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Congratulations, @Knave! 💃🐙🎂🥂🌹💗🌞🐣 🏃

Not sure if these emojis are going to display on your device as they are made by the iPad and so were the ones I sent @gottatrot. There were no cowboy hats that didn't look dumb. You're 4 years ahead of us!

Aria does look pregnant, @gottatrot, and if that were my horse I would be freaking out but I know your situation is different and you may actually be looking forward to that experience. I guess I've seen enough of young foals, and actually too much personally because my parents bred them at irresponsible rates and I am still dealing with the fallout of that decades on. The three I have here now are all retirees from horse racing which I think is one of the stupidest so-called sports on the planet.

In addition to that, I've had two high-needs retirees. Romeo cost us $2,000 per year to maintain not including vet costs for his last five years of life and after we added all that up, we said that though we were happy to have done it for him, we would never extend a horse's life artificially at that cost again because we were skipping our own dental checkups and other things to do it.

And then Sunsmart got Cushings and he's now on 1.5 Prascend a day and that itself is now $2,000 a year because the vet adds on $800 to the basic cost of the already expensive drug to supply it. I phoned for another pack today and was informed they'd not supply it again until they did another round of blood tests and consult for which they quoted me over $500. And I said no, the horse is stable on the medicine and I can't justify another huge bill like that - it's over two days' salary for my husband or a week of farmstay hosting for me and I'm just not doing this anymore. We scrimp each time something like this comes up and we are exhausted. We have signed off of that veterinary practice, mileage alone is a killer, and we are talking about the situation with the new vet closer to us who tended to Nelly recently. Wish us luck.

Veterinary treatment has become ultra expensive. Since the advent of power tool dentistry, the price for an equine dental treatment has doubled and it is no better, in fact our horses had trouble eating after their last dentals and I am not interested in paying over $1,600 annually to get all the horse and donkey teeth done routinely. I already do their feet myself. The vet who attended Nelly told me of another vet I can call who still does traditional filing, which we only ever did when horses failed the carrot test, which happens before they start cudding etc.

When you consider that $2,000 is the basic annual cost for me to keep the three horses and five donkeys here - mineral mix, chaff, cubes etc for the bucket mix, wormer, trimming tool maintenance, basic equipment like replacement rugs occasionally - and that is OK I think, but puts those other costs in perspective.

Anyway, anything that dies won't be replaced and in 10 years from now, when those three horses are no more, I may consider whether I want to keep riding and get myself one horse that is happy just to hang with whatever donkeys remain at that point. Or I may forget it. And it is ludicrous to think that if those three will need euthanasia the collective cost of that via the vet would be enough to buy a very reasonable horse and have change, in this country. Makes me think I need to talk to our neighbours who are excellent marksmen and who would be prepared to do a 5-minute job like that for less than 500 bucks. Keep it local, perhaps. After all, our neighbour put down my Arab mare for me back in 2014 when the then-vet was still faffing about with painkillers when she had cancer.

/end rant
 

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Discussion Starter · #382 ·
Yes, if there is a foal it will be stressful. My first thoughts are more about issues than a cute foal.

My hope is that if I have the right mindset, it won't be too difficult to part with a foal after weaning. For me it's not just the costs, but also the time horses need. Especially since I'm doing my own chores now, and putting in hay, working with three horses is more than plenty, even if one is retired. Amore also needs hoof trimming, treatments, handling, turnout, grooming. Each horse needs a lot of time and physical plus mental energy.

Vet expenses...I expect to pay $1,000+ to have the vet visit with checkups and dentals on the three horses. I hope this new vet doesn't think Amore needs blood tests at her age to continue on her Cushing's pills. I also hope they'll prescribe the Equioxx for Hero, because it seems to help him a lot.

I don't know about vet fees for a pregnant mare. I'm thinking about how far away the vets are (1.5 hrs) and all of those dilemmas. Living a half hour away from the horses, it's not realistic that I could check constantly for days to ensure a safe foaling. If there was difficulty, it could take too long for a vet to arrive. I'm wondering if I should try to find somewhere that would board and monitor her closer to the vets. But I've heard that it can be dangerous to trailer a mare late term so she'd have to go earlier. There is a vet in town, he does not do farm calls. I wonder if he might be persuaded to be available for a foaling emergency. It would seem most comfortable for Aria to foal in a familiar environment. What risks should I take? I never wanted to breed a mare.

