Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Resilience of a Horse - Delphi update

No matter how many times we watch this happen, each case seems almost miraculous.

This was Delphi on August 9, 2008

And this is Delphi today, August 27, 2008, less than three weeks later:

This mare was not ill, did not have organ damage, did not have a lurking infection, was not "skinny because she's old," is not dentally challenged. All she needed was appropriate food.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Our Equine Vets are the Best!

Traveller's Rest uses the services of several equine veterinary clinics on a regular basis. Some vets serve as our remote "eyes," evaluating and beginning treatment on horses still in their original homes, but bound for the sanctuary as soon as arrangements are completed. Some come to the sanctuary once in a while as specialists or complimentary practitioners.

The bulk of TREES' vet care, though, falls in the more than capable hands of the veterinarians of Rappahannock Equine Veterinay Clinic in Locust Grove, VA. Drs Blanton, McColgan and Licciardello all seem to have the same soft spot for Elders that we have. Not only do they provide excellent care (sometimes requiring a little extra research for the uncommon health issues we seem to attract - see "Happy Summer Solstice") but they treat our seniors as though they are high dollar show ponies. (Or course, some of them are, its just been a few years since they pinned that last ribbon .)

REVC looks out for our elders in other ways too. Sadly, one of the clinic's other clients recently laid to rest his last elderly horse. Having several hundred pounds of senior feed and bagged forage in storage, the old veteran's owner and REVC discussed whether or not there was a way to put that feed to use. We are gratefully happy to say they decided to donate the forage and senior formula to TREES. Arrangements are being made to pick up the goodies by the end of the week. TREES has also benefitted in the supplements and blanket departments when REVC mentioned the sanctuary to clients with surplus supplies.

Its difficult to express our gratitude for the entire staff of REVC, the vets, the techs, and the "girls" who keep the office humming. So we'll offer a shameless plug.........if you're interviewing equine veterinarians in the Spotsylvania, Orange, Stafford areas........add these folks to your short list.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Equine Elders - organization of the week!

Check it out! TREES is Organization of the Week!
Shelter Source

Then visit Traveller's Rest's Shelter Source "My Page" Visit often, watch for news and events, or leave a comment!

Be sure to browse the rest of the ShelterSource --- a free resource and networking hub 'helping people help animals --- too!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Equine Dental Doin's - The Sequel

Warning -- if moderately icky photos make you queasy and you receive our posts via email you may not want to open the attached photo.

I hesitated to post the lower picture, but decided this more than adequately illustrates the reality of elder dental issues. This, folks, is why a quick feel of a tooth's chewing surfaces is not enough. Merely running a finger over grinding surfaces to look for sharp edges is NOT a thorough dental exam.

To conduct a thorough exam, the dentist should use a speculum to hold the horse's mouth open. Each tooth should be examined on all surfaces......the grinding surfaces, the side facing the cheek, the side facing the tongue. Feel not just the "top" surface, but along the gum line for irregularities. Smell the breath, and yes, smell your fingers after feeling around. Is there a spoiled or rotten smell? Possible infection? Then wiggle, wiggle, wiggle each tooth to look for looseness or fractures. Take note if the horse appears to "react" to specific that site painful? NOTE! Don't do this yourself without a speculum if you value your fingers!!!!

The motivation for this post? Sonny. This photo was taken Aug 17. 2008, one week ago.
Our 37 year old alpha horse had been feeling a little "off" lately. He was eating fine, had no obvious injury or pain issues, but wasn't quite himself and seemed to lose a little standing in the herd. Sonny had no (zero) top molars when he arrived. Last November, he lost three lower molars that had become loose. Two days ago, another dental exam revealed several more loose teeth. Not only were they loose, but decayed beyond belief. How does something like this even stay in a horse's mouth?

Note that Sonny has not been losing weight, had not stopped eating, had not exhibited any obvious signs of pain or illness. There was nothing to indicate a problem of this magnitude. The moral of this story is something we've preached about the time your horse shows outward signs of dental pain, he may already have a big, big problem. This issue was detected during a routine exam. Had we waited until Sonny appeared sick or in pain, the infection may have spread to other tissues, possibly even the jaw bone itself.

In addition to Sonny's infected teeth, the dentist also discovered an infected incisor in Rienzi's mouth. It slid right out, having no root left. Rienzi had also been examined in November. Things happen that fast in elders.

And Val was found to have yet another fragment beneath the surface of the gum. These fragments seem to show up in places he was missing teeth as a teenager. We don't know why he lost so many teeth by the time he arrived here at age 15 but, four years later, pieces are still showing up.

