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We Are Flying Solo

February 10, 2011

Dr. Bob To The Rescue, Chapter 37

Yes, we went to visit our good friend again today as Solo showed no improvement when asked to engage his hind end after a week and a half of taking it easy following his chiropractic adjustment. My instincts screamed at me that there was something else holding him back.

I gave Dr. Bob my observations of the week: locked left jaw with heavy leaning, inability to lift the back or engage the hind end, inability to balance on the rear quarters, strong resistance to bending to the left, muscle twitching on the right side of the body when stretched. From a horse, who though sometimes opinionated, does NOT have belligerent in his character. There was much poking, prodding, and Solo giving me pathetic faces of dismay.

Dr. Bob is nothing if not thorough; he always starts at the nose and works back. And he immediately discovers Solo has gingivitis! His gums are inflamed around some of his teeth and bleed when rubbed. I insist that he has not been eating gummy bears and neither will I take up flossing his teeth for him. Also, he has had no problems eating hay or grain and dives readily into both.

His neck and back have held their alignment well but it is quickly apparent as Dr. Bob runs practiced fingers over his midback and hindquarters that there is a great deal of soreness there. Then he palpates Solo's belly midline and my horse twitches and kicks a hindleg at his stomach (which I have noticed has become rather potbellied of late). To finish, we draw blood for a panel and grab a nice fresh turd for a fecal.

Today's verdict: my instincts are not wrong.  There are four big ligaments that attach the pelvis to the spine (see the turquoise spot on top of the horse's butt at left).  These are very very sore, so they each get injected with a muscle relaxer.  Solo does not particularly enjoy this process.

The belly can have several explanations. (1) Sand in the gut (although it's a bit far forward for that apparently). (2) Ulcer. (3) Something else. However, after checking on the fecal, we discover that poor Solo is *choke* full of worms. WTF????? Valley Vet, I have been paying for your yearly wormer premium pack and following the directions and now my horse is a wormball??? Me not happy. At all.  Guess that potbelly is not a hay belly. 

There are a variety of reasons a pasture can become loaded with worms and that a horse can subsequently adopt said worms. Our pastures are Bermuda grass, kept mowed short for weed and tick control (ticks are HORRID here) and dragged once or twice a week. Of course, the shorter your grass is, the more densely packed the worms are on the blade. And the more you drag when the weather is warm, the more worms are spread around. But if you don't drag, you have poop hell and the flies dance a dance of joy, unless you follow your horse around with a pitchfork and a bucket. And the longer you let your grass grow, the more ticks and weeds you get. Seems to me we have a near-impossible situation, but BO is in charge of pasture management, so that is something beyond my control. And obviously what we do works at least some of the time -- of four horses who got a fecal last fall, all were clean except one who just had a few scattered worms (he is an old guy).

So. Solo gets the weekend off anyway, as I will be gone. I jammed a tube of moxidectin in his mouth when I brought him back to the farm, horrified that my horse is parasite-ridden despite my attempts at perfect wormer application.. Starting next week, I will start rehab work (volume II) and see if we get some more improvement this time. I'll have blood results tomorrow, so that may give me some more information as well. I suspect the gum issues may be related to the parasite load, but that I am not sure of yet.

We also got a new (improved!) worming schedule. *drumroll* For agressive parasite control, worm every six weeks with:

Winter: (1) Panacur/Safeguard (fenbendazole)
            (2) Quest/Quest Plus (moxidectin; Quest Plus
                 [moxidectin/praziquantel blend] is currently not
                 available but company swears they will start
                 making it again soon)

Spring: (1) Zimectrin Gold/Equimax
                 (see generic ivermectrin warning here)
            (2) Quest/Quest Plus

Summer:  (1) Panacur/Safeguard
                (2) Guess what?  Quest/Quest Plus

Fall:  (1) Strongid (pyrantel pamoate)
        (2) You know it, Quest/Quest Plus

In addition, make sure you worm for tapeworms at least 2x per year (praziquantel does this).

If Solo is still showing signs of issues after we clean this mess up, then we will try feeding psyllium for a week and/or treating for ulcers.  I am hoping that will not be an issue...  I will never know what he did to himself.  Most likely, he slipped in the pasture and just slammed his hips playing.  But what I beg/plead/gasp/hope/want now is for him to get better!!


