This is LuLu.  She is a 22 year old quarter horse who joined me and my two boys on track in September 2018.  Although LuLu is a very talented and well bred quarter horse, she has always been compromised.  Louise her owner has been with her since she was a four year old. Looking back, Louise says that LuLu  has always ticked many of the grass affected issues on our checklist, But back then Louise – like me and many of us – was unaware of this and put a lot of the behavioural issues down to LuLu herelf. LuLu’s problem of laminitis was seen as a clinical disease and managed as such.

So in the past, the most significant thing that was seen to hold LuLu back was the problem of acute laminitis which  – following traditional management protocols  – became chronic, low grade laminitis.

Like many of us have done, Louise tried shoeing her horse. But, having studied the barefoot approach and observed working barefoot horses herself during a visit to California, she removed LuLu’s shoes and has maintained her that way since. Unfortunately, though, her hard-working and skilled trimmer could see no real improvement. LuLu was stressed, shut-down and very sore throughout her body as well as being sore in all feet.

Over the years, there were times when she was rideable and competed in Western Trail, but this was interspersed with difficult behaviour patterns and the problem of persistent low-grade laminitis.

Louise is a horse woman who doesn’t give up easily – hence her decision to bring her horse to the track at the age of 22! After three months of track life Louise confessed to me that coming to join us was in many ways the “last chance saloon” for Lulu.

Louise worried about her decision – and that it was a big risk for the horse she loved. LuLu had been kept in high quality livery yards all her life.  She had been stabled, rugged and turned out in the way that many people feel is the most appropriate and sympathetic way to care for a horse.   

On the track, LuLu refused to be rugged – so she was out in all weathers and had to fit in with my two horses. Joining us in September meant that she faced all this over Winter, where wet deep- going interupted by hard frozen mud is the norm.  It was quite a drastic change for her.

 

Before coming to our track, Louise had worked really hard to keep LuLu sound and well.  She used Calm Healthy Horses Premium, GrazEzy and Alleviate C  which was fed in the simple bucket we recommend. But LuLu only improved so far and then things stopped and often went backward.  

When she came to the track, things changed sustainably.  The sum of an appropriate diet, movement and socialisation in an environment which both challenged and  supported LuLu made all the difference.

If your horse is not making the progress that he should, it is important to revisit the whole diet and management.  In LuLu’s case, she  was too stressed at the livery yard to fully recover, even through this was an excellent facility.  Being compromised over a long period of time ment that the exposure to grass inspite of being muzzled was still too much.  Standing in a stable 60% of the time, which she actually appeared to enjoy, prevented her from being supple and strong. Even with soaked hay, our products and an excellent trimmer LuLu’s recovery was limited because there was too much exposure to inappropriate pasture and not enough free movement with other horses.

LuLu is a very sensitive horse. Many horses can recover with the level of care that LuLu recieved at the livery yard, but when this is not working, bringing things even closer to the basics can reduce the stress and enable the horse’s own systems to start to function as they should.