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Leah
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 Posted: Sat Jun 5th, 2010 02:32 pm
Over the last couple of years I have posted questions regarding Milo-but now I am worrying because of recent events-here is a summary of ALL his issues...can you offer any thoughts or directions?

My gut says something is going wrong-I just can't figure out if it is truly physical or something in his confidence?

I know we have spoken about not allowing him to go freely forward-I have been addressing that and do allow him to go forward on the buckle.

Anyway....here are the points that stand out to me. I will try to tie things in better after you have a chance to sort through this.

LONG history and I have no idea what is important and what is not.

Milo-10yo owned him 9years. 17.1h TB/Paint/QH/Hanoverian

History of tripping on his front feet...not little tripping but has literally tripped to the point of face planting with me on him. This has happened 3 times over the last few years.

3 years ago took him to 4 horse shows-he was terrified at every show. It would build and build and he started rearing.

Allergies-among other things, gnat allergies. He has been treated with the double ivermectin neckthread worm protocol with minimal success.

This year he has runny eyes with more goop than normal.

Breathing issues-heavy breathing when in light work. Has improved but always a little better or worse.

Fast forward to about a year ago-started spooking at the 'ground'-it started with the wash rack. Literally one day he was TERRIFIED to go in-not the walls but the GROUND.

Now he is fine in the wash rack.

This spring took him for a ride in a pasture. Walking calm and fine-suddenly he snorts and stares at a different color patch of grass and PANICS. Like hot feet-didn't want to stand...shaking, wheeling around. Stopped when I got off.

Tripping comes and goes.

SO about a week ago I had him in the round pen and he trotted off softly-then he caught a back toe and fell-face planted.

Lately I have noticed him catching a rear toe more often when I am doing ground work.

His feet are properly trimmed-toes are not long.

Yesterday I was riding and he was calm and soft-we were just doing a few back steps (I was backing one step at a time connecting his feet to the rein with VERY VERY light contact-drape in the rein, no backward action on the rein)  and he BUCKED-I am talking bronc break in two 4 off the floor buck.


Today same field-all going well-suddenly he spooks at a piece of crab grass, a few strides later he falls out behind. I gently ask him to stop to make sure he was ok. just standing quietly and BLAM he bucks again!


I can't figure out if it is vision (but how would that explain tripping behind), neurological?

Just a behavioral issue? That just seems so odd though. It wouldn't seem to explain the tripping?

I have spoken to the vet and am inclined to take him to UGA for something-but dang I wish I had a starting point?

Maybe arthritis? in the neck? spine?

He has no signs of back soreness-no signs of saddle issues.

A couple of months ago my vet did a basic lameness evaluation (flexions and observing him online)-nothing.

ANY ideas at all?

I am at a total loss-I just know at 45yo I am struggling with riding a horse that face plants.

Edited to add-about 5 years ago he had an accident while tied-he had always been good at tying but on this day a loose EMU (yes I said that) was trapped at the neighbors-Milo saw it an had a panic-thrashed about and finally broke loose...I only mention it because of possible long term damage? I am reaching here.

Last edited on Sat Jun 5th, 2010 02:42 pm by Leah

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sat Jun 5th, 2010 04:37 pm
OK, Leah: the first response I have is to ask whether you have gone to the effort to go be with Buck, Harry, Joe, Josh, Wayne, Tom, or me. I don't think I've met you, so maybe you have done what I asked you to do some years ago, and spent time with these qualified people. Because the whole picture you present tells me that this is what you need most, beyond any veterinary intervention.

On other points, I need specific clarification:

1. What do you mean by "heavy breathing"? Does this mean the horse pants, with rapidly heaving sides, after only mild work? Or does it instead mean that the breathing makes raspy sort of sounds?

2. What do you mean by "caught a back toe"? Apparently from what you say, there is a causal relationship or a sequence of events -- first the horse "catches a back toe" and then he falls forward. Does "catch a back toe" mean that he drags, or stabs, a back toe into the ground? Or does it mean that a hind toe is coming forward and raps into one of the front legs or feet?

3. When the horse was rearing at the show, were you on his back at that time?

4. How often do you practice backing the horse up, one step at a time, as described here many other times?

5. When you feel the horse tightening up as the prequel to when he is going to spook, what is your specific reaction? When you feel him tightening up, do you tighten the reins, or the grip with your legs, in self defense (very understandable if you do)?

