Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Don't visit us at Tractor Supply tomorrow!! (Sat Dec 19, 2009)

Adoption Day event cancelled due to impending snow storm. Thank you, TSC, for your support this year. We hope you continue these events in 2010. If so, see everybody next year!

Meanwhile, thank you Gene, Carol and Jeanelle for helping with storm prep.  Stalls and sheds are cleaned and bedded, water tanks full, hoses drained, paddocks picked, sufficient feed and hay on site........I think we're as ready as we can be.  As long as Mother Nature keeps her sense of humor under control a little.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sherman update!

Our new man, Sherman!

November 7, 2009

November 10, 2009

December 17, 2009

This gentle ol' soul has a way to go in the weight department, but is headed in the right direction.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Mixed Feelings

This is not "fresh" news, but this December 3 editorial blurb from the Culpeper Star-Exponent kind of sums up our feelings. When the story first broke, and Miss Mona arrived at TREES, we were angry. How could anyone allow this to happen to animals under his or her care? Then, as information became available and emotional first reactions calmed, we became more sad than angry about what had happened.

We hoped to gain more understanding at the trial, but that was not to be. Now we are left with questions that will never be answered. If Ms Mackall "had stepped back from her role as the farm’s operator in recent years," who was supposed to be managing the herd?  Was anyone monitoring the situation, knowing she was apparently gravely ill? Were family members aware of deteriorating conditions at the farm?  Was Ms Mackall herself aware?   Was there any "plan of succession" in case the primary caregiver became incapacitated? 

Do YOU have a "plan of succession" regarding your animals' care in case of sudden illness, injury or death?  No?  Consider putting one in writing as a New Year's Resolution.  Don't let this happen to your four-legged family members.

Mona, August 17 2009

Mona, November 7, 2009

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Visit TREES at Tractor Supply Dec 19

{Click for larger version}

Infected teeth & Infected sinuses

We've seen it often enough here.  Discharge out of one nostril.  Treatment with antibiotics helps, but the infection returns in a week or two.  Hello, Dentist?

According to the abstract of this paper on  Sinus Surgery in the Horse, "the most common cause of sinus infection is extension of infection from a diseased tooth or as an aftermath to tooth repulsion." 

Long story very short........if your horse has a persistent or recurring nasal discharge, think "teeth."  To see just how little barrier there is between tooth root and sinus, visit  and click on the fourth photo from the top.  Its easy to see how an infection in a tooth root can move into the sinus right next to it.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Thank You, Jeanelle!

I cannot say enough about volunteers who come early on mornings like this one.  "Thank you" just doesn't feel adequate. 

The ground was frozen, wet bedding from the most recent flooding was frozen, poop piles were frozen..............

Thank you so much, Jeanelle, for coming out and for drying out Sherman and Henry's stalls as much as possible when everything is so completely saturated.

Jeanelle didn't quite fill Big Sam, the old JD spreader, but she came darn close and, considering the weight of the wet sawdust, we're counting it as a Golden Muck Fork Award winning day.

Round of applause!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Herbal Insulin Resistance Treatment Options Reviewed
“Appropriate treatment for IR is controversial,” said Noble,” But the effective management of IR may prevent the crippling disease, laminitis.”
Some of these compounds are marketed for other uses, such as anti-inflammatories, anthelmintics, muscle builders, and coat conditioners. Scientific evidence demonstrating any beneficial effect of these herbs on insulin resistance in horses is lacking.
Noble and her coauthors emphasized, "The aim (of this review) is not to advise clinicians or horse owners about what to use, but to inform equine scientists contemplating research in this field."

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Mud-Motivated Wish List

Ahhh. Mud.  In August, we prayed for just a smidge of softer ground.  Just a little rain to loosen up the brick-hard surface and make the footing just a little better for the Geezers.

I guess we overdid it.

Rain, rain, rain for a couple of months now.  This morning, one of our local weather gurus said this will be the pattern for the foreseeable future. 

And so....... A Muddy Wish List.....

We would be tickled pink and even purple if anyone out there in blog land has a few old towels to part with.  It doesn't matter if they are holey, stained, big, small, bleached, frayed or paisley.  Anything we can use to clean and dry horses' legs, wipe off feet before farrier visits, or even dry off damp volunteers would be a tremendous addition to our winter supply stash.

Got towels?  Give us a shout.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Horsey Snowballs

On our "Wintering Wisely" web page, we talk about Snowballs in horses' feet.  Here ya go:

These snow/ice balls are everywhere this morning!