The many expenses and potential expenses with health problems that each horse brings can be formidable. I'd much rather give one or two horses excellent care than skimp on important things for more horses. Any animal can end up being expensive if accidents or diseases occur. It is why I limit myself to an amount I believe I can afford, worst case scenario. This was something I considered before accepting Aria, but I didn't think at all about a possible foal. I won't mention my comparative expenses, it would sound appalling. But my career was chosen with horses in mind. It will work out financially, but I also think about the time and attention each horse needs. I might be overstretched for a bit.

My sister with her farm doesn't stress or worry about her animals as much. She's planning to AI her Highland cows and to have calves. I'd be thinking about all the things that could to wrong, be expensive or harm the animals. She's thinking she'll sell the calves for quite a bit.
 

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Advance apologies for long post on your patch.

I respect and empathise with your thinking for your situation, and think much the same. But each situation is also different. For example, Brett and I have discussed what is reasonable to us in terms of a retirement for a horse. We think it is reasonable that while horses over 20 are healthy and respond to the basic nursing we can provide, that's fine. Also if they need the odd veterinary visit, that's fine. Dentals used to be fine when they were as-needed and with hand files at $80 a horse - but they are not fine at $200 or over a horse, annually. So we're going back to as-needed and finding someone with a hand file, which is what I believe @Knave does as well, whose situation is closer to my own: Living on a farm and not having huge amounts of income. Also seeing the reality of death and the apartheid we create around it, sometimes very unreasonably. I send in my steers for human food. The most I ever got for one is $2,500. That's the price on the life of a young animal, and is it a fair exchange to keep an old horse with a chronic illness who would have been dead years ago in the wild going another year, for that price? I don't think it is. I think we anthropomorphise the animals we have social bonds with, and privilege them over those we don't have those sorts of bonds with. And all of us have to die. The important thing is that we can prevent suffering around that, with our animals anyway.

And when there's chronic illness in an old animal that's going to result in ongoing significant expenses, for us that is no longer fine, especially if we are changing ourselves short to do it, with our own personal needs, or with the needs of other things in our care.

We applied that standard when Sunsmart's mother developed rapid-onset Cushings just shy of 28 years old. We assessed the situation, saw that treatment would be unlikely to give her more than a 50% chance of a quality life and be incredibly expensive for her acute situation, and we opted for euthanasia. We feel that was the right decision. She'd had a long life by horse standards and a happy three years of retirement with us, which is more than most horses get. Instead of pouring thousands into treating an old horse who'd had a good innings and a decent retirement we opted instead to adopt a younger, healthy retired horse (Julian) who I knew was living a lonely, miserable situation, and give him her spot, and with that his first-ever chance to be social with other horses and free-range in an interesting environment. His eyes are lit up every day. I don't think the old mare would have had an argument about that - if you'll let me anthropomorphise for a minute. It's sort of how it goes: We leave the stage to make room for the younger ones eventually.

Because Sunsmart is my riding horse, we treated him for Cushings when it was mild and the drugs were under $650 a year. We were trying to prevent a loss of quality of life with him and to prolong his working life, and that's how it went for over a year, and was worth doing all around. He's a great horse, we enjoy our outings, he's a super horse to teach others on. When his ACTH was no longer controlled by the level of medication he was on summer before last, he was re-tested and the dosage increased. But he'd gotten so bad in such a short period of time that I would have opted for euthanasia if he'd had laminitis or insulin resistance. It was fortunate for us he had neither. It took him months to respond to the increased medication and to stabilise. He's been back to having good quality of life for nearly a year, he still goes on rides, he still runs around with his herd.

But at the current price of his medication and the veterinarian's insistence on re-testing him every year from now on in treatment alone would come to upwards of $2,500 a year. He's 24.5, and if we keep him going another four years like this, that's $10,000 and is just not conscionable for us to do that. We can't let property maintenance and our needs fall by the wayside to artificially extend the life span of an old animal who has already had a good life and a decent retirement. I think that would be insanity, and we've already done that once and swore never to do it again. Sometimes you just need to let go. I know that's not the done thing with a lot of modern humans, that we'll pay any price to prolong our own lives or the lives of our companion animals - often even at the point when quality of life is really poor. That's not how things go in nature, and sometimes I think we need to accept rather than fight death.