6. With regard to the bucking, how long (minutes) will you have had him under saddle, or otherwise working, before the bucking begins -- just a few minutes, or after half an hour, or after an hour? And how far from the barn (yards) will you have been when this has occurred?

7. What is the composition of this horse's diet? i.e., where do you live exactly? Is the horse receiving lucerne or alfalfa? Is there ryegrass or tall fescue in the pasture where he grazes?

Something I want you to contemplate, Leah: that when a horse is 100% OK on the inside, nothing whatsoever on earth will bother him. You can literally shoot a gun off under his belly and he'll just calmly stand there, smacking his lips. This effect is so marked that people who do not understand or believe that human beings can give this gift to horses, and who are negative and cynical, always say of an OK horse, "well he has been drugged."

On the other hand, and I want you to think about this too, every single one of the problems you list are usual with horses that belong to people who do not know how to get a horse 100% OK on the inside. This would be the main and urgent reason I inquire whether you've been with the qualified people in the above list.

But let us hear back from you with clarification on the other points. -- Dr. Deb

 

Leah
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 Posted: Sat Jun 5th, 2010 05:30 pm
DrDeb wrote:
[For ease of answering, my replies embedded below]

OK, Leah: the first response I have is to ask whether you have gone to the effort to go be with Buck, Harry, Joe, Josh, Wayne, Tom, or me. I don't think I've met you, so maybe you have done what I asked you to do some years ago, and spent time with these qualified people. Because the whole picture you present tells me that this is what you need most, beyond any veterinary intervention.

[You are correct-we have not met. I have not been able to see the people you have listed because of family personal reasons (an illness) however, I have recently purchased Josh's DVD, read everything I can and am progressing to a better understanding to helping a horse become 100% ok-more on that below]

On other points, I need specific clarification:

1. What do you mean by "heavy breathing"? Does this mean the horse pants, with rapidly heaving sides, after only mild work? Or does it instead mean that the breathing makes raspy sort of sounds?

[rasping noises-like darth vader]

2. What do you mean by "caught a back toe"? Apparently from what you say, there is a causal relationship or a sequence of events -- first the horse "catches a back toe" and then he falls forward. Does "catch a back toe" mean that he drags, or stabs, a back toe into the ground? Or does it mean that a hind toe is coming forward and raps into one of the front legs or feet?

[When it happens behind (which is only recent) it is a stab...it appears that his hind leg does not raise and reach forward but stays low and then the toe stabs down. He used to drag but thanks to my better understanding of softness (also from a clinician that is not on your list but I have PM'ed you about)-he no longer drags his toes-just this occasional stab. In front it is similar-but more just he doesn't get his foot up and out of the way-not a stopping of his forward swing of his shoulder-does that make sense?]

3. When the horse was rearing at the show, were you on his back at that time?

[yes-this was several years ago and I was not anywhere close to understanding ok-ness. I was at the time 'trapping him' and certainly was contributing-well, causing this response. He has not reared in 3 years-I mentioned it to help give a full picture]

4. How often do you practice backing the horse up, one step at a time, as described here many other times?

[I used to do it (again before finally FEELING softness)-I have just again started this as a part of our daily learning for a few weeks-since learning to feel correct softness from the clinician-so more often since early April-not long of course. I started this in hand and progressed to under saddle. He has been very accepting-soft, responsive and shows no indications of not being ok at this time. He struggled at first but is more confident now. He has learned to offer from the lightest of feel to step back one foot at a time-he is not 'light' as Josh uses the term (in a negative way) but actually soft.]

5. When you feel the horse tightening up as the prequel to when he is going to spook, what is your specific reaction? When you feel him tightening up, do you tighten the reins, or the grip with your legs, in self defense (very understandable if you do)?

[Again, we have a before and now-before I did the wrong things-I tightened as well. Again, since only recently I have learned to let go and soften my body-making sure I am not clenching. I am not always correct and still have room to improve but I have made improvements--perhaps not enough yet and he is still worried that old Leah will arrive. Before I have felt him tighten-I know his birdie left...these last two days-the two bucks (first time he has EVER bucked EVER)-I felt nothing. I am not saying at all there was NOT something-I just missed it if there was. In today's buck we were stopped, relaxed, reins on the buckle-he had tripped and I was just taking a moment to make sure he felt ok....also this morning leading in, he saw a cat by the fence-nothing abnormal-kitties are all around-he LOOKED at her and BUCKED-I just remembered to add that]

6. With regard to the bucking, how long (minutes) will you have had him under saddle, or otherwise working, before the bucking begins -- just a few minutes, or after half an hour, or after an hour? And how far from the barn (yards) will you have been when this has occurred?

