Sunday, June 23, 2013

UlcerWatch Update

My poor little Lex, y'all. I just want to snuggle with her all the time.

Before I get to that, thanks for the kind words on yesterday's post. I actually don't think the kid wanted to switch, I think his mom wanted him to. I haven't talked to my boss about it again but I will. I wish people were required to get an education on the myth of the gender binary and also on feminism in the 21st century, but what can you do.

Anyway, yesterday when I got on Lex, we didn't even get to trotting because she seemed so upset at the walk. I'm not a fearful rider, but I was concerned that she'd explode at the trot and if her back hurts, that's the last thing she needs. Today I just lunged her, which I know isn't what Chris said I'm supposed to be doing, but lunging doesn't seem to bother her and I just couldn't bring myself to make her unhappy when I'm not totally convinced it's accomplishing anything good. I've only had this horse for three months (as of yesterday, three months exactly) but I really don't think the problem is that she just doesn't like to work. Lex is such a wonderful horse in every way and I just want her to feel better.

I'm trying to put the pieces together here:
1. On May 17, she balked at the ring and clearly did not want to ride in there. This was the first ride after our first lesson with Chris, in which she worked but not exceptionally hard and didn't have to do anything unreasonable. But I'm glad I keep this blog, because I forgot that I had a little bit of concern the day before the lesson, too.

2. By May 22, I was quite convinced that something was wrong. We had a horrible ride on May 23 and found a slight swelling on the right side of her back (it's still there). I started her on Bute. On May 26, my farrier put the hoof testers on her and said she thought Lex's back hurt and we talked about saddle pad options.

3. The next day, she turned up with a bruise or an abscess. I decided to move her to a different barn, hoping getting to rest in a stall during the day and be turned out with just two other horses would calm everything down. She stayed on Bute and we added hoof soaking and back icing to the treatment regimen. I became awesome at hoof wrapping.

4. She got a terrible eye injury. Treatment included several topical medications and also banamine. She threatened to colic but didn't. Life was hell.

5. Her eye is all better and she was cleared to work, but her back still hurts.

That about brings us up to today. I'm quite convinced that she developed ulcers in there somewhere, and it's possible she's had them for awhile. But the swelling on her back isn't from ulcers and it's still there, although she doesn't mind it being touched or rubbed. She's also got hives all over the damn place - from the fire ants, I'm assuming, though who the hell knows at this point - so today I put topical steroid cream on some of the spots to see if they'd look better tomorrow and threw her fly sheet on just before she went out. We'll see if she has any new spots tomorrow.

Here are my thoughts now:
1. I'm keeping her on UlcerGard for now. The Bute alone probably caused ulcers, plus she's got lots of ulcer symptoms. Seems like a no-brainer.

2. I want to talk to a vet about giving her a steroid shot, since she just seems so inflammatory in general right now. I'm not sure if she can have one while she's on UlcerGard, but I'll find out.

3. I also want to try Robaxin, which is a muscle relaxant, in case her back is just tense and not injured, or in case it helps an injury resolve.

4. I do not want to do an ultrasound right now, but it might come to that. There's a vet in town who is excellent with stuff like that, but he's way out of my price range, especially as a first option. He apparently did a 45 minute PPE on a horse without x-rays and it was $700.

5. I added a handful of black oil sunflower seeds to her breakfast awhile back. I think I'll take that out. I like how it makes her coat soft and shiny, but I seem to remember that BOSS isn't helpful when they're dealing with inflammatory stuff.

Do any of y'all have thoughts or ideas?


  1. I hope Lex feels better soon and you can figure out where the ouchies are coming from. Sorry I3ve no advice to add :-/
    Get well soon Lex!

  2. Do you have insurance on her? Insurance can help with the diagnostic costs.

  3. I used GastroMax 3 for ulcers and it was cheaper than UlcerGuard and I liked it. I think your plan of action is a good one.

  4. I am way too tired to say any coherent, but I wanted to express solidarity and care in an equestrian sort of way. Not helpful, but maybe points for the thought?

  5. Y'all are wonderful people. Thanks for the kind words. :) I don't have insurance - I tried to get it when I got her but the lady at Markel told me she isn't worth anything yet. I shall be insuring her as soon as I can though. Maybe I just need to try a different company.

  6. "Balked at the ring." Hmm. Does she have the usual flat Florida Thoroughbred feet? Is her behavior the same on grass as on sand? I don't recall you mentioning her being bad out riding in the pasture at Ruth's... Maybe she's sensitive to footing? Will those hoof boots you got for Dutchie fit Lex? Might be worth a try.

    You've had her a short time, but you've had real problems with her only a very short part of that short time. The barn you're at now is safer and more controlled than out at Ruth's, and she will heal up and hopefully not repeat the injuries that caused you to leave the old barn. However, being kept in a stall instead of out with a roughneck band of hooligans day and night may reawaken hypersensitive racehorse behaviors that were not apparent when you first started out with her.

    Be patient with yourself, and with her! Your horsemanship is superb. You'll get through this!

  7. I would try Peterson and Smith in Ocala. They areknown for diagnostics. I have used Dr. Porter too. I had good results with Succeed with a TB I had who had an ulcer.

  8. At my barn, several of us have tried AbGard by Abler. It is omeprazole, exactly like GastroGuard, except you can purchase it without a prescription and at a fraction of the price. We use the Stable Pack: 1 syringe is 5 doses; a 20-day supply is $199, including the $30 for expedited shipping. My barn manager had recommended it when Lily started showing signs of ulcers (she's been on stall rest for the past 2 months), and it worked really well. Within a week, her signs were gone (she had been girthy, sensitive around her belly, which she'd never been before, and bucking under saddle despite sedation with a whopping 5 mls of ace). We did 2 months of treatment, and now she's on UGuard and a probiotic supplement. All of her signs resolved.
    Here is the link for AbGard:

    I hope Lex feels better and is back to her old self very soon!