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Thinking of Adopting a 30yo Belgian Draft Mare....

14520 Views 151 Replies 26 Participants Last post by  twixy79
Ok so I will try to make this short and sweet. I have never owned a horse. In NYC there aren't many horses around aside from Carriage horses and Police horses. I moved to rural Maine about 2 years ago, and even then, never dreamed of buying/adopting/fostering a horse. Actually, I thought that I was afraid of horses. But that is neither here nor there. A few days ago I read an article about a group of giant draft horses that were surrendered to MSPCA and they gave a link to petfinder. Petfinder... darn them. So I click the link and of course I found none of these giant horses, so I searched for draft horses think I'd find them just so I could see just how big "giant" was.

None of those horses have listings on petfinder yet as they are still being vetted. Lucky me. BUT I saw a posting for a 30 year old belgian draft mare who was surrendered when she was no longer useful on her working farm. She was a work horse her entire life, plowing, hay, lumber, but when she started getting arthritis in her hind legs she wasn't pulling her weight and her owner gave the rescue the choice of take her, or she will go to a horse auction for slaughter. Don't even get me started on how sad that makes me.

Anyway, I saw how sad and empty this horse looked. I know nothing about horses, but I think she is missing her purpose in life. She is in a pasture pen ALL day long with limited interaction as her foster has other animals to attend to. Needless to say I knew I needed to find a way to make this work. I don't have the space/barn at home to house her here. I have found a local facility about 5 miles away from home that is willing to board here despite her age. She would have her own 12x12 stall in a heated barn on a padded floor with a 120x100 pasture right at the door. There are no other horses in that barn at this time, so she would be all by herself.

The rescue has been open and honest about her arthritis, and has told me she requires bute before each farrier service. I also plan on talking to the vet when he comes out for the first visit (if I am approved) to see if starting her on some supplements would help any. They have told me that she could have a year, or maybe 5 if I am extremely lucky. I basically just want to give her a comfortable spot to spend her retirement (i have no plans on riding her) where she can get lots of love, and get a little spoiled.

Is there anyone out there that can give me some ideas on what I can look forward to with a 30 year old horse? I know I need to have the vet check her teeth, see when the last time they were floated was, to check her for cushings, and check the condition of hooves. Do horses have hooves, or feet? I guess I need
to do some more googling...

Anyway, any info or help that you guys can provide is greatly appreciated!
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We have a mare that had horrendous thrush. Worst case I have ever dealt with and she was always sore after farrier visits when the frog was pared away to reveal the deeply embedded thrush. But this was the best way for us to treat it- and we used so many different treatments it was not even funny! We even had penicillin shots for her to help battle the deepest infection. The thrush cleared up after months of soaking and different thrush treatments. We watch her feet religiously now and treat any thing that we think even remotely looks like thrush.

You are doing a fantastic job! His gait may change once the thrush goes away and he is able to move more freely - listen to your vet and BO and you will get him fixed in no time.
 

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http://www.forgeandfarrier.co.uk/prevent_control_thrush.htm


This a good article regarding nutrition and thrush. Like most ailments, if we are nutritionally sound and minimally stressed our bodies can fight off most issues more readily: rain rot is another example of a pesky bacterial infection that seems more prevalent under stressed (nutrition and/or physical) times. Have you had your vet check his selenium and vitamins B, D, and E levels? These are the most reliable nutrients that a blood test can reveal and a good place to start to develop a baseline of his nutritional health. Either way kudos to you for your unwavering commitment to this fine gentleman! He's won the lottery for sure! PS, in the article they mention sugardine. I have had wonderful results using this simple remedy and would highly recommend whether a flesh wound or hoof packing. Manuka honey is another one I keep on hand. Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #123 ·
Thank you, everyone, for your kind words and advice! My husband went by to see him today and said his spirit seemed a bit better than yesterday. He is still leaning on that right side like the tower of pisa, and his gate is still noticeable off, but he followed my husband around, was grateful for the attention, and even tried to get a little feisty with his roomie. (His idea of feisty is walking up to her faster than a snail pace)

I will go back again tonight, clean his feet, hoof pick him, and apply more ToMorrow. I do have Thrush Buster, and No Thrush on hand, but I want to give the ToMorrow time to work first. Perhaps I am being unfair (and impatient) as I hate seeing my poor guy in pain!

