COPD – Prevention & Maintenance

In following up with my recent post about COPD in Horses, I wanted to share what I have done to keep Shady’s COPD at bay.

Environment and forage are two main considerations when managing a horse with COPD.  The best situation for a horse with this issue is to live outside.  In most cases, like mine, this isn’t always possible.  If they must be stalled for part of each day, take a good look at ventilation.  In the summer, make sure the stall has some air flow – open the window, hang a fan, put up a stall guard, etc.  Keep the stall as clean as possible as ammonia from urine can trigger symptoms.  If the bedding is dusty at all, wet it down.  Keep in mind that the majority of the time a horse is in their stall their heads are down – eating, laying down, etc.  They don’t need to breathe in dust that is being kicked up from their bedding.  Also, ammonia is fairly heavy and tends to stay close to the ground.

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Note the “slatted” appearance to these stall fronts – this allows for better airflow and helps allow the ammonia to escape.  Solid stall doors and fronts prevent the heavy gas and dust from easily escaping.

I’ll never forget the cold day in March when I stepped out of my car to see Shady, standing in her paddock, coughing.  She looked miserable.  We had been soaking her hay already, but clearly more drastic action needed to be taken.  My first plan of action was to take away her hay and get her some Ventipulmon.  This is a bronchodilator that works by dilating the bronchioles, bringing inflammation down and making it easier for her to breathe.  It is an oral medication prescribed by a vet.  She took it for many days and then was slowly weaned off of it.

Secondly, I needed to get her off of the barn hay.  Upon further inspection the new batch of hay we had just gotten in had mold spores.  Mold spores cannot be killed or neutralized by soaking.  Not wanting to take any chances, I went out and got chopped hay.  The chopped hay, or dengi as it is more commonly known, is high temperature dried, a process that kills mold spores and other fungus.  It is then lightly mixed with a low sugar molasses which makes the bale dust free.  I got her a wide, shallow bucket for her dengi, that kept it from being on the ground or getting mixed in with her shavings in her stall.  I bought her several 5 gallon buckets with lids so I could make up her hay for the day, labeling each meal to make it easy for the barn staff.  Although it is rare for young horses to develop COPD, I did the same for Indy.  I wanted to make sure he was getting good quality hay and not take any chances.

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Shady and Indy share their dengi.  I got them this bucket to keep it off the ground and slightly cleaner!  I feed her as much as I can at ground level to help keep dust and allergens out of her nasal cavity and allow any secretions to drain from her lowered head.

In one report I read it was noted that dusty hay is the most common cause of COPD in horses – a link that was established over 400 years ago.  So why is this still an issue?

I think there are a lot of factors contributing to poor hay quality.  Loss of land is an obvious one.  Transportation costs are always rising, so not being able to buy local hay increases costs quite a bit.  Storage is always an issue; not just having storage space to keep a big order of hay but also making sure it is properly stored and won’t get wet or be in direct sun.  Then there is the cost of hay and board costs. Sadly, barn owners are being forced to cut costs and all too often they cut corners on nutrition.

Back to COPD – what can owners do to keep their horses breathing well?  It is hard when you board and have very little control over the hay supply.  In my case, I took the time to meet with the barn manager, show her the issue, and then meet with all the barn staff.  I showed them what moldy hay looked like as well as good quality hay.  I provided them with a bucket to make soaking as easy as possible and explained the process.  I only have them soak the hay for 15-30 minutes.  For Shady, I’m not soaking to lower NSC, just to reduce any dust.  To me, education is very important and this has been key in managing my horse’s hay.  I also keep a close eye on the hay supply and if anything looks suspicious I bring it to the staff’s attention.

Steaming the hay is another option, though not one for me at the moment.  Hay steamers are a little pricey for me currently, but would actually make the barn efforts easier, especially in the winter.  Steaming is a high temperature process that kills spores and wets the hay, making it safe and dust free.  Seeing as how this condition is something I will have to manage for the rest of Shady’s life, I imagine a hay steamer in my future.

