From the Foaling Barn

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Updates: Shiney, Orphans, and Erhlichiosis

Now that foaling and breeding season is over, there's nothing too exciting happening on the farm, so I thought I'd update a few earlier stories.Shiney, our mare who foundered after foaling, seems finally to be out of danger. Since the crisis stage of the laminitic episode five months ago, Shiney has never been entirely sound. Last month her lameness suddenly became much worse as the result of a large abcess. We began to worry that the laminitis had returned. However, within a week, Shiney just as suddenly began to walk normally--she looks completely sound. We now wonder how long that abcess had been brewing. She no longer needs her Soft Ride boots, or the lilly pads, or any special shoes. She is barefoot and turned out in a small paddock. Dr. Brian does not want her to be out with the other mares until the damaged area of her hoof is completly grown out. He is concerned that the hoof wall below the damage is too fragile to stand much pressure and if it were to crumble we would have another crisis on our hands. So for the time being, she'll remain in the barn at night and turned out in her paddock with Jewel during the day.We had another case of erhlichiosis a few weeks ago, our second of the year. One of the yearlings (Finn) failed to come to his feed pan. When we took his temperature it was only slightly elevated, but we were still suspicious. We waited an hour and found the temp had gone up about a half a degree. An hour later, it was up again. So we called the vet and relayed our belief that we had another case of erhlichiosis. The vet came out, took some blood and gave Finn the first of five daily shots of tetracycline. The bloodwork came back positive. Usually, by July, the ticks have disappeared, but for some reason, the warm, wet summer perhaps, this year we are still seeing ticks on the dogs, horses and even ourselves.Now as to the Ophans--they look fabulous. In fact, I think they look better than the foals who've been nursing for five months on their dams. They are big and well muscled, with nice straight legs and beautiful, shiney coats. They turn three months next week, at which time we will wean them completely from the milk replacer. Right now they are only drinking about three quarts a day, supplemented with milk pellets, grain and supplement (we use Assurance Alfalfa Balancer). They are also offered all the hay they want. As soon as we wean the last three foals, we plan to put them and the orphans together.


Shiney Update: Shoeing the Laminitic Horse

Our mare Shiney foundered two months ago after treatment for a retained placenta. She's recovered from the acute phase now, but recently she has seemed to be increasingly sore on her left front. Last week, we took her into the arena, took off her Soft Ride Boots, and let her walk barefoot in the sand. It was apparent that on her left foot she was stepping first on her toe and then rolling to the outside of her hoof. When we turned her, expecially to the right, she was obviously in pain.

The next day, our vet, Dr. Brian Dahms, looked at her feet and determined that as her hoof has grown out, the inside of her left hoof, which suffered the greatest insult to the lamina, has not grown at the same rate as the outside hoof. Consequently, she was developing a significant imbalance. In addition, when she was forced to put pressure on the inside of the hoof, she experienced pain. The right foot appeared to be growing normally and was pain free. Brian suggested that we bring Shiney into the clinic to meet with farrier Blair Underwood, who does all the therapeuatic shoeing for the clinic.

On Tuesday, we hauled Shiney and her foal to the clinic and met with Brian and Blair, who suggested we use an EDS shoe (pictured) which would provide Shiney with a balanced foundation and support for her frogs. But most important, with the EDS shoe we could float the inside, short side of her hoof so that it would not touch the ground (the pad). The EDS shoe has a thick, rigid silicon pad attached to the actual shoe. Blair filed away about a fourth of an inch from the pad where it would have touched her inside hoof wall. He then put putty in the center of her hoof and molded it to the frog. When the shoe was in place, Shiney's weight would be supported on the frog and outside of the hoof with a gap between the pad and the inside hoof wall.

We will have to keep the gap free of dirt so that we can keep the inside hoof wall floating. Also, we will need to have the shoes reset every four to six weeks. Blair estimates that she will need to wear the shoes for about six months. The new shoes seemed to give Shiney instant pain relief. She is walking normally now.

I'll keep you updated as Shiney progresses.