You can see how this might make walking difficult, if not downright dangerous, if not removed.

In our experience, healthy bare feet, able to flex and function naturally, usually pop the snowballs out as the horse moves about, with no human intervention.  In some cases, however, we do need to assist with a hoof pick. 

Remember to check feet often when weather conditions favor snowball formation and keep in mind that shod horses have less ability to shed snowballs on their own.

First Snow 2009

Well, here they are.  Pictures of this year's first snow.  Not much to look at, really, but the horses are investigating the new surroundings.  They've all seen snow before, but seldom enough that each dusting is a wondrous event for them.  (For us it means more mud and more stall mucking.)

Just after this photo was taken, a bucking bug hit.  The footing is not great under the snow, so let's hope everyone is careful.

Gene and Carol, our intrepid Sunday morning volunteers arrived right on time, so the roads must be in good shape. 

Welcome, Winter!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Winter Care for Elders

As the forecast calls for the year's first snowfall ("more than a dusting, less than a blanket,") we thought we'd repost our winter care tips:

Wintering Wisely

Under most circumstances harsh winters are more uncomfortable for horse owners than for the horses themselves. When living with seniors, though, it is prudent to practice a little more diligence in snow and ice season. We hope you find these tips useful (and that you will share with us any others you've found helpful in wintering your elders wisely!)

Water - water, water, water! Please remember that horses consuming large amounts of hay will need to drink more water than they do when on pasture. The moisture content of pasture grass is approximately 65-75%, while that of hay is only 8-10%.

It is essential that the water source be kept as free of ice as possible. Not all horses will break through a layer of ice to access the water below. Yes, "wild" horses learn to do that as they grow up around other horses that know outdoor survival techniques. Your horse, however, is not a "wild" creature and may not know how to get to the water under that hard surface. There are several ways to deal with icy water:

One method is to break through and remove ice from the surface. If the ice is merely a thin "skin," a kitchen strainer works fine on small tanks and buckets. Thicker ice or a larger tank requires a larger removal tool. Find an old feed or water bucket and use a 3/4 inch drill bit to drill holes all over the bucket, making your own big strainer. After breaking the ice up with a hammer, simply dip the ice pieces out of the tank. CAUTION: Keep the bucket over the tank until the water drains out! (You will probably not make that mistake twice unless you enjoy working in wet clothes!) Pile the ice pieces where the horse will not have to walk over them to approach the tank. Check tanks and buckets for ice several times during the day.

A second option is to use tank or bucket heaters to keep the water temperature above freezing. There are several types available. Whichever type you choose, remember to keep all electrical cords out of reach of the horses. In addition, please use outlets not prop open waterproof covers on outdoor outlets, allowing water into the circuit.

If your horses' normal water source is a natural source, such as a pond or stream, consider using a tank which is more easily maintained in frigid temperatures.

Tank or bucket location is another important thing to consider. Winter means less algae growth, but water tanks still must be cleaned regularly. Less algae growth means little when Toothless Wonders drop wads of hay into the water and the heater brews a strong hay tea. When relocating a tank for the winter, be sure to consider drainage in the new site. If you dump a tank for cleaning and the water freezes before it drains away or soaks into frozen ground, the horses may be hesitant to walk up to the tank.

Hay - Roughage is an essential ingredient in any horse's diet, playing a very important role in maintaining gastrointestinal health. During the winter, hay must be provided to replace pasture grass that has gone dormant. But, winter hay is more than just a replacement for grass. Metabolizing hay produces more body heat in the horse than does the metabolism of grains and other concentrates. When the outdoor temperatures drop lower, more hay will be consumed in most cases.

Dentally challenged seniors need special consideration when pasture is unavailable. Some marginally toothed horses can chew tender grass shoots but are unable to eat chewy, stemmy hay. In such cases, a commercial chopped forage may work. Wetting the forage may further aid in swallowing, but it also may create problems of its own. Wet forage will freeze into a solid block in cold temperatures, so serving sizes must be no larger than the horse can eat at one "sitting." A change in hay may make a difference in how well the horse can eat. A very leafy second or third cutting hay can sometimes be chewed when a stemmy first cutting will be wadded and spit out.