[Yesterday I did maybe 20 minutes in the round pen working on getting him 'mindful' of me (ala Josh) and he was soft and connected. I was on him for maybe 30 minutes? I would guess. Mostly walking-getting him soft and ok. He had no signs of tightness. We were in the field that he is pastured in at night. Maybe 100 yards from the barn. I have ridden him in this field anytime we ride for years. My horses do not spend much time in the barn-only bad weather-so this field has been part of his home for 9 years-not sure if that makes a difference-just trying to give all the info I can think of!]

7. What is the composition of this horse's diet? i.e., where do you live exactly? Is the horse receiving lucerne or alfalfa? Is there ryegrass or tall fescue in the pasture where he grazes?

[I live in Georgia. His diet is pasture-fescue, bermuda and weeds and such-the only pasture grown in my part of Georgia. His diet is supplemented with timothy hay and orchard grass to have a mix of grass hays (and help make his diet not 100% fescue). His minerals are balanced to forage testing. He gets 1/3 cup of oats on occasion. No additional feeds or grains]

Something I want you to contemplate, Leah: that when a horse is 100% OK on the inside, nothing whatsoever on earth will bother him. You can literally shoot a gun off under his belly and he'll just calmly stand there, smacking his lips. This effect is so marked that people who do not understand or believe that human beings can give this gift to horses, and who are negative and cynical, always say of an OK horse, "well he has been drugged."

[I understand and agree 100%. I do know he is not 100% and have changed my entire approach to horses to help with this. I have seen improvement-I have removed my agenda and timeline. There is no doubt that IS part of the issue, if not the entire issue]

On the other hand, and I want you to think about this too, every single one of the problems you list are usual with horses that belong to people who do not know how to get a horse 100% OK on the inside. This would be the main and urgent reason I inquire whether you've been with the qualified people in the above list.

But let us hear back from you with clarification on the other points. -- Dr. Deb

[Final thoughts-as I said and am aware(painfully so LOL)-he needs help to become 100% ok-I am on a much better path to get there-thanks to you and the information I can get from those you listed (I also am on a forum with another clinician that is listed on your friends-she has been tremendously helpful).

My concern is only that I do not overlook a physical issue that would need veterinary attention. My biggest concern is his allergies-specifically the gnat allergies. I know the gnats are carriers for the onchochera (neck thread worms) and have been diligent in my research of this in horses-one potential impact from die off of the adults is ERU. I also know severe allergies can result in ERU. I suppose that is one of my thoughts-with the vision issues and tripping.

His allergies progress-he has been tested and treated (unsuccessfully) so it is a matter of managing as best possible. Sadly the one thing that gives him relief is steroid shots-but the frequency they are needed is so often I worry about metabolic fall out.

I have no issue whatsoever in taking the time, doing only groundwork, whatever it takes to help him arrive at 100% ok...I am there in my mind and prepared. I know that is a concern...I don't want you to feel I am denying that at all!

I just have a gut worry that something else is going on?

Thank you for your feedback so far-I hope my responses were helpful in giving you the background. I did my best to present where we were and are as honestly as I can, taking responsibility for not understanding these things sooner.

Thank you again for helping me to sort this out.]

 

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sat Jun 5th, 2010 07:16 pm
Great reply, Leah, altogether clear and helpful.

The very first thing I'm going to suggest to you is that you get the horse totally off fescue grass. If you've read the "Poison Plants" book you will know that most modern fescues contain internal fungi that have been deliberately innoculated into the grass. If you trot down to Home Depot or Wal-Mart, you will find in their garden department bags of grass seed advertised as having "the myco advantage". "Myco" means "fungus" and "the myco advantage" is that the grass contains endophyte fungi which confer upon the grass several things that a homeowner would want for their lawn: greater drought tolerance, higher initial sprouting rate, and resistance to insect attack.

