at trainer's 29/11/10
During the time she was at the trainers, she was confined to a small yard, had a dramatic increase in activity, and was worked heavily, and had her diet changed without regard to her previous diet. This diet change included incorporation of steam rolled barley, which the mare was fussy about, fortunately. In her 10 years, she has never eaten “whole” grain, with her only exposure to grain being through Mitavite extruded grain products ie highly processed. Her forage was oaten based, chaff and very small quantities of hay. Lucerne was fed irregularly as chaff.
In the week before Maz came home, my web browsing led me back to EPSM, a topic I had come across (and dismissed) while researching Cushings and metabolic syndromes. But after reading a few case studies and personal reports, a few lightbulbs and connecting dots did their thing for me. Odd, abnormal (for Maz) things that Maz was doing like foot stomping, kicking out, shifting weight, holding up legs like a puppy with a thorn in its paw and yet being reluctant to pick up her feet when asked, odd choppy gait, and some weird proprioception, plus the pattern of weight loss, a change in her posture and way of standing at rest.
Once I got her home, the change in her stress levels was dramatic. Within a few hours, the tension and strain had disappeared from her face, and her skin. However, she was doing a few more strange things, like hanging around the water trough A LOT, lots of sipping water, fussing through her food with no appetite. Something else was going on, as well as the possibility of EPSM. My guts were saying ulcer; her not me.
So, with a week of obsessing about Maz’s rehab, and thoughts of an ulcer to add into the mix, I made a plan of attack:
1. Change of environment: the move back home means a change of enclosure to a larger paddock with some green pick, and proximity to her friends
2. Change of diet: a modified return to her previous diet of no grain, but now soaking chaff and hay, an increase (slowly slowly) in fat content, including reintroducing copra, which she eats regularly, and adding a vit/mineral supplement.
3. A probiotic to rehabilitate her gut after the drama of the previous 4 weeks. I had decided on this approach before suspecting a gastric ulcer. Gut health is the basis of whole body health, it’s not rocket science!
4. Addition of chamomile and slippery elm in case of ulcer, and no harm done if no ulcer is present.
5. Regular massage
6. Physical rehab after 2 weeks recovery from the trainer ie pole work, hill work in hand, long reining on straight lines, stretching and flexing in hand around trees, barrels etc. to help the muscles and other soft tissue to heal and remodel with minimal scar tissue, and in a functionally ready and appropriate way.