Friday, May 18, 2012

Happy Birthday Ri Ri!

Riley at three months
Riley is now SIX years old. SIX! Actually he turned six yesterday, without much fanfare. I meant to take an up to date picture of him but forgot, but here are some then and now pix. What I learned about horses from babyhood to adulthood is this: if you like a delicate face on a horse, get a baby that looks like he's part arab and has a tiny head, and CERTAINLY get a perfectly formed head. Riley had a normal head (nice, well-shaped, a great expression, but not small) -- and now his head is enormous! It's well proportioned, it "fits" his body, but oh-my-it is big.Oh, and he is officially 17 hands high.

The Ri-Ri update
 I'll mention, by way of a Riley update, that he has lost weight, and the weight loss is unexplained. While he doesn't look awful I see ribs -- ribs! -- on my horse. We had changed his diet from Progressive Proadd Ultimate to another ration balancer, to save money (the barn offers the cheaper stuff, Proadd costs me about $40/month). Whether by coincidence or because of the feed change, he has dropped quite a bit of weight. Unfortunately he lost topline as well, which is the larger concern. Riley has been an easy keeper for five years, and while I think the Progressive feeds are good, I'm not sure they're THAT good, esp. feed in the amounts Ri was getting (a handful three times a day). He is back on Proadd and I've thrown in some fat supps for good measure.

The weight loss itself, for Riley at least, is at least partly, in theory, a good thing, as it is less stress on his legs. But his topline looks perfectly awful -- it's like it looked when he was just off stall rest, lots of exposed spine. The saddle I got for him was wide to begin with, and now...  Dammit.

Riley last year
What to do?
When my vet comes back to finish up spring and fall shots, she is going to do a Lyme test and (if I can convince her) an EPM test. Now, for those of you who might assume I'm overreacting, or suffering from Von Munchausens (sp?) syndrome, note that my vet noticed the weight  and muscle loss right away. She is not an alarmist, and she showed some concern. It isn't just me, I swear!


  1. That baby photo is adorable! Happy birthday, handsome!

  2. That baby picture is adorable :)

    I assume you've checked him for ulcers?

  3. I checked him AND he's had a months course of gastrogard (March/April)

  4. Is it possible he had a growth spurt - a final hurrah to get up to that 17.0 mark? I know a few people who have mentioned a final growth spurt on their big warmbloods with much the same effect. Six is not unheard of for the final "filling out" to happen. Hopefully it's something innocent like that.

  5. Honestly, they can't speak and tell us their symptoms - and how often is it hard to diagnose a human even then? As long as they are doing him no harm, I think doing the tests is smart!

  6. I have had super success with Purina Healthy Edge--high fat, low carb.

    But it's always a worry when a horse--especially a young one--loses weight and condition. Sounds like the tests would be well worth it.

  7. Another thought...I'm sure you do fecals, but what about tapeworm? Did you worm him for that too?

    Happy Birthday, Riley!!

  8. Long, and I apologize in advance.

    I have an OTTB that is a fussy eater, though he has learned that I am not going to poison him, and new things do NOT mean BUTE. (I tried to feed him an apple a few days after I bought him and he spit it out, GLARED at me and wouldn't let me near him the rest of the day).

    I asked about putting weight on the horse. The feed man recommended a complete pellet called Sea Power to put on "honest weight without making the horse hot" (his words). "Huey" was a bit thinner than "racing fit," and I wanted to add pounds without his becoming aerial. Sea Power got its name (and its 16 percent protein) from fish meal, also a source of tryptophan. All good.

    Fed that for 12 years or so. Huey looked GREAT. And then ... the mill stopped making it. Consolidating labels, downsizing due to the economy, blah blah.

    So I tried to replicate the protein percentage. Fed different varieties of bagged feed. Huey kept dropping the weight. Finally sought advice of the veterinarian (when all else fails, ask someone who knows--would have asked the feed man but he had retired and moved away and the new batch of "feed people" were basically clueless).

    Vet gave me HIS formula: Alfalfa pellets, soy meal (either loose or pellets), and rice bran. (I add alfalfa-and-molasses "crumbles"--it also comes chopped but is more difficult to handle that way and gives me "splinters"). Within a few weeks Huey was back to his usual "fat and sassy" self, shiny coat, happy boy, the whole nine yards.

    I like loose bran because with added water, it mixes with powdered supplements. Huey LOVES pellets (soy pellets are apparently VERY tasty ;o) and while he likes the crunch of alfalfa pellets, they will soak to mush. (Mush is a very good food for mega-senior horses that have few teeth).

    Bottom line, if the horse doesn't get the complete feed that works, substituting another type of complete feed will not necessarily produce the same results. Check with your vet, of course, and make sure nothing else is going on, but ask about a feeding plan.

    Good luck (and I agree with the posters. Ri was ADORABLE as a foal and is stunning today ;o)

  9. So cute! Happy B-Day Riley!

    Was there a change in hay? My horse drops weight easily and lesser quality hay can cause that. If the barn is trying to save money, cheaper hay may enticing. I feel your pain and I also pay extra for expensive feed to keep my horse's ribs in hiding.

    Good of you to try the Gastrogard for a month. That is some serious $$$.

  10. I always say it's better safe than sorry. Really, what is the worse scenario? That you waste money on a test that proves negative and gives you peace of mind or that you save the money and leave the horse undiagnosed and untreated for something that he does have? Of course, I'm the one in the barn who routinely tests her horse for Lyme's twice a year no matter what, so I suppose you can guess which side of the question I am on!

  11. Good on you for getting those tests! I am on four weeks of Doxycycline myself for Lyme's, and it is quite prevalent in your area. Better safe than sorry! Chronic Lyme on a horse is devastating for his career, so early detection is critical. Just remember, the tests are only 50% accurate. Keep vigilant even if he tests negative.

    "Munchausen's by Proxy" means you LIKE your horse (or kid) sick because you want someone to depend on you all the time. You like the drama of it. It's a terrible thing (my MIL has classic symptoms of it ... ). My MIL told my husband she was 100% sure he would have asthma by the age of 30 and he'd probably die from it. Guess what ... he's healthy and still alive/kicking at 38. Zero asthma. She's a tidge crazy in the head ... whereas you are just trying to be conscientious. I don't think you need your horse to be sick/lame to feel important in his life ... so you're safe. ;)

    Good luck. Hoping to hear good news and good prognosis!!! (P.S. Purina's Amplify is also WONDERFUL STUFF for weight, bloom and topline ... FYI) ;)

    And, ugh, so sorry about the saddle thing ... again. As it stands, my pony mare and I are going through that cursed madness ourselves. I'm ready to give up and get a bareback pad ... except her trot is maddeningly "boingy." :P

    1. Oh I know the tests are only 50% accurate; that's why I get 'em done twice a year when he gets his shots. It's so hard to detect and it's not uncommon for it to get to the stage where it's hellaciously expensive to treat, if not causing permanent damage. It helps to know your horse. The one time he had it, I had him tested because he spooked in a way that was out of character. That call to the vet was amusing! Even then he was off the charts and it was like $800 worth of Doxy to get rid of it. The vet likes the bi-annual tests too because it gives her a basis of comparison in the results.


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