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July 2011

Cassie’s Column – July 2011

Taking a digital pulseEnjoying-some-jumping
Enjoying some jumpingSchooling-Poppy-at-home
Schooling Poppy at home

I can’t believe that it’s August already – the summer seems to be going so quickly. Since I last wrote, the horses and I have been up to lots – both fun and work, good and bad…


Houdini, AKA David the pony…
David is still doing really well. His medication for insulin resistance seems to be helping. In fact he has been feeling a bit too well! He has got really good at escaping from his paddock, to get to the good grass which unfortunately he can’t have because of his laminitis – wouldn’t it make life so much easier if he could associate the two! Because of this we have had to have some new post and rail fencing put around his paddock which he is a little cross about to say the least! So there has been plenty of bucking and squealing from him while the others look on, fascinated.

Laminitis Watch…
It’s really important to remember that laminitis can occur at anytime of the year, not just spring as it is typically associated with. The recent unpredictable sun and rain we have been having, is the perfect growing weather for grass which can be dangerous to laminitics. It is not just the quantity of grass that is important for laminitis but the quality of the grass.

I noticed that David’s hooves were a little warm and he had a slightly increased digital pulse, which are the warning signs of laminitis, so we decided to bring him in a little earlier each day just to be safe and he is quite content tucking into his High Fibre Horsehage and listening to the radio!

Anatomy time…
The digital pulse can be found either at the back of the fetlock or back of the pastern – see photo. The vein, artery and nerve all run together in a structure called the neurovascular bundle. Putting light pressure on this structure enables you to feel the pulse as blood is pumped through the palmar digital artery. In normal horses and ponies the pulse is barely noticeable in this area, so if you are struggling to feel it, then it may be that the pulse is quite normal. Often with laminitis the digital pulse is increased, so the pulse feels a lot stronger under your fingers. Remember there can be many reasons why the pulse is increased in this area, so if you find it to be increased, or if you’re concerned about laminitis, it is best to speak to your vet.

Poppy’s day at the races…
Poppy has been having lots of fun. We have done a few local shows, cross country schooling, and, of course, continued with our dressage lessons and I’m really happy with the way she is progressing. However I took her to Stafford Horse Trials last week and she found the whole thing a bit too much. When travelling on the M6 she must have assumed she was en route to Royal Ascot as she used the dressage warm up as a racing parade ring after making me mount jockey style!

So I just took my time with her and let her settle down and take everything in – which unfortunately meant we just missed our dressage, but the judge was kind enough to let her school round for experience and she did a nice test. She then watched a bit of show jumping and had a quiet hack/dance around the warm up arena and after demonstrating a few of her own ‘dressage manoeuvres’, we called it a day. Although it’s a shame she didn’t get to finally combine all three disciplines in one day, I felt she learnt a great deal which will prepare her for her next event. I’m also going to try her on Mollichaff Calmer to see if that helps her, as she gets so worked up at bigger shows.

Henry-enjoying-some-massage-therapy-from-EquissageHenry’s on laminitis duty….

Henry is doing a great job at keeping the grass down in David’s paddock when he is in his stable. Since his teeth have been done there is no stopping him! We are still riding him a few times a week. He really enjoys being lunged. Last week I lunged him over a little jump as he kept trying to incorporate part of Poppy’s grid into the circle. He got so excited that I had to cool him off by walking him in-hand. Sometimes I think he forgets his age!

Simon, my partner, was testing out a new scanner for his equine veterinary practice last week and so we scanned Henry’s heart as he had developed a heart murmur a few years ago, but everything looked fine which is pleasing to know.

So, what’s planned next? A lady from the local driving society is coming over to help me with David before we venture out to any clinics and competitions. It’s always good to keep gaining help from those more experienced. Poppy will be getting out more and continuing with our lessons and armed with Mollichaff Calmer, and Henry… well he will just be ‘Henrying’ around, enjoying the slower life and putting up with Poppy’s moans about dressage!