Things have been trying here. Well, they’ve been frustrating to be honest with you. Dulce’s weight gain stopped two weeks after he got here, which some of you know. There are so many reasons for this. He has so much healing and recuperation to do from the mouth and hindgut ulcers he had. He also had three hoof abscesses before I got him. Two old ones on his right front and one newer one on his left front. The main thing was the food change. I will maintain this until the day I die; the change in hay made an uphill struggle become a battle.
What I haven’t been saying is the struggle with his poop became much worse. I mentioned it in one blog, but it never smoothed out. He would swing from almost normal to abysmal within fifteen minutes and then bounce over to decent and plummet back to several piles of diarrhea. One morning when I fed him, I noticed he no longer wanted to eat his flax/beet pulp mix that the day before he gobbled down within a few minutes. When a horse goes off his feed, it’s time to worry. He still ate hay as if it was going out of style, but that blue bucket filled with his version of grain ended up all over the ground several times that day.
I called my vet in desperation. Was it time to bring him in even though there was no fever, he was staying hydrated, and he ate hay? He went through things I needed to do. I had already done all of them but one; he wanted me to put him on Sand Clear. Sand and dirt can build up in a horse’s digestive tract over time causing all sorts of problems including colic and diarrhea. Sand Clear has psyllium in it, which is a high fiber laxative. It binds on to the sand and dirt and flushes it out of their system to sum it up in a few words. I put Shandoka on Sand Clear every month, and my other two boys get it. I think I was so focused on the fact that he had ulcers I forgot about this simple yet dangerous possibility. I ran into town, bought a bucket, and pondered how in the world I’d get him to eat it since he was only eating hay.
I made a mash of it with a little bit of honey, rolling small balls of it over crumbled dry hay cubes. It took me an hour to get him to eat his first dose. The next day it took me thirty minutes. The third day he was back to gobbling everything up on his own without a spec ending on the ground. His poop started to get more solid. Only once in awhile there was a pile of moosh, but for the most part there was improvement. On the fifth day he suddenly had several piles of diarrhea again within two hours. My only thought was that something was being cleansed out with the sand clear. After two hours, his movements became normal again. My wonderful, incredible vet was right; he needed to clear out his gut of dirt and sand. A couple of days after his last dose, his poop worsened slightly, but it wasn’t wildly swinging all over the place anymore. I measured him for weight, and he lost ten pounds. He went from 890 down to 880; not the direction I was looking for.
I did more research on horses that were underweight and how to bring them back. I was doing everything right and everything that could be done. The one thing that I couldn’t avoid was rapid change in diet. I had to transition him to Colorado hay a lot faster than I wanted. This rapid change disrupted his digestive tract and all of that wonderful bacteria in there. Even though I had him on a really good pre and probiotic, I put him on ProbioticWise by Wise Concepts. It is specifically for horses with the problems he is having, and it is helping smooth things out.
I also read how the organs of underweight horses shrink. Who knows how much healing has been going on within him this past month that he hasn’t gained weight. I’m thinking this organs were regaining their strength and size.
However, last Sunday, which was three and a half days off of the Sand Clear the poop hit the fan. I went into his barn when I saw this massive pile of poop. It was almost as tall as my knee and weighed several pounds. I knew what was coming, and I my stomach clenched; colic. Colic is what killed my horse Shandoka, and I felt like a deer standing in oncoming headlights; completely frozen until he exploded. A few seconds after the thought hit me, he went into stress. He began running and pacing nearly running me over twice. I tried to catch him only to get bumped hard until he gave in to me constantly following him. As this was going on, pile after pile of the worst diarrhea he ever had flew out of him. I tried to get his vein to inject some banamine, but it was impossible by myself. I couldn’t hold him while putting a needle into his vein, so I shot it into his mouth. We then walked and walked until he calmed down while piles of diarrhea kept coming abeit at a slower rate. Finally, the banamine won out, and he relaxed. I got out my stethoscope and listened for gut sounds. He had good ones in all four quadrants. I thought about calling my vet and tubing him, but I decided to watch for a little bit.
He went back to normal within fifteen minutes. He munched on some hay while coming up to me every now and then as if to reassure me that all was well. All of the diarrhea stopped, and the gut sounds got more and more normal. Did we go through another cleansing? I think so. I think something broke loose, and his body wanted it out.
An hour later, he had a pretty normal poop. Ever since that day, they remained around 80% of normal. I’ve changed his diet from hay pellets to hay cubes, which seems to suit him better, and he still gets his flax seed with a lot of beet pulp. We may not be perfect, but we’re pretty good.
Today showed me that we’re really doing okay. I went to measure his weight expecting no changes to find that he gained 25 pounds this week. He now weighs 905 pounds, and he has gained a total of 75 since I brought him home on April 2nd. We are finally out of the 800’s. We only have 150 to 200 more pounds to go!
He has a beautiful shine to his coat, which for me means we’re on the right path. His coat was so dull when he got here, and now it shines in the sunlight. He probably will plateau for a week or two after such a big gain, but that is okay. It is important to stay true to what is working and take it day by day.