Vet should be coming back on Monday, and I have already asked that he have the supplies ready to give him a shot of Adaquen (not sure I am spelling that correctly) for his arthritis and maybe sneak in a quick chiropractic adjustment. He had mentioned it last visit, and with the bute not helping so far, I think the shot may be the quickest relief (aside from getting his thrush healed) I went out yesterday and purchased some more ToMorrow, actually, I literally purchased every last syringe the tack store had. So I am stocked up on cow mastitis meds (in case there is an outbreak at a local dairy farm, they know who to come to)

Thank you all again so much for your help.... It's been hard enough being a first-time horse owner, but of course, I pick the horse with the most issues. Actually, I wouldn't have it any other way. At least now he is getting the proper care, and will (hopefully) be back to himself in no time. Although, I have no idea what a healthy, pain-free Duke would be like. Perhaps a spunkier version of his hard headed self :)
 

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You are staying on top of things and that is one of the greatest assets your horse wuill ever have. He is very lucky to have found you. Just a note about two things. A prior poster mentioned nutrition and thrush and remembering back he shed late. That is a sign of malnutrition and since he had been wormed recently and been tested for IR/Cushings with negative results it could be addressing nutrition will bring about the biggest change. It takes time though and is not an overnight change. Second the vast majority of drafts are cow hocked because that is how they are bred. It is thought to help with pulling power. So he will naturally stand closer together in the back. It can be exaggerated with pain or soreness. Having just been trimmed if there was a large amount of sole or frog removed and too much wall at one time you may see all kinds of issues for a time until he adjusts.
 
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Haven't had a chance to read the last 3-4 pages but have a concern about bedding.
Cedar is not a good bedding for horses. Pine shavings are much better. I'm sure someone else has already brought this up.
 

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Cedar in a closed stall and barn with poor ventilation can irritate the lungs but his stall is open from what I picture more of a run in. Meant to also mention it is normal for a horse to pivot on a hind.
 

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Discussion Starter · #127 ·
Cedar in a closed stall and barn with poor ventilation can irritate the lungs but his stall is open from what I picture more of a run in. Meant to also mention it is normal for a horse to pivot on a hind.
Thanks for the heads up. I am not 100% sure they are Cedar but either way I pulled them all up tonight anyway. Yeah. I'm the crazy lady who shoveled them all out and then shop vac'ed the stall on my hands and knees. We have stall mats down and I've placed them so the are slanted so they are lowest in the center of the stall. Since it's an odd size stall we have about 2-3" of dirt in the middle. It's dug down to set about 1/2 inch lower than the mats. The theory was that it would act as a funnel and would help drain any pee that would go on in there. At the end of the stall by the door we have a mouse hole (man made) so the pee can drain out of his stall and onto the dirt around the barn. It helps that the barn is elevated from the land around it by a few inches. Yeah we turned horse ownership into an engineering project too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #128 ·
You are staying on top of things and that is one of the greatest assets your horse wuill ever have. He is very lucky to have found you. Just a note about two things. A prior poster mentioned nutrition and thrush and remembering back he shed late. That is a sign of malnutrition and since he had been wormed recently and been tested for IR/Cushings with negative results it could be addressing nutrition will bring about the biggest change. It takes time though and is not an overnight change. Second the vast majority of drafts are cow hocked because that is how they are bred. It is thought to help with pulling power. So he will naturally stand closer together in the back. It can be exaggerated with pain or soreness. Having just been trimmed if there was a large amount of sole or frog removed and too much wall at one time you may see all kinds of issues for a time until he adjusts.
Thanks QtrBel. I suppose we could ask the vet if they could do a full blood workup to see where he is lacking. Right now he is on legends carb care senior twice per day. He gets smartpak senior ultra pellets once per day at night (that includes his hoof care, coat, vitamins minerals and anti-inflammatory meds). He also gets one scoop of beer pulp with each meal. The vet had mentioned based on the lines on his hooves that he obviously had some nutritional deficiencies in the past and agreed with our feeding plan but suggested switching from the smartpak to something such as Cosaquin ASU to help with joints. He said nutrition wise he should be ok with what he gets from his food. He'd rather focus on joint supplements than nutritional.

I think we are going to hold off on changing anything else until we see how he's doing next week. I don't mind spending the money on the cosaquin (it's the same price as what I pay for the smartpak). I just want to make sure I make the right move and don't go upsetting his already fragile system.

Tonight Duke was a bit mad at me. I got there, put in his thrush meds and I guess I pressed a little too far into th wound on his hind left. He left me finish what I was doing after some tug of war with his leg and then he wandered off into the corner to sulk. I used that 2 hours of sulking to continue raking and picking up rocks and twigs.

I fed him before I left, and suddenly he was my friend again. Go figure. Tomorrow hopefully will be a little easier. Hopefully I can finish getting up all the hay and there will be a nice , dry pasture.
 

