As most of you know my beautiful Bonnie has been struggling with laminitis and founder for the last year. She foundered after her spring vaccinations last March and hasn’t been the same since. She hasn’t been sound since I bought her, but I didn’t recognize some of the signs until it was too late.
Things I’ve tried over the last year:
- HEIRO – She hated it and wouldn’t touch her feed when I added it. I think she didn’t like the cinnamon.
- Remission – This had minimal effects for her. I think she was too far gone for it to help. I have had great luck feeding this to minis that I feel are borderline IR or metabolic however.
- Milk Thistle – This is for her liver. Her liver is very stressed because of the IR so helping it work without so much stress is key!
- Thyro-L – This worked short term. By worked I mean it helped her to get around. She wasn’t able to eat grass (and won’t as far as I’m concerned!). She was already thin so it didn’t do much for weight.
- Silver Lining Herbs – I tried the Thyroid Support, but the problem with this is you have to combine so many different ones to get the kind of support that Bonnie needed and I ultimately couldn’t afford it. I didn’t see any change in her with the Thyroid Support.
- Homeopathy – I followed the laminitis formula as well as the Inflammation of corium following changes of the hoof found on this page. I did see some improvement with her short term. I changed things up for her, went back and forth between the two, but she stopped responding to these particular ones and I was so tired of wrestling the tiny pellets into her mouth in just the right spot without touching them. I swear I dropped more on the ground than went IN her. But I totally see the benefit of homeopathy. I’ve used it on myself with great results in the past!
- Essential Oils – I have been using Young Living Essential Oils on myself, my family and my animals for over 20 years. I swear there were many days that Bonnie would not have been able to stand at all with out the use of Ortho Sport. I put that on her two to three times a day during her most acute times. I also used lots of Valor, Grounding, Gathering, Rosemary and Peppermint.
- Equine Massage Therapy – My body worker, Heidi Chretien, has been out many times to work on Bonnie. This last time was particularly wonderful. Bonnie went from a hunched up, founder stance pony, to a relaxed (in body and spirit) pony. I could see the difference as soon as I saw her! If Heidi comes to work on one of the other ponies I have to either tie up Bonnie or lock her out of the area as she tries to wiggle her way between Heidi and the other horse. She knows the value of the body work too!
- Crypto Aero Plus – This is actually a wonderful supplement. The horse that ended up benefiting the most from it was Sky! I noticed she was calmer and less mare-ish when she was cycling. She was able to focus when driving and was less reactive. Bonnie liked it as well, but when I saw the lovely changes in Sky I stopped feeding it to Bonnie so it would last longer for Sky. It’s expensive!
- California Trace Minerals – These made a BIG difference for her as this added copper and zinc to her daily diet. Our water and ground is high in iron and this last load of hay I bought was also high in iron so anything that would help her body utilize and then discard the extra iron was very important.
- RV water filer – This helps filter much of the iron from our water. I have it on the hydrant that I fill their water trough from.
- Di-magnesium Malate – Magnesium has been key to her recovery as well. This has helped her in many ways since I brought her home.
- Feeding low sugar low starch hay – This is actually KEY to her survival and recovery. She can not tolerate alfalfa so I can’t do a mix. I do straight grass with low protein. It’s stressful trying to find enough hay but I have my ways…
- Booting her – She wears boots 24/7 unless she is locked in the shed and standing in the deep sawdust. She has a pair of Easyboot minis with a comfort pad in them and a pair of Soft Ride Boots with the gel insert. There have been many many days where she wouldn’t have been able to move, let alone stand, without her boots.
- Hand Warmers – My friend Susan Towne recommended putting hand warmers in Bonnie’s boots when we were really cold late this winter. Because Bonnie’s type of laminitis is related to her IR it means she has very low circulation to her feet and lower legs. This is what is causing her the pain, not inflammation, heat in the feet and a bounding pulse. So her feet were often very very cold and felt like little lumps of cold rock. Putting the hand warmers in her boot really helped her be more comfortable. She would yawn and yawn and be much brighter eyed after I started doing that. I had to replace the hand warmers two to three times a day.
- Children’s Knee-High Wool Socks – Because of her poor circulation Bonnie wore knee high wool socks, two pairs. She wore these every single day from February to March. I think they helped keep a bit of her body heat on her lower legs. The socks went all the way down and around her hooves as well. This also gave her hooves a bit of protection from the hand warmers getting too hot.
- Trimming her heels – This made her so sore she couldn’t walk. I took off small amounts, but she just moved better with more heel. Sigh.
- Taking her toes back – This really helped her because it relieved pressure in the toe area. She had immediate relief when I got more aggressive with her toe and the laminar wedge. (Of course I balance the toe to heel as I don’t want a mechanically made club foot.) One thing is her hooves don’t grow very much. I think this has been due to the lack of circulation. It’s hard to trim her when there isn’t much to trim and yet I have to keep things in balance.
- Locking her in the shed – This really helped her this last month. I locked her up for just over a week. She was trying to move too much and then would get stuck way out on the track and couldn’t make it back for water. So I locked her up and she laid down for a few days and then once she was up, she has stayed up!
I know I’m forgetting a few things that I tried over this past year. It feels like I have tried everything to help Bonnie feel better, heal and get sound, mostly to no avail. It’s been a heart breaking, roller coaster year. Not something I would wish on anyone. If you have been going through this I feel for you and you are in my thoughts! I will never judge anyone that is trying to help a metabolic horse. There aren’t any clear answers and things that work for one person’s horse may not work for another. It really is about trial and error and listening to the horse. As much as I would like to say I have all the answers, I just don’t.
BUT… Bonnie has finally made a turn around. I feel like I’m tempting fate just by writing this and hope she is still doing well in the morning, but I have to share! We have been having some extreme temperature changes over the last few weeks. From 60 degrees down to 15 degrees. Then 30 degrees down to -5. Lots and lots of wet snow, frozen mornings. And Bonnie has made it through the entire last week, on her feet, walking, trotting, galloping, bucking and rearing! Every morning I go out and wonder if she will come greet me at the gate or if I’ll find her laying some where on the track, so far she has come trotting up to me every morning for the last week. The thing I changed? I started her on a Chinese Herb solution from For Love of the Horse (https://www.forloveofthehorse.com/)
She is on the EMS/Cushings/IR Solution, twice a day. To start with she was getting 4-5 scoops mixed in warm water, syringed into her mouth morning and night. Now I have her down to 3 scoops morning and night. She started out hating the syringe and now she will run to me to have it. Everyone wants some, but she knows she is the special one that gets it. I love seeing her so excited about something!
The other night when I was stuffing their hay nets, all three ponies were galloping wildly around the track, chasing each other. I hurried over so I could get it on camera:
I am so hopeful that she is going to be able to pull out of this. I do think the herbs are improving her circulation. All winter her hooves have been as cold as ice. Her lower legs have been cold and her feet haven’t really grown at all… all things that point to very low or no circulation. When we were very very cold for weeks in a row I was putting hand warmers in her boots every day, twice a day, sometimes three times a day to help alleviate some of the pain she was feeling. It seemed to help but she could not walk. Now her hooves feel warm as do her lower legs. Today she lost a boot. I didn’t notice right away because she came trotting up to me, as you can see in the video above of her getting her syringe. I found that boot on the inside of the track, on the other side of the hot wire, flung there by her enthusiastic galloping around the track sometime today. It’s my dream that she can’t keep her boots on because she is being so wild! As soon as we start to thaw out and the mud is soft I will take off her boots and hope that she will grow a foot so I can start working on that for her.
I hope you can rejoice with me with this update! Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers… that she can continue to heal and become sound. Thank you!