Friday, February 20, 2015

Some History on Killian

So....funny story.

One day last summer BEC and I were talking bloodlines and glancing over the papers on the horses I have who are in fact registered.  We had already talked about Sassy's breeding several times, but not much about Killian.  I showed her his papers and she laughed.

"I know the people who bred him, they live about 40 miles from our ranch in SD."

We laughed about what a small world it is.

The other day she posted a link to my facebook page.    This is where he comes from.    is a copy of his papers.

So of course I took a minute and looked at all the pictures of their horses.  I looked at the pedigree's of their studs, and I see that one of them is still the same basic bloodlines as Killian.   I looked at the handsome little colts that they have, and the very solid mares they show as well.  Then I shot them an email.  I always feel like if I was breeding horses, I would be thrilled to get an email about a horse I bred 21 years ago, and would even be more thrilled to know that he or she is loved and well cared for.  So I sent the email and some pictures, and today I got a response.

Hi Cindy,
My name is Joe Stoddard.  I am the guy who bred and raised “Crook”.  His name came from the fact that when he was first born, his legs were a little crooked, but in a few weeks his legs straightened right out.  I broke him, and sold him to a neighbor  that used him a lot.  When this older man had knee surgery, his son sold most of his horses.  I always wondered where the horse wound up.  I’m glad he found a good home.

My wife was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease some years back and that forced a change in our lives.  We cut way back on our horse program and eventually sold the ranch to our son, Sam.  We still live here and He has gradually been bringing our horse program back.  He kept a few of our old core mares and has bettered the line of horses we had.  He still breeds for good conformation, good bone, good minds, cow and speed.  In the future, when you need a horse, please consider him in your search for additional horses.  

thank you for your interest in our horses.    Joe

I always wondered why they had named him Crook.    I guess in someways the name still fits since he is still always trying to steal all the mares.  LOL

Anyway, it was nice to get an answer and to know a little bit more about the big guy.  Being a gelding, and with his age it isn't a huge deal anymore other than my own curiosity, but it does help sort of ease the frustrations from knowing so little about Trax.

So Far, So Good

Trax seems to be doing really well on the new meds (Baytril).  His appetite came back with voracity, and he is back to his normal weight.  I was giving him free choice grass hay all day, a little bit of pasture time by himself, and then some alfalfa/oat hay cubes which he really seems to like.  Now he is back to a  normal feeding routine, which is the cubes, a little pasture time, and one flake of hay for a snack in the after noon.

He's a little miffed that he doesn't get hay all day now, but he will get over it.

In my opinion today is the day that will show me if he is actually getting better.  It seems that every 7 days was when he was relapsing. So if we can get through the next 2 days with no fever, I will breathe a little easier.

The vet is coming out today to change the catheter in his neck and to just do a check up.  The blood tests came back and did not show anything significant, nor did they show us anything that we did not already know.

While in some ways that is kind of frustrating because we still don't have a reason behind the infection, it is also good news because it means that it supports the vets theory that perhaps the cause for the relapse was simply that we weren't using the correct antibiotics and that the stronger and different type will do the trick.

The only thing we are waiting to get back still is the Valley Fever test.  Valley Fever is not super common in horses, but they can get it.  It could explain the abnormalities in his lungs and if he does have VF then it could cause swollen lymph nodes directly behind the liver, which would constrict the GI tract and cause the slower motility.  Hopefully I will have that answer today.

Not the best picture of him but at least his ribs aren't showing anymore.

I can has more hay please?

I have to flush this 3x a day plus give meds through it.  

In other news, Melody and I are getting ready for our first show this weekend.  It is just a small show, just for fun, but I am excited.  Our riding relationship is really coming along, and although we still are getting very far with trail obstacles, the last 2 weeks of really learning how to work together has been great for both of us.

I rode Killian the night before last in the arena.  He hates arena work usually but on this night he was so darn good.  He picked up the correct leads and only fought me to go to the gate a couple of times.  While loping our circles I asked him to collect and carry himself and he did and for the first time EVER since owning him I was able to enjoy the lope, and really feel the horse underneath me.  My friend Heidi was watching from the other end and even she commented how smooth he looked.

He was smooth, smooth and powerful.  As most of you know Killian is a big guy.  I've always considered him to big and nonathletic, but last night I felt a different horse under me. This horse was more graceful and an athlete.

One time towards the end he decided it was past his dinner time and wanted to go to the gate.  I spanked him with the reins and he gave just a little jump.  That was the point when I realized that if he ever decided to take to bucking, he could seriously hurt a person.  Luckily he is not that guy.

