This week in Horse-World has been as manic as ever.
I’m due to start a new job next week with Wright & Morten Equine Clinic so I’ve been getting all my ducks in a row ready to start a whole new chapter.
Freddie has been living his perfect swamp-donkey life, as the rugs are off and he’s now going out naked. I noticed his crest getting a bit firm and his grass glands were up, so it’s definitely time to get ahead of the spring sugar rush in the grass and encourage him to shed a few more pounds. He’s already lost over 100kg, but still has a few more to go.
Typically, being grey, this means that he finds the boggiest spot in the field and goes down face first for a vigorous roll. Hey, as long as he’s happy I can put up with a bit of extra grooming.
We have had a bit of a spanner in the works recently, in that Freddie’s older sister Amber (my retired Belgian warmblood) has lost a lot of weight very quickly in her retirement field. We spotted her quidding again – quidding is where horses spit out or drop bits of food instead of swallowing it – which was a sure sign along with the weight loss that she needs her TMJ jabs repeating.
(Pictured: Amber, our chestnut mare)
Amber is a bit of a mystery to us. Her passport says she is 19, however, her dental X-Rays make her look 25+. Her molars were described as ‘bars of soap’ by our dentist, and she has absolutely no tooth roots left, something he hadn’t seen in a 19-year-old horse in over 6000 cases. Due to her poor teeth, she overworks her jaw trying to chew which has left her temporomandibular joint (jaw joint!) with degeneration, so we give her steroid injections roughly once a year to keep her as comfortable as possible. When the jabs wear off, they seem to wear off almost instantly and as a result the weight just falls off her.
So, this week with thanks to friends at Freddie’s yard lending us a stable & lorry, we went to pick her up and bring her home. She had her jabs yesterday and we’re replacing most of her hay with Simple System Horse Feeds Haycare, a brilliant hay pellet that soaks into a soft mash which is perfect for old timers with dodgy teeth, like Amber.
(Pictured: Amber, shortly after coming home)
She is loving living the cushy life again with me waiting on her hand and hoof and much to Freddie’s delight I’ve been too busy this week to do much with him other than scrub the layers of dirt off him. It’s easy as horse owners to feel guilty when riding takes a back seat, but the reality is sometimes life gets in the way and if they’re fed, watered and have a clean environment to live in, it isn’t the end of the world!
It's important for me to mention that Amber is a chestnut mare. I know a few of you may well shudder at that phrase, as you rightly should. She absolutely rules the roost, with Fred more than happy to trail around after her like a love-struck yearling just waiting for her to give him the time of day. Back in the day, she was a bit of a showjumper, but not one that could take direction.
Far more the type that you point at a fence and hold on for dear life, because she would go over anything but you have absolutely no chance of making a suggestion on how quickly she should get over said fence. She retired to hacking the year before last as she had a old suspensory injury that was niggling away at her but she couldn’t always be trusted to make sensible decisions so I decided to retire her completely to just enjoy being a horse. That said, if I put a child anywhere near her, she turns into the softest donkey going so I think she just liked giving me a run for my money to be honest. Like I said, she’s a chestnut mare!
(Pictured: Freddie pre-rolling)
Going forward, we’re going to be closely monitoring her weight in the hopes that now she has been jabbed it will steadily increase again, but if she doesn’t seem to be bouncing back like normal, we may run some bloods to test for PPID (previously known as cushings disease). PPID is a really common hormonal disorder in older horses whereby the pituitary gland malfunctions, to simplify it a bit. PPID isn’t a big deal anymore for most horses, it can be managed with a daily Prascend tablet, a wonderful bit of veterinary medicine that helps regulate and balance their hormone levels, and usually that’s all, but we’ll see how she gets on first.
Hopefully with work starting again next week and Amber more settled we can strike up a better routine with the big Yeti doing a bit too, onwards and upwards!