Monday, September 29, 2008

Graze Anatomy (the movie)

This was a big weekend for Hank. It has been a month since surgery, and he is finally allowed out in the big pasture with the other horses. I started with one of our very warm afternoons, where I hand walked him out to the others where they were grazing, and turned him loose, and he did not take off at a high rate of speed, but started grazing casually. Left him for most of the afternoon, and brought him back in that night, and fed him his hay, and had Gambler stay in with him. Next day, turned them both loose when the grey horses were not to far out in the field, and they cantered towards them, but did not have to go far, and again, started grazing. One more night inside, then this morning, I let he and Gambler out, and they took off a bit faster to head to the other horses. Then spent the day grazing. I took the little digital camera out, and took some videos of them after being turned loose, and grazing, and just being horses in the field. So good to see him back with the others.Not only so he can graze and move around, but for his mental state as well. We have some good grazing for maybe another month if we are lucky. After we get our first freeze, the pasture will all turn brown. They still seem to like to graze on it, but start seeking the hay bale more and more.

So, in the video clips, Hank has his fly mask on his face, Gambler is the dark bay with the two white hind socks, Toby is the white horse, and Rockhe is the flea bitten speckled grey. You can catch a glimpse of the neighbors donkey and maybe horses, next door in a couple shots.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Doing the limbo

Hanks fan club is requesting an update, and I will admit I have been a slacker on his blog for a bit. But, that is only because we have little to report again. He is in that limbo stage. He has this week left on “lock down” before he can get turned out in the big pasture with the rest of the horses, and all that yummy grass! He is spending his time in the ½ acre field by the barn, eating mass amounts of hay, and a couple beet pulp mashes each day. His weight tape is telling me he has gained about 40 pounds in a week. The weight is mostly low, more like a hay belly, as he has not had any work since July, when he started in his colic journey. Thankfully he was in pretty peek physical shape when he started all this, as we had been conditioning for the 5 day / 250 mile endurance ride. His winter coat is just starting to come in, but I noticed that where the bandage tape stuck, and pulled out hairs, they are not growing in yet, but the shaved areas are starting to grow. Hopefully he will not have bald spots all winter!

I have noticed that he has some excessively loud gut sounds at times, that sound like thunder. I mentioned it to the vet tech today when I dropped off a thank you basket for taking such great care of Hank. She is to talk to the vet, and call me if it is anything to be concerned over. But I am guessing he is still shifting all his stuff inside around, and getting it back into place after surgery. Amazing it has only been 3 weeks since the surgery when I watch him. I had him in the yard this evening, and I called him, to be caught, and put back in his field. He can trotting over, nickering at me, and circled around me, and dropped his head in the halter as I held it open. Wish he would do that every time he is to be caught, especially out in the 25 acre field!

His other interesting habit is, as he eats his beet pulp mash, he will eat a bit, then turn and walk to the salt block in the red bucket (pictured in previous blog) and lick on it awhile, getting wet, goopy mash all over it, then turn, and go back to the mash, then salt, then mash. I figure his body is telling him what he needs. And, I am glad to seeing him eat with such enthusiasm.

I will have much more to report I am sure, after he heads back in the pasture this weekend. I know the extra movement will be good for him, although he moves around quiet a bit in the little field, even trotting some. When I see him trot a bit, sunshine on his coat, ears up, looking content, it sure makes my heart feel good that the vet staff at Lonestar Park Equine was able to fix him. I look forward to being able to be on him again, and tell him “Trot on Hank, trot on!”

I was not able to download any photos yet this week, so this is from 2004, at a NATRC ride. He always looks good in photos.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Yes Deer

Not a lot to report on as far as Hank goes. He is eating a LOT of food. And, he is making a LOT of horse poop. But that is OK with me. On the 15th I put a weight tape around him, and it said 878 pounds. I'll see what it says next week. I wish I had taken time to see what it said after the first colic, but who know the poor little horse was gonna go through all he did! He also had a slight edema on the incision line yesterday, but I remembered the vet said that might happen, and he had been doing much more walking in the small turn outs. Today it looked much better. I have also tried to keep his mind occupied with the other horses interacting with him some. They usually do not get too playful when in the small field, so I put them all in with him the other morning for about an hour to hang out together. It was nice to see him with them. for a bit. The funny thing was, he just grazed, and really had no interest in them except having them nearby.

