After thirty years, I decided (when my son became interested in horses) to get back into the saddle. I had a horse as a teenager, and interesting enough, the horse was crazy as a loon and yet all the medical bills resulting from having a horse were my own!
So in May of this year, my son and I each bought a horse. Of course we had to buy everything that goes along with the horse and we had to build a barn. We even hired a trainer and took riding lessons. On June 25, my son and his horse left town for the July 4th weekend week-long trail ride adventure. On that very day, you cannot imagine (unless you too have or have had a horse with separation axiety) the drama and trauma my horse put herself through. Several days later I discovered when my neighbor decided to get an early start on their holiday celebraton, she was deathly afraid of fire crackers. Then, as if that weren't enough, she practically passed out two weeks later in the shoot while having her teeth floated. Her legs folded and if it weren't for the walls of the shoot, she would have completely gone down. The trauma from filing her teeth after we revived her finished her off. The result: after having my horse one and a half months, she now suffers (according to the vet) from a severe stifle injury in her right leg and a moderate stifle injury in her left. He put her on three months bedrest (no trotting, running or riding) and aspirin twice a day for discomfort. Not so much so that she feels like running, but enough to keep the discomfort at bay. He tells me the healing process is a long one. I've done everything he's instructed. In September, he'll reevaluate her progress; no progress means possible surgery.
In the meanwhile, I feel like there's something I should be doing (other than spoiling her) but I just don't know what that something is. Her muscle tone has gone to pot, she's gotten "pudgy" and she just seems so, I don't know....bored. I'm hoping that someone out there who has experienced this type of injury can give me some ideas on what I can do to keep her from wasting away while she mends....:cry:
Make sure you are feeding her according to her stall rest. You don't need to feed as much right now as you did while she was outside, she doesn't need anywhere near enough energy. I'd have her on a simple grass hay for forage, and perhaps a complete feed if you need to give her any type of grain or pellets. Avoid sweet feeds. Imagine keeping a child locked in his bedroom hopped up on ice cream and Coke-a-Cola.
Then I would get her some toys. You can make your own or buy some. There are hanging Lik-Its, pacifier toys that mount in the corner, there are rolling toys that disperse treats. I have an old lead rope tied up in my little one's stall, so she doesn't chew my barn down, and she seems to enjoy playing tug-of-war.
Good luck! I'm sorry I don't know much about stifle injuries, just that it's no bueno. Here's hoping she won't need surgery to be sound again. =]
Thanks for the words of encouragement. Interesting you commented on her feed rations. Actually, she reduced the amount herself. She was normally getting 3 scoops a day, but when she became injured she wouldn't eat even half a of that. After about a week, I decided she was telling me she wasn't hungry so I reduced her to 2 scoops. She does well with that and since she's not losing weight, I'm guessing it's not too little.
As for the stall...that's another issue altogether. When the vet put her on bedrest, her other quirk we discovered was that she had not likely ever been put in one before. She nearly killed herself trying to get out so I backed off of it and gradually we are learning that our stall is a good place. She's getting better about being in there, but it too is a slow going process. My gut and her actions tell me that no one has ever spent much "social time" with her. She was obviously well trained at one point, but I'd say the last couple of owners allowed her manners to go astray. That and learning to trust is what we were working on when we first got her. You can imagine my frustration. I'll put out some toys for her for sure. She has eaten all my trees so perhaps that will keep her focused.
Any tips on stall training? *LOL Did I get back into the saddle or what!!!!!!!
A thin horse is best when you have joint injuries. Carrying extra weight around makes recovery harder. Feed her a good vitamin supplement with a handful of feed every day to keep her recovery going well, but otherwise take her off all sweet feed or pelleted feed.
Ask your vet about hand walking her for exercise and helping recovery. Also ask about an oral joint supplement. If she were mine, I'd be feeding 10g of MSM daily along with glucosamine and chondroitin.
For stall training, give her lots of hay in hay nets, as much has as she wants to eat, and she needs a "friend." If your son's horse is still with her, stall him for the day with her. Turn her out at night with him, or if you have it, turn her out in a small paddock or round pen.