There are numerous supplements out there for respiratory issues, and I have tried many.  I found a lot that don’t work, some that do (but aren’t easy to get your horse to eat!) and I finally found one that really impressed me.  I used Cavalor Bronchix Pure during a bad flare up and the next day I noticed a significant positive difference.  Plus, Shady likes it and eats it all out of her grain.  It supports both the upper and lower respiratory tracts and is a safe, herbal blend.  It also acts as an immune booster, another important benefit to have.  I use it on her for about 2 weeks if I hear her cough at all.  It is safe for her to stay on it, but she isn’t that bad so I only use it as needed.  I keep one on hand at all times, just in case.  It is also FEI legal so I can show her on it.

Another supplement I keep Shady on is Cavalor OilMega.  I had originally put her on this when she was pregnant with Indy.  The purpose then was actually quite similar – high amounts of Omega 3 fatty acids.  Many of our commercial diets are high in Omega 6 fatty acids.  Omega 6 actually promotes the inflammatory response in the body.  Omega 3 helps prevent inflammation.  I had put her on it originally to help with swelling caused by her Lyme disease; now I like the anti-inflammatory properties to help keep her airways unrestricted.  As a bonus there is also a good amount of Omega 9s, which are just starting to be noticed for their benefits, as well as a high amount of natural Vitamin E, which not only provides muscle support, but is an anti-oxidant as well.

Soaking her grain is another option I could do to help, however with the oil poured over it I have found that I do not need to.  Her grain was also specially chosen to help with her airway – it contains added herbs that are known to help open the airways and improving the oxygen supply.

Being at the barn everyday and keeping on top of things isn’t always a viable solution for everyone.  I realize that not everyone can do this, nor does everyone want to.  I would recommend starting by voicing your concerns to the manager/owner and perhaps that is all you need.  If your barn is unwilling to acknowledge or correct the issue, it may be time to relocate.  COPD is not reversible!

When I’m at the barn at night I like to have their doors open to help encourage airflow.  Here is Indy experiencing his first stall guard.

COPD in Horses

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is also known as recurrent airway obstruction (RAO) or Heaves.  It is a problem that can be treated, but, once a horse has it, never cured.

With my mare, it began slowly, a cough when we would pick up the trot, then nothing more that day.  An occasional cough when she was in her stall.  Then it became several coughs while trotting, often bringing us back to the walk until she cleared her throat.  I blamed it on the cold, dry weather, added some oil to her feed, and soaked her hay in the barn at night.  The hay was a little dusty, but not moldy.

It seemed to do the trick; she stopped coughing and we could go back to full work.  About a month later however, she was coughing on a trail ride, couldn’t trot, and was coughing while standing still in her paddock.  I noticed that she, Indy, and several other horses in the barn weren’t finishing their hay.  Upon closer inspection I saw that we had gotten in a batch of hay that was not only dusty, but had mold spores in it as well.

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Do you know what moldy hay looks like?  This is a drastic example; it may not be this obvious.  Smell it, feel it, shake it out.  If it makes you cough, don’t feed it!  Mold cannot be soaked out of hay – your best bet is to throw out the entire bale.

I of course was furious, as now my horse has a lifelong issue and will require more work to maintain on my end.  I decided to explore more into this affliction so I can best manage her.

COPD can manifest itself in numerous ways in the horse.  It most commonly shows as a cough which is caused by the horse trying to expel mucus through narrowed airways.  The narrowing can be caused by inflammation (due to irritation from allergens),  tightening of surrounding muscle, and thickening of the tissue surrounding the airway.  When the cells in the lungs are exposed to allergens, such as fungal spores, mold, and dust, the body responds by producing cells that thicken the tissue and produce mucus – the body’s defense mechanism.  Extra effort is required for the horse to bring their regular volume of air through these thickened, narrow passageways.  The more the horse is exposed to the allergen, the more sensitive the lungs become, the more difficult it is to breath.  This shows up as an increased respiratory rate (above the normal 8-12 breaths per minute) and a longer recovery after exercising.

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Mucus forms not just in the lower airway, but throughout the upper airway as well.