I've been contemplating for a couple of days the reasons for the changes in him.  I think it is a combination of things.  Since my work with Dana I have become a more confident rider.  While Killian is a great babysitter on the trails, when asking him to work in the arena you need to be confident or he does what ever he wants.

 Secondly he went on a badly needed diet and has lost probably 100lbs.  He no longer has the huge hay belly, or the cellulite on his neck.  He is not underweight by any means, I think he looks pretty good.  I will take some pictures of him soon and share them.

The third thing that has changed, is since he lost the fat, and he is almost 21, I decided to go ahead and start him on some senior feed.  I have never given it to him before because he was so over weight I didn't feel he needed it.  So he gets a scoop of nutrena Senior and a scoop of nutrena safe choice, so perhaps those extra vitamins are giving him the energy he was lacking before.

I think he feels better.  I know he sure looks better and acts better.  With all that in mind, we are going to keep on with this, and he is going to spend more time in the arena getting a tune up.  Not so much because I want to compete with him (although I might someday) but just because he needs to be reminded that even if he doesn't love it, he still has to mind.

Sassy is still hanging in there, she hurt herself playing in the pasture the other day. At first I thought it was her foot, but it isn't. It is her shoulder.  I could feel the heat coming up from under her scar.  I gave her a light dose of bute and now she is fine.  She has just a little over another month here before she moves on to her new home. But that is a different story for a different time.

Now its time to get to work.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Update on Trax

We are home from the vets office, and still no definitive answers, other than we know that there is no tumor (whew) that we can see.  More blood work indicated a lower white cell count, but higher GGT (liver enzymes) by 30 pts.  Did an ultra sound and looked at both sides of his liver.

He has some atrophy on the right side of his liver which the Internal Medicine specialist says is not uncommon in older horses.  However the left side is a normal size.  We did spot one tiny stone in the liver, but it is very tiny and not significant enough to cause the symptoms he has been having.

While doing the ultrasound we looked at all the major organs and found something interesting.  On the last visit they said his breathing sounded odd.  When we ran the ultra sound over his lungs it looked like beams of light which indicates some thickening of the pleura.

The other thing he noted was that usually the liver is very dark on the ultra sound in contrast to the spleen which is lighter.  Trax's liver is very dense which could indicate some fibroid tissue.

So where do we go from here?  We are sending blood work into Phx for more in depth analysis, this will include a valley fever test (based on what we saw in his lungs-and VF can cause swelling of the lymphnodes just past the liver which could explain the slow motility in the GI tract)

He is on a new form of antibiotics, which have to be given in IV form, so now he has a catheter in his neck.  When we got home he promptly rolled in an attempt to remove it from his neck. I have to give him his meds once a day and flush the catheter 2 more times per day....and hope it stays in place and doesn't get infected.

It is our hope that the extra blood work will reveal something and that we will see a lower GGT after this round of antibiotics.  For now we just keep on keeping on.  He did say that it is not unheard of to see the fluctuation in the GGT titers such as this.  However, the very high fevers are what have him concerned more than anything.

On an interesting side note, when they clipped Trax to do the ultra sound, he barely moved a muscle.  Usually clippers of an kind will have him climbing up on top of something to get away.  I was so proud of my boy.  He has been taking all the poking and prodding like a pro.

So no real answers yet, just more questions and a bigger bill.  Time to go sell some saddles.  I just got a super cool Martin Rope Saddle that I had planned on keeping.  Not anymore, it will be up for sale by the end of the week.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

A Crash Course in Cholangiohepatitis

There are certain conditions in horses I'd be happy to go my whole life without having to study up on.  This is certainly one of them.  However, Trax decided that I needed to know about it.  

Some of you have followed this on facebook a little bit, what little bit I have talked about, but I figured it was time to tell the whole story.  

It started last Friday.  I was going to go sorting, and had decided to take Trax rather than Melody.  I wanted to see if any of his new training would carry over into the sorting pen, AND I really just felt like riding a horse that wasn't afraid of his own shadow while walking down the road.  

All the horses had been in their pens for that entire day, and I think for the day before too.  I had not been out with them much that day. I can't recall what I had been doing all day, but I had given them pellets for breakfast, grass hay for lunch and when I came out to get my horse I noticed that he had not eaten hardly anything.  

I was on the phone while I was haltering him, so I didn't actually LOOK at him until we got to the tack up area.  I tied him up, walked to the tack room to grab a brush and when I turned around I saw my horse.  He was standing there with his head down, drooling, and sides heaving like he had just run a marathon at mach nine.  

I said to my friend Mary, "Shit, my horse is colicking, I've got to go."  She asked if I had Banamine (which I was out of) and said she would be right there with some.  