A final word on hay is QUALITY. Don't skimp on quality when it comes to this very important ingredient in gut health, nutrition and overall well-being. It was once thought that most winter colic episodes were caused by insufficient water intake. Researchers recently added poor quality roughage to the list of major culprits. When you feed poor quality hay to a horse that cannot chew well in the best of circumstances, and that may have a less than efficient digestive tract, you are tempting fate. Please don't take that risk.

Feed - Some younger horses are able to maintain good health and weight on forages (grass and hay) alone. That is not the case, however, for most senior horses, especially those with dental trouble. Most elders are fed a senior feed throughout the year. Most will also need larger amounts of feed in winter since maintaining normal body temperature requires more calories than are needed in warm weather. Some will need a larger increase, in proportion to summer rations, than others. Monitor the horse's weight closely and make adjustments accordingly. Because winter coats often hide subtle changes in body condition, feel for changes over the ribs, hips, withers and shoulders rather than depending on general appearance. When feed intake must be increased significantly for the winter, consider adding another meal to the daily routine rather than trying to feed enormous amounts less often. If the horse is not already eating his senior ration as a mash, consider soaking. Soaking is yet another way to add to overall water intake.

Shelter - Rainproof, windproof shelter is important for domestic horses' well-being in winter. Trees, especially trees with no leaves, just won't do the trick. Most horses can tolerate rain. Most horses can tolerate moderate wind. But a wet horse in a cold wind can lose body heat at an alarming rate. This is especially true of elders who may not be able to regulate their body temperatures as efficiently as younger horses. Free access to a three sided shed or the interior of a safe barn is ideal. Keeping the horse in a stall during bad weather is another option, but the ability to move about in a shed will help keep body temperatures up. A blanket may be useful during times of confinement when lower activity levels mean less internal heat production. (Remember, though, that prolonged confinement can contribute to respiratory problems and decreased gut motility.)

Footing - Icy ground can be a winter nightmare for both you and your horse. First and foremost, be extremely careful and keep yourself safe. If you take a bad spill, not only might you be seriously injured, but you will also not be able to care for the horses, and everybody will suffer.

No matter how careful you are, you will likely end up with ice in the area of a water tank. One way to combat this problem is to move the tank to a well drained area. If you are in a climate where the daytime temperatures routinely climb above the freezing point, empty and clean tanks early in the day. Doing so will allow water to drain away or dry somewhat before the temperature drops again that night.

If there is no way to avoid ice accumulation in certain areas, sprinkle the area with sand, fine gravel, old bedding or anything else that will help provide traction. One thing to avoid is cat litter. Clay cat litter will absorb a certain amount of moisture, then, especially in high traffic areas, begins to break down into a slimy clay layer that makes things worse rather than better.

If you must lead a horse over icy ground, give him his head, plenty of loose lead, and let him choose his own path. Remember that elders are less agile than they once were and may need a little more time to get where you are asking them to go.

Finally, whether walking on snow, ice or mud, maintaining balance on slippery ground is hard work. This is especially true in horses that have pre-existing unsoundnesses such as arthritis. They will want to rest more often and you may need to speak with your vet about adjustments in pain management until the footing improves.

Snowballs! - No, not the kind you throw at your brother. The kind that form on the bottom of horses' feet. The shape and health of a horses' feet and hooves, and the texture of the snow, are big factors in how much of a problem he will have with snow accumulation. Check you horses' feet often any time there is snow on the ground. Some horses gather so much snow in their feet that their hooves do not touch the ground at all. Under certain conditions, the weight of the horse will compress the snow into an ice ball, making a dangerous situation a very dangerous situation. Snowballs will usually pop right out of the foot with a hoof pick.  (NOTE: In general, shod horses will have a greater tendency to pick up snowballs than barefoot horses.)

Blanketing - As with younger horses, elders vary greatly in the need for a blanket. Don't be tempted to use a blanket based solely on "old age." Many equine elders grow very generous winter coats. Keeping them clean and fluffy will ensure the coats maintain maximum insulating capabilities. Monitor for shivering. A horse can literally lose several pounds during a night of shivering. When blanketing is required, avoid the temptation to put the blanket on and leave it on until spring. Use it only when needed. If the horse is one with a heavy coat, one or two warm days can cause sweating under the blanket, and lead to additional problems.

Getting snowed upon - If you step outside one morning and see four inches of snow perched on your horses back, don't panic. The fact that the snow is not melting proves that the horse's coat is an efficient layer of insulation between his body heat and the layer of snow. It is a good idea, though, to brush the snow off before the temperature rises above freezing. Once the snow begins to melt, it will make the horse wet. Wet + cold = NOT a Good Thing.