Unfortunately the same endophytes, which pump out "mycotoxins" that kill the insects, have highly deleterious effects when ingested by livestock. Mycotoxin-injected (and even old-fashioned "natural" fescue, which already contained endophytes) is the greatest single cause of livestock loss in the cattle industry. The mycotoxins make cows founder so bad they'll slough their entire hoof off. It also makes cows "chowssy" -- in other words, hyper-reactive and spooky. It has the precise same effects on horses.

I suggest you immediately put this horse in a drylot situation where you can control his diet completely. Then see to it that he is fed Timothy for the most part, supplemented with bromegrass if he is not prone to rapid weight gain. You can topdress with a little alfalfa and give him a small amount (a couple of cups) of good clean oats per day.

You will need to keep the horse off the pasture for a period of six weeks. Then re-assess in terms of his reactivity, general soundness, and the severity of his gnat allergies (mycotoxins also promote general inflammatory response in the body, which makes allergies worse).

Everything else you are doing is already right -- especially the fact that you have recognized that, in the past, your own 'clutching up' was causing the rearing, nappiness, and spookiness. You must realize, I guess, that the 'Darth Vader' breathing is an absolutely diagnostic mark of not-OK-ness, having nothing whatever to do with either exercise intolerance or roaring. The raspy sounds are due to spasm of the pharyngeal muscles and those of the palatal drape, and they only occur after the person has missed, and missed again, and missed AGAIN the smaller signs that the horse has previously been offering. Those smaller signs begin, first, with the SLIGHTEST change in the breathing from absolutely soundless to slightly whiffling; the SLIGHTEST rise in the carriage of the neck; the SLIGHTEST shortening of the hind step; the SLIGHTEST reluctance to go forward, as if the brakes were on SLIGHTLY. When one learns not to miss these SLIGHT signs, then 'Darth Vader' will entirely go away. You must notice the slight signs, and you must also respond to them: and the response is, that you perceive what is bothering the horse -- either there's something in front of him that he's not too sure about, or else he's getting pretty far from the barn, but not far enough to have quit thinking about it altogether, so that we say 'his thread is stretched'. When either of these things occur, your response should be to STOP TRYING TO GO FARTHER. Either let the horse stand there, at a distance where he doesn't have to spook or try to flee, and just contemplate and think about the thing in front of him that's bothering him; or else, if you think it's more about the thread, then actually turn back toward the barn or where his feed bucket is, going back however far until the horse totally relaxes again, and there at that spot turn about once again in your desired direction, and wait, not permitting him to look back toward the barn at all, but asking him to think about going where you want to go; and you wait there until you feel him want to go, and then you give him permission to go. This is very different from 'making him go.' You do this consistently, and you will never again have to ride any spook, and there will be no nappiness and no bucking, I don't care if he has arthritis in every joint of his back or a nail sticking down from the saddle.

I would advise you to stay off this horse's back for the first six weeks -- while the diet and the horse's metabolism are normalizing -- and concentrate my training efforts on the following things:

1. Teaching the horse to mount the drum

2. Teaching the horse to back, one step at a time (his inability to do this fluidly, and the fact that you really haven't worked on it much, contribute both to his tendency to rear and to the toe-stabbing with the hind limb -- stabbing toe = sticking stifle, and sticking stifle = low back dysfunction. Teaching the horse to back one step at a time will greatly improve how he uses his back).

3. Longe over cavalletti -- as per directions given here previously. Start with six or fewer passes in each direction over a fanned group of four poles, set so if he steps on one they won't roll. Do this 3X per week.

4. Teach horse to roll a Pilates-type ball with his nose. This is not only fun, but a great help in teaching the horse to focus-and-come-forward-freely.

You will, I think, like this program as it will allow you to put off the use of steroids and perhaps make it possible to eliminate them forever except as therapy of last resort or for an emergency.

And do keep us posted as to anything else that happens. Thank you for all the efforts you have been making, and for your good clear observations both of yourself and your horse. -- Dr. Deb

Leah
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 Posted: Sat Jun 5th, 2010 07:36 pm
Thank you for getting back to me so quickly again.

How interesting on the emotional connection to Darth Vader! I have never heard that and it makes perfect sense!

The connection to the fescue and inflammatory response is also very interesting. I knew it existed but had not considered it was creating this much of an issue for him. I always thought the concern was regarding pregnant mares?
Even though I never thought of it being detrimental to non-breeding horses, the concern  is the main reason I do not buy fescue hay-as I mentioned to at least cut the total fescue intake.

