM, but when I asked my vet about that (years ago) he thought it was silly. He did the tail pull test, which Simon passed with flying colors. Simon does stumble a bit, but usually only at slower gaits and it’s never gotten worse or even changed in a few years. Plus he’s always been very sure footed while hunting and trail riding on uneven terrain.
Trail riding with Quila
Additionally, Simon has had some disposition changes over the past year. He used to be always chill, sweet, easy going and never spooky. Now he’s more grumpy with other horses, spooky, bitey for certain things like grooming and tacking and generally a bit anxious. I don’t think our year or two of traveling around the country did him any favors. I’ve learned that he is an anxious traveler. Plus the hunt we ride with in Texas now is a 240 mile round trip, again likely not advantageous to a nervous traveler. He is still mostly sweet and easy to be around, but something is definitely up.
The Best Booper
As is always true with horses, I have a feeling that this one appointment isn’t going to find and fix the problem. I think there is a more systemic issue going on that will take time, perseverance and patience to find and (hopefully) fix. I’m hopeful that we can continue his work under saddle, but will do whatever I can to help him get back to (or as close as possible) 100%. Please send him some good vibes/prayers/fill in the blank!
Ufta, 2021 was a YEAR! A lot of good, but it didn’t end well.
Jaguar colicked again the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Thankfully it turned out ok, but still required a night at the vet’s facility. And frustratingly, I think it very easily could have been prevented.
Boot City got me a truckload of sand for my arena for Christmas (YAY!) and the day the sand and a car part were delivered the horses were exceptionally frisky. To get them out of the way of the truck at the last minute I threw out a small flake of hay as a distraction. It wasn’t until the truck was driving away that I realized I had put hay out and Jaguar was turned out. He’s been off hay since he colicked in January 2021 when we determined he can no longer eat hay. I watched him for a minute and he seemed to have no interest in the hay so I didn’t think about it again until that afternoon when he wanted into the barn. I fed him some soaked cubes because it was only 3p and he usually goes in at 5p. I came back to feed and put the other horses in the barn around 5p and he was noticeably uncomfortable. By the time I finished feeding he wasn’t eating, was restless and pawing. Of course this was the same evening a few friends were coming over.
He likes to come to the front door. I don’t want him to get hurt falling on the tile, so I won’t let him come in.
I called my vet’s office and spoke to the on-call veterinarian who advised giving him banamine then watching to see how he acted after an hour. My friends arrived just after I administered the banamine and we had a lovely chat for about an hour when I looked out the window to see him in his stall run rolling, not a good sign. I had already asked Boot City to hook up the trailer, just in case, so I called the clinic to let them know he hadn’t improved and that we were on our way. My friends left graciously, understanding the situation and we got the old man loaded into the trailer uneventfully.
We arrived at the clinic around 6p (thankfully it was an early arrival, usually this happens at zero dark thirty and no one gets any sleep) we unloaded and headed into the treatment area. The on-call veterinarian got him sedated and talked us through her plan of the usual tubing, fluids, etc. Due to his age he is not a surgery candidate so I made sure we had similar expectations for his treatment options should things go poorly. She let me know that she’d follow up with me later in the night, but no news is good news. I got a text around 9:30 or 10p that he was comfortable and seemed to be OK.
Jaguar and Simon already had dentals scheduled for the next morning, so I headed back to the clinic bright and early with Simon. By the time we got there Jaguar was done with his appointment! He had even been a good patient for his teeth, usually he’s AWFUL. My regular veterinarian had been out of town and our appointment was her first upon returning. She told me when I got there that the on-call vet had told her about Jaguar coming in so she had also kept an eye on him on the stall camera overnight. I LOVE my veterinary team!
It’s been a few days now and Jaguar seems to be back to his normal self. We have had a few wild temperature swings, which is when people swear horses start colicking more and he was fine through that. I’ll add, though, that I don’t believe in those temperature swings causing colic. I’ve read a lot of veterinary research and they have never found a correlation between temperature or pressure changes and colic. The more likely culprit is that owners change how they manage their horses when the weather gets bad; more stall time, less exercise, same water offering, etc. I make it a point to keep the management of my horses the same regardless of weather. I may add hot water to their water buckets when a freeze is impending or put them in the barn earlier when it’s pouring rain, but they still get turned out regardless and I feed all my adult horses soaked alfalfa cubes and beet pulp every day. Only once has one of my horses colicked during crazy weather (tornado warning) and it turned out that horse had been eating acorns by the bucketful.
Jaguar’s one of three rides in 2021! He is the camp counsellor for Gene’s baby horse boot camp.
Hopefully this is Jaguar’s last trip to the vet’s office for a few months (years?!) for anything other than dental maintenance. I learned my lesson and won’t leave ANY hay around him EVER again. I’m grateful he didn’t get an impaction, just gas likely caused by eating something he hasn’t eaten in 12 months.