  1. You are lucky you found the heavy worm load before it caused more problems. It happens sometimes, stress makes them a good worm environment and it doesn't take long, some of them reproduce every 21 days. ick ick ick
    If you decide to treat for ulcers I highly recommend skipping the $1000/month miracle treatments and hopping down to your local health food store for slippery elm bark. My horse gets about $4/month in this stuff and all ulcer symptoms disappeared and have stayed gone. And she is a worry wart, very much the ulcer ridden type.
    Hope things turn around soon.

  2. Very good job to get that figured out - I was thinking mouth and sacrum/pelvis, but I didn't think of worms. We've gone to fecal testing, with worming depending on results and also treat for tapes. If ulcers are a possibility, a test with Maalox will give you an answer. U-Gard (pellets rather than powder - the powder is very nasty) is a good ongoing preventative for ulcers that I've had good luck with.

  3. Thanks, Barbara, I am SO glad we did the fecal too, it was kinda a spur of the moment thing. Dr. Bob recommended ranitidine (if I spelled that right) for the ulcers as a cheaper alternative to omeprazole, so if it comes to that, we'll give it a shot.

    Kate, you get the gold star for online vet then! I'm not sure on the mouth sores, ugh, I've got to go out and check that round bale for foxtails next time I'm out there too. I can't imagine that Solo would have an ulcer, he's so laid back, not a worrier, and not competing or traveling much right now, but who knows.

  4. Holy Worm Load, Anxiety Girl! :-0 Glad you ran the fecal, and that the amazing Dr. Bob did find other issues with Mr. Shiny Pants. I bet Solo will start feeling better once his "hitchikers" take the long walk outta his guts.

  5. HAHAHA, Anxiety Girl's persistence pays off! Is it strange that I want to stand behind my horse when he poops and smash all the worms with my superhero boots?

  6. Man, poor Solo, he has quite the smorgasboard of issues! He's lucky that he has such an in-tune worry wort of a mother and a thorough vet.
    Have you ever considered daily dewormer? With Mac, I used CW from Smartpak (which is 2X as strong as some others) and used ivermectin/moxidectin twice a year for tapeworms and it worked really well for him.
    Hope Solo starts feeling better soon!

  7. Frizz, I have considered it but I have heard lots of bad things about the daily stuff, so I decided against it. Hopefully the new schedule will do the trick!

  8. I don't generally disagree with Kate about much of anything, but Izzy's on the Ugard powder. We get it through smartpak. It smells like caramel and she gobbles it up, so I think it's alright.

    That said, I do consider using the pellets periodically because it seems like there would be less waste.

  9. Parasites are becoming more and more resistant to drugs (along the same lines as antibiotic resistant bacteria!). I just went to a discussion on it last night, so don't feel bad that your deworming schedule hasn't been totally effective - blame the worms, and the drugs! Hope he feels better soon :-)

  10. Wow, thanks for the update. I've always assumed that if you rotate and worm regularly there will be no problems. Looks like having a fecal done every now and then is a good preventative measure, I may have one done the next time a vet comes to the barn. Are they expensive?

  11. Poor Mr Shiny! I am glad he has such an amazingly paranoid mom who caught all of this!
    Fecal egg counts and blood work are a yearly must, though that can hit the pocket book pretty hard.
    And...tree-hugging, weirdo, hippy, naturalistic blahblah in...
    D.E. is a natural mechanical dewormer, which means parasites CAN'T build a resistance to it.
    Slippery Elm, as Barbara mentioned, and Aloe juice are both very good,natural, and pretty cheap ways of dealing with, treating, and managing ulcers. Ranitidine is nice, but omeprazole does work better, though it is expensive, if you go the 'traditional' route of medications.
    Just a thought. Even if you use omeprazole/ranitidine, following up with a bit of aloe in his meal can help keep ulcers from returning.

  12. Oh, and if you would like to see aloe at work, next time your own stomach hurts, instead of reaching from some maalox, try a tbsp of aloe juice. The taste takes some getting used to (though horses seem to LOVE it) but the effect is immediate, and you don't run the risk of prolonged antacids on your stomach!

  13. PonyNut, we are starting to build ivermectin resistance around here and Dr. Bob thinks we'll soon be building a pyrantel resistance as well. Ugh.

    Albi, that's what I thought too!! But looks like that is not the case and it's definitely worth checking on. I don't think the fecals are terribly expensive, they just mash the poo in water and look at it through a microscope, I'm thinking $10-20? I don't have the invoice on me, sorry!

    Alana, thanks for the hippie tips, LOL! Dang, why does everyone keep calling me paranoid...