As I go out the driveway, we always "count heads" to make sure we see each horse in the pasture, and that they are upright. A few years ago, I found my old gelding that had moved with us from California down, near a fence, and when we got to him, we could tell he had broke his back, and had to have him put down. While I can not keep my horses bubble wrapped and over protected, I do try to at least 'see' them a few times a day minimum when I look out in the pasture. Anyway, I looked across the field, and I count 1-2-3..... and wait, 5 other pretty chestnut critters grazing. We have had a group of 5 deer that frequent our property for a few years now, and they were way out in the open, away from the woods grazing with the horses. That is Gambler below in the photo with them.

Our weather has been spectacular for riding. To bad I have not taken advantage of it with Gambler. I really need to do that. Our daytime temps have been in the 80's. With Hank being sick, it had taken a lot of enthusiasm for riding out of me, but the nice weather kind of jump started me, and I was out changing the fit on my saddle for Gambler. It is a Specialized Saddle Co. saddle, and for those who have never seen one, they have sets of neoprene pads that velcro on and off the tree, and you add shims and adjust the height of these pads to fit the shape of each horse. Unfortunately, Hank and Gambler have very different builds, so I need to work with it some more. But maybe I'll get out for a ride this weekend.

And one last random photo below if of Thelma. Yes, we have a dog, with all these attention seeking cats. And, she adores the kitties. She is a Catahoula, which is a hog hunting dog, and the state dog of Louisiana. She weighs in at 80 pounds. Thelma is 8 now, and slowing down a little bit, and getting a few more white hairs on her face, but is FAR from old. She was disgusted with us, that we were sitting out back, scratching the cats, and not her.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Turned out and enclosed

Today was sunny and nice, so we turned Hank out in his 50x50 grass paddock for the day. He had a good roll in the grass, and now has pretty dirt stains on his bandage. It must be itchy with the new hair growth, and the fact it sticks and pulls the skin a bit. Every so often I'd toss him a bit of hay, which he seemed to prefer today over grazing. But he sure enjoyed being out in the sunshine.

While Hurricane Ike is not to give us very much in the way of nasty weather, we decided the stall Hank stays in could use a bit more weather protection. It is fairly open along one side, with just some 4x8 sheets of plywood along the fence rail to block wind, but rain could blow in from above. So, we added some plywood above that, to make a more solid enclosed wall. It is sure not the Ritz, but it does give us a place to put a horse that may be on stall rest, and keep them out of the weather for the most part.

Then tonight when I went out to check on Hank one more time before bed, he seemed to want to go back to the stall, and out of his turn out. Maybe he was not seeing the other horses in the pasture, or knew he would get more food in the tall. Either way, I held open his halter, he dropped his head in, and then he marched me to his stall. He did a tiny snort at the new enclosure addition, then started looking around for hay, and gave me that look of "Well??? Where is it??

This horse is getting really spoiled.....

Saturday, we will see what hurricane Ike brings to our area in the way of wind and rain.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

On the 12th day of healing, my staples were removed..

Today was 12 days after surgery, and time to get the staples on the incision removed. The vet said I could do it with a staple remover, but I thought it was really the best if I hauled him down, and let them do it. First, I wanted to make sure it was looking good to the vet. We had some slight drainage, and a little puffy area in front of his sheath, that I (over) worried it would be the start of a hernia from the surgery. Next, if Hank took exception to me pulling them out, I wanted a vet to be able to give him a bit of a tranquilizer.

We arrived, and unloaded, and Hank had a worried look to him. Poor horse had been there to many times in the past couple months. But he marched into the exam room like a champ. They started removing the belly wrap, and of course it pulled on the hair and skin. Ouch! Then they had dropped the bandage on the ground for a moment and Hank sees it laying there, and does a huge "snooooort" and side passes away, with him keeping an eye on it like it was gonna get him. Of course we all laughed at him. I just never know what will tweak his brain. So the vet starts to remove staples, and the first couple he is really good. But then he kind of cocked a hind leg a little, and we decided a tranq would indeed be best. Even with that, I had to hold a twitch on him for a few, as they had some skin / flesh that had grown around them a little. But they got them all out, and he did not kick, and really, was a very good boy. She felt it best to wrap it one more time, to let the bit of open flesh finish healing. So, they assistants put one more wrap on him, which he gets to wear 5 days. Poor boy is SO thin, but now we can get him back to speed on full feed, and gaining some weight

After they were done, I looked at him, and the drugs had gone to the next level, and he was standing there, head down, zoned out.