Soft Ride Equine Boots for Laminitic Horses

When our mare Shin N In The Finals, began to founder (laminitis) after foaling and retaining the placenta, we were very lucky that she was already at Stillwater Vet Clinic under 24 hour monitoring. Her medical treatment began almost immediately. I saw Shiney about six hours after the initial signs of laminitis began. She was glassy-eyed with pain and reluctant to stand. When she did stand, it was excruciating to watch. I was amazed that the laminitis could progress so quickly, and I was fearful of what the outcome would be. Early the next morning, the vet clinic called to say that the acute phase seemed to be ebbing at bit. They wanted to know if by any chance, I had Soft Ride Boots that they could put on Shiney to ease her pain and support her frog while she stood. Fortunately, I had bought a pair of small boots for a navicular mare that we had shipped to Texas for breeding several years ago. I rushed down to the clinic with the boots. They fit perfectly and they offered almost immediate relief. Shiney has been wearing the boots almost continuously for a month now. At first we confined her to a stall, but as she has progressed in her recovery, we have turned her and her foal out in a run that opens off her stall. She still had a bit of soreness in her left foot that was apparent when we ask her to turn. Last week we ordered a new pair of Soft Rides, fitted exactly to her feet, along with orthotic inserts designed specifically for laminitic horses. She is moving even more comfortably now. If you didn't know the story you would barely notice any problems. I don't know how long she will need to wear the boots. It will probably be trial and error as to when we can take her off of them, and eventually she may need corrective shoeing. I do think the boots have hastened her recovery.


When Disaster Strikes: Retained Placenta Revisited

My seven year-old broodmare, Shin N In The Finals (Shiney), foaled February 16. She had a easy labor and delivery: the foal was healthy and strong. However, three hours after the birth Shiney had made no progress in delivering her placenta. I gave her two Oxytocin shots to help her contract her uterus and expel the placenta, but still there was no sign of the placenta after four hours. Finally, I phoned the on-call vet, and she met us at the barn within the hour. She very carefully removed the placenta manually and asked us to start Shiney on sulfa in the morning. The next morning, Saturday, Dr. Brian Dahms, our regular vet flushed Shiney's uterus. He suggested we take her and the foal into the arena to let them move around. On Sunday morning, Brian flushed her again and noted that she had a slight temperature. On Sunday night, my husband noticed Shiney was sweating and rejecting her grain. We took her temperature: she had a fever of over 104. We called Brian and he had us give her Banamine orally. Her temp came down to 101. But the next morning when Brian again came to flush her, she had spiked a fever of 105.4, and her urine appeared to have blood in it. We immediately loaded Shiney and the foal into our two-horse and rushed them to the vet clinic, where they would remain for the next ten days.

For five days we had nothing but bad news. Shiney quit eating and drinking, and her milk dried up. Although the vets pumped her full of liquids, she remained dehydrated and her kidneys began to show signs of stress. On Tuesday, she developed severe colitis: on Wednesday she began to founder. The vet techs were offering the foal bottles of milk replacer every two hours.

Finally, on Friday Shiney began to stabilize. We had put her in Air Ride Boots, which fortunately we had on hand. This alleviated some of the pain in her feet and allowed her to stand comfortably. Her bloodwork began to improve, and she started nibbling at her hay. She improved very gradually over the next five days, turning the corner when we brought hay from home and she began eating enough to form normal manure.

Six weeks later, the foal is nursing again and is completely off replacement milk. Shiney looks great. She still has residual pain in her left foot. We bought her new Soft Ride Boots with orthotics designed for laminitic horses.We have decided not to let her carry her own foal this year and will instead pull embryos, but we are cautiously optimistic about her breeding future.

Even though we were conscious of the risk to our mare, and we aggressively treated her for the retained placenta, we were unable to avoid a near catastrophe. I console myself with the thought that had we not been so vigilant Shiney would surely have died.  In the future, I plan to take the temperature of all my mares for the first three or four days after foaling. In addition, I will be extra watchful of mares who do not pass their placentas within three hours.


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