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March 2012

Cassie’s Column (March 2012)

I just looked at the date and realised it was time for another update – that month has gone so quick! I have been very busy over the last couple of weeks with Uni, getting Poppy ready for her first competition and, unfortunately, looking after a very poorly David the pony…


Trying to tempt David to eat on the lawn at midnight!

First time he ate Horsehage after being ill!

David being nosey through the lounge window!

A poorly pony…..
Last week, the usually bright, fun and happy David looked very down in the field. I immediately thought laminitis had caught us out with all the spring grass shooting through, but this was not the case. Over the next few days we monitored David as he went completely off his food, depressed and started to drop condition literally before our eyes. Clinically, although depressed and having no appetite, he showed no other signs of being unwell –his heart rate, respiration rate and temperature were fine and he had no signs of colic or pain. So we gave him some treatment to try and stimulate his appetite and took various blood samples. We also took a sample of the fluid from his abdomen (this process is called a peritoneal tap). We also scanned his abdomen with the ultrasound machine.

The results…
David’s results showed that he has a condition called Protein-Losing Enteropathy where he is losing protein from his body through the gastrointestinal tract (gut). There are a few possible reasons for this that may be related to his age. We have given him treatment and are monitoring how he responds to this.
Getting David back to his normal self has involved lots of care and nursing. He has been having several small feeds made into a mash per day to try and tempt him to eat – we even allowed him to have some of the big horses’ cherry-flavoured Mollichaff ShowShine! As well as this we have been letting him have small grazing sessions on the lawn every few hours when he’s stabled at night (what pony could resist this!) Alongside getting his appetite going, it’s important that any in-patient is groomed and given lots of fuss and he’s definitely been getting lots of this from his many fans! My Dad has also been spending time with him and this always cheers him up.

Getting back to normal…

This morning I nipped into David’s stable to put his breakfast in and the little monkey seized the opportunity to take himself off to the lawn for a graze! Usually I‘d be very cross about this as our horses do have very good manners, but as it was a glimpse of his normal cheeky character I let him off! We are all hoping David makes a speedy recovery soon and I will keep you updated.

All smiles for Poppy!
Poppy has been going really well. I took her to her first lesson last week since she has been back in work. Our instructor could not believe it was the same horse. Her transitions are a lot smoother and her movement was a lot freer and generally she was a lot more willing and responsive, so I was thrilled with how much of a difference treating her back has made. We now have our first dressage competition planned for the beginning of April and also some jumping clinics and cross country schooling. I was hoping to take her to our local express eventing next week – but I don’t think she’s quite ready to make her new back debut just yet!

Henry-March2012Henry brightens the mood…
Henry has been very concerned about little David – they’ve been together for many years. Apart from that, he’s feeling very well. We had the fields rolled last week and Henry was the first to challenge Poppy to a race over the good ground! I do worry when I see him galloping – I suppose it’s the equivalent of an OAP doing a 100m sprint! But least it shows he’s still loving life!

Laminitis time
I had planned to write about laminitis this time. With Spring approaching, it’s crucial to be prepared and it’s so easy to get caught out. With David not being himself I thought it was unfair to use him in it – so in next month’s column I will include a separate piece on laminitis with the help of Simon who can provide some top veterinary tips on keeping it at bay, and hopefully with the assistance of David too!
One thing to say in the meantime is it’s important to remember that it’s not always the quantity of grass that causes laminitis – but also the quality. So watch out for those lush shoots coming up now.

Let’s keep everything crossed for David!
Cassie, Henry, Poppy and a much quieter David x