Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Bad Bale

It has been an odd week with the horses. On Sunday last weekend, Steen seemed much improved. We had a nice ride. I gave him more probiotics. I thought we were in the clear.

Year-end work has been nutty for me, plus I am still pretty sore. So again, several days passed before we made it to the barn again. Brian and I went out after work on Friday.

Steen came to me in the pasture, and immediately I saw there was something odd about his mouth. I took him inside and discovered that he was extra drooly, plus his mouth had a smell similar to what you might expect if a small animal crawled in there and died. I was about ready to get really alarmed when Brian mentioned Zoey's mouth also had big time stinkies. We brought our other two guys in for comparison. All four had varying degrees of extra drool and uber bad breath.

We called the barn owner, and ended up putting all four horses in stalls, giving them each a flake of nice hay, and waiting. All four chowed down with varying degrees of oddness. Steen would not touch anything with his lips. He would pick up hay with his teeth and then eat it. Laredo and Bear were a little less dramatic, but both were really unhappy with us poking around in their mouths.

Eventually, all four ate a flake of hay and produced normal poo. At a loss for anything else to do, we turned them back out.

We headed out again this morning, and found the situation largely unchanged. Steen was still super drooly and stinky. But I spent last night reading a lot about the various toxic grasses horses can ingest, and suspected we had a case of a bale that contained something bad. The herd got two new bales last night, so we're hoping it's just a case of working the toxins through their systems. In which case, exercise will help.

So I rode Steen in my ultra soft bosalita. I spent the first many minutes riding with my hands in my vest pockets. Then Brian was having trouble getting Zoey to take the bit (not normally an issue with her) and he noticed she had a couple of sores in her mouth. At this point, the barn owner was out, and when she saw a red lesion on Zoey's tongue she got pretty concerned. She went out and checked the rest of the herd, and came back in to announce that every single horse in the pasture herd has at least one sore in its mouth. While that wasn't exactly good news, at least it meant ours weren't the only ones having problems.

Since Zoey's lips were sore, Brian decided to ride her in the hackamore for the first time. That proved to be a good decision. They had a nice ride.

My ride on Steen was pretty good too. He had a surprisingly high amount of energy. We walked and trotted at intervals, did a lot of standing, and a little loping.

After the ride, we went out to take Steen and Zoey back to the herd. We checked on Laredo and Bear. Bear seemed ok. His mouth was obviously sore while he was eating his supplement, but less-so than Steen's and Zoey's. Then we saw Laredo. He apparently had busted a few of his sores open, and was drooling blood-filled saliva. He looked pretty miserable.

We hung out with him and petted him and bothered him by invading his mouth with our fingers. But there wasn't really anything we could do. The bleeding isn't significant enough to be life threatening. Removing him from his herd and putting him in a stall would only stress him. So we left him out there, which made me feel bad. But at least the barn owner and the barn manager are both going to be keeping an extra eye on the herd until this whole thing settles down.

The good news is there are two others herds at our barn who get fed the exact same hay, and only our herd is having any trouble. So fingers crossed this will end with that one bale, and we'll see some improvement tomorrow.

Ride Time: 1:30
Horseback Hours YTD: 194:55

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