Even if we won the lottery, I don't believe that spending resources like that on an old animal is necessarily ethical. There's other animals younger and less fortunate looking for spots, not that this is up for discussion this time. It's what we did in the past but we're also drawing the line under that now, because the amount of work I'm putting into this has to reduce as I get older.

The one thing I disagree with you on, @gottatrot, is the idea that it's possible to limit yourself to what you could sustain under the worst-case scenario. Even if you only have a dog, and no other companion animals, it could suddenly have an accident a year and repeatedly require surgery worth thousands and at the same time you could have an accident yourself, lose your ability to work and exhaust your savings to pay for it. We can decide to only take on what is reasonable for us, and that's what you did, and what I did. I know the limit of how many animals I can care for properly and still enjoy the process. I've never wanted to have more animals than I can properly look after, and I've not reached that point - and I've now got a new policy of not replacing any horses or donkeys I lose, so I can continue not to reach that point as I get older myself. But I don't think properly looking after an animal includes expensive medical interventions without limit in case of accident or chronic illness. I think properly looking after an animal is to give it a decent standard of care, feed, social interaction with others of its kind and interesting things to do, and I owe that to food animals and companion animals alike. What I don't owe any animal is running resources into the ground in case of accident or chronic illness - what I owe it then is a humane end, instead of an unpleasant demise.

We're going to draw the line on Sunsmart's treatment. We may go a little longer if we can get the cost of it down, e.g. if the new vet lets us buy our own Prascend online with a prescription, and if she agrees to a yearly standard health checkup not necessitating complete blood panels and Cushings re-testing when the horse is stable and doing well on his medication. That would let us give him another year or so, as long as his quality of life stays acceptable. And then we'd see what the situation is. His sire died of colic at age 24. His dam got chronically ill at age 27, with the same thing that he has now. His teeth are wearing out and are beginning to be a factor. The end of the line comes whether we want it or not.

We've had to put down three horses in the last ten years, all of which had had long lives and good retirements. We're going to have to put down three more in the next ten years, most likely, because ours are between 20 and 24, and horses rarely die peacefully and quietly of their own accord - I've only ever personally known one horse like that, who at age 27 went to sleep one night and didn't wake up next morning. When she was found she just looked like she was sleeping. Wouldn't it be nice if they all went like this, but to be honest, humane euthanasia isn't horrible for an animal either, if it's done thoughtfully and competently. It's just us it bothers so much.
 

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Tough calls with animals. I spent $2000 on Jack when he was bitten by a rattlesnake as a puppy. Never regretted it. But wouldn't do the same now that he is almost 13 and starting to withdraw a bit...choosing to spend more of his day in bedrooms sleeping than he used to. Horses? I might spend $2000 in an emergency, but not much more. I'd spend more on Bandit than Trooper since Bandit is much younger and much more friendly. If someone wants to argue I'm unethical....I won't argue, but I won't change either. I understand why some might spend less than I would, and understand why others would spend much more. I wouldn't challenge either of those. Very personal questions. I wouldn't want anyone making heroic efforts to save my life either. I'd certainly spend more than 2-5K on saving my life, but I wouldn't bankrupt my family over me.

It was challenging to live in the Philippines in the 80s. The poverty was extreme. Before we married, my wife made $50/month working 6 days a week as a house girl - and she was GLAD. When she worked in Manila, she was paid $20/month, worked 7 days a week and they fed her so little she weighed 80 lbs when she left to see if some Americans would hire her. What are one's moral responsibility living as a wealthy American - certainly comparatively wealthy! - in the midst of such poverty? I never figured out the answer. I still don't. We've got a box in the living room with clothes we're about to send to her family (something we do several times a year), and we're sending the security deposit we got back to her family. But is that enough? I can pray about it but I've yet to walk outside in the morning and see, written across the sky, "Send $X,XXX, Bob!" Or "$XX,XXX"!
 

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Discussion Starter · #385 ·
I think both of you @SueC and @bsms are kind and ethical people.

