Saturday, May 26, 2012

Something's Burning

Last night, I oticed that there was a bit of a wet spot on Trigger's elbow, right next to the girth area, and it occurred to me that he might have been biting himself because something was bothering him, but I didn't think TOO much more about it.  Then I was texting with a friend, and she mentioned ulcers, and it got me thinking.

Common symptoms of ulcers (from this website):
  • Sensitivity to being girthed - yep
  • Mental dullness or attitude changes - well, I don't think he's mentally dull, but his attitude seems different now from when I met him in WA; don't know how much is due to the move, though
  • Poor performance (i.e. tension, stiffness, bucking, kicking.) - um, yes, definitely bucking
  • Change of behavior at trot or canter - I haven't gotten far enough to evaluate him under saddle at the trot or canter, but he has definitely been more amped up when lunging at the trot or canter than I would have imagined after trying him out in WA
  • Attitude changes (i.e. aggressive, nervous, or depressed) - can't really evaluate
  • Behavior changes (grinding teeth, excessive salivation) - I don't know how he was before, nor do I see him eat other than treats, so I don't know
  • A sore back or tense flanks - yes, he is sensitive at first when grooming, and sometimes he settles in to enjoying it and sometimes he never really does
  • Poor appetite - I don't know for sure, as I don't know how much he would eat before, but he finishes his hay and his feed, so probably not a problem
  • Weight loss and poor body condition - I think he's gaining if anything, but that's the plan
  • Lying down more than normal - I don't see him enough to know, but he was lying down when I arrived this morning, not that that means anything
  • Acute and recurring colic, often following eating or riding - I haven't seen any colic symptoms
  • Preferring to eat hay versus grain, or eating grain slowly - I have occasionally seen grain sitting in his feed pan when I show up a while after feeding, but just figured he was more of a nibbler than a gulper
  • Intermittent chronic diarrhea - he's actually been fine in this department
  • Frequent pawing or yawning - YES!  He paws sometimes when he seems bored, and sometimes randomly, and yawns, especially after eating a little treat
  • Tongue chewing, tongue lolling out of mouth - I don't think so, but don't spend much time at the barn
  • Overall tension and discomfort - again, don't see him enough to evaluate "overall" anything
  • Cribbing, Stall walking - I don't think so
  • Use of NSAIDS - nope
Things that can contribute toward ulcers:
  • Trailer travel - check--he spent a few hours in the trailer two days in a row; he peed in the trailer the first day, but not the second, and he didn't poop in the trailer either day, and I don't know how much he ate either day, but he was probably at least mildly stressed, if not more
  • Changes in training or working - check; though I would LIKE to ride him, he hasn't been ridden in two weeks
  • Loss of pasture mate - check; he was in a herd of three, and now lives in a stall with a run and does have one neighbor he can see, but of course it's not his buddies from home
  • New environment - check; stall instead of pasture, very little turnout, only one neighbor instead of a herd situation, desert instead of swampland, just about everything that could change has
  • Stalling or isolation - check
  • No food between meals, empty stomach - check; his hay has been gone some of the times I've come out
I feel absolutely terrible that me buying him, moving him, and choosing this boarding barn rather than full pasture board for him, is probably causing him pain.  But I'm hopeful that if that is what it is, that I can help him, make him feel better, and have the "old" Trigger back--the one I met in WA that was so laid back.

So I went to the feed store and got a supplement that's supposed to help.  It's supposed to be fed twice a day, and he was only getting pelleted feed once a day, so I asked the barn to feed my pre-measured bags twice a day instead.  I made up a bunch of bags with half the amount of the other stuff, and the new ulcer supplement.  I also bought some Tums, both berry and mint flavored, but Trigger does not see them as treats.  However, he will snarf them up with his feed, so I'll just have to feed a handful of feed with Tums before working him, I think.  I also asked the barn to turn him out (with other horses) as much as possible, but didn't hear back whether it was okay to turn him out with the horses currently in the pasture, so I didn't.  I also asked that they feed him as much hay as it takes to keep some in front of him all the time, even if they have to charge me extra.  We'll see how much THAT costs.  I might need to just move him to somewhere with full-time pasture board, though.

I tried the saddles on him again, and got better photos out in the mid-day sun.  So here are my photos from today:

Trigger was dozing when I arrived

Oh, hi there!

Om nom nom nom nom nom...

A photo of his HORRIBLE wound ;-) since I forgot to take one yesterday.  I think he'll live.  (No heat or swelling, either.)

 The synthetic western saddle:

The clearance actually looks better in this picture than I felt it was in real life, but still very close to the withers.

Is it me, or is it also not quite level (front lower than it should be)?

The first Aussie, the one from the tack store:

I guess I didn't get a very good photo of the gullet, but while it was a little better than the western, I still don't think it was high enough without any weight in the saddle.

And the other Aussie, the one from Craigslist:

Much higher gullet

Can't quite see daylight THROUGH the spine area, but can see hairs with light cast on them, like when you're in a cave and you can't yet see the actual light, but can see that it's getting lighter inside.

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