Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Horse Hypochondriac

I'm a bit of a horse hypochondriac.  I worry so much about 'reading' my horse that I tend to always think he's got something wrong.

Yesterday while I was brushing him, I noticed some bumps on his back.  Could be bug bites or could be from the nibbling/grooming he's been getting from his pasture mate.  She's currently in season and spends her time nibbling on Licorice and hoping he'll nibble her back.  Mares.  :)

Then, while I was riding his back legs gave out.  This normally happens at least once while we're warming up and sometimes after we have cantered.  He's still figuring out how to use his rear end and I'm still figuring out how to help him.  However, this time it happened twice in a row at the trot and kind of freaked me out.  And his contact was inconsistent, so I worried that he was lame.  I cut my ride short since I didn't want to make things worse if he was off and I couldn't tell.

Then, while he's hanging out in the crossties he had one nostril flared and it was just stuck there.  Like he had a horsey stroke.  It stayed there for a good five minutes, completely flared and wrinkled.  Then it went back to normal.

What I want to do is figure out how to get an education on these things.  Sure, I can go ask my trainer if he looks okay.  I will have her check him over on Wednesday.  When I put him back in turn out, he drank some water and ate some hay and looked happy enough so I wasn't concerned about him right then.  But what about my education?

I want to know how to tell if a horse is lame.  I get it in theory, but I can't actually tell.  How do you tell when a horse is sick?  Can horses have strokes?  How do you tell if it's bug bites or love bites?

Does anyone know where you can get an education on this?  I know my trainers will answer my questions when they can, but I also know they don't have time to go over all of this with me and they're usually teaching lessons.  I wonder if anyone has come up with an online course about this.  Like an online Pony Club course.

I'm off to Google it now.

Also, though I was pondering what life would be like at this barn five minutes from my house, I'm not looking to make a change yet.  I think instead I want to focus on my goals of 1. getting off the farm  2. getting outside  3. getting more confident and to do those I don't need to switch homes.  And don't tell anyone because I don't want the pressure, but we've started practicing Training Level 2 and might consider showing next year... Streeeeetchy circle!


  1. If he were mine, I'd test for Lyme (use the Cornell test) and EPM (use the Pathogenes test) - the other tests aren't nearly as good but some vets still use them. I don't think you're a hypochondriac at all - those tiny things are important, particularly if you know your horse. Stifle catching/toe dragging is a common EPM symptom and can also occur with Lyme. The weird nostril, one side only, is also the sort of thing that can happen with EPM. Both diseases are way more common than most people (and some vets) think. Both are treatable - there are a number of good antibiotic treatments for Lyme, and there is a new, more effective, EPM treatment (Pathogenes again) that was in FDA approval last I heard but your vet would be able to get access to the medication.

    A couple of questions: any oddness in stance, say in cross ties? Any difficulty picking feet - horse doesn't want to lift a particular foot (because doesn't want to risk balance)? Any oddities on tight turning test or foot placement test - these are simple tests you can do yourself that will often pick up neurological abnormalities.

    I have a Lyme and EPM page on my blog with lots of details. Also feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions.

  2. Well...I think experience is the number one teacher. Usually owning horses at home or working at a stable for many years can give you this. If you weren't able to experience this...ask someone you know and trust. Read through archives on Chronicle of the Horse forum, blog posts, etc.

    I wouldn't worry about his nose, I would however have the vet do a once over - especially neuro check on the legs giving out.

  3. Agree with T Myers that experience and time are the best teachers - that and going with your gut instinct. If you think a symptom warrants having the vet out, do it!

    Lameness is a hard one to diagnose...I can tell when my mare is off by watching her go or riding. But to pin point which leg or foot is off is tough.

    Working toward a show is great :) It gives you a goal to shoot for and you can totally do it!