Perhaps others from fescue areas can pipe in and suggest how they have handled this kind of pasture situation-honestly I don't know of a single farm in this part of Georgia that is not fescue-the 'good news' if there is any is I no longer 'improve' my pasture by overseeding with more fescue. I actually may have a pasture that is now fescue free or close to it. That leaves pretty much a small amount of bermuda and weeds and such.

It is frustrating!

I look forward to starting our new program-thank you for the suggestions. I actually have a drum and milo loves it-he will willingly step onto it if left free in the arena. He seems to stand on it forever.

I don't have a Pilates ball but have a large horse toy ball-the kind that has a soccer ball cover. He will dribble that ball with his nose (and sometimes feet) for up to 30 minutes if allowed to. Would this sort of ball be appropriate as well?

We have not done either of those activities in awhile but I know he looks forward to both of them and always appears very confident and secure when doing them.

We will continue improving backing.

I do cavelleti with him and will be sure to review your directions for that.

Thank you again.




Last edited on Sat Jun 5th, 2010 08:20 pm by Leah

Leah
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 Posted: Sat Jun 5th, 2010 07:49 pm
I don't know if this is of interest but I had Milo allergy tested (DNA test) in 2006-these were the results.

Yes, I am aware I do allow him things he tested for-honestly it simply became a matter of reducing what I could and hoping for the best.

Do you have any thoughts on allergy testing and the accuracy?

Grab a seat-it is a long listed. *sigh*

7/21/2006 allergy tested with the following results:



scoring key:



Negative (N)<150

Borderline (BL) 151-174

Borderline-Positive (BL-P) 175-199

Positive (P) 200-400

Highly Positive (HP) >400



Borderline Results



Bayberry 154

Birch Mix 157

Baccharis 155

Dust Mite Mix 159

T putrescentiae 161

Ant, Black 164

Rye/Fescue Mix 156

Timothy Grass 163

Johnson Grass 169

Brome Grass 165

Aspergillus Mix 168

Cat Epithelia 154

Molasses 158

Oats 161





Borderline-Positive Results



Hazelnut Pollen 176

Elm Mix 180

Dock Mix/Sheep Sorrel 176

Mustard Pollen 176

Russian Thistle 196

English Plantain 165

Dandelion 182

Clover, Red 178

Cullicoides 176

Wasp 181

Alternaria tenius 176

Candida 176

Penicillium Mix 180

Flaxseed 176

Wheat 177



Positive Results



Dog Fennel 207

Ant, Fire 274

Botrytis cinera 205



   

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sun Jun 6th, 2010 04:28 am
Leah, I think you need to take more seriously the suggestion I gave you previously regarding removing your horse entirely from your pasture.

First you tell me that you have a fescue/bermuda pasture + weeds, then you tell me you don't have fescue. Which is it? Indeed, however -- if you have EVER overseeded with fescue, I can 100% guarantee that you have fescue. So I repeat: it is IMPERATIVE that you do whatever is necessary to get the horse off this pasture TODAY.

Unless you want the hallucinatory behaviors and the hypersensitivity to go on -- so that he bucks you off again?

The other response I was looking for from you was to hear you say that you would immediately purchase a "Poison Plants" book. This is important not only because you need to learn to identify your grasses, but also because, by your own report, you have a pasture full of weeds.

Now, combining that bit of the truth with the allergy-testing list you provided, and considering only those plant species which provoked in him a response of 175 (borderline-positive) or higher AND which are listed as problematic in the "Poison Plants" book, we get a fairly long list:

Dock/Sheep sorrel

Mustard

Russian thistle

Red clover

Flax

Wheat

Dog fennel

....of which plants, all but wheat are common pasture weeds. Are you beginning to get the picture? It is not OK, Leah, to try to maintain a horse on crud. There are pictures in the PP book which I took of a certain property not too far from the Institute offices here in California. The young woman who had that property was also keeping her horses in a pen full of weeds. What I say about it in the PP book is this:

"So before she gets ready to go to work in the morning, she goes out and throws the horses a feed of hay. Then at 7:30 she leaves, and doesn't come home again until 5:30 p.m. The horses finish the hay by 9:30 a.m. They stand in the pen until she gets home from work, changes clothes, has dinner, and then comes out to throw them another feed of hay at 7 p.m. What does she think the horses are doing between 9:30 a.m. and 7 p.m.? Just napping? There's a reason why the amount of weeds periodically diminishes in her paddocks, and it is not because she goes out there and mows them. The horses are eating the weeds because there is no other food and there is nothing else for them to do. This is the equivalent of giving them at least one feed per day of weeds. Would you go out and purchase a bale of sheep sorrel or mustard and feed that to your horses?"