Plan ahead -- With today's weather forecasting technology, we usually know of a winter storm well before it arrives. Keep feed, hay and bedding well stocked. Do not run out just before a storm and buy just enough to get you through the storm's predicted lifespan. First, the storm may last longer than expected. Second, maybe (key word is "maybe") you can get to the feed store the moment the snow stops falling, but can the feed distributor get there? If you depend on well water and don't have a generator, fill your water tanks to the brim in case of a power outage. Fill extra tanks and buckets if you have them. (Keep the buckets in the house to prevent freezing.)

Heat - Heat lamps and space heaters in the barn. DON'T.

Keep yourself safe -- Finally in our list of winter tips: Take care of yourself. Use caution on icy ground. Wear appropriate clothing and footwear. Don't risk hypothermia or frostbite, even if you'll "only be out there a minute or two."

And......chin up! Spring will be here soon!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Guardian Becomes theGuarded

When we first put Nathan in the same paddock as Butternut, he took his role as "Blind Pony Guardian" very seriously, never letting Butternut out of his sight.  Now, the relationship is maturing into more of a partnership.  Nate is more relaxed about Butternut's well-being and has resumed his morning naps while Butternut takes over patrol duty.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Free Webcast - Dec 15, 2009 - Supplements

From My Horse University
Free Webcast:  Nutritional Supplements for Horses
December 15, 2009
7:00 pm ET
Speaker:  Dr. Carey A. Williams,  Rutgers University

"In this hard economic environment, horse owners need to be sure they are getting the most for their money when it comes to their horse’s feeding program. Dr. Carey Williams will help demystify supplements so that you can feed your horse cost effectively with confidence. Dr. Williams will discuss a horse’s vitamin and mineral, joint, calming, herbal and various other supplements, when supplements might be beneficial, and how to use science based information to determine if your horse needs a feed supplement."

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Henry's Miracle

Much to our chagrin, a recent visitor mentioned that we never "talk" about Henry on the blog.  She's right.  Henry's arrival was not a dramatic one.  No starvation.  No neglect. No abandonment.  But Henry's story has developed into a noteable one.

Henry, a retired eventer, arrived at Traveller's Rest about four years ago when his owner encountered very serious family difficulties.  The big chestnut Thoroughbred cross actually came here on what was supposed to be a temporary stopover on his way to another sanctuary.  Watching his reaction to a big change in his life, however, led us to offer Henry permanent sanctuary here rather then subject him to another move in a short time. 

Henry - August 2005

We really didn't know what to think of Henry at first.  In most situations, he was a very kind, affectionate horse, but two aspects of his personality were troubling. The first was that he pinned his ears in a very threatening manner every time someone approached with food.  (Very odd, we thought.  Most horses celebrate the approach of food.) 

The second problem was Henry's behavior around other horses.  He was extremely aggressive, more so with mares than with geldings, and on two occasions drove horses into corners and attacked.  After several attempts, over two years, to find just the right companion, we resigned ourselves to the idea that Henry didn't possess even basic equine social skills that allow most horses to live in herds.  He was set up with his own paddock, with "fence buddies" on three sides, and a shed he could share with other horses, but with separate access doors and a partition between himself and the others.

Two years after his arrival, Henry was diagnosed with Cushings disease.  Was that part of the problem?  We've seen no published information on this, but have observed more than once that extreme irritability in a previously good-natured horse is one of the first signs of Cushings.  Before "the coat."  Before the weight gain.  Before most other observable symptoms. 

Henry before pergolide - March 2006

Henry was started on Pergolide, and seemed to respond in terms of physical symptoms, but he was still very irritated by other horses in close proximity.  At this point, we were very leery of putting another horse's safety at risk and decided Henry was going to be a loner for whatever years he had left.  He seemed content enough on his own, but not entirely happy.

Then, almost a year ago, Henry met a new friend.  A wonderful lady named Carole came into Henry's life.  Carole has attended Reiki workshops at TREES and was attracted to Henry from her first visit.  The two formed a friendship that even observers new to horses noticed. 

When TREES later became a founding shelter member of SARA (Shelter Animal Reiki Association,) Carole signed up as a volunteer and began visiting Henry every week.  The practice of Reiki in human hospitals has been shown to promote healing though relaxation and stress reduction techniques.  Those same techinques helped Henry heal whatever mental or emotional issues he dealt with for several years. 