In addition to the cough, horses may also develop nasal discharge.  The discharge comes from increased airway secretions – the body’s attempt to heal itself.  These secretions can also cause further obstruction of the airway.

The term heaves came from the increased respiratory efforts required by the horse, simply put, labored breathing.  These horses will often have a “tucked up” appearance, with a line of abdominal muscles called the “heave line”.  This is caused by the increased effort by the abdominal muscles to force the air out of the lunges during expiration.  When listening with a stethoscope, one will often hear wheezing when the horse breathes.

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Abdominal muscles creating a “heave line”

An extreme complication of heaves is a bacterial infection (such as pneumonia) resulting from bacteria becoming trapped in the airway.

Diagnosis of this condition is based mostly on history.  Your vet will want to know when your horse has coughed and any discharge they have been having.  A physical exam may include a re-breather test, where a bag is placed over the horses nose for a brief period to increase their respiratory rate.  The vet will listen with a stethoscope for any abnormal breath sounds.  This may also induce coughing from your horse.

A Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) is another test that can be done, which would show whether or not there is inflammation in the lower airways and rule out infection.  This test is not usually necessary to diagnose COPD, but rather used to rule out other issues.

If your horse is displaying any of these symptoms, no matter how minimal, it is best to take action now before it gets any worse.  In my next blog post, I’ll talk about prevention and maintenance.

Rotavirus

When I got a text from my friend saying “the results are in.  Rotavirus.  Call me for more info.” I’m pretty sure I called her before her finger left the phone after hitting send.  She wasn’t surprised.  It was baffling to me, and apparently to the internal medicine specialist vet at the clinic, as he called the lab to ask them to double check the tests and run it again.  They already had, as they too were baffled after seeing Indy’s age.

(For Indy’s experience and symptoms, see “Indy Calls Out Sick“)

What is so baffling about this diagnosis?  Or perhaps you are asking more basic, what is Rotavirus?  I was familiar with the disease in preparing for Indy’s arrival, but decided to do a little more digging to get all the facts.

Rotavirus is a viral infection.  It is seen in many species, including horses and humans.  In the case of equine Rotavirus, it does not have the ability to be transmitted across species, nor from human to horse.  In humans, it is very common in young children and typically by the age of 5 they have developed an immunity.

Rotavirus is the most common cause of foal diarrhea.  Over 50% of foal diarrhea is caused by Rotavirus, with some studies reporting as high as 70%.  Diarrhea can lead to dehydration, malnutrition, electrolyte imbalance, and, albeit rare, death if left untreated.

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Indy, all better, enjoying a foliage hack with Shady and I.

It is baffling that this is Indy’s diagnosis because it is nearly unheard of for a horse over the age of 6 months to get it.  Indy, at 16 months, should have developed immunity and just shed the virus from his system.  Foals ingest Rotavirus from infected feces and typically develop symptoms within 1-2 days.  Once in the system, the virus replicates in the GI tract and attaches itself to the epithelium of the villi in the small intestine.  This then disrupts the digestive process, causing decreased metabolism, absorption, and digestion.  It greatly affects water absorption, which contributes to diarrhea.  The intestine responds to the large volume of food not being digested by producing more digestive fluids, in an effort to flush the food out of the body.  This in turn overwhelms the large intestine, which is responsible for water and fluid absorption, causing more water to pass through the horse, leading to very watery diarrhea.

There is no “cure” for Rotavirus; the only option is to treat the symptoms and wait for it to pass.  Rotavirus is highly contagious as the virus replicates extremely quickly.  A single foal can shed millions of Rotavirus particles in one small particle of manure.  Prevention is key – an affected foal will shed the virus for about 10 days, with a rare possibility of them shedding the virus asymptomatically for a few months.  Rotavirus is not affected by bleach and can survive in the environment for up to 9  months.  The human strain has also been found in water sources.  Pregnant mares can be vaccinated for Rotavirus, however even those foals can still contract the disease, though the symptoms are typically more subdued.