In addition to this, Leah, I want you to think very seriously about whether you have red clover. This plant is one of the very worst that anyone could have in horse pasture, for it has not only its own native content of alkaloid poisons, but also harbors both endophytic and surface fungi. Rye/clover or fescue/clover is frequently recommended for overseeding and red clover is often included willy-nilly in "pasture seed mix". Therefore if you have ever over-seeded with fescue, I expect you will have also seeded the pasture with red clover.

You must get this horse OFF this pasture entirely -- no exceptions, not for one minute is he to be allowed in there. If you don't have a drylot or pen, you must build one, so that he can live for at least six weeks without ingesting hallucinogenic poisons (i.e. fungus-produced alkaloids).

Now please let's hear a little more regarding exactly your plan to build or utilize a drylot, to educate yourself regarding problematic grasses and broadleaf weeds, and to improve your pasturage over the longer haul. If I don't hear a plan from you, I will have to assume that you don't believe me, in which case, I can't see why I should at any future time offer you any further help.

There are, also, further aids which I can give you to get this horse back to where he is a safe and reliable ride; however, you will have to show me that you are actually carrying out these first suggestions before I would venture to offer any more; just doing what I have told you to do might by itself be enough. -- Dr. Deb

Leah
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 Posted: Sun Jun 6th, 2010 07:15 am
Dr Deb, with all due respect you have misread my post. First I have not one but 2 drylots. One is several acres. My horses live on it 12 hours a day.


Secondly, to clarify, when I say weeds I am talking about non lush less than amazing founder fodder. My pastures are and have always been some of the richest pastures around. For *me* the fact that some non fescue growth has come about is thrilling. I am quite aware of the metabolic connection to lush pasture and prefer to avoid that. I can understand why flippant use of the words weeds was inaccurate and left a wrong impression.

I always am a believer of variety in the diet-not straight groomed pastures of one or two kinds of grasses-variety is a wonderful source of minerals, etc.

Contrary to your conclusion based on a post I made that was already lengthy-sometimes I can be a little verbose and shave details for less bandwidth use.  I am aware of the shortcomings that all of us face with trying to manage horses and do my best to balance physical and mental health. The topics of nutrition, health, mineral balancing, etc are a part of my life and interest and have been for years.

Contrary to the vision I have left you with, my horses are not starving in a poisonous infested nutritionally deficient span with torn down fences and rusty gates. Quite the opposite.

In springtime we have to mow every 4-5 days.

I test my pastures regularly and can assure you deficiency is far from the problem.

I did not jump in and say I would buy you book because I have books on plants toxic to horses. I check my fields. I do not have red clover. I just recently reviewed available grasses for our area in hopes of growing my own hay. I came up with nothing other than fescue. I asked here in hopes someone would have an idea that I had already not found and considered.

Yes I have fescue fields...you are correct. I will offer more details quite unnecessary to the discussion on a public forum.

Recently, within the last year I purchased more land...I did not think my financial choices in a struggling economy were important details for this discussion. I have a field, currently unused that I am planning to fence. We have been 'improving' this field by eliminating any toxic growth, etc. I was thinking this field would be an option. At least part of it has zero fescue. I could fence off that section.

Next to that field is one i have that has never done well when I did overseed. I would TRY to get grass to grow and it never did well. There is some (a small amount) of fescue in this one. I could possibly fence off part of this one.

I am looking for options here Dr Deb-thinking through and respecting your thoughts while sorting through what I know, have tried, and can manage. That is where you read the inconsistency-I apologize for the confusion this has created for you.


Regarding having him on pasture I have discussed at length with not one, but 2 vets. He has absolutely no reactions whatsoever in non-gnat season. No spooking, no bucking, no skin issues, no suspicious vision issues. His responses increase as his midline dermatitis and accompanying runny eyes develop each spring. I don't have the connection down 100% so I still consider it is not connected. Then again it could be the spring growth of fescue of course. But the fescue is there when the gnats are not.

Hopefully you can now appreciate this is complicated and full of lots of information. That is why I posted here-in hopes for feedback from you-someone that I do respect enough to ask.