Well, talking about worst case scenarios, I don't exactly worry about that because the chances are that the best decision for the animal will not be spending insane amounts of money. If a dog needed surgery every year, most likely there would be a problem that would mean he was suffering more than he was happy. I don't worry about a horse needing a massive colic surgery, because if the problem was that bad the chances are very low that the vet would say the horse would have a better life if we loaded them into a trailer and drove them with their dying gut to the surgery clinic and put them through a long and grueling recovery.

For me it is not about cost, or saving myself from heartbreak, it is always about if I believe the choice is a good one for the animal. For example, my Dalmatian was 12 when his bladder filled up with stones. It was either put him to sleep, do surgery, or he might die in surgery at his age. He couldn't urinate so would die anyway. The vet thought he was healthy enough for surgery, and that if he fixed the problem, after a couple of weeks he would be fairly normal again. He had arthritis, but not severe and still was running around and happy. So age or cost was not the factor (about $1,000), it was how much suffering there might be versus a good outcome. My dog did well, seemed to feel pretty good within a week, and we had him three more years.

It was the same when my Papillon was kicked by Amore. It cost $3,000 but I didn't try to save him because he was only three and healthy, or because I loved him too much to let him die, but because the vet thought there was a good chance he could make a full recovery, and medications to keep him comfortable in the meantime.

Both my husband and I grew up poor, and for some reason we don't think of money or resources the same as a lot of people. We put more value in things that are not tangible resources than things that are. I'm not saying this is a way others should be, just discussing, really, a different perspective. For example, we have spent many tens of thousands of dollars on trips that only leave us with photos and memories. But we have never thought about money we might have or possessions we could have if we hadn't taken trips. For us, seeing the world and its beauty has more value than a remodeled kitchen, for example, or a nicer car. Other people have different things they value more. If we could not afford a place to live and food to eat and also take big trips, we'd still find a way to travel and have adventures in other ways.

One thing I have seen as a nurse is how we might try to plan out our lives, but there are a thousand ways things can change and out of all those things, our health and our possessions are the least reliable. Fires can burn everything, people can steal things, or those we love can lose their health or sanity. That's why I try to make decent financial decisions, but I don't live my life for some fantasy that will happen later on, such as over saving for the perfect retirement, because I've seen so many that planned to travel later, but now are too ill, or their spouse died. They worked hard and paid off their house, and then the state took it to pay for the nursing home. To enjoy the loved ones you have now (for me that means animals and humans), that is important and people can't steal those memories from you.

We can't be completely selfish creatures, but we don't have to live our lives for other people's ideals. Our dreams are horses and travel. We help our families if they have needs, but they spend and save or don't save according to their own values. Our dreams are ones that must be done while having some youth and health.

My sacrifices are ones others are not willing to make; exposure to violence and disease, the stress of pressure in a highly critical/criticized job, seeing people traumatized and dying, understanding that my decisions mean life or death, and taking care of all the detritus a sick body produces. For that, I must have rewards to make it worthwhile. For me these are spoiling my family of animals, and ourselves in certain ways.

But our values are also such that we have a lot more money to spend "recklessly," because we don't care a whit about many things people care about. We don't care about clothes, or purses or shoes. Our furniture is cheap, free, falling apart, unmatching. Our towels and blankets were wedding presents from 20 years ago, some have holes, some are hideous. We use disposable cell phones that cost us $20 a month (for both of us). We don't have cable or subscriptions to all those online things you can get. We cut our own hair, use cheap soap and shampoo, and don't spend money on concerts, movies, parties for friends, don't smoke and hardly buy any alcohol, so there are many hundreds of things other people think they need, that we don't, and so we have many hundreds of extra dollars to spend on the animal care we think is necessary, the gas that our less efficient truck and car use, and other things people look at and think is wasteful.

We go to the dentist when our teeth hurt. The horses have dental care yearly. All the pets see the vet if they seem a little off. We avoid human doctors unless something is obviously broken, and work on our health with exercise and diet. We feel responsible for the pets, and that's not because they're human-like, but because we value them highly, and we love them. I guess I've learned that people will judge others for their values (not doing that here), but without knowing the big picture and adding it all up, it might seem a person is wasteful when they really just have different ways of valuing things.