I hung up the phone, dropped the brush and put my head next to his belly.  I could hear plenty of gut sounds, but realized that he was very warm.  I ran in the house and grabbed the thermometer and took his temp.  It was 106.5!!!!

I immediately started calling vets, couldn't reach the first one, so I called Arizona Equine, which is a major hospital, and of course they had me load him up and bring him in.  Mary showed up just as I was pulling out of the drive.  I had called and told her the change in plans and she stopped and grabbed some alcohol so we stopped in the middle of the road and doused him with it to try and bring his temp down.  

Why it didn't occur to me to hose him down first thing, I don't know.  Its not like I don't know what to do for a fever, but all I could think of at the time was getting the trailer hooked up and him into it.  He was passing manure, so I knew it was not colic.  

When I got to the clinic his temp was down to 102. The vet drew blood first thing and then gave him a shot of bute. Then we hosed him down until his temp was normal.  She said his gut sounds were very good, but his breathing sounded a little funny.  

The first blood test came back with a very high white blood cell count. At that point we started discussing possible infections diseases.  He had not really been in contact with any horses other than his own herd, other than one trail ride with some horses from the neighborhood.  He did not exhibit any symptoms of Strangles, although she did mention there is a strain of respiratory herpes virus that is slightly more common and could cause the symptoms we were having.  We did a nasal swab to test for any thing infectious or flu like.  

She suggested that we could do chest xrays if I wanted to see if there was a lung issue behind his odd breathing sounds, however she was very good about letting me know exactly where I was financially with each procedure, so I could make an informed decision about how far I wanted to go.  

This is guy....I will go pretty dang far into debt for this horse.  Even though he isn't worth much money, he is worth everything to me.

Waiting on test results in horsey jail. 

Still I want to be smart about how I spend my money, so I opted to wait on anything else until we got the blood work back.  It was a smart move.  

When the blood work came back his liver enzymes were very high, indicating an infection in the liver.  The vet said that he has Cholangiohepatitis.  I heard "hepatitis" and my heart sank. She must have seen the look on my face, because she assured me that rarely is this ever fatal.  It usually just takes a round of antibiotics and goes away. She told me that this is actually much more common in horses than most people realize, but often goes undiagnosed.   

This is not the first time Trax has done this.  I know it was at least the second time if not the third, that he has been off his feed.  I always assumed it was ulcers, and tried to treat with probiotics which seemed to help because a day or so later he would go back to eating normally. 

Trax has lost a lot of weight over this.  His spine is sticking up above his back, which I have never seen happen on him.  There is a gap between his butt cheeks.  While he is not skin and bones, he is skinny for him and I have been trying desperately to put weight on him. Extra food, wheat germ oil, worming, Nutrena grain.  

Anyway, the vet sent me home with some antibiotics (TMZ is what she called them) and told me to take his temp several times a day for a few days and if it went up over 102, to go ahead and give a low dose of bute every 12 hours, and to hose him down again.  

I did as instructed, but his temp was normal, he was eating voraciously again, and even was running and bucking in the pasture again.  When I watched him do that I realized that he really had not done so in a while, so it was good to see him feeling good.  

Since he was feeling so good, I went a head and took him sorting the next day.   His temp was normal, his energy was high, but still I only sorted a couple of rounds on him and then rode someone elses horse. I did not want to wear him out or cause him to relapse.  

That night he ate fine, and was fine for several days.  

There is a new horse club in town which I have joined and we are putting on our first Ranch Versatility type show next weekend.  Of course I was planning on using Trax and since he has been eating fine, looking better, taking his meds like a champ, I decided last night it was time to do a little preshow training.

He had been in the pasture all day this time, and even when I walked out to get him he was out there mowing down on the new grass coming in.  I walked to him with the halter, he gave his usual half assed attempt to say no, and then let me halter him.  I tied him up turned and looked at him and damn!  His sides were heaving again.  No drool this time though.  I grabbed the thermometer and he was at 105.6.  This time I started with the hose, then got some alcohol and dumped it on him, then dosed him with 2 grams of bute. THEN I called the vet.  

By time we spoke his temp was already on the down slide.  They said I could bring him in again if I wanted, but really they wouldn't do much more than what I had already done.  Clearly he needs to have an ultra sound done, or possibly even a liver biopsy,  but we opted to wait until Monday.  While I am willing to go into debt for my horse, if I can do at home what they would do for him, and save a few hundred dollars in emergency fees, then I will have more money for the things that will really help him.  The vet agreed with my decision but said if I needed anything, had any questions, or could not get the fever down, to feel free to bring him in.  