As he dozed, I was able to talk to Dr. Williams a bit more about Hank, surgery, feed, future colics, and distance riding. I asked if he should not be fed the Coastal Bermuda Hay as many say it contributes to colic, but he saw no problem with it. Then he asked how much grain he ate. I am a minimalist for feeds, and only add things as needed, and told him he really does not eat grain. Just a little Purina Strategy, and beet pulp. He suggested not to feed him the HUGE meals of all he can eat hay before rides, and to look in to Platinum Performance to add to his diet. He feels he should be able to do distance again, and has no higher of a chance to colic again, than he did in the first place. Oh, another suggestion to our pasture was to add clover, as it adds nitrogen to the soil, and in turn the grass but the horses don't eat it. It is much cheaper, and more "natural" that the liquid fertilizers. I need to read up on that. It was now time to load him up, and take him home. Hopefully he will not need to visit Lonestar Park Equine Hospital for a long time. I would highly recommend them for ANY vet work. Excellent staff, great facility, and over all, their prices are no more than most equine vets.

I was asked to be sure to remember to show some photos of the other critters. So, tonight I got a photo of RJ and Orca, who were a couple feral Tom cats that found our house. Orca had been living around here almost 3 years before we trapped him, and got him neutered. RJ showed up one day, just as wild, and we got him trapped and fixed. I would not doubt it if Orca was RJ's daddy. They have some similarities. Anyway, after they were fixed, and we had them live in some large pet cages awhile, they got used to us, and the fact we fed them, and eventually tamed down. RJ would prefer to be a spoiled house cat, but that is not gonna happen. The photo is in the screened in porch, where the outdoor cats go at night, and are locked in after dark, to keep them safe from Coyotes. We built some kitty condos, where they can sleep and stay warm in the winter. During the day, we open the pet door, and let them out to go hunt around the house and barn. Our large 80 pound dog, Thelma, keeps and eye on them, and adores them. They know she is a "cool" dog, and will rub against her. It is an odd relationship, but she knows that she is to protect the kitties and keep coyotes away, and they know she loves them.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Rain, beautiful rain

Well, I am kind of just chugging along with Hank. We still do hand grazing, and have been slowly adding a little more hay at a time to his diet. I will admit, I am very paranoid about him getting too large of a meal, and having things not digest well. Those first two colic's, had him get sick again about 9 days after the previous colic. It was about the time I had increased his meal size. While I understand that he was getting sick because he had things tangled up inside, and the food could not pass through as fast as it came in, and that we fixed that issue with the surgery, it is still worrisome to me about him colicing again. I know those thoughts will ease as I see him doing better and better, and the surgery further behind us, but still hard not to fret a bit.

Late Monday afternoon, we started getting some sprinkles, that turned in to almost 1/2" of much needed rain. Then I woke up Tuesday morning to the sound of a lot more rain. Nice, steady, soaking rain. Hank needed some grazing, so I put on a lightweight waterproof blanket on him, to keep bandage dry, and put him in the grass turn out for about an hour. The other horses ate nearby, unfazed by the rainfall. It was nice to have some temps drop down into the 60's for awhile.

Hubby got home from working the Greenbay Monday Night Football game, and he helped me change the bandage. A tiny bit of drainage near the end of the incision, and maybe a tiny bit swollen, but after reading up on it, I am guessing everything is fine and normal. Hank was very good as the sticky wrap tugged on that soft skin near his flanks when I removed some of the old wrap. Imagine the worse bandaid stuck in underarm hair. lol OUCH!

Hurricane Ike is heading to Texas, and we might actually get some rain from it up our way by the weekend. while I really want the rain, I'd like a few more days of that hot weather, to let the pasture grow a bit more before Fall sets in, and things slow in growth. Also, one never knows if the hurricane can bring in tornadoes and flooding. That I do not want to think about. At least Hank does have a dry place to stay.

No photos today. I forgot. But, wanted to get an update out there for Hanks fan club. Thanks again for all the thoughts and prayers for us.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Hank has strange friends

Hank seems to like his mineral block. He has this odd routine, where he would eat his Purina Strategy, then walk over to the salt block, then go drink water. Did not matter if I only fed him a handful of feed, he would always do this. With the colic issues, I was wanting them to drink more, and be sure to have salt available at all times. I got this cool tub that will hang on a fence rail, or over the outside edge of our metal water trough, so the horses can stand and lick the salt, and then drink, without having to move. I drilled a couple holes in the bottom, to let it drain in the rain (if we ever have any again) , then dropped one of the large salt blocks in it. The cool thing is, I can move it to where I want it. Right now, it is in Hanks stall. Oh, and normally he does not wear the halter in the stall.

