From some angles, Aero looks almost normal. He has a good shine on his coat and his skin is good, apart from multiple fly bites.
From other angles, he looks like crap. You can clearly see all the ribs and I fear he is getting thinner. He’s been on more or less ad-lib hay up to now, and he and his buddies were put out onto good grass last Monday, but I swear to god his hip bones seemed to be even more prominent the following day.
Aero’s not the only thin horse at the farm, there are at least four others. So what’s going on? A low grade virus? A worm infestation? Teeth and worming are up to date, 100% correctly. I am mystified.
Blood and poop samples have been sent off. So far, everything has come back normal, apart from an elevated B12 level. Faecal worm count is normal, but it’s possible to have a false negative there, so if his final test results come back clear, a random FWC will be done of the entire herd.
For the first time since its inception four years ago, I did not take part in the Equifeel competition at the Gaec de Pimayon this year. I feel that if there’s any question that the Handsome Boy is not 100% right physically, it would be wrong to push him in any way. I considered doing it with Flurry, but it’s less fun with him. Too much hassle dodging his teeth… I ruined him the first year I started doing Equifeel competitions by giving him too many food rewards. Now all he thinks about is the reward when I ask him to do something – his little brain cannot analyse “Carrots” and “Move sideways” at the same time. No fun. And the more I think about my horses, the more I wonder just who and what I’m competing for. I’m not sure horses derive the same satisfaction from competition as a human does, no matter what the discipline…
The ostéopath came to check both horses on Friday.
Funny story about Chloé the osteopath. It turns out that her cousin was our very first equine osteopath back in Cork, Steve. We were also his very first equine clients – he was been my osteopath at the time, and was training to become a horse osteopath. Steve went on to work for many high-flying equestrian clients in Ireland, including some equine Olympians, and then ended up moving to Canada where he continues to shine. He treated Aero “back in the day”, and now his little cousin is looking after the same horse, more than a decade later. What are the odds of that happening, especially given that a change of country was involved?
Chloé found Aero to be completely blocked along his lumbar vertebrae and a little bit blocked at his withers. So that gives us two other possibilities :
a horse in constant pain will not thrive, no matter what he’s fed. If he’s been having a lot of pain in his back – possibly even with associated nerve pain through his hindquarters, I know all about that! – maybe that’s why he’s not gaining weight.
back pain can affect digestive function – the intestines are not just floating around in the abdominal cavity, they are connected to the spine at various points. Inflammation in one could cause inflammation in the other.
I’m still waiting for the final test results from the vet, but I’m not expecting anything significant to show up. I suspect she will advise some sort of tonic and a probiotic, and go on to test some of the other horses on the farm for worms. I am thankful that nothing serious has shown up, but I’d have been happier if something nice and easy like a worm infestation was causing Aero’s problems.
We’ll see what happens.
Meanwhile, he’s enjoying the good grass.