Within an hour I had him down to 101, so we stayed home.  He was thrilled to have dinner and seemed much happier.  I was ok with staying home for now. 

I had to run and errand but when I came back I checked his temp again and it was normal. This morning I checked again, and it is completely normal, although he did not care to eat his pellets this morning so I gave him a nice big serving of grass hay.  

There has been some speculation that perhaps he ate some Alsike Clover, but we don't have that here.  Of course there are other toxic plants that could cause this, but my pasture is pretty much nothing but grass.  The only real weed issue we have here are the "goat heads" and the big broad leafed weeds (TC calls them button weeds) and neither are toxic to horses.  

If you look closely along the fence line you
will see the button weeds that we have been fighting
but everyone in town is fighting them and everyone's
horses have eaten them and no one is getting
sick from them
So I don't know at this time what caused the relapse.  I do know that more diagnostics are in order.  Of course the worry wort in me is convinced he has a tumor and that I am going to lose my horse.  I'm hoping that maybe he just needs different antibiotics, or perhaps it is simple like a stone.  I will get to the bottom of this, its just going to take some time and I have to be patient.

  Trax is a total trooper through the whole thing. He takes his meds without a fight, He will stand quietly without even a halter while I take his temp.  He just seems to handle it all.  For a horse who didn't even like people when I got him, he sure has changed.  

Clearly there is no horse show for him next weekend.  I won't ride him again until I know the issue is resolved completely.  I don't believe that riding him on Tuesday caused the relapse, but I am not going to ask him to work until he is back in full health again.  I'm pretty bummed about the show because I have been begging people to show up and support the new club and now I can't even practice what I preach.  

I guess I can take Melody and enter in a western pleasure class.  One of my neighbors has offered to let me use one of his geldings if I want, but I don't know if I will do that.  Maybe I'll just go and work the show and be of service.  

Seems to be the story of my life lately.  I work the show and watch everyone else ride while my horses sit at home.   Bummer!  

More importantly though, I don't want to lose my horse.  Of course I would be sad if I lost any of my horses, but to lose Trax....not sure how I would handle that one.  

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Bloodlines (or the lack there of)

For the most part I am not obsessed with bloodlines of horses.  I like to know yes, and whenever I get a new horse I go to and learn about the horse I have just purchased.

Two of my horses are Colonel Freckles bred.  Sassy is even doubled up. Melody has a whole slew of gorgeous appys and thoroughbreds in her pedigree.  

Then there is Trax.

As some of you know I have traced back his ownership as far as I can go trying to find out his breeding, if there were ever any papers, or if either of his parents were registered.  I got as far as the auction and the name of the folks who took him there, and I even sent them a letter with a picture asking about him, but never got a response.  For all I know they never got it.

Since I cannot find out much about his breeding other than what he looks like I am just slightly obsessed with horses that resemble him.  It is to the point now that TC teases me a lot.  When ever we see a paint horse he says, "Oh look, it's Trax's brother."

Some of you may follow the blog "One old Cowgirls view"  and she has her horse Pic, who reminds me much of Trax.  They share a couple of distinct characteristics. Those are; a long nose, short neck, and short coupled body, not to mention the Tovero markings.  AND, they have very similar personalities.  Her horse Pic originated from South Dakota.  (which happens to be just a hop, skip and a jump away from Northern WY where Trax is from)

Still that does not mean they actually are related, but it does lead one to wonder if there are not some similar blood lines in there somewhere.

I'm constantly looking for that one horse who put his stamp on his offspring.  The ones like Pic and Trax, and some others that I have seen. (all of whom hail from the same geographical location)

Sure I'm probably grasping at straws.

Its probably just a grade horse thing...they way the look I mean.

Its silly of me to keep wondering what his breeding is...isn't it?

Then today I ran across this.

TC says I'm crazy.  He says that horse looks like any horse in the world.  " A horse is a horse is horse, it doesn't matter what their bloodlines are."

To me, I look at that horse and I see the same long nose (one cowboy said that if Trax got a drink out of the bottom of a 55 gal drum, he could still see out the top while he was drinking.) short neck, short coupled body....and of course then there is that whole "buck like you mean it" thing going on in this picture.  Yeah, my horse does that.

This picture was taken in Montana.

Yeah, okay.  I get it.  I'm grasping at straws.  He may not look exactly like my horse, but he does look similar to him.  And yes I know that I will never know his bloodlines, and he is a gelding and it doesn't matter.  He is who he is, and that is all I need.  But sometimes its kind of fun to imagine him coming from some great bucker, or some special rodeo horse, or maybe his sire was just some cowboys best friend.

A best friend with an attitude that only the right person could understand.