Those who have kids have made the choice to place a high priority on their lives and well being. Those who have chosen other responsibilities will have other values. We like the kind of happiness we've chosen. You might like pretty things in your house. We like weird stuff like colored water in jars sitting in the windows and fossils. There are so many ways to look at things. How much should you pay for a horse? Or a dog? How much should you pay for a book, or a cup of coffee? If you bought yourself the perfect horse, for $10,000, do you have more to spend on his health care or less than if he was free? How much should you spend on a car? Should you drive a car and use gas if it is to care for an animal? What if it was to care for a human? Or a piece of land?

None of us can help everyone, and can only give to a few we choose. Many can't even get together enough to help themselves and not be a burden on everyone else.
To me, money is just money. You should see how much our house which we haven't yet sold has fluctuated in price. If we'd sold it sooner, it would have been silly to think we'd lost money we might have had. I don't have any idea if we'll actually sell it this month as we plan, or if it will burn down or explode first. Chickens and eggs. I can add up just Amore's boarding costs for the 18 years I've had her and realize it's been at least $55,000, and that for a $700 horse. However, if I'd smoked a pack of cigarettes per day for those 18 years, it would have cost me around $40,000, and I guess I'm willing to pay a little more than that for a much healthier vice. Would I have beautiful memories of smoking those cigarettes? A great friend to remember forever? Would I have written a book about it? Some things are absolutely priceless.
 

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This is an interesting discussion in two totally different ways. I don’t have much money. It’s not really a problem, because we have enough to eat and to mostly do the things we need to, like shoe the vehicles lol, but we don’t have any extra. Sometimes we seem to run into a piece of money, and then someone gets hurt and hospital bills are outrageous. I just spent 3k for the visit to the hospital for big girl to be told she had a concussion and them not to sew up her mouth, which will always be a bit off, but luckily it is cute enough on someone who looks like Barbie. Now I had to take her back in, because I knew she was anemic, and the tests proved it massively. Also, she has developed post concussive disorder, so there is that too. I say this not to complain, but to give an example of why I have no ability to hold on to my extra money.

Yet I look at money in a different way too. I am quite capable of going and getting a town job, which would turn our situation around easily. I don’t really care that we don’t have money though, and I love the environment of the work I do, and I do know that eventually we will be financially set (although I don’t care to live for the future that way).

I spend the money I have to, and usually nothing more. It seems God always provides, and when someone is hurt we magically have that money. The same seems true of our animals. We give them good lives; I doubt they are of want of anything.

So I look at the medical expenses of them differently. If they cannot survive something they will be put down. That is sad, but the amount of money required to do continuous surgeries or the like isn’t even what I consider in it I don’t think, maybe subconsciously I do, but it’s a quality of life. It’s kind of a general view where I live too. A vet might tell you, “they will never come back from this, I probably would put him down,” and so we do. I’m sure there is the person that says, “I don’t care the cost, or if I could ride him again, what can we do to keep him here as comfortably as possible?” That’s not me though.

Yes, I will retire a horse. He gets to live out his days with everyone else and fat and happy and unusable, but when he develops problems that aren’t a one time fix he is usually put down before winter comes. It seems kind to me, but I am like @bsms, and I don’t want to be pushed into a longer life.
 

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Discussion Starter · #387 ·
Good thoughts, @Knave. I'm also about quality of life versus quantity for animals and humans. Prolonging is a good term.

If someone wants to put down a horse, that is fine with me. But I think you either treat an animal or put them down. Suffering is what I am against, not death.

It's true with us too, if you ever find yourself with extra money don't hold your breath. That money was given to you for a reason, which will soon reveal itself when the car breaks down or an appliance, or your tooth breaks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #388 ·
Aria is becoming rather domesticated. I'll walk in, put her halter on, lead her out and tie her, brush her all over. She'll stand tied while I work on the other horses. I filed on a hind hoof for the first time, and held the more resistant one for several seconds. Pulling them away seems less about fear at this point and more about the difficult feeling of balancing her weight when I pick up a hind leg. Between the long hooves and her belly, she is awkward. She's not quite to the point where I can spray fly spray right on her, but I can spray it on my hand right next to her and rub it on her. I can put a fly mask on her easily.