I also did consider none of this mattered and it was behavioral-but behavior should not cause skin issues.

My vet and I discusses quality of life vs balancing his allergies. I removed all allergens I could from his diet with no change, I added timothy back in, no change.

I have also been reading extensively on the value of allergy testing. Milo had a blood serum test-since this time I have read they are less accurate than skin testing. Others feel they are more valuable. Some feel food allergens can not be accurately tested-others feel they are. I have actually looked into this as well. Can you see how his allergy testing results are something I respect but question as having complete accuracy?

Considering elimination of food allergens is the only true test (according to some professionals), and food removal did nothing, I left these items lower on the worry pole. My greater concern are the mold and fungi, etc-and your mention of the endophytes in fescue is a valid point. I actually TRIED to grow the endophyte free version in a small pasture several years ago-it would not take well and what did grow, died during the drought summer.

He is ONLY this way during spring season-gnat season, the same season that the onchochera adults are active. THIS is why I mentioned the connection the that and ERU and potential vision issues. THIS is why I did not worry excessively that I was killing him with fescue. If the fescue were the culprit, would he not be this way all the time the fescue was there?

Either way I read you response and put this back on the table for consideration. I was respectful of your response.

I am sure this post has left out even more details that make it more confusing. I have had this horse for 9 years. His issues started about 6 years ago. There are some things that connect, others that don't seem to.

I have been round and round and round. I am looking for something I missed.

It has been challenging and frustrating, as you can imagine.

Anyway, thank you (as always) and my apologies if you feel that I have not been considerate of your response.


DrDeb
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 Posted: Sun Jun 6th, 2010 04:02 pm
Leah, if you can just stop self-justifying for even one minute, and do as you have been told, then life will be quite simple.

No one has accused you of starving your horses. What I have said is that if you have weeds + fescue, then you need to get rid of the weeds and the fescue.

If you don't know how to identify each and every weed and grass that your horse has access to, either through pasturage or in hay, then you must teach yourself to do that. And to do that, you can either get my book or some other good book; I do not care which book, so long as it is effective.

And meanwhile, you MUST get the horse off the fescue.

You will then find that all of his many allergies cease to be allergies. It is the mycotoxins from the fescue that is raising his level of internal inflammation, which makes his reaction to gnats or other allergens worse. Eliminate the fescue and you eliminate the allergies too. -- Dr. Deb

Leah
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 Posted: Sun Jun 6th, 2010 06:00 pm
Thank you for your time.

I will proceed using my best judgment and in accordance with my vet's advice as well as the advice of others I respect regarding my horse's access to my pasture.

I will however thank you for your training suggestions.


DrDeb
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 Posted: Sun Jun 6th, 2010 08:27 pm
Leah, from the tenor of your replies, I must conclude that you were just fooling us in the first place when you entitled this thread "need help brainstorming". You don't need any help brainstorming; what your posts show is that you had, in fact, already decided what to do when you initially wrote in. If you had wanted help, you would have acted upon the suggestions given, and proceeded to do what you were told.

To "do what you have been told" does not imply that you are submitting like a toddler to the arbitrary demands of an authority figure. When adults do as they have been told, it means that (1) they came seeking with sincere intent not to waste the time of the person they were inquiring of, and (2) they believe what they have been told, and (3) having understood the instructions, they fully intend to act upon them.

You have shown none of the above, neither in this thread nor by the fact that you did not make the effort previously to go see the horsemen who could have taught you not to get into the sorts of trouble with your horse that you have complained of, and which could easily have cost you your life. You did not work at backing one step at a time, so your horse still doesn't use his back correctly and he still sticks a stifle and stumbles.

You are, in short Leah, a complete waste of this teacher's time -- you are completely insincere. So, until and unless you give us here a memo which states that you intend to put into operation the suggestions regarding getting your pasture cleaned up and keeping your horse off of fescue for a six week trial period, I will not reply to any query from you, nor either will I permit anyone else to do so. You are not banned from the Forum, but you now need to prove to us that you're worth anyone's time.

Understand, Leah, that the "This Says It All" thread was posted here with you in mind. As a first step in getting your head put on straight, you might want to go take a rather thorough look at that. -- Dr. Deb

DrDeb
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 Posted: Mon Jun 7th, 2010 02:38 am
Leah, try again. I have deleted your last post because you continue to try to justify yourself instead of telling me about your plans to change several things that you have been doing.