There was no instant "fix."  No flash of light or fanfare. Carole has been working with Henry for several months.  Gently, steadily, consistently helping him relax and accept things previously deemed out of the question.

The result?

Henry, left, and Josh, right

No matter how you look at Reiki, the results for Henry have been life-changing.  We're forever grateful to Carole for sticking with Henry and giving him the ultimate gift.  He's no longer just content.  He's happy.

For more information on Reiki, see "What is (and isn't) Reiki?"  (Be sure to scroll down to the Fact/Myth chart.)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Green Quilted Pajamas

Somehow we picture Sherman in a plaid flannel, but his green quilted pj's will do just fine.

Friday, November 27, 2009

No More Donations from (formerly Country Supply)

We were very disappointed to learn that Supply has discontinued its CARE program.  For years, when shoppers entered an organization's "Care Code" at checkout, a percentage of the purchase total was donated to that organization.  That will no longer be the case.  We're disappointed in this change since TREES' supporters actually built quite a little cooperative donation base while shopping through the site.   A further disappointment was the decision to not distribute what credits organizations had built up in their accounts at the time the program ended.  Bottom line, folks, is that if you were shopping at more to generate donations than because it was your first choice in horsey retail, you no longer need to factor that into your shopping decisions.

HOWEVER!  We're still members of the iGive mall, and with holiday shopping moving into full swing, that is another way you can support Equine Elders without spending any extra money yourself.  Visit the TREES page at iGive to sign up. 
"Searching or Shopping means a donation. It's just that free and easy. A penny or more per search, a $5 bonus for your first purchase and up to 26% of your purchases at over 730 stores like Amazon, eBay, Travelocity, Home Depot, Staples, and many, many more. Plus you SAVE money with exclusive coupons/free shipping deals."
Hundreds of well-known stores offering everything from pet supplies to inkjets to chocolate.  happy shopping!  Many offer specials, sales, coupons and other extras, just like your brick'n'mortar mall, but without the crowds.

The more you buy, the bigger your donation to TREES! 

Now don't you wish you'd started here instead of in a mile long line at 5AM?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

We Are Thankful......

(In no particular order, for TREES only functions if ALL the pieces, large, small, and in between, are in place……….)

We are thankful for all the support, moral, financial, physical and spiritual, that allows TREES to fill its niche in the world of horse welfare.

We are thankful for being able to work with a veterinary practice, Rappahannock Equine Veterinary Clinic, that not only understands the needs of geriatric equine, but also offers TREES’ residents the same level of customer service that is offered to show barns and top of the line breeders.

We are thankful for every single individual that offers TREES the gift of time, whether he or she comes to the farm weekly, monthly, or occasionally, or staffs special events, spends time researching funding or PR opportunities, works at home, hauls horses, picks up supplies, photographs residents, you name it. You ALL make it work.

We are thankful for Meredith Barlow, of Equidentistry, for her skill in finding whatever loose, fractured, infected, or oddly formed tooth might be causing an otherwise healthy resident to “go off his feed.”

We are thankful for students of all ages, who choose senior horse issues as the focus of field trips, community service or research projects.

We are thankful for animal control officers in surrounding counties who see the line “he’s skinny because he’s old” for the myth it is.

We are thankful for owners of elder horses who ask for advice rather than fall for that same myth.

We are thankful for Ernie Haynes' weekly farrier visits, and his patience with residents who may not be able to lift a leg as high as they did when younger, or who need a little break between feet.

We are thankful for continuing support from “non-traditional” care providers like Jill Deming of Integrated Animal Therapies, Janet Dobbs of Animal Paradise Communication & Healing, and the many volunteers of our Shelter Animal Reiki Association program.

We are thankful to Snow Hill Farm for delivering what seems like a mountain of Triple Crown Senior feed and forage cubes.

We are thankful for the Equine Rescue League (who will celebrate its 20th anniversary next year,) for inspiring the founding of TREES.

We are thankful for area businesses like Tractor Supply Company and Dover Saddlery, that support horse welfare efforts.

We are thankful for Scarlett Grove Stables for retraining a returnee and networking to find the prefect family for her.

We are thankful for all of TREES’ Facebook fans, and blog and web site visitors who help spread the word

We are thankful for Greg Flynn, at for hosting our current web site and for the new layout.

And we are thankful for all of the new friends we meet every year, whether human or equine, veteran horseman or beginner, young or mature. You inspire us with your ideas, motivation and support.