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I hadn’t vaccinated Shady for Rotavirus but clearly she shared her healthy immune system with her son.

Treatment includes fluid treatment (IV fluids if necessary), electrolytes, probiotics (to help support the hindgut), and, in extreme cases, tubing water and nutrients directly into the stomach.

In Indy’s case, he did not have diarrhea.  He had a fever, which in turn caused him to feel lethargic, weak, and reluctant to drink.  He may have been having some digestive upset as well, which would explain why he didn’t want to drink.  Eating was only an issue when his fever was high.

Our theory is that Indy somehow came into contact with Rotavirus recently, despite not being around any young foals.  The virus doesn’t live long in the digestive system as the epithelial cells where the virus lives are always replicating, sloughing off the old ones and constantly creating new cells, so the thought that he had been harboring it for a while is unlikely.  Having a strong immune system, Indy didn’t react by getting diarrhea, but rather instead just developed a response to a virus – a fever.  There have been some cases of healthy foals who are shedding the virus, but not showing diarrhea.  I guess I can be grateful that this means Indy has a very healthy immune and digestive system, and I did pretty good to keep him from being exposed for so long!

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Happy that this kissable nose is all better!

Indy Calls Out Sick

Indy decided to give me a bit of a scare over the past few days.  I had had a very busy weekend working and I guess he felt he needed more attention.  I had gone to the barn Saturday night and he was his normal self.  Sunday night, however, he hadn’t finished his dinner grain, quite unusual for him.  It had been pouring rain all day, remnants of Hurricane Matthew, and the horses had stayed in for the day.  Indy pawed a little and was stretching so I took him and Shady to the indoor to run around some.  Indy started off a little quiet – standing confused while his mother tore around the indoor acting like a child.  He then ran around with her some as well, kicking up his heels and getting some good energy out.  We walked for a bit to cool down and each had a thorough grooming.  Indy then finished his dinner and resumed eating his hay.  I thought perhaps he had had a little gas buildup from being stuck inside all day, not moving.

I headed to the barn mid afternoon Monday after catching up on a lot of work leftover from the weekend.  Indy had eaten his breakfast, drank, and finished his dinner hay from the night before.  Barn staff said he was quiet going out in the morning, but otherwise normal.  When I went out to get him however, he told me otherwise.

He walked up to me, sluggish, and put his lovely head into my arms.  He gave a couple sad little paws at the ground with his hoof, trying everything he could to communicate that something was wrong. Walking into the barn he was slow and kept his nose as close to in my hand as he could. He would stop and stand, taking a break, then continue after a pat.

I took his temp as soon as we were in.  104. The normal horse temp, in case you don’t know, is 99-101. 104 is terrifying to me.  Three of Indy’s hooves were quite warm to the touch.  I don’t know why the fourth one wasn’t, he must have been standing in a cool area with it or something.  I ran for the oral Banamine and, much to Indy’s dismay, squirted it down his throat.  We then slowly walked down to the clinic.  I wanted to do bloodwork as soon as possible, as it often takes a bit to get the results back.

Thankfully, I have wonderful friends that work in the clinic who were extremely supportive and quickly jumped in to help.  They drew blood to send out to a lab and also some to take a look at there in the clinic.  The good news was that his bloodwork looked normal – nothing elevated other than his SAA levels.  SAA refers to a protein which is made in the liver.  It is part of the acute line of defense, part of the first stage of response to inflammation, trauma, stress, etc.  It seemed as though we were catching something in the early stages but we weren’t sure of what yet.

While all we had for a symptom was sudden onset of fever, anaplasmosis was a likely possibility in all of our minds.  Shady had had it a year ago, from the one lousy tick I found on her all year.  She too had only exhibited a fever, with lethargy and diminished appetite as a side effect of the fever.  She had actually been able to beat it on her own, without medication, only Banamine to keep the fever at bay.  We decided to start him on Oxytetracycline to get a start in treating it.

