Thursday, August 20, 2009

It has been called to my attention . . .

. . . that I have not posted since August 10. (Ha! People do read this blog! Awesome!)

So, lemme 'splain it to you. The truth is, I've been moping, though I'm ashamed to admit it. Things have been going terribly awry in every non-horse area of my life. I'd go into it, but you'd just think I was working on writing a country song. Put it this way, if I had a dog, he would have run away. I guess the crux of it is that being a grown up is hard, and I just haven't been rising to the challenge lately. And while I am of course overflowing with love for the most important man in my life (the one with the big ears), it seems that the recent departure and current absence of a certain other two-legged former-man-in-my-life hit me just a little harder than was expected. Thank God for this horse, or I don't know how I would have gotten through it.

And I kept thinking I should be posting, but I was doing that awful thing we sometimes do -- turning every positive into a negative -- and I just didn't want that to infect the blog. But I woke up this morning and thought maybe it's time to try and and turn this ugly old ship around. So here goes.

First, I should report that I haven't been having the greatest of rides since we got back from HITS. At first, I thought it was just my stress being refracted outward through my horse. It's no secret that we don't ride well when we are emotionally unravelled. But then, when even Alicia had a really bad ride on him, I started to think Tucker might have been having a little bit of tummy trouble. I've been reading all about ulcers and it seems even a slight change in routine can cause an outbreak, so maybe the five days at a big away show (even though he handled it beautifully on the outside) caused some gastro-distress.

Now, the obvious disclaimer here (I am a lawyer after all) is that I'm no expert and I have no veterinary training whatsoever. But I do know my horse, and my gut (no pun intended) was telling me something just ain't right. The only way I can describe it is that he just felt like he wasn't cooperating, and that's not like him. He's a tryer, he's an over-acheiver. He's not the kind of guy that pitches a fit when the going gets tough. But for the past two weeks during almost every ride, he was basically throwing these temper tantrums (which he's done every once in a while in the past as well) that were getting increasingly disruptive. So, I started giving him 45 cc's of Maalox twice a day. It's not a cure by any means, but it would subdue the symptoms temporarily so I could figure out if that's what's bothering him and then proceed with treatment if necessary.

Wow, did I notice a difference. Alicia schooled him on Saturday after two doses (I was supposed to horse show Saturday morning, but due to the aforementioned life-falling-apart-ness, I scratched). He was very, very good. She jumped some pretty big sticks (about 3'6", probably his biggest jump yet). Finally, at that height, my big athletic horse had to really use himself. And all I can say is wow. I was thoroughly impressed, starstruck even. (It was one of those moments where you think, "Is this really my horse? He's mine? I get to keep him? For real?") Oh and in case you all want a good giggle, I think Alicia was a little offended that I didn't blog about this school. So here you go my dear, you are amazing and you make my horse look like a million bucks. We'll never train with anyone else. We heart you. :)

I rode him in the field the next day (after 4 doses) and I had my horse back. He wasn't resisting my leg or overreacting to it, he was listening, he was relaxed, he wasn't tense or leaning on my hand. It felt like, "Ohh, there you are buddy. Where ya been?" Made me kind of upset, thinking that it's very possible he was actually in pain for the last couple of weeks, and here I was thinking he was just being obstinate. But at least I took the time to try and figure it out.

And now I'm thinking back to other behaviors. He throws "temper tantrums" in his stall, which we've all started to call "Tucker tantrums" when something upsets him. Not getting his hay/dinner when he wants it, not getting to go out, even another horse going in or out of the stall behind him, will elicit this very troubling behavior. Pawing, rolling, rearing, throwing himself against the wall. He settles down pretty quickly, but now I'm wondering if that could be a stomach issue? It's a lot like what some horses do when they are colicky, so it certainly could be. In addition, the last time Alicia had a bad ride on him was right after another away horse show. Could have been an outbreak. Who knows.

So, I'm looking into possible treatments and remedies. Smartpak has this really helpful comparison chart for each type of the various supplements it carries. Right now, I'm thinking I'm going to try the TractGard mostly because it's the cheapest one that has both an antacid and a prebiotic/probiotic, which from what I've read is a good treatment to start with. If the behaviors don't stop, I'll consider treating him with Omeprazole, which is the active ingredient in both UlcerGard and GastroGard. I did a bunch of research online, and from what I have read omeprazole is the only drug that has been tested and determined to both treat, heal, and prevent ulcers in horses. There are other drugs out there that also aid in treatment, like Cimetidine, and I have heard that some vets will prescribe both omeprazole and cemetidine, the former for longterm healing and the latter for immediate relief. I've read that some racing barns will feed their horses a regular supplement of Tagamet, which is a commercial version of cimetidine.

Anyway, it's good to be back. I hope Tucker hasn't lost his devoted followers during my hiatus. Oh, and Tucker and Alicia are showing in the Hunter Derby at Duncraven tomorrow. . . so there will be a post about that this weekend! Wish my boy luck!


  1. So glad you're back! Ulcers can be a big deal - that stuff you describe in the stall probably isn't him being upset about how quickly he's fed - it's probably his stomach hurting as he anticipates dinner - my mare used to do the kicking/body slamming thing every feeding time until we put her on U-Gard and now she just stands quietly. Severe ulcers may require a heavier-duty treatment at the start, but just U-Gard works for other horses. So glad things are going a bit better for him, and you!

  2. Stupid men. Good thing you have a pony.

    I'm glad you're doing better!

  3. Daisy and I are available to temporarily hate men at will, should you need assistance. It's a friend thing. :)
    Barbie has a super sensitive system and her vet has her on ulcer meds (omeprazole I think - I'll ask) all the time. Says it won't hurt her, and will likely protect her. The change is amazing.
    You had me at "infect the blog"...ROLLING, just what I needed.
    Hope it gets better quickly.

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  5. I think you are handling all the stress in your life better then I would be! As for the Tucker Tummy...just be careful with the antacids because if you use them for long enough they can make his body produce more acid which can lead to more ulcers in the future. I think getting a supplement is a great idea and if Maloxx is working go for it. You might want to pick up one of those gallon jugs of horse pepto at the horsemans outlet sale next week just in case. I have also heard good things about aloe juice. Not sure if it works or not but the people that use it swear by it. Wish Tucker luck for me tomorrow! I hope someone videos it! How did the move go? And how is Julie? I am glad you posted and I am not surprised at all that you have readers! I was hooked from post 1!

  6. Oh Sweetie my heart goes out to you. I agree with SprinklerBandit - Stupid Men :o) Poor little Tucker. Good to hear that you have figured out what is wrong with him. Poor little pony. Good Luck this weekend and it is great to have you back on line - I was starting to worry!!!!! :o)

  7. Aw, thanks everyone! You girls are so sweet! And fyi, now it looks like Jane posted something scandalous but I swear she didn't, her post just showed up twice and when I tried to delete it we now have a lovely message that looks like I'm censoring her! Didn't realize that would happen! (Sorry Jane, haha). And yes, if anyone would like to vicariously hate the aforementioned gentleman, please be my guest. I haven't been able to bring myself to do it yet. Thanks for the solidarity!

  8. I totally know where your coming from, and I can sympathisize. Stay trong and keep your animal friends close, because they will always be there. Thinking good thoughts for you


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