You mentioned that you felt I was shifting from "blaming" the problems you've been having on your training abilities to "blaming" them on your fescue. You are entirely correct; I did shift -- but let me clarify: you are neither a competent horse trainer, nor are you maintaining appropriate pasture for your horse. BOTH of these are areas where I identify that you need to make some changes.

Your failure to connect as soon as originally suggested with good horsemen who could help you has put you in serious danger several times.

Your failure to enthusiastically take up my suggestions concerning fescue toxicosis reveals that you are having difficulty either believing, or understanding, that this also is a real and serious management problem that needs to be addressed right away. When you get the horse off fescue and red clover (I repeat), you will find that your training difficulties become less because the horse will become less hypersensitive and spooky. You will also find that the mycotoxins in the fescue are an underlying persistent aggravator of his allergies, so that once they are removed entirely from his diet, the allergies will go away.

In an attempt to lessen the necessity for telling you directly and in public that you are missing on some important subtleties that relate to horse training, I shifted my emphasis from that to talking about pasture management and diet. Once you get the horse off fescue and red clover, and prevent him from eating every day the poisons that these pasture plants contain, the horse would become so much easier in his own skin that it might have been possible for you to sail right on without such urgent need for help with your horsemanship. However, the juvenile and self-justifying tone of your last several replies necessitates this much more direct response.

You need to make quite a few changes, Leah, so as I said: try again. And keep trying, until you can post something here that begins with "....so I thought it over and this is what I'm going to do first thing tomorrow to get my horse into a drylot where I can entirely control his diet for a trial period of six weeks." -- Dr. Deb

Leah
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 Posted: Mon Jun 7th, 2010 06:42 am
Dr Deb,



I will be doing today what I do everyday-managing my horses based on the input of several good vets and horseman. The same thing I have been doing for years.

I will not be blindly following the advice to get him off fescue without a better explanation.

I have asked you 3 points that you have ignored and now deleted.

1. I have not found any research that supports fescue is unhealthy for non-breeding horses. I have found it is for pregnant mares in the last tri-mester. I would be grateful if you have research supporting your statements. I am certain others with fescue pastures would be interested in reading it as well.

2. I have asked you about the reliability of alllergy tests, specifically blood serum vs skin testing as there is mixed information on these two tests. I have also asked you about the reilability of testing for food allergens-anothe point that is questioned in the field.

3. I have asked you about your knowledge on the connection of gnat allergies and infestation by the onchochera parasite (neckthread worm). Considering his reactions are only seasonal and during gnat season, I thought this should also be considered.

Additionally you insist he is on red clover. I do not have red clover in my fields.


My last response was polite and respectful. Not juvenile as you insist. The fact that you deleted it somewhat proves that point. You generally leave the juvenile posts up to expose and embarrass that you don't like.

Best to you Dr Deb. You have shared great information with horse owners. It is quite unfortunate that your teaching style isolates good students.


Indy
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 Posted: Mon Jun 7th, 2010 08:00 am
Leah,
You have owned the horse for 9 of it's 10 years of life and he isn't safe to ride or be around. You have consulted with the vets on these issues for YEARS. Your allergy testing is dated 2006. You ask Dr. Deb and the rest of us for advise and Dr. Deb recommends a 6 week trial of keeping the horse on a dry lot (which you said you have available on your own property). This seems like a no brainer to me. Honestly, I do not understand why you would not TRY this. It is safe, simple and if Dr. Deb is correct, will produce a result quickly. The three things you continue to ask about are all theoretical/opinion questions. The answers to which will not move you any closer to actually helping your horse. Doing a 6 week trial is an actual action that might prove helpful.
Clara

Leah
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 Posted: Mon Jun 7th, 2010 01:48 pm
Indy-I don't see the reason to debate this further-Dr Deb has asked others not to respond to me.

For what it is worth, the vet is coming out today to pull blood for a new allergy test and I will discuss 'fescue' intolerance (for lack of a better phrase-well mycotoxin intolerance is more accurate).

Also for what it is worth, today I started the ground exercises and focused on keeping him mentally with me, 100% ok and soft.

I learned a great deal during our time together. I am still amazed at what I learn the better I am at feeling.

I also turned him loose with his ball (as Dr Deb suggested) and observing him playing was very educational. It allowed me to observe his coordination, athleticism and confidence.





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