In light of Rusty’s recent colic episodes, I’ve decided to make a new-and-improved health care plan for him. I sometimes forget just how old Rusty is, and I’m afraid I haven’t given him all the care such a special senior needs. I know he won’t be around for much longer, but I want to do all I can to keep him here as long as possible. Here’s what I’m doing:
- Deworming. I’m a firm believer in not over-deworming. I do not treat for parasites every month, or even every other month like so many horse owners used to do (including me!). Instead, I use fecal egg counts to determine how much to deworm my horses, and when. Rusty’s initial count indicated that he’s a high egg shedder (ew!), so he does need to be dewormed more than Hot Rod and Kona. Since it had been a while, I thought this would be a cheap, obvious place to start. I dewormed him last week with Ivermectin, and I will probably send a poo sample to the lab, just to check on things.
- Hindgut Health. Generally speaking, I try to stay away from too many supplements, but I’ll do anything for my old man. I researched ways to promote a healthy gut, and everything I read pointed to the use of pre-and probiotics, and also enzymes. I searched for several days and stewed over which supplement to choose. I ended up ordering the SmartCombo Senior Ultra for Rusty. I have never EVER spent that much on a supplement. Yikes. I rationalized it by saying that I would stop feeding him his cheapie joint supplement that he’s been eating for years. This senior supplement actually contains much better ingredients for his joints than his old supplement does, so I’m excited to try it. Let’s just hope he eats it…
- Electrolytes. It’s hard to know for certain WHY Rusty has colicked, but encouraging Rusty to drink is a no-brainer. He lives outside in what we lovingly call the “old man pasture,” so it’s hard for me to tell exactly how much he has been drinking. I know I want to add some sort of electrolytes, but in the past Rusty has refused to eat most forms of the supplement. He even refuses to touch mineral salt blocks that I’ve put outside for him. I could give him a paste? Or order a pelleted form of electrolytes? Any suggestions would be helpful.
- Nutrition. Because I have to feed so many horses, Rusty has always been fed the same ration all my other full care horses get. It’s a basic 12% protein ration, and all of my horses eating it look really good. Rusty is also at a good weight right now, but I’m wondering if I need to finally change things for him after all these years. I know that a high fiber/high fat diet would be much better for him, rather than the carbs in his concentrate diet. I haven’t made a decision here either, because it will also affect the boarder living with Rusty. I would like to put him either on a senior feed (again, more money…), or a beet pulp and rice bran diet. I love beet pulp, but I don’t want to worry about fixing warm beet pulp two times a day in the winter. I spoke with my vet last night, and she loved the beet pulp idea. She also recommended a Nutrena Proforce Senior, because it has high fat and beet pulp already mixed in. It will just be much more expensive than what I normally budget for one horse per month. Soooooo, I’m not sure which option to choose, but I need to make one soon.
I have also looked into using Sand Clear, after a friend suggested it. It’s not a product many people around here use, but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing something. Rusty does not eat off the ground, but I know horses can pick up sand from grazing in the pasture. I talked to my vet, and though she felt like it certainly wouldn’t hurt to try it, she didn’t think it was necessary. The more I researched this product though, the more I liked it! It seems pretty beneficial for horses with sand in their digestive systems, and the mechanics behind the Psyllium fiber picking up the sand in the gut is pretty darn cool. I think I’ll wait before purchasing this one for Rusty, though, because I’m not convinced sand is an issue for him.
Doing these things cannot guarantee that Rusty won’t ever colic again. I have been very honest with myself in that aspect. Also, with his age, it’s possible there is an underlying issue that I don’t even know about or can see from the outside. However, doing these things will give me peace that I’m doing all I can without putting tremendous stress on him to find out what is wrong. We shall see if