Getting back to normal…

Indy has been back to a more normal routine for a week now. He eats his breakfast (his favorite!) then heads outside for the day.  He’s still in a smaller turnout, one of the round pens, which he doesn’t seem to mind. Shady, on the other hand, isn’t too impressed with the situation.  Indy loves to tease her; running up to her and kicking in her direction, giving her a gentle nip to the flank, the occasional body slam, or just running under her neck when she is trying to enjoy the sunshine.  She gets so annoyed; I swear her ears must be sore at the end of the day from being pinned for so long.

Hard not to be mad when your child is kicking at your face….photo credit to Michelle Burdick Photography

Nevertheless, I do think they enjoy each other’s company.  I know Indy loves being with her and while Shady is annoyed, she loves him.  I caught them grooming each other one day.  It was adorable.


I keep her out with him for several reasons.  Besides safe company (I know they won’t injure each other) Shady is unlikely to get him racing around like a madman hell bent on hurting himself.  Her calm quiet demeanor helps keep him more mellow.  Since his first day out, he has been pretty quiet.  He doesn’t run around all that much and has been keeping all four feet on the ground when being led.  He had absolutely exhausted himself that first day, practically dragging into his stall and snoozing while I groomed him.  I think once he got his kicks out of his system it was back to normal for him.

He’s doing a lot less of this now….amazing photo credit to Michelle Burdick Photography

He will stay in his small turnout for another three weeks, then have a vet check.  Shady will most likely stay with him most, if not the entire time. It gives her paddock a good chance to dry out as it is pretty muddy out at the moment.  The nice thing is that I can take her for a ride and he doesn’t get upset.  Some people were concerned that they would become too attached if I put them together.  Thankfully, we had a very successful weaning months ago and it’s never been a big deal for them to be separated.  Indy learned early on that sometimes Shady has things to do that don’t include him, but she will be back.

Otherwise, I haven’t done much with Indy.  I groom him every day and hang out in their paddock for a bit.  I don’t want to push his rehab by walking him now that he is moving all day.  After being in for so long he needs to get stronger again at his own pace.

His legs look good.  The right one looks completely normal.  The left one still has some edema.  It hasn’t gone down a whole lot since he went out, but it hasn’t gotten any bigger.  It may take up to 6 months to go away, with the chance of some being there forever.  Soundness wise, he looks fabulous, which is great!

Shady and I have gone riding nearly every day.  I will very soon be posting about the results of our Shady exam and what we are doing to strengthen her and head back to competing.


The Big Day – Indy Returns To Turnout

On January 28th, Indy had his OCD Surgery.  He then got to spend six and a half weeks on stall rest.  It was longer than we had initially planned, (see “Growing Pains”) but I would much rather be safe than sorry!

We had slowly been working our way up to being able to go back outside.  We hand walked every day, adding one minute each day, making our way towards 30 minutes of walking.  On nice days, I tried to slowly incorporate walking outside into our walks.  Those usually were a bit too overstimulating and resulted in lots of leaps into the air.

Finally though, the day came.  It was a beautiful day in New England, upper 50s in March, with partial sun and a light breeze.  Indy had no idea, as he had sadly accepted the life of being an inside horse.  I tried to keep his schedule routine; a short walk, a grooming, then a snack-treat, as we usually do.

I then went and got Shady, his mom.  The plan was to bring her on our short walk from the clinic back up to the boarding barn.  I had hoped that she would be a calming influence on her.  That worked for about 50 feet, then things like this happened:


Which led to this:


My fear was that he was going to hurt himself.  I have to say, I wasn’t really in fear for myself or Shady; Indy has been very, very good about staying out of our “bubbles” when misbehaving.  That doesn’t mean I’m not fully aware and on my toes.  Just appreciating the fact that he seems to have some respect when having an explosion.

Then we would have a nice moment like this:


Which would last but a brief moment in time.

Finally, the round pen was in sight.  Indy is restricted to a smaller turnout for 30 days, then we will re-evaluate and x-ray before he can go back out into his larger paddock.  That’s fine by me especially since his regular paddock is a bit muddy right now!  Shady is going out with him as well, as she is good moral support.  She isn’t a big fan of playing and hopefully will keep him quieter.

When I set him free, he didn’t explode as quick as I anticipated.  He stood there for a moment, smelling the wind, almost surprised to be free.  Then it was game on!  He didn’t run as long as I thought, which was good of course.

You can see Shady is slightly annoyed with her child.  I like the part near the end where he smashes her hay pile.

Shady makes me laugh on the next two as she demonstrates her ballerina skills.  Indy, on the other hand, gives me heart failure as he shows his potential for reining and thoroughbred racing.

He finally settled down to eat some hay with Shady.  He had minor little bursts of energy, but was getting tired.  It was a big day for him!

He still had energy to investigate what I was up to as I was cleaning his paddock up some.

Best selfie ever
Can you just hear that little nose sniffing around?  He also seems to think I am a great chin rest.

A huge thank you to my amazing photographer friend Michelle at Michelle Burdick Photography!  She’s been wonderfully documenting this experience and I can’t wait to see the rest of today’s photos!



