|I mean, this totally looks like Sophie is going to kill me in my sleep. But alas no, she is simply tolerating my shenanigans.|
Around the time we switched to day time turnout, I started getting reports about my horse being an asshole because he was pooping in his water bucket. Then it was his feed bin, NIGHTLY. I was racking my brain to figure out what was wrong.
It all started with Eli pooping in his water, and barn staff complaining they had to dump it every morning. It took me a couple weeks to work out that he was leaning on his buckets while he slept, and then horses are horses, so he pooped where he stood… which happened to be in the water bucket. The staff tried moving it all over his stall, and without fail, every night he’d find it and poop in it. We tried “poop training” him by putting another horse’s poop in the stall where we wanted him to poop (and his too). It worked for one night only.
When he switched stalls due to an unhealthy attachment to a turnout buddy who also lived next to him in the barn, he started pooping in his feed bin. This cause a bit of an uproar. Inexperienced staff wouldn’t check the feed bin before dumping grain (something ALL STAFF should do for EVERY HORSE anyway), he’d eat half his own poop, and I’d have a shit fit come evening when I found poop mashed around in his grain bin. I was not kind. Everyone said my horse was just being a dick. I kept saying he liked to lean on things while he slept and he was simply being a horse, pooping where he stood.
|One particularly bad night where he got all 3.|
Horse people really like taking pictures of poop don't they?
The solution was a gate feeder (like for outside horses) for AM feed after the night in the stall. This worked well and my brains stayed in my head. Poop was removed when the stall was cleaned after breakfast, all was well other than Eli was annoying majority of the staff.
The other odd thing I’ve been fighting is a hock sore on the right hind that just wouldn’t go away. Eli was reopening it every day it seemed, and had been for months. Nothing I did got it to close. After the stall move, a new sore started on the back of his left hock, right on the point of the hock.
|Partially healed hock sore that no amount of bedding would stop from reoccurring.|
On a completely different (but I promise related note), the Mary Wanless GP trainer I saw in December expressed some concerns about Eli’s hind end. I dutifully got the work ups for lyme and EPM (no spinal tap, just blood, I know it’s not the golden standard), and had a lameness exam and neuro exam. The most we got was he clear on EPM and lyme, was very tight in his lower back, and lazy behind. Both MWGP and my vet suggested chiro work. I had used “adjusters” in the last few months (they aren’t vets and basically did glorified massage and stretches), because I hadn’t heard from my favorite equine vet chiropractor in ages. He is older and travels from Michigan to Western PA to see us, and I assumed he wasn’t making the rounds anymore.
I called his office and got a, “Why yes he’s still coming around! He’ll be in your area next Wednesday!”
Brilliant. Adjustment day came. We joked with Dr W about Eli being a big horse, he’ll need a bigger step to do adjustments. Dr W said, nah he can’t be that big.
First thing Dr W says is, “That is a BIG horse.”
Second thing Dr W says, “This horse’s hind end is a mess.”
|Note higher right top of the hip up high in this poor photo.|
Basically, Dr W thinks Eli fell at some point in his adult life, most likely before he came to live with me because he's been pretty much the same moving behind since he arrived. He said it wouldn’t take much, since Eli is just so big it’s a lot of mass coming down. His back wasn’t flexible and springy, and what I thought was a small misalignment of the hips (the right sits slightly higher) is actually a bad misalignment.
Eli did not enjoy his hind end adjustment. A friend held his head, I put hands on his left side to keep him from moving, and Dr W adjusted the right side from above (and yes, he thought a 4 step block would have helped!). Eli tried to bite and kick Dr W, all while hitting him with his tail. As soon as the adjustment was made, Eli switched gears and became a sleepy puppy that wanted to snuggle Dr W.
Dr W was super pleased with the adjustment, gave him B12 injections all over his SI and hip areas, as well as the left shoulder since that was also adjusted, and thought we could have it sorted after 3 or 4 more visits (every 8-9 weeks).
Guess what happened?
|No, he didn't magically love tarps because of his adjustment. But he doesn't care about tarps anyway.|
Eli stopped pooping in his water buckets and feed bin. Sure, he still gets it wrong sometimes. But we have more good nights than bad (I get weekly report cards from the experienced staff and the barn owner). His hock sores are almost healed over, 3 weeks after his adjustment. He also swings better through his back under saddle, but that’s not the point here. Whatever is going on in his hind end meant he wasn’t comfortable sleeping standing up without leaning on something.
You know what else happened? Some of his more neurotic attachment tendencies inexplicably declined. He can be in the barn by himself without having a screaming meltdown. Is he 100% comfortable by himself? Of course not. But he's doing better. It could be that he's getting better quality sleep, which helps his brain function normally, and he doesn't stress as much (I don't see why it would be any different than when humans don't get enough sleep). He's not on any calming stuff anymore, by the way. I pulled that more than a month ago.
I expect it all to get worse again by the mid to end of February when he’s due for another adjustment, and then to be better than now after his next adjustment.
The lesson everyone? HORSES ARE NOT DICKS ON PURPOSE. It just takes some sleuthing to understand what’s wrong. I just happened upon on the correct solution, and you bet I won’t forget it.