This morning it was time to change Hanks bandage. Earlier I had him in the yard grazing some. So as I was leading him back into his stall, I saw he had a visitor. We have these tortoises around the property, and have actually given them names. We have Chip (pictured) as he has a chip missing form his shell. Scooter, who is pretty fast, with some pigmentation gone on his shell, and Dale, Chips friend, who looks pretty normal. Anyway, Chip was cruising through the stall, so I tossed him a bite of carrot, which he thought was very yummy. He then moved on to where ever they hang out, when not stopping to visit Hank.

The last time I changed the bandage, I did not remove all the wrap. I just cut it low along his sides, and re-wrapped over the top, so I was limiting how many times I pulled the sticky stuff off his side, thus removing a bunch of hair along with it. But today, it was time to change the whole thing, as he had been itchy under it. You can see in the photo how much hair it yanked out upon removal. Poor baby. Thankfully, he is shedding his summer coat, as his winter coat is starting to come in. I guess I am glad we are not dealing with this with a full winter coat, as THAT would hurt to pull off the hair. He also has a sticky residue left behind, but I'm sure it will be gone after the rest of the summer coat sheds. The incision looked good, with a couple tiny spots of proud flesh. But no infection. He goes in Thursday for the vet to remove the staples. I am not about to get my head down under there to pull those out! I am also feeling bad for Hank with his weight loss. I have never seen the ribs on this horse. I'll be glad when he can start eating enough to gain some weight!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

What a week it's been!

One week ago, I was sitting in the vet hospital, waiting for them to finish Hanks surgery. Over all, it has been a positive week, with Hank feeling pretty chipper most of the time, and eager to eat grass when I take him for walks. He has had weight loss, but he will gain it back after he is back up to speed on food. But I know I will worry constantly about him getting colic again. I still count his poop piles when I clean the stall, and today have decided some are sort of small. Just more to worry myself.

We walked to the mailbox again today, more brisk, to help him get the digestion going. I looked behind us, and the other horses were tagging along down the driveway, wondering where Hank was going.

Toby is always super itching, rubbing on anything that does not move, and a few things that do. Down near our pond, we have a Cottonwood tree that has died, and he thinks it makes an excellent scratching post.

This afternoon, I put up a quick "corral" in the yard out of electric fence tape. No need to charge it, Hank is scared of any kind of rope or fence tape. I wanted to graze him a little longer, but where I could constantly watch him out the window. I am trying to save the grass in the corral we built for grazing for him when he is allowed full turn out in it, in another week. Our lawn needed mowed anyway, so might as well let Hank eat some of it. Woody decided to sit and watch him from his window viewpoint. I'm sure Hank enjoyed the extra time grazing, without me dragging him around on the end of the lead rope. Just don't want him out in an area he could get to moving around too quick.

Friday, September 5, 2008

You've got mail !

Hank is to have walks, along with his grazing. Getting the digestion going is the goal, and nothing like a good walk to do that. Of course when I decide we are to be walking, instead of grazing, it takes a few tries for Hank to understand this. Normally we saunter along, taking a few steps at a time, as he grazes along through the pasture. But when it is time to walk, is usually goes like this. I start leading him, and he is going along fine, until he thinks it is time to graze, and he stops, and I hit the end of the lead rope. I tug, he tries to stuff his mouth full, before starting to walk again. I will admit, I have been allowing him to do this, as I figure I can retrain him to not stop and grab bites when I am leading him at another time. Right now, he needs to eat grass.

So, I decide it is time to walk down to the mailbox. Our driveway is 1/3rd of a mile long, and this is a good little outing to let him see some other sights, eat some different parts of the pasture. I arrive at the mailbox, and look inside, and along with his bill from the vet (ouch) I see a pretty blue envelope. it is addressed to HANK. Well look at this Hankie, you've got mail!!! We head back to his stall, and I help him open up his card. It is a Get well card from some of his Oklahoma friends he has shared the trail with at one time or another. While I had to read it to him, he did want to check it out for himself. He is happy to know he has friends thinking of him.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

20 staples

Later this month Hank will be allowed to be turned out in about a 50x50 area. I decided to move the panels I have used for a round pen in the past, over near the house in the pasture, where the grass is good, and where I could look out of the house and see Hank. Also it is easy to run a hose to it for a water tub. Hubby and I took on the task, and both had ideas of the best way to move the panels, and how to set them up. After some mild difference in opinions in how to achieve the task, we got the new turn out set up, and ready when Hank is. I have started watering it some too, so I can get a bit more growth by the time he gets to be turned out. Until then, it is hand walking for his grazing.