Shady & Indy Update

Once again, it has gotten really busy and I apologize to those of you who have reached out, wondering how the horses are doing.  The good news is, they are doing great!  Which keeps me busy.

Indy is up to walking 25 minutes today.  He was very, very good.  We’ve been incorporating walking outside of the barn into our laps.  We walk 3/4 of the lap in the barn, then add a small loop outside.  Indy says that it is very overstimulating outside and he must leap, rear, and buck sometimes.  Going back inside helps; he then has some time to calm down and get bored with the barn again, then is calmer going back to the outside part.

My friend at Michelle Burdick Photography finally got some of the outside action on film!

His hocks look better and better all the time.  The swelling in his right hock is almost completely gone.  The left hock still has some, but it is going down.  It may take several months for it to go away completely, or he may always have a little enlargement there.  The important thing is that it won’t bother him and he is completely sound now.  For those that are new to the blog, Indy had OCD and subsequently had OCD Surgery.

When we get to 30 minutes of hand walking, Indy can go back outside in a small paddock for a month.  Then he will be re-evaluated and free to go back to his big paddock.  He will be at 30 minutes early next week and I am very excited for him.  He will be so happy to feel the sun on his face again, and smell the wind.

Sometimes we just stand for a few minutes, just enjoying being outside.

I don’t want to ruin Shady’s story as I want to blog about the steps to diagnosing her.  I will say that we had a very positive outcome and she is now doing great.  Yesterday, she even got a bath, which she actually seemed to enjoy.

We have been riding nearly every day and she has been feeling stronger each day.  As I mentioned in my Lyme Disease in Horses post, she is not currently having a flare up of Lyme, which brought me great relief.  It is nice to know that I have been managing the disease well and she isn’t bothered by it.

Now that the weather is nice, we try to incorporate hacking into every ride.  This picture really points out that I need to spend some time on that mane.

Lyme Disease in Horses

Lyme disease is increasing at an alarming rate – not only in our horses, but all of our pets and even in the human population.  My horse has it; I recently pulled blood for a Lyme titer to see if she was having a flare-up.  Thankfully, she was not, and we haven’t had any Lyme-related issues in over four years.

Being one of the fastest growing arachnid diseases, I wanted to look more into exactly what Lyme disease is and how I can better protect myself and my animals.  In my mare’s case, I want to make sure I am managing the disease as best as I can.

Lyme disease is caused by the bacterial spirochete “Borrelia burgdorferi.”  Early in their life cycle, ticks can pick up this bacteria by feeding on infected mice.  The ticks then later transmit it to their next host, be it a human, horse, dog, cat, etc.

The nasty little villains!

Every animal reacts differently to Lyme Disease.  The most common symptoms include:

  • Lameness in the joints; swollen joints
  • “Shifting lameness” – the horse may appear to be lame in one limb one day and a different one the next.
  • Fever
  • Change in behavior, to include aggression
  • Muscle wasting – horses that are in shape or normally well muscled suddenly lose muscle tone, or have difficulty putting muscle on
  • Muscle tenderness
  • Lack of appetite
  • Chronic weight loss; difficulty gaining weight
  • Increased sensitivity to sensory stimuli
  • Neurological issues

Your horse may show one, several, or even none of these symptoms.  I have seen a variety myself; my horse, for example, will feel sore all over, unable to really use herself properly.  That is her only symptom.  A friend’s horse was at the opposite end of the spectrum; she lost all of her muscling rapidly, went off her feed, and had a low grade fever.  Her onset was fairly rapid and her symptoms dramatic.  Still another horse I had, a mild mannered gelding, became very aggressive and very tight in his back under saddle.

These are just a few examples of the many experiences with horses and Lyme.  You can see why I often recommend having a Lyme titer done.  Titers usually run around $100 and the results are fairly quick.  A titer measures the antibody levels in your horse.  About 3-5 weeks after infection, your horse will develop antibodies to help fight the spirochete.  There are many different types of test available, but generally a multiplex test is becoming more popular.  The multiplex test can detect different levels of the antibody and determine if there is an early (new) infection or a chronic infection.

My mare’s recent multiplex results.  You can see she has a chronic result (meaning she’s had Lyme for over 5 months).  The low value, or equivocal, is a good result.

A spirochete is a corkscrew shaped bacteria that has the ability to alter their structure in response to the reaction from the host.  Due to this ability, the bacteria can “hide” from the body and remain dormant.  This is one reason why once a horse has Lyme disease, they will always have it.  The bacteria will remain dormant until the ideal opportunity presents itself to reappear.  This opportunity may be a suppressed immune system, stressed horse, or reinfection from a new tick bite.

Altering their structure in response to the host body is also the reason that every horse shows different symptoms.  This bacteria in particular is attracted to collagen, hence the numerous joint related symptoms.  There is also a high amount of collagen in the eye, brain, and skin, so vision, neurological, and skin issues are also possible symptoms.

Finally, the bacteria’s ability to react and adapt is why horses all respond differently to different treatment options.  In my next post, I will talk about the different treatment options and how you can protect your horses.