Wednesday, November 14, 2012

More on Killian

I've really been doing a lot of thinking about the big red horse and him kicking me the other day.  Yes I accept that sometimes horses do things that are totally out of character, with no warning what so ever.   But there are other things about him that have been nagging at me for a long time, so I feel it is time to line them up and see what I come up with.

Exhibit A
This is Killian the day I brought him home. (Jan 2012)  His previous owner let him eat 24/7.  He has a huge hay belly (looked pregnant almost) but no crest on the neck.  His butt was pretty well rounded. 
His hooves had some obvious rings and waves from nutrition issues.

Exhibit B

This was taken in March or April of 2012 He was still pretty big.  Still had some winter coat on him, On this particular ride which was done at a walk or slow trot the entire way, he spent a good amount of time groaning as he walked, like he really didn't want to be there, or that maybe he was hurting.  Although once we headed towards home he seemed to be ok. He groans for almost every ride though.

Exhibit C
This one was taken during the summer. Right before he went to Riverton for a week.  His weight looks pretty good to me here.  Still a bit of a pot belly. but if you click on the picture and enlarge it, you can really see where his tailbone is starting to stick up above his rump.
Killian is an energy conservationist, to the point of being almost letheargic. To get a canter out of him for any length of time is almost impossible.  When I took him to the Ranch Horse clinic, after I forced him to run after cows, he got down right unruly.  Not so much hot and excited, as he was grumpy.  Not wanting to mind, not wanting to do anything I asked of him. I have to ask myself, was he in pain or just being lazy?

Exhibit D
I took this one this morning.  He actually weighs much less but that pot belly never does really go away.  He is losing muscle tone on his rump, even though he eats much higher quality food.  This summer when he shedded out, there were a couple of spots on his withers and butt that stayed a little long and coarse.  He never did shed out totally smooth like my others. Which of course brings to mind Cushings...early stages. But I could be over reacting too.

Killian has never had a real check up. Except very briefly by one vet who came out to give shots.  I do not care for that vet, and he won't be seeing him again. He briefly looked at his teeth, gave him some shots and then moved on to the next.  I am really starting to wonder if maybe he has some sort of underlying issue that is causing him some pain, hence the constant slow motion.  I know he needs to be ridden more, which could be the lack of muscle tone, since he is 17 now.   There aren't any big red flags with Killian, just little things that make me wonder about him.  Is he just lazy or is there something going on that we aren't catching.

The day he kicked me it was wicked cold and windy, was that cold making him hurt and grumpy? Was it intended for Sassy?   Who knows?

I'm thinking that it is a good time to schedule a check up for the big guy. Just to rule out any serious issues.


  1. I think that a vet check is definitely a good idea, but I think that he could just be stiff, and the cold weather makes him a little stiffer. I'm sure he has a long life still, but he isn't a young horse anymore, so I could see that not being ridden as much as he could be, he might just get a little tight! Especially in the hip area, that's where I usually see it in horses, if your vet sees that could be the issue, maybe some stretches could help him! Especially in the cold weather. Much like Danny's string halt, I stretch my horses like that sometimes just to get their legs and hips open more.

    1. I agree, never hurts to eliminate any medical issues before I just assume it is him having bad manners.
      I couldn't even imagine trying to stretch him like I do Danny! Danny is so easy, and willing. Picking up Killians feet is like trying to lift anvils. LOL. I wish I had more confidence in our local vets. Wyoming is so far behind the times when it comes to vet issues.

  2. I agree that it's a good idea to rule out anything medical before making assumptions about him. Could he be experiencing back pain? That's a very commonly overlooked area of general discomfort or all-out pain. Sore backs can cause grumpiness, groaning like you mentioned, irritability when asked to do something more than just walk and also uneven gaits. Does your saddle fit him properly? Any rock from front to back without a pad underneath? Try applying some pressure under his belly to get a lifting of the back response. Watch his ears for attitude or any tail swishing. You mention that it's hard to pick up his feet...more difficult in the hind? If so, he could be having SI joint issues. Cortisone steroid injections in the SI joint will sometimes have a tremendous response in relieving inflammation and/or pain in that area. The injection needs to be done using Ultrasound for guidance of the needle to ensure proper location of injection, but it's technically not a difficult procedure. It's done with standing sedation and costs maybe a couple hundred. Effects can and usually do last anywhere from 3-6 months depending on usage and discipline. What about foot pain? Have you checked his coffin bone placement since you noticed the hoof rings? Maybe he had a past founder issue and has a bit of rotation or just thin soles? Oh, there's so many things it could be...but I'd recommend checking his back and then his SI joint. Resistance to lifting the hind legs up and slightly out to the side is your first clue of pain in that area. Would it be possible for you to contact the previous owner and inquire as to his general attitude/behavior in the past? Maybe he's always been a grumpy gus. If nothing else, if you know of someone who's good at equine massage, that might be helpful. Your vet could prescribe some muscle relaxers and a couple of thorough massages could possibly do wonders. I hope you get him figured out. It's sad when you realize just how many horses out there have pain management issues, and many times their owners just believe that it's a behavior issue. I respect you highly for considering the possibility of something a bit deeper. Wishing you much luck in figuring your boy out. I get more cranky in the cold, wet weather too. :)

  3. Could even be something like low thyroid - a lot of older horses have this - it can cause lethergy. A blood draw to check for basic things like this might be a good idea. (He does look a lot like my Red!)