Today I had to change the bandage. The vet said it really is a 2 person job, but hubby was gone, and after thinking about it awhile, I figured out how to change it by myself. Hank stood like a champ as I removed part of the old bandage. I was told that the incision might have some swelling, but as I removed the dressing, I found it looked REALLY good. He has 20 staples, that will come out in another week. No drainage, and it was super clean. Did you know Boric Acid (the powder some use to keep cock-roaches away) is a great antiseptic? I had to find some, and sure enough, it was in the bug spray area at Wal-Mart. It is to be sprinkled on the dressing pad I place against the incision. Then wraps run around his whole "middle" to hold everything in place. The wraps have a sticky backing, so he has residue on his hair, along with some pulled out when I change the bandage. But what a good boy to stand for all this.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Post Op care

Still looks like he is feeling fine. I was told today he could look a tad dull, as it happens to some on the 3rd day, but never saw it. When I am heading out to the barn, he is always looking over the rail, waiting for someone to come visit, and greets me with a whinny. We don't have a true stall, but more of a shelter off the side of the barn, that we have added some plywood along 2 walls to help close it in. It is about 12x20, and he can see much of the pasture. It keeps the weather off the horses, and has worked well. In some cases, maybe better than a true stall, as it has such nice ventilation.

We did more grazing and walking in the pasture. He got his morning shots, and then later in the day, I noticed where he got the penicillin shot, it was hot, and sweaty. I feared an abscess was trying to start, so I put a call to the vet. It was suggested to ice it, and put DMSO on it. Later it was looking better, with less heat, so hopefully it will not break open. Poor horse. If it is not one thing, it is another. I had been watching all day for him to finally dirty his stall. I wanted to see that everything was working. So mid afternoon, I came in the house very excited telling hubby that Hank had pooped! While he was glad to hear it, his enthusiasm was not nearing as much as mine about the situation. Good boy Hank. You can make mom happy just by making a pile for her to clean up!

Monday, September 1, 2008


I take him out for a quick graze in the field. He is ravenous. Can't grab bites fast enough. I feel bad we have to limit the grazing for awhile, but that will get his GI tract back to shape and working gradually, without any huge meals. The others follow him for a bit, and have to sniff his bandage. Interesting to see them follow him and check him out. He must have had some unusual smells.

He can not have any hay for a week, so I will be grounded for awhile until he does not get the light grazing every 2-3 hours. . It really is nice to have my horse with me to be able to graze him. Tonight after the sun set we walk along in the darkness as he grazes, and I look up at the stars in the sky, feeling blessed to have his surgery go well, and to have had the best vet care available to us. Hank and I were in many prayers over the past few days, and I am blessed to have so many people keep us in their thoughts.

Take me home part 2

I have his stall all prepped and ready for his arrival, and we head down to get him late afternoon. He is out grazing with one of the assistances when we arrive. We take him inside so I can see how the bandage is to be changed. They had stitched a cloth on at the incision to absorb any of the first drainage that might happen, and to put some pressure for the first few days along it. That is removed, and I am shown how to rewrap him, paying attention to not let the bandage be too far back where he might urinate on it. I get a big box of supplies and drugs The vet kisses him on his nose, and goes out to the parking lot with us. I have hubby take him so I can get a photo of him leaving the hospital. He is VERY anxious to get in the trailer! We load him up, and head home. Needless to say, he was very excited to get home, and the other horses greeted him. I'm sure he told them all about his experience.

Take me home!

I pick hubby up at airport, and go over by the vet to visit Hank, and see how he looks, and if indeed, he is ready to come home. He sees us pull up and lets out a whinny, ears up and looking alert over the stall door. I am told to take him grazing for about 20 min. They have already removed his IV fluids, and he is drinking from the bucket. More than happy to go eat some grass, and he drags all me around looking for the best stuff to munch on. Another horse who had her colic surgery the day before Hank, does not look near as good as he does, but her surgery was more complicated. I am amazed at just how good Hank is looking and feeling. Because it is yet another rather warm to hot TX day, we decide to wait until closer to sunset to come back to get Hank and take him home. As we leave, he is again begging for food to who ever will listen