I stayed with Indy until late night, waiting for the Banamine to kick in and for him to start feeling more comfortable. I scolded myself over and over again for not taking his temp Sunday night.  I had been so sure he just needed to move, and maybe he did.  His feet hadn’t felt warm at all, he had returned to his normal self after running around some, and was himself in the morning.  Maybe he had just been starting to have some physiological changes.

His temp dropped down to 101 and he returned to being himself.  I felt that the Banamine and Oxytet were doing their job and headed home for the night.

The next morning my friend texted me and said his temp was back up to 104. I raced to the barn and found the staff at his paddock, explaining how he “looked drunk”.  He was weak and looked tired. Looking at his stall from the night before you wouldn’t have guessed.  He had eaten his breakfast, eaten his hay, and pooped normal, though a little dry.  The only sign of worry was that he hadn’t drank as much as normal.

We headed back down to the clinic for IV Banamine and also to submit some manure for testing too.  We hung out in the clinic for most of the day, me sitting in his stall for company and to keep an eye on his food and water intake.  He found my iPad to be quite fascinating.

His temp was down and he was feeling himself by early afternoon.  It was a beautiful day outside, so I put him back out with his best bud.  He did get a drink, played some bitey face, and then napped in the sun, trying to rest his chin on Cal’s back.  I headed home for a late lunch and returned a couple hours later.

Upon coming back he was getting lethargic again.  I hoped he was just tired from a long day of battling whatever it is.  Sadly, I saw that his temp was rising again.  As much as I hated to do it, we gave him more Banamine and his dose of Oxytet.  The Banamine dosage we were using was less than full strength in an attempt to control the fever with minimal amounts.  It was back to the waiting game.

By 9pm his temp was down to 101.3.  He was eating well, still not drinking a lot, and laying down to rest often.  I actually had given him his dinner “in bed” so to speak, as he was laying peacefully but really wanted to eat. Some people would have said not to feed him, but he was passing manure normally and I thought it best to keep his strength up.  His hay is always soaked and I soaked his chopped alfalfa to at least get some more water in him.

I left him to rest while I had dinner and showered.  At 11:30pm I got a call from the woman doing night check that his temp was up again to 104 and he was cold.  I grabbed some warm clothes and headed back, for what I knew would be a long night.  Driving up I began to get really worried; why wasn’t the Banamine keeping the fever down longer? Why has the Oxytet not kicked in? What is wrong with my boy???

One of the interns met me at the barn and we gave Indy a different antipyretic that isn’t an NSAID and has less negative effects on the GI tract.  It would take a little longer, but hopefully last longer and be more gentle.  It was a little too soon to give him more Banamine anyway, and it clearly was not helping too much!

I settle into my chair with his door partially open so we could see each other and chat.  He would poke his head out and see what TV show I was watching or try to help me write an email.  He would lay down, nap, get up, eat, and repeat.  While he was definitely uncomfortable, he wasn’t acting colicky or as if in a lot of pain.  I resisted the urge to check his temp every five minutes and resorted to feeling his feet.  Those are a pretty good indicator of his temp.

Maybe it was the exhaustion, or perhaps the cold, or maybe it really happened.  Whatever it was, at about 4am Indy looked at me and I knew it was over. I swear he got up, looked me in the eye, sighed contentedly and said “it’s over, I’m good, you can go home and rest now.” His temp was creeping down, then at 102.8. Still high, but it finally was breaking.  He got a drink, turned to eat, and dismissed me with a swish of his tail.  I went home feeling relieved and safe.

I awoke to a text from my friends saying that it had taken two of them to take my “wild” horse’s temp.  He wasn’t being too naughty, rather just politely saying “you can stay out of my bum now, thanks.” His temp was down to 100.3 and he was himself.

Since that 4am moment he has returned to normal, with a low temp, good appetite, and he is back to being a good drinker.  Of course, now that it is over, we got the lab results back.  Before I share the diagnosis, I would love to hear what you think it could have been, based on our experience.  My next blog post will be all about the disease!

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Back to normal

 

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.

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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.

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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.