I took her on a walk down the road with Hero today, places she's never been. She was so well behaved. He was the only one who misbehaved and got in front of me a couple of times. I'm trying to avoid things that are very strenuous. She can learn a lot about being handled as we go.

I've been reading about feeding a pregnant mare. She is gaining weight rapidly, so I don't want to overdo it because I know obesity is bad too, just like with pregnant humans. She gets the same amount of orchard grass hay as the others. I tried putting a mare and foal supplement into FeedXL versus the vitamin/mineral supplement she's already on, and the mare and foal supplement had so much Vitamin A that it supposedly was nearing toxic, but if I cut back on the rest of it there would be deficiencies. So I think I'll stay with what I'm feeding. From what I've read, the biggest issues are making sure the horse gets all the needed vitamins and minerals, and making sure she has enough calories. I can always feed more hay.

She wears a yearling fly mask and halter.
1115215
 

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She’s looking a lot better! She’s still kind of angled. It’s continues to blow my mind how small she is. She just doesn’t look like a pony!
 

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Discussion Starter · #390 ·
I post a lot on the forum about how I'm against the idea that horses need free choice hay when they're on pasture. There are quite a few people where I live who think that it's best to feed horses lots of low quality hay, even if horses are overweight.

My barn is an example of how horse management turns out with different approaches, because we have a few different owners with horses all on about an acre lot. All the horses are on 24/7 turnout on the same land.

One horse is older and has not had her teeth done in years. Her owner feeds just a little bit of cheap, low quality hay. The horse has eaten her lot down to almost dirt, and is thin.

Then there are a few owners who feed measured amounts of hay of varying quality, and monitor how much the horses need. All of these horses are at a normal weight or very close to it.

A couple owners feed as much low quality hay as their horses can eat. These horses are obese and/or have signs of insulin resistance. The worst one looks like this. This is why I speak out against the practice.



Hero and Aria are so cute together. I realized today that the Hero needed a sidekick. They're like Batman and Robin or the Tick and Arthur. They zoom around the field together, Aria right at Hero's side. He looks like the fearless leader, and she's like "I'm here, let's do it!" He is more calm now that he has her. She's been very good for him.

Today Aria let me file on both hind hooves, and hold all four. When I got to the last hoof, she picked it up for me. Smart little pony.
 

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That’s awesome about the hooves!

That horse looks awful! My dad sold a horse once he called Woody. Woody was a favorite of mine, but not of anyone else’s. He was a super hot style of horse, like most cutter bred horses of the time, and when they took him they let him get super fat. Not as fat as that horse, but fat.

One day they decided to use him. When a cow turned back he got excited and reared up and died. Just like that, he had a heart attack.
 

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Discussion Starter · #393 ·
The horses have such nice coats this year. Not sure exactly why, might be the good hay or the Tri-amino I'm giving them.
I'm very proud of Amore. I've had a fear of having her lose health and condition and am so glad to not see any signs of it yet. She has had less difficulty with sweet itch this year because I'm picking up the manure regularly. I just feel like no one could ever guess she was 30.




Sometimes I think of TBs as finer-bodied horses than many actually are. I get a mental image of the immature racehorses, and I've seen quite a few that had ulcers and were underweight. Hero is a solidly built horse, and to me he looks similar to some of the mature TBs I see online.






I wanted to try to get a picture of Aria's back markings. Standing on the pickup bed, didn't get a very clear shot. She was wondering what I was doing up there. She lets me touch her udder, and under her tail. Halla never would, LOL.




Her belly has some weird asymmetry to it.

I was reading that people think they see a foal moving but it's usually just breathing and muscle movement. I watched some videos on youtube that showed foal movement, and I thought that it had to be what was in the video. But watching Aria, I saw all kinds of similar movements today that seemed to sync with her breathing, flinching, twitching, snorting, etc. Everything is exaggerated when it rolls around on a big belly.
 

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Hero looks like a TANK to me! Bandit is a good fellow but he's about half of a horse in comparison:
After 6 years of riding him - has it been that long? - I wonder what I'd do if I tossed a leg over a normal horse. I can vaguely remember when I first started riding him and he felt very narrow compared to Mia. I suspect a normal horse would feel like a couch to me now....not sure my aging legs would spread far enough apart to ride a normal horse any more!