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Discussion Starter · #129 ·
Here are a few of the videos I have gotten of his odd gate... (luckily I finally figured out how to post them..... I think)

Ground Driving Clip:

Odd Gate at a walk:

Leaning to the right:

Taking treats gently:
 

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If he is being fed to the directions and not given less than the minimum the manufacturer recommends (usually 3lbs - roughly 1 Qt - gives adequate vits and mins) then he is getting basic needs met. With as much care as you take I assume he is getting the recommended amount of feed so he would be good with meeting needs just not making up for a deficiency IF he has one. A blood test for deficiencies would address whether there is something that needs extra to bring him up to where he needs to be. That Smartpak has MSM, Glucosamine, Chondroitin, Hyalauronic Acid. The ASU has no HA but does have Vit C (which your horse will manufacture on his own if not stressed). The levels of MSM are close (SUP has more). There is a bigger difference in the Glucosamine and Chondroitin. The ASU has almost twice the G and a little over 3x more Ch. Perhaps finding something to supplement the SUP to bring the G and Ch levels up....
 

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Not sure if someone else has already mentioned this, but there is a wesbite called FeedXL which you can join for a small fee, and then enter in all that you're feeding to get a sense of how balanced the diet is. I suppose there's no substitute for an actual equine nutritionist, but I've yet to find one of those in my area.

You seem like a person who enjoys researching horse care, so you may like it! :wink:
 

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Discussion Starter · #133 ·
If he is being fed to the directions and not given less than the minimum the manufacturer recommends (usually 3lbs - roughly 1 Qt - gives adequate vits and mins) then he is getting basic needs met. With as much care as you take I assume he is getting the recommended amount of feed so he would be good with meeting needs just not making up for a deficiency IF he has one. A blood test for deficiencies would address whether there is something that needs extra to bring him up to where he needs to be. That Smartpak has MSM, Glucosamine, Chondroitin, Hyalauronic Acid. The ASU has no HA but does have Vit C (which your horse will manufacture on his own if not stressed). The levels of MSM are close (SUP has more). There is a bigger difference in the Glucosamine and Chondroitin. The ASU has almost twice the G and a little over 3x more Ch. Perhaps finding something to supplement the SUP to bring the G and Ch levels up....
I suppose I could add additional supplements to boost the levels of Glucosamine and Chondroitin that he is getting now. I mean I know malnutrition takes a long time to get past (I know, I have malabsorption issues, which is why I am a bit OCD in making sure he gets everything he needs) So maybe I can try that route.... thanks for the suggestion :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #134 ·
Not sure if someone else has already mentioned this, but there is a wesbite called FeedXL which you can join for a small fee, and then enter in all that you're feeding to get a sense of how balanced the diet is. I suppose there's no substitute for an actual equine nutritionist, but I've yet to find one of those in my area.

You seem like a person who enjoys researching horse care, so you may like it! :wink:
Thanks! I will look into it!
 

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Vids just showed. He isn't lifting his back feet properly and there is some hesitation. He looks sore on the left hind which you know is likely thrush related. He isn't walking in a straight line in either video so it is hard to determine what is happening. He is always turning. Where there is a straight stride it looks like his feet are falling close to where they should with the back feet landing in line with the corresponding front foot. If you can get videos of him moving directly away from you for a good, long distance in a straight line and then returning to you in a straight line it would be easier to tell what is going on. He looks to have what I hear called a lazy walk on the back end. They act like they don't want to lift their back legs. Could be underrun with a long toe, pastern angle off and you know he is thrushy which can cause pain in the frog but he seems to be landing fairly flat. Depending on how bad his feet were it can't all be corrected at once if there was an issue without causing additional problems. Arthritis will also cause that gait. Drafts (most) stand closer together in the back and that can give them an odd gait if you aren't used to seeing it but it is a direct result of their conformation. His is more off than what is typical. Hopefully others will have commentary on the video. If a horse has a sore limb in the back they do tend to stand more under themselves to compensate for not bearing weight on the sore hind. With arthritis that can make them appear to wobble or if they just refuse to put any weight on that sore limb and the other takes all the weight all of the time unless they are in motion. That can cause fatigue in the leg that takes the weight. When you see the thrush under control and less ouchiness from that I bet he stands better and wobbles less.
 

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Discussion Starter · #136 ·
Today was a wash out of a day. Literally. We had pouring rain, floods, thunder and lightening all day. It will be the same tomorrow morning and afternoon. The pasture where Duke and Cassie are was a muddy mess. Yet even in the deep, disgusting mud, Duke seems to be doing better today. I don't know if th cold rain and mud made his feet feel better, or if the softer ground was easier to walk on. But I noticed a definite improvement in his gait and even in the amount he was leaning.

I didn't stay for long today. It was still pouring. But I stayed just long enough to clean his feet, give him his meds, put som fresh dry hay in his hail net in his stall, and some more on the floor, and I put down some fresh bedding down to hopefully dry his feet. Poor silly Duke was standing outside in th pouring rain. Probably all day. He wouldn't eat the wet hat from his round bale. Picky picky eater. I felt bad that Cassie (who was smart enough to go in her stall) was not eating since she had no dry hay in her stall so I put some in there for her so she could snack as well.

