I’ve always had horses who were easy keepers — only taking them off grass would make them lose weight. Isis was no exception. Metabolism? What’s that?
I’ve managed her weight as best I can through nutrition and exercise. It’s not always enough, I can’t get out to the barn as often as I like. The weather does not cooperate either.
Two years ago her weight wasn’t that high, but conditions were right and she had her first laminitic episode in April of 2003. In addition, she pulled her front tendon. She had a classic case: refused to put much weight on her front feet, did not want to walk, severely lame when turned left or right. in addition, her leg was swollen from the tendon. She recovered fully, even though it took 8 months.
In April of 2004, she had her second episode — exactly a year and a week after her first one. We caught the laminitis when it was very mild. She wasn’t completely lame like she had been the year prior. Instead, she would shift her weight from foot to foot as if she couldn’t get comfortable. Again, she also pulled her tendon. This time she only took six months to heal.
Poor kid has had a grazing muzzle on this year. She hasn’t been happy. While it has helped keep her weight down, wearing it has become a battle of wills. She is very good about having it put on her — because she knows she can get it off. No matter what we’ve done, she manages to get it off. She’s gone from a 75% time down to 10%. No matter what readjustements are made, she still manages to get it off. The joys of having a smart “Houdini” horse.
After the last few frosts, we put Isis back out into a regular pasture for part-time turnout. The grass hasn’t been growing. She still is gaining weight. She’s been out for about three weeks now and the weight changes are visible: fat pads on her whithers and rump are back, as is her cresty neck. Other horses have needed her old dry lot paddock. It’s the only flat paddock at the barn. We’re building new paddocks for her, but that takes a little time. Meanwhile, I’m praying and working her more than I ever have in the past.
I just hope it’s enough.
I used to have nightmares about laminitis. I’ve had friends who have had to put their horses to sleep because of this condition. It’s a horrible thing to see a horse who is barely lame one day and then lying down because the pain it so bad the next. I didn’t want this for my kid.
Now that she has it, I’m trying to deal with it the best way I can: knowledge.