Thank you all. Happy Holidays.

Cushings/IR Talk, Jan12, 2010, Leesburg VA

Jan. 12, 2010 "Endocrine Disease in the Horse: Cushings and Insulin Resistance" will be presented by Dr. Martin Furr, professor and Adelaide C. Riggs Chair in Internal Medicine at the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center ("Morven Park.")

All Tuesday Talk lectures will be held at 7 p.m. in the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center's library, in Leesburg. No fee is charged for attending, but seating is limited and pre-registration is required. To register e-mail Amy Troppmann or call 703/771-6843. Additional information regarding the center and its services is available online.
Contact Kate Lee at or 703/771-6881.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Kids Today......

We'd like to thank Caroline B. and her family for dropping by for a visit today.  For her senior project, Caroline chose to do a presentation on senior horses.  As part of that project, she built a display which featured some of TREES' residents (Miss Mona in particular) to take to local horse shows, and also collected donations and used tack for Traveller's Rest to use in fundraising efforts.  Today TREES was presented with 8 saddles, among other items, that will be used to generate funds for residents' care.  Caroline will also be building a PowerPoint presentation as the final phase of her project.  We hope she'll send us a copy! 

As a side note........Sherman - (formerly) timid, detached Sherman - thoroughly enjoyed Caroline's company and I think would have stayed right next to her as long as she stood in one place. 

Thank you, again, Caroline.  Hope you enjoy your holiday weekend in DC!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Sherman's Rehab Plan

One of TREES facebook fans (Thanks, Michelle!) asked if we would share Sherman's diet plan.

Our reply:

"Oh, sure! Before he got here, Sherman was obviously not getting much to eat, let alone getting a good diet. When he did get anything in addition to some hay, we were told it was an inexpensive general livestock grain. Usually that means a lot of whole oats, whole corn and other whole grains that an older horse can't chew and, therefore, can't digest. When he got here, he'd had very serious diarrhea for some time.

For his first meal, he got half a flake of grass hay. No senior feed right then. At the next meal, he was offered 2 cups of Triple Crown senior feed, soaked, then another half flake of hay. (He is given senior feed in four small meals during the day.) The next day, we gave him a whole flake of hay at a time since he didn't seem to be wolfing it down. On the third day, we began slowly increasing the portion of senior feed and introducing small handfuls of soaked alfalfa cubes.

The only thing we added to the hay and senior feed to this point was some ProBios. In general, unless recommended by the vet, we try not to introduce a lot of new things to a gut that's already in an uproar. After about 5-6 days, the diarrhea was more of an intermittent problem rather than a constant issue, then we figured out that some of the hay had clover in it and that seemed to be what he was sensitive to.

We eliminated the clover and started adding Accel (thank you, Dover Saddlery!) to two meals a day since it contains probiotic ingredients. That seemed to do the trick, and though Sherman occasionally has softer manure than normal, its still well formed and not a major concern at this point.

Right now, Sherman is eating four meals a day, each consisting of 2-1/4 qt of senior feed and 1-1/2 qt of alfalfa, free choice grass hay and Accel 2x/day. Since he does still have some soft manure now and then, we're going to be very cautious introducing him to grass. We'll probably continue to increase his feed portions until he's getting 3 quarts 4x/day and maintain that diet until he regains the weight he needs.

Keep in mind that this is a customized Sherman Rehab Plan. We have a general outline we follow for each horse, but the details are always different."

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Does This Look Odd To You?

Yes, Nathan Fans, what you are looking at is a horse that is muddy on both sides of his body.  Why is that odd? Wellllllllll, if you recall, when Nate first arrived, he could only get to his feet if he slept or rested on his right side.  What you are seeing here is a horse who is able to roll around in the mud on BOTH sides and get up under his own power.   Bravo, Natey!

Baby steps for some, leaps of faith for Nate's supporters!  Thank you to everyone who encouraged us to not give up on this grand gentleman.

(Note:  Nate is "pointing," or standing with one foot in front of him, because that foot is still a work in progress.  Two days ago, Nate's heel was lowered a little more, and his sole and frog pared back as needed, so he may be feeling some tendon stretching and some "new" sensation on the bottom of that foot.)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Today's Anatomy Trivia

While Nate was anesthetized yesterday for his footwork, we took advantage of the situation to illustrate a problem that Sonny has endured for years.  (Sorry, Nate!)