More frequent dental exams..............don't skimp on this one if your horse is over 20 years old. Make sure exams are thorough, make sure they are frequent. Don't depend on your horse to tell you when something is wrong. An ounce of prevention...........

Monday, August 18, 2008

Elder Horse Updates

Finally. After welcoming three new residents within 10 days, we've had time to catch our collective breaths and add the newcomers' photos to the Residents page. We hope, soon, to add individual pages for each resident so visitors can keep up with residents' activities. Watch the Residents page for progress. Visit soon, visit often. We'll try to keep up!
Marye yesterday (Aug 17, 2008) Can you believe the progress in just one month!?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Dental Doin's at Traveller's Rest

Here are a few photos from a recent equine elder Dentathon. Not everyone was seen that day, but Denathon the Sequel is scheduled for next week. Keep in mind that elder horses need more frequent dental exams than their younger counterparts. Teeth wear more quickly as the hard layer of enamel disappears. Faster wear at increasingly sharper angles may mean more extreme points or hooks. Roots begin to decay, leading to loose teeth or possible infection. Some teeth may crack or fracture. Seniors should be examined every six months rather than once a year.

The first photo shows a tooth (right arrow) that became sharp enough to cut into the inside of the cheek (left arrow)

Below, a speculum is used to hold the mouth open during a "power float," while the head rests on a head stand:

A better view of the head stand:

Some dental practitioners prefer a harness, hung from a rafter or door frame to hold the head in place:

Be sure your dentist disinfects his or her tools between horses. You expect your dentist to do the same between patients, don't you?

Keeping elders comfortable often depends on good dental health. Schedule that six-month appointment soon!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Country Supply Clearance Sale!

The "Clearance Issue" of the Country Supply catalog arrived in yesterday's mail. Not bad, folks!

Standard fly masks marked down from $14.99 to 7.99. Air Stream Combo Summer Sheets down to $39.95 from $59.95. A few saddles are almost half price, many on sale for a little less of a discount. Reins, bridles, bits, helmets on sale. First aid supplies, grooming kits, halters. Weight Builder supplement $18.99, from $29.99!

If you don't need anything for your own horse, or don't have a horse to shop for, their gift section is fun to browse. Welcome mats $14.99 (were 18.95,) wind chimes $9.99 (were $19.99) earrings $4.99 (were $17.99.) Check it out.....back to school? Early Christmas shopping?

So, why are we plugging this sale? Simple! If you shop at Country Supply and enter "equineelders" in the box for "Country Care Code," Traveller's Rest will receive a donation based on the amount you spend. You save on sale items and TREES benefits at no extra cost to you.

Truthfully, TREES needs all the pennies you can send our way. Feed prices are going up. Hay prices are going up. Vets must ask more for farm calls. Farriers and dentists may soon need to follow suit. At the same time, we realize it is harder for many families to find "extra" funds to donate to charity. This program helps both the donor and the charity.

So check it out, shop till you drop, and help TREES help equine elders in need. enter country code: equineelders


Monday, August 11, 2008

Fall Workshops at Traveller’s Rest

Fall Workshops at Traveller’s Rest: Animal Communication and Reiki

Traveller’s Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary will host three energy healing and animal communication workshops in September and October 2008, conducted by Janet Dobbs of Animal Paradise Communication and Healing.

A basic Animal Communication workshop will be held Saturday and Sunday, September 13 & 14. This two-day workshop will provide an overview of animal communication and will demonstrate how students already communicate with their animal companions.

A three-day Advanced Animal Communication workshop will run Friday-Sunday, October 10-12. In “The Deepening,” students who have completed the Basic Animal Communication workshop will gain more experience, knowledge, guidance and inspiration.

On October 25 & 26, Janet, a Reiki Master, will conduct a Reiki I (Human and Animal) workshop, teaching a traditional Japanese form of Reiki called Usui Reiki Ryoho. According to Janet, “This Reiki Level I class is for animal people who want to deepen their relationship with animals and learn ways to heal the animals in their lives as well as themselves.”

Traveller’s Rest, a Spotsylvania, VA sanctuary for previously neglected or abandoned elder equine, will receive a portion of the workshops’ fees. For more information about all three workshops or about Janet Dobbs, please visit or call Janet at 703-648-1866. For more about Traveller’s Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary, visit or call 540-972-0936.

Friday, August 8, 2008

This is Why we do it, folks.

Delphi arrived yesterday. Horses like Delphi and Marye are the reason Traveller's Rest exists - we're here to make their Golden Years golden. After years of service, don't they deserve that?

Can you help?

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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Santa came!

Oh boy, oh boy!

A short note while hopping up and down!

