In part 1, a Compromised Horse I explained Lulu’s history and how she came to join my two (now three) so called ‘metabolic’ horses on our track. It’s now January 2020 and it has finally stopped raining. I have been able to take some video and photos of Lulu having been just over 12months on the track. During this time, she has had access to virtually NO grass, and received ad lib meadow hay along with our recommended feeding and management protocols.
Firstly, Lulu is feeling very well. She has taken on a lead mare role in the group and now works with my big horse Glen to keep the other two geldings Ghandi and Cloud in their places. In this respect she is no longer the weak, flighty, worried little mare that joined us in September 2018. To be brutally honest she has been an absolute B**** to Cloud, a young PSSM 2 horse that joined us in August 2019. Chasing, biting and double barrelling him out of the group to assert her place and then when she came into season turning into his very best girlfriend. Given the amount of movement this arrangement created for both Lulu and Cloud it was a very positive for both of them, although it was a bit concerning to watch at times.
In terms of her upside down posture, which I believe was very influenced by soreness in her feet, she has improved dramatically. Her head now looks very petite on her much stronger and thicker neck. Her back has raised, and she can be ridden. Her strange movement behind, which looked like a stifle issue has gone. Her angular ‘pot’ belly that looked like ‘dysbiosis’ is firming up as her natural movement is restored. The more her feet improve the more she moves correctly, and so her posture and physique respond accordingly.
She has now grown a full hoof capsule. We can see lots of improvement but I still feel there is more to come. Given her age and chronic laminitic history I am thinking that it may take 3 years for her to achieve fully robust and totally functional feet. What has improved so far is her hoof wall, which is now thick and strong. The hoof angle is within normal parameters but her weak heels and very flat soles need more improvement. The great news is that she is sound on the track and natural surfaces, if ridden out on the road a pair of hoof boots provide all the support she needs.
The other and most amazing thing to mention is that this mare responds to her training commands exactly as she was originally trained. She has forgotten nothing, in spite of three or four years of no work she reacts to inhand and ridden requests like she has never been out of work. This I think is really important to note for those of you who are on this journey and might worry that their talented competition horse will loose his skills while off regular work. Fact is if they were well trained and loved their work before they will be just as keen to get back into their job as soon as their body is ready to support them. Giving horses a proper break while they are compromised is very important, but they need to move appropriately. The herd dynamics are the best way to achieve this, although some in hand and lunging helps, when they move for the purpose of being in the herd there is a different motivation. Getting this movement can be difficult if you only have one or two horses or if the horses are not forming or working as a herd. Short sessions in liberty are probably the best you can offer if you don’t have the horses to do it for you.
Other things that I have noticed which have changed for the better are,
- Greasy/dandruffy coat has become clean, soft and shiny
- Constantly running eyes have cleared up
- She is happy to be rugged when the weather requires it
- She can lift her legs and stand quietly for trimming
- She loves a good scratch and groom
- She is confident and engages in play and fun
What is most hopeful about this story is that LuLu is now 24 years old. Many horses are written off at 18 as they are considered too old to recover and lead a useful life. Lulu goes to prove that it is always worth giving them the chance to be their best though simple changes to diet and management. Ironically Lulu is now fitter than her owner !
As far as feeding our products in support of healing and now well being Lulu received: September to January 2018/19 high levels of GrazeEzy (between 50 and 120gms per day) along with Alleviate C, the two weeks at high levels (2 pots per day /100gm) and then maintenance (25gm) in addition to our daily minerals Premium MVA. Between February and July 2019 she was given a course of ShipShape at the nutritional boost levels in addition to her MVA. The ShipShape was really important for supporting her healing and recovery through the seasonal changes and it was this that improved her coat, runny eyes and stregnthened her back. From July 2019 I continued to feed GrazeEzy at maintenance, 30gm per day along with Premium MVA. Finally from December 2019 she has been fed ShipShape again but at the maintenance level in addition to MVA. Providing a good protien source during the winter months and coat change periods is really important for these older and recovering horses. For Lulu the ShipShape and Premium MVA have probably been the most important elements I have added to the diet to acheive her continuing improvement towards full health.
Our products have been fed in the simple bucket we recommend of plain chaff, micronised linseed, salt with a hand full of rolled oats. The cost of feeding Lulu her supplements per month in the early stages when she was receiving Premium MVA, ShipeShape at boost levels, GrazeEzy and Alleviate C worked out at about £25.00 per week. Later when the ShipShape could be fed at maintenance levels the costs reduced to £16.50 per week. Finally during periods where ShipShape and Alleviate C are not required costs reduce further to £10.50 per week.
Because we feed a very plain bucket any additional feed costs are minimal, less than 50p per day. Lulu has required no veterinary care, medicines or received any other supportive products during her recovery. So, 6mths feeding at each of the cost levels over the past 18mths has cost £1250.00 in total. Sustaining her diet will cost £650.00 per annum. This is the cost of feeding a quality diet and giving an older compromised horse what is needed for success.