Sonny's prior owners told us that, for years, Sonny suffered "blocked tear ducts," which caused the hair loss just below both eyes.  That diagnosis was confirmed by two veterinarians following Sonny's arrival at TREES.

When they hear the term "blocked tear ducts," many people believe that means that Sonny either does not produce tears or that the tears cannot get to his eyes to flush out irritants or to keep them lubricated.

That is not the case.  The tears get to Sonny's eyes as they should, but cannot drain away as they should.  Normally, tears would drain away from the eyes via the nasolacrimal ducts, and emerge in the nostrils.  Nate kindly shows the opening of his nasolacrimal duct here:

When that little duct is obstructed for any reason, the tears cannot drain normally, spill out over the lower eyelid and run down the face.  In some cases, the duct can be reopened, but Sonny's blockage appears to be a permanent condition and we don't want to put a 38 year old through any invasive procedures for something that causes no real discomfort or presents no health risk. 

Sonny wears a fly mask much of the time since the eye discharge attracts flies and because the hairless skin sunburns easily.  Other than that, Head King Alpha Dude only requires a little extra facial grooming to be kept comfortable.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sherman's First Farrier Visit

Sherman met Ernie today.  Seems our new guy has a couple of problems.  Not all necessarily foot problems, but problems that became apparent when Ernie asked Sherman to stand on three feet or to bend a leg a certain way.

It goes without saying the today's trim was aborted and will not be attempted again until we get a better idea of the source of pain and can resolve the discomfort.

One obvious issue was an "old" abscess in the right hind that may not be entirely healed, though Sherman appears to bear weight on that foot normally.  More evaluation needed there.  The left hind is painful when lifted more than a few inches off the ground.  More evaluation needed there.  Sherm didn't want to lift the right front when he needed to bear more weight on the diagonal.  So, Mr. Sherman only had his left front foot trimmed today. 

But what a trooper he was.  He tried to do as he was asked and actually seemed a little confused that we didn't force the issue.  There was no reason to insist since the current condition of his feet presents no emergency.

So begins the process of solving another puzzle. What hurts?  How much?  Will the discomfort lessen as Sherman gains weight and rebuilds muscle to support his joints?  Will stiff joints loosen up as we being to reintroduce regular exercise? 

Meanwhile, as long as we are not asking him to bear weight in an unusual way, Sherman seems quite happy.  He is eating well, coming outside to enjoy the sunshine most of the day, and becoming more and more curious about events around him.

There may be a real clown lurking under there.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Reiki Level 1 Workshop Nov 15

A few shots from the Reiki Level 1 Workshop at TREES today, conducted by Janet Dobbs.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Extra cleanup this weekend

Three inches of rain Wednesday and still coming down.

Once the "remnants" of Tropical Storm Ida depart, the horses say they MAY venture out of their sheds. Anyone with an extra hour or two to spare, Fri, Sat, or Sun would be very very much appreciated. (And you get to meet Sherman!)

Woman charged with cruelty to polo ponies dies

From the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star:  Woman facing charges in animal cruelty case dies
(This concerns Mona's former "home.")

Mona two days after being removed from the Polo Pony Retirement Foundation.
August 8, 2009

Mona, November 7, 2009

While we were hoping to gain some insight at the trial as to why this happened to Mona and her herdmates, we can now put this behind us and focus on the future. 

Cushings horses: Use topicals with care!

Its long been known that the administration of oral or injectible steroids like dexamethasone could cause complications in horses with Cushings.   This study shows that steroids in topical creams can be absorbed through the skin, causing measurable amounts to show up blood samples.
"We were really surprised to see such massive systemic changes in such a short time," Abraham said. "And this was in healthy horses.
The study, "Effects of dermal dexamethasone application on ACTH and both basal and ACTH-stimulated cortisol concentration in normal horses," was published in the August 2009 Journal of Veterinary Pharmacology and Therapeutics.

Don't Freeze Your Manure!

Those of you who "worm" according to fecal egg counts rather than by the calendar will want to read this article.  How you store the sample may affect the result:

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Drum Roll, Please!

BRrdrdrdrdrdrdrdrdrdrdTT !!

Sometime last night, the shell cracked open and, both literally and figuratively, Sherman emerged!  Rather than staying sequestered in his stall all day and night, Sherm is now strolling outside on a frequent basis.  His eye has softened, he's inquisitive and seeking attention.  A far cry from the timid guy of the past few days.