The UPS truck just delivered a brand new, shiny Celestron microscope, courtesy of Gene and Carol Craigo, two of Traveller's Rest's most dedicated volunteers. Having this microscope (and a few other supplies) means we will be able to perform fecal egg counts at the farm for pennies. Being able to do FEC's on a frequent basis will allow us to monitor the internal parasite control portion of our integrated pest management plan. Hopefully, testing will provide proof that the plan works. On the other hand, it may show that we need to tweak the program in some areas. Either way, this gift provides a priceless opportunity to gauge the success of one aspect of TREES' management style.

Thank you Gene & Carol!! Let the sampling begin!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Got Bots?

'Tis the season. Botfly season. The flies themselves don't harm horses, but their larvae are common parasites of the equine digestive tract.

Ever see this on your horse's legs? (They may appear on other parts of the horse's body as well.) Marye brought these bot eggs with her when she arrived. They were immediately removed.

After the adult botfly attaches eggs to individual hairs on the horse, the eggs begin to hatch when stimulated by warmth and moisture when the horse licks his leg or rubs his muzzle over the eggs. The larvae then burrow into the tongue or gums, where they stay for several weeks. As the next stage emerges from the tissues, they are swallowed and attach to the stomach lining. Approximately nine months later, the grub-like larvae pass out in the manure, pupate in the soil, and the cycle begins begins again.

Last fall, I visited a herd of horses whose legs were literally covered in solid masses of bot eggs. Viewing the photo of "Bot Larvae" at the link listed below will illustrate why that was a disturbing sight. Aside from the potential masses of larvae in the stomachs, it must be tortuous to have that many larvae burrowing into the tissues of the gums and tongue.

Ivermectin will control bot larvae, but wouldn't preventing infestation be easier than managing the subsequent effects?

For more on bots, visit

Monday, August 4, 2008

The cavalry has arrived!

Meet "Fitzhugh Lee!"
"Fitz" for short.

Fitz, who arrived yesterday, is a 25 year old Throroughbred named after Robert E Lee's nephew, a Confederate cavalry commander. Sometime in his past, this handsome gelding suffered a jaw injury, causing a few dental abnormalities. He's had two unhealthy teeth extracted in the past few months, one a "corner incisor" which allows is tongue to slip outside his lips now and then. Fitz will probably always require more frequent dental care than most horses, but is otherwise very healthy.
Each month, TREES receives more and more calls to help equine elders like Fitz. Can you help support Fitz, Marye, or other residents of Traveller's Rest?

Update on Marye

After a hectic week (dentist last Monday, Farrier on Thursday, Massage Therapist on Friday, and "routine" chores in between,) we'll just copy 'n' paste a Marye update posted elsewhere on Saturday:

Oh boy. Marye arrived Monday. She was breathing pretty normally Monday and Tuesday. (She has severe heaves/COPD) While she was still at the other farm, the vet started her on dex to knock down inflammation and ventipulmin as a brochodilator/mild expectorant. Then she came off the dex, continuing on just ventipulmin.

Unfortunately, as her body cleared itself of the dex, she started having trouble again. On top of that the weather took a turn, becoming much hotter and more humid than it was early in the week. Dex injections yesterday made no difference at all. Today the vet came back and gave her a different steroid that I've never heard of before now. Triamcinilone (sp? having a little trouble reading her writing) That reduced the symptoms some, but we're still not back where we were last week.

Wednesday is supposed to be extremely hot and humid, so Doc is standing by for an inhaler treatment that day if needed. Our hope was that if we could get Marye through this (hopefully short) heat wave, we'd have more time to customize a long-term management scheme for her.

But....after Doc had me listen to her lungs today, I'm not terribly optimistic. There is so much scarring that at least one area of one lung is not moving any air at all. Another area literally sounded like a rusty door hinge, which Doc said was the tissues of the bronchi trying to pull apart and take in air. It was the strangest sound I've ever heard through a stethoscope.

The good news is that Marye is very bright and alert, eating well and grazing so we'll keep tweaking her care and see if we can get this under control. On the other hand, she's not buying the reasoning that we need to get her breathing under control before allowing her to go out with a herd.

We're doing our best to keep dust down, 24/7 turnout except during meals, but we are having a mildew problem this year, with more rainfall than normal.

Meanwhile, we're open to any and all alternative or complementary treatment ideas. We don't care how off the wall they may sound!

Edited to add: Since that update on a horse-related discussion forum, we received a response recommended Spirulina as a possible way to manage COPD symptoms. We'll keep Marye on her current medications as we begin this trial, then see if we can wean her off the steroids and ventipulmin.