We came back from vacation to find our refrigerator dead, our sick dog not eating, and one of our horses – Cash – lame. I noticed Cash limping the second night after we got back; I hadn’t fed the horses the night before. Apparently he’d been “walking funny” for a few days but my dad didn’t think it was serious so didn’t mention it, and Bill had only seen it the night before. Since it was kind of an overall soreness and not any one foot, we were at a loss as to its cause. I called my horse expert friend, Shari, who thought it was EPM (Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis, a neurologic disease that can present as weakness, lameness and dizziness) but thought I should call the vet. I did, and she immediately thought it was founder. Shari came by that night, and after seeing my horses and pronouncing them all FAT, agreed with the vet. The vet came by the next morning and confirmed it. Unbelievable. We have almost NO pasture, mind you. We got some pretty good hay, and they eat quite a bit, but apparently between the good hay and the the little bit of grass due to the excess of rain we’ve been getting, they put on some pounds. Oh, that and the fact that Bill and my dad did NOT cut back the amount of grain the horses have been getting this summer. We usually give them half of the amount they get in winter for the summer, but Bill’s a little soft-hearted and didn’t want to deprive them. I wasn’t around to enforce it, due to my bum foot. So they got a little pudgy. Cash, being a long, lean horse, both carried the weight well (he didn’t look fat) and suffered more for it (his bone structure can’t handle the extra weight).
The good news for Cash is, we caught it early. With a few adjustments and minor treatment, he should be fine in a few weeks. Number one: bute (anti-inflammatory) for a few days. Two: NO MORE GRAIN till winter. Three: a grazing muzzle. That’s the doo-hickey on his face in the picture. He’s handling it surprisingly well. I thought he might go a little crazy and try to get it off, but he hasn’t. He’s learned to graze with it on – they can still eat, there’s a small hole in the bottom where grass can poke up into it and they can suck water through – and he doesn’t seem to mind it at all. We did have to add some padding where the buckles are because it was rubbing bare spots on his face. (We used one of those sheepskin seatbelt covers, cut in half, one half for each side.) The vet says three to four weeks with that on and he should be good.
We’ll keep you posted. And the lesson here is, founder isn’t just for spring. Watch that weight!