Recovery – Day 11

We are at the halfway point of Indy’s stall rest and he’s still doing great!  He’s now allowed to hand walk for 5 minutes, adding a minute each day.  The goal is to be up to about 15 minutes of hand walking before he goes on out limited turnout.

His walks are both a physical stimulation and a mental one.  He enjoys exploring around the clinic, meeting new horses and snorting at strange things.  It’s a fantastic change of scenery for him!

Today was a little too exciting.  We rounded a corner and Indy tossed his head and hopped into a little buck.  It was adorable and brought a huge smile to my face, but at the same time, a slight pang of horror, worried that he would hurt himself.  He was polite enough to aim his body away from mine, which was great, but I still needed to be a parent and let him know that wasn’t okay.  A slight lead rope tug and a firm no was all he needed.

Last night, I finally got him to understand how his toy works!  I filled his toy with his grain and put the toy in his feed bucket.  He had to move it around in order to get to the grain and he quickly realized that when he moved it, more came out.  He was very excited and proud of himself.

(if you listen closely you can hear the lips smacking and some slight drool)

When I came in this morning I was told he had been playing with his toy all morning.

His legs are looking super.  The incisions are healing nicely.  Two days ago, he was getting a little stocked up in the lower legs.  This is fairly common when a horse is on stall rest, and especially after a major event like his surgery.  I put standing wraps on him for a couple days, and today they were back to their normal, tight selves.

Today, Indy also got a surprise visit from Shady.  I wasn’t going to bring her down, unless he got depressed or something happened, but now it’s her turn.  Shady went down for some hock x-rays.  I will do a more detailed post about her soon.

When we opened the door to come in Indy had been laying down napping.  He recognized her footfalls on the pavement and jumped to his feet with an eager whinny.  They had a nice moment, then Shady went to do her thing and Indy didn’t mind.  I was worried when I brought Shady back to her paddock that they would be upset, but they weren’t at all.

Day 7 of Indy’s Recovery

It’s been a week since Indy’s surgery and I couldn’t be happier.  He is doing great and seems to have accepted that he doesn’t go out anymore.  That makes me sad, but I am glad that he isn’t going stir crazy.

He finds the barn cat, Roger, fascinating.  He loves little animals and is very gentle with them.  When I was hanging out with Indy two night ago, Roger came to investigate.  Indy smelled him all over and nuzzled him with his upper lip.  Roger seemed to like it and rubbed back into him.  It was adorable!

The next morning when I came, Roger was sitting outside of Indy’s stall door.

I also got Indy a toy, hoping that would give him something to do.  I got him a large wobbly Kong, the popular dog toy.  I’ve got friends that use that to keep their horses entertained.  You put treats in it and as they wobble it around the treats fall out.  Usually keeps horses busy for about an hour.

Sadly, Indy isn’t very interested in the toy.  He noses it around, but the treats or chunky pellets get lost in the shavings.  I’m not too surprised; he’s very laid back and mellow.

On the positive side, his bandages came off yesterday and his legs look great!

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The silver stuff is an antibiotic, wound sealing spray.  You can barely see the two stitches.  There’s still some inflammation, but I think the legs are already smaller!

He also had new x-rays taken and everything looks good so far.  He will start remodeling the area and laying down new bone.

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Left hock, where the biggest damage was.  You can already see a big difference here where it has begun to heal.

Hopefully soon we will get the go ahead to start small little hand walks.  Otherwise, it’s 7 days down, 14 more to go before he can go out in a small paddock!

Shady and I have been having great rides.  I go visit Indy for a bit, then ride Shady, then go back to see Indy and tuck him in for the night.  Shady always smells me when I see her; she must smell him.  Then he smells me when I go back.  They seem to be doing fine being separated.

We went for a bareback hack the day after our jumping session, which she thoroughly enjoyed.  With the weather being so nice lately, we’ve been enjoying the trials after each ride.

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Had a nice sunset ride, this was the view from partway up our big, bum-building hill.

I’ve been really focusing on my position; in particular carrying my hands and sitting up straight.  Shady has responding by coming through better from behind and being more consistent in my hands.  Imagine that – I improve my position and she goes better!