Goats also make good "pets" for horses. A wether (nuetered boy) goat in her stall with her may calm her down. They eat hay and can eat the same kind of feed as horses. If you have a round pen and the goat is good sized, then he should stay in there with her. Goats are good escape artists though... If you have regular wood or wire fencing, they can wriggle their way out. You need wire mesh or "hog panel" type wire to keep them in.
l2r said it about right. Chances are she doesn't need as much feed as she's getting. I would talk to your vet about hand-walking or letting her have a stall with a little turn out, enough to be outside, but not enough to get going very fast. If you can find her a buddy, I'm sure that would help as well. And just to add on l2r's hay net suggestion, it's a good idea to use a hay net or a hay bag simply because it won't be as easy for her to eat it. She'll have to spend more time eating, and therefore have less time to get upset or bored. Same thing with any grain-type feed she's getting [preferably a complete feed or ration balancer of sorts], put big, softball sized rocks in the container so she has to eat around them.
I agree with love2ride as well about the hand walking. For keeping her interested otherwise, I would try clicker training. I did it for awhile with my horse... then summer hit, and when it's 110 outside, nobody really wants to be out there... lol
All you really need is a toy that the horse could pick up (like a basket (preferrably fabric, something you can get at a dollar store), a hat works, whatever really, as long as it's safe), a clicker (you can get one at your local petco/ petsmart, whatever's in your area prices range from $0.99-5.00) and horse treats/ pellets.
The first thing you should do is just click, treat, click, treat, click, treat, without any object. This helps your horse associate the clicker with good things, so she won't be afraid of it.
Next, you show your horse the object, when they touch it with their nose click (within 3 seconds of the action) and treat. Continue allowing the horse to touch with the nose, then click and treat. The "click" reinforces the good action, and prolonges the amount of time you have to treat. When you first start, go no longer than 10-15 minutes per training session, as your horse probably won't have that large of an attention span at that time.
After your horse gets the idea of when they see the object, touch their nose to it to get a click and treat, move the item onto the ground, 2-3 feet away from you. Hopefully, your horse will get the idea to touch their nose to the object to get a click and ultimately, a treat. Then you can start moving the object across the stall, even 5-10 feet away.
After your horse fully understands that concept, ask for more. Now, even when she touches her nose to it, there is no click, and no treat. She will figure out that has to do something else, because she will want that treat! When she mouths the object, click and treat. Eventually, you will get to the point that she will have to pick up the object to get a click and treat. After she understands that, it is only a matter of time before she is going to pick up the item, and give it to you!
Here's a example of how well clicker training works. My BO has a very smart horse who needs constant mental stimulation. She started clicker training him. After about a month, she had it to the point where she could throw the item across the pasture, he would go grab it, and bring it back to her. If only my horse was that smart... it took him 3 weeks to start picking it up!
Remember that every time you start a training session, you should start with holding the item, nose touching, click, treat. This just helps to reinforce the last lesson. After about a week, increase the 10-15 minute sessions to 15-20 minute sessions. By the time she can be ridden her attention span will be great! It will help you accomplish so much when she gets back under saddle! I hope this helps and I hope your girl starts feeling better!
Thanks so much to each of you. I've been working on implementing each of your ideas (eg. reduced feed, supplements, vitamins, and stall detail). Did a trial run yesterday and determined that Luci has been using me. I've felt so badly for her because its like the her donkey friend Cisco (on loan from a friend as a stable mate) and I are her only friends so when she can't see, she freaks out. In my trial run I left her and Cisco in the stall eating and slipped off. I watched her for 30 minutes from my kitchen window. She was the perfect angel!!!!! Cisco on the other hand was practicing his kick moves on the wall. I have a solution for that too. I'll make some adjustments to the architect of my little barn creating a small coral to keep Cisco in. This way he can go in and out of the stall, which will keep him from kicking the walls, yet he won't be able to go far enough for Luci to lose track of him. I'll pick up the hay sack and add a couple of toys to Luci's stall. Keep your fingers crossed! Will use the best rest period to explore the clicker training as well. Thanks!
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