It was nice seeing Duke a little less stiff today. I noticed he was turning a little easier as well. He was moving both feet to turn as opposed to turning on his right leg. Hopefully when we go tomorrow to clean him up he will be even better.

The vet will be coming back on Monday or Tuesday (depending on weather)

So for tonight I fe a little bit better because he looked a bit better. But at the same time I'm thinking that all this rain is going to set him back in his healing. But who knows.... maybe the mud will help suffocate things...

Anyway here are a few of the pics from tonight. There aren't many. It was too rainy.
 

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Aww Mom why you taking pictures in this mess??????? We have one that tries to fit herself under your armpit atthe least drizzle. All the rest prefer to be out in the rain. Unless there are cartoons on - then we have one that used to let herself in to watch. The house had french door handles and my rommie never locked the door. Hope the weather has cleared up and the vet was able to make it out.
 
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Discussion Starter · #138 ·
No vet visit. :( We had more rain, a beautiful weekend and then rain daily for the last three days. Vet has been rescheduled until next Wednesday, which is actually a good thing since I've been seeing improvement in his gait daily. I make sure I get there to walk him up the hill and I try to get in at least one mile of walking. Most of the time it's up and down the hill and in the roundpen, sometimes up and down the gravel driveway. It mostly depends on the weather and what time it is.

I'm glad to see that he is improving each day and his leaning is really minimal. I sometimes think he leans when he he stands in ththe same spot for too long, like when he eats at the round bale or when he hides under his shady, neck scratching tree.

I went down to work on his ground driving tonight since he has a very very special task in store for Saturday as long as he is feeling up for it. The BO is getting married at the barn and a local draft team is coming to pull a carriage down the driveway. She has asked if it is ok if Duke participates, as they are one horse short. The vet said he will be fine to pull a light carriage with other horses up and down the driveway as there is nothing physically wrong with him aside from arthritis. I figure a few trips up and down the driveway with a team of 1 or 3 new friends may be good for my old boy. Plus, I get to see him in action.

Luckily the vet will be at the wedding, it's only supposed to be in the 70s, and like I said Duke seems to be happiest when he has a job. I made sure I thoroughly thought about every possible thing that could go wrong... but Duke will have his trainer, the vet, an experienced driving team and their owners and the BO and all her horse loving friends and family there. I really feel comfortable with my decision.

Anyway, it was a muddy yucky mess again today. So my pics are not the greatest. So here are a few from this afternoon. Oh yes, and that is Duke new girlfriend, Cassie. She likes bigger men. Lol
 

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Pretty mare! Can't wait to see pictures of him all dressed up with somewhere to go. Good he'll have his own "crew". As long as he gets along with the rest of the team (more they get along with him) he'll do great. We took on a mare someone bought and realized they were over their heads. We may be too as her feet/leg are worse than we were lead to believe. Will have to see if I can get advice from one of the experts here. Thought we were just going to be doing some trimming and basic vet care so she could be pasture sound. Looking at making hoof tracings and doing some DIY boots to relieve some of this lady's pain until we can make some decisions.
 
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Discussion Starter · #140 ·
Pretty mare! Can't wait to see pictures of him all dressed up with somewhere to go. Good he'll have his own "crew". As long as he gets along with the rest of the team (more they get along with him) he'll do great. We took on a mare someone bought and realized they were over their heads. We may be too as her feet/leg are worse than we were lead to believe. Will have to see if I can get advice from one of the experts here. Thought we were just going to be doing some trimming and basic vet care so she could be pasture sound. Looking at making hoof tracings and doing some DIY boots to relieve some of this lady's pain until we can make some decisions.
Cassie really is very sweet! I just feel terrible that she never has any visitors. I mean I am there every day, my husband is there almost every day, and there she is, all by herself when we are working with Duke. The BO does let me give her some grain and treats (with her owners' approval of course) because I feel bad after I work with Duke I always give him some treats or a snack. She just stands there and looks at her bucket and waits. She doesn't take treats gently like Duke, so I usually have to toss hers into her feed bucket since I like having ten fingers. According to the BO, it is really common to not see owners who full board. In the month we have had Duke, I have only met 1 other owner, who hadn't been there in nearly a year; and a few of the BOs friends, who come by to ride and train her personal horses. I can't believe people spend all this money on a horse, training, vet, farrier, supplements, etc. and NEVER come out to see them. Maybe it is because I am a true animal person, but as much as I trust my BO I still like to go make sure my boy is taken care of, that he has food, water, and is in a clean pasture. Go figure... I suppose I am an odd duck!
 
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