Just a quick update. Sorry no new pictures yet. This weekend was sunny and warm so the boys got a bath. Dan stood like a champ after some gentle correction, again reaffirming my belief that at one time he was a nice horse. Bill, well, I think this may have been his first bath ever. Not because he misbehaved, but more because he had that wide-eyed look, not to mention dredlocks in his fetlocks and more grime than I’ve ever seen on a horse, even after a good roll in the mud. Fortunately Bill doesn’t prance around or act silly. He’s just leery and suspicious of everything, but a gentleman about it all.
I tie mine with a blocker tie ring and a rope halter. I swear by these things. I first saw them on a Clinton Anderson program on RFDTV. I’m not a big fan of a lot of the “natural horsemanship” stuff, mostly because I think a lot of them spend so much time on groundwork which does not always translate into rideability. But I’m sold on the blocker tie rings. Bill leaned back a couple of times, but not terribly hard…just not sure of the hose and what I was doing. It could have meant a broken halter or cross-tie, but instead, all I had to do was encourage him to step back up and continue on my way. He will definitely need a more thorough scrubbing but I’m taking small steps. Do the Amish bathe their horses? I have no idea.
Bill got ventipulmin to help clear his airways. As a vasodilator, it also causes relaxation in the intestinal tract (smooth muscle) which resulted in the largest pile of manure I’ve ever seen. Seriously, when I saw it, I expected there to be an elephant in my pasture. His “hay belly” is subsiding. Even though he looks “fat” in the pictures, he really is undernourished. His hindquarter muscling is not anywhere near what it should be, and the hay belly can be and often is a sign of protein deficiency. His muscles are tense, and now that he is eating better I am probably going to add some E-Se-Mag to help with that. He was initially dewormed with a dose of Safeguard. I can’t wait to give him something more aggressive but its important to approach with caution to avoid big problems. I am convinced he is carrying a big worm load.
Dan has actually visibly improved in just one week’s time. The deep groves of his spine have begun to fill in. His “poverty lines” (those lines that appear on the buttocks) are starting to fade. He has a very long way to go. I am amazed that his coat still has a shine to it, and I can’t wait to see what he looks like all filled out. Feeding him has also been an exercise in caution. Google refeeding syndrome if you’ve never heard of it. Starved horses (and humans) have a reversed Krebs cycle…their body begins to burn protein after fat stores have been exuasted. Unfortunately, it takes almost as much energy to convert protein to energy as is produced. It also depleats phosphorus, magnesium and potassium stores which can lead to cardiac arrest if and when carbohydrates are reintroduced too quickly or in too large a volume. This is why alfalfa hay is best for starving horses (the nutritional and mineral profile are closest to what is needed). When feed is introduced, lower-starch options are best, and oats which are high in phosphorus are helpful. I’m usually a big fan of Triple Crown Senior, but I’ve been using a Kalmbach feed with oats (and higher phosphorus) for this reason. There is so much to know/learn about feeding horses, and I am lucky that my husband who operates a feed mill is great about keeping up on the research and information, and also has lots of great contacts out there to answer his and his customer’s questions.
Thanks to those who are following along, and I would love to hear from more of you. Have you had an ex-amish horse? A rescue? Maybe you’ve been thinking about rescuing? I’d love to hear your comments!