Because he is very thin and is showing some physical signs that may point to Cushings, we are proceeding cautiously with Sherman's refeeding program.   Lack of weight can sometimes mask the severity of illnesses like Cushings and we want to avoid tiggering any complications like an episode of laminitis.

It appears Sherman is over his suspicion about the camera being a predator.  Don't be surprised if you see a lot of closeups of his nose from here on out!

Monday, November 9, 2009

TREES' Cushings Club

I just realized we frequently talk about our Cushings Club, but we've never really told you who the members are.  The official membership stands at six, but last summer's testing revealed two more may be at the jumping off point.  As we mentioned a few days ago, our new arrival, Sherman, looks pretty suspicious as well.  Not long ago, a diagnosis of "Cushings Disease," now known as PPID (Pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction,) was viewed by many as a death sentence.  Not any more!

And so, without further ado...........The Traveller's Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary Cushings Club:

Nate, mid 30's

Freddy, 26

Wade, 26

Sonny, 38

Josh, late 30's?

Henry, 25

Interestingly, all are geldings.  All are managed with pergolide and a carefully controlled diet (thank to all of our visitors for being very understanding about our "No Treats" policy,) and all are retested each year with pergolide dosages adjusted accordingly. 

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Santa's Elves Sneakin' Around

Gifts continue to arrive no matter what time of year it is!

Thank you, Tim, for the muck bucket full of goodies:  Five new breakaway halters, cotton leads, ivermectin, a complete grooming kit, Swat ointment, Vetwrap and a clock almost too nice to put up in a barn.  It may need to go on the porch or in the room used for small tour groups.Thank you, too, for your generous contribution directly to TREES' account at REVC.  We look forward to seeing you again soon as a volunteer.

And Trish!  Toothless Wonders, one and all, thank you for 50 lbs of alfalfa cubes as well as the grooming supplies.  The extra soft brush and curry are perfect for new arrivals like Sherman that may be carrying little flesh over their weary old bones. Since we've seen more bot eggs this year than we usually do, the bot knife is particularly welcome!

At the risk of sounding a little repetitive, we could not offer TREES' residents the level of care we strive to meet without community support.  Every gift, big, small, cash, goods, or time, adds to the sanctuary's ability to execute its stated mission and goals. 

Thank you, everyone.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Final update on the "Trial for Mona"

The defendant in the "Polo Pony Retirement Foundation Case" passed away on November 4, 2009.  There will be no trial.

Senior Spa Day!

Thank you to all the members of the University of Mary Washington Pre-Vet Club who spent the day grooming geezers. Other than a slight wind, the weather was perfect.  Most of the horses loved the attention, though a couple  of grumps would have been perfectly happy keeping their hard earned dirt.

Perhaps most importantly, our new resident, Sherman, was partially bathed to remove evidence of a light digestive upset from his hind legs.  The New Guy seemed completely relaxed during this procedure, a far cry from a few other residents who declare they've never seen anything resembling a water hose or sponge in all their 30+ years.

Here's Sonny, age 38, following his spa session:

And Rienzi, who is in his mid 30's:

Lizzie's (24) new coif:

Fitz, 26, absolutely ate up the extra attention, looking like he might take a nap during his grooming session:

Miss Mona, 30+, from neglect to diva in just 3 months:

Jubal, 29, also made some new friends:

And our last photo for this post............NATE!  (who was one of the grumps, but did a little of his signature "scampering" afterward, so the experience must not have been as tortorous as he let on in the beginning.)

Thank you, all!  Please come back any time.  We'd love to see you again.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Welcome, Sherman!

Here he is!  Our  new resident, Sherman (29,) is quite thin, but happily not as underweight as either Mona or Liz upon arrival.  It also appears, judging by the thick curly coat, that TREES may be adding another member to the Cushings Club.

Sherman, shortly after a small (too small in his  estimation) meal of Triple Crown Senior.

For now, Sherman seems a little disturbed by the camera, but we were able to catch him peeping over the door at us.


Thank you, Janie for helping bring this together, Amanda for filling in some details, Karol for the extra careful ride, Lori for offering Reiki when Sherman arrived, George, Heather, Catie and Jeanelle for helping to prepare Sherman's apartment, and everyone else following Sherm's arrival. 

Our new man was a little tired after his short trailer ride, so we're trying to give him some privacy for the evening.  We'll try to get more photos and post more information in the next several days.