Hero looks more like what a Hollywood star would ride. Bandit is more like what the faithful sidekick would get....
 

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Just catching up again! ...and need to actually go do some work, but I did want to say that in Australia, we have some midges to which some horses are allergic, and when susceptible horses get bitten by those, they get allergic reactions that lead to de-pigmentation of hair. This typically happens across the middle of the back in a similar position to where your horse has it, but the cases I've seen tend to be spottier, rather than having such large areas involved. This may be because the cases I've seen are cases where the owners started applying the pour-on insect repellent that vets prescribe for this condition the moment they noticed areas starting to de-pigment, so that it never got so severe. On the other hand, your horse may have something completely different - but I would say it was acquired, rather than an inborn thing.

Another idea: A vet told me that some people are erroneously using pour-on cattle ivermectin to worm their horses cheaper than with the horse products - the only thing is, the horses apparently have different hair follicles which don't actually admit proper absorption of this product through the skin - and the other is that the carrier in the pour-on gives susceptible horses chemical burns - and those can lead to both scarring and depigmentation of hair. If I had to guess between the two ideas I've presented, I'd actually go with this one - looks more like a splash pattern to me from doing a pour-on, and it's exactly where it's supposed to go in a cow... @Knave, what do you think?
 

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That’s an excellent thought @SueC! In the situation this mare was in, unhandled too, if they wanted to worm it would make sense to pour on. I’ve never seen anyone do that before. We even avoid those spot fly sprays; they are supposed to work really well, but I’ve heard they burn.

Do you remember the story I told about the bull and the fire because of the pour on? He is still alive and quite well, but he has white scarring all down his side.
 

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I tried the spot fly stuff. Couldn't get a horse to stand still long enough. So I assume they cause pain. Not severe pain maybe but enough and I don't want to deal with a dancing, upset horse.
 

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I'm going to go with lacing. My neighbor had a lovely black Paso Fino with lacing on his back. Here is a short article about lacing:

Lacing Markings
Lacing looks similar to dapples, but backward, or perhaps giraffe spots. It’s also called giraffe spots of cobwebbing. Some people think it’s genetic, while others think it might be some sort of scarring from skin infections. But, because some owners have had foals from mares that have had the same pattern on their coats, it’s probably genetic, caused by a recessive gene. It tends to grow year after year, and that too, points to genetic origins, as scars or healed lesions would probably lessen over time, not increase.

Sometimes really unusual coat patterns can happen that have nothing to do with genetics. Pinto markings are especially apt to create pictures on a horse’s coat that look like other things. I knew a horse that had a very precise silhouette of a person wearing a feathered headdress on its side. In Britain, a pinto pony foal was born with its own silhouette on its shoulder. There are horses with maps of countries or other animals. The phenomena of seeing an image in another random object is called pareidolia. And this has inspired contests in which digital image software users are challenged to create artistic pareidoliac images. Many of the unbelievable unusual coat markings are computer generated, so you can’t believe everything you see.

Here is a photo of my neighbor's Paso Fino with lacing. I've read a lot about it since I was riding with one.

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@bsms, I really prefer the narrower type horse. First, they are usually more self-propelled, second, the wide load is harder to straddle.
Hero is the kind of horse that many people I know would prefer to ride. Once you get on, he has that slow and easy walk, and you just mosey along. His trot is also smooth (unless he's excited and jigs instead). So he'd be a perfect beginner horse, and confidence builder if he didn't have the tendency to get worked up once in a while, and also do his little skittering/bucking type maneuvers. However, these things are lessening over time, so perhaps by the time he is 20, he will be that type of horse. :)

My first thought had been scarring on Aria's back too. A chemical would be a possibility. But it does seem to have characteristics of a pattern too. In some places it makes little half circles or Vs. I don't think it could be from rain rot, because where she came from has a very hot and dry climate. I had thought maybe it could be from going under a fence, but it's not completely on top of her spine. Amore once skinned herself going under a butt rope on a horse trailer, and the wounds were all on top of her spine (no scars though).

The other thing that makes me think it is a marking is that some of the patches are so big, white and solid that it would seem like it might have been a serious wound to make them. But the skin doesn't feel bumpy or rough like there is any scarring underneath.
 
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