Updated: Aug 29, 2019
I spend a lot of time doing research on supplements. I don’t like to jump around from one thing to another, but I do like to be aware of how my horses are doing and then adjust to what they need. When Mikey came here last summer there were quite a few red flags that went up as I watched him and interacted with him.
He was extremely anxious and spent most of his time pacing. He would pace when in his own area and pace when out on the track.
He would paw aggressively when it was time for food or when he THOUGHT it was time for food. He pawed for grain, he pawed for hay, he pawed if he thought there were cookies involved.
He had some fat pads over his hips, on his neck and over his shoulders. Then he lost a bunch of weight and got ribby.
He was always spooky. Extremely spooky.
He HATED to be brushed or touched. He is not a pony that likes to be petted or snuggled. But he is totally fine for harnessing. He will meet me at the gate if it’s time to go for a drive.
He hardly ever pooped a regular size amount of poop just just two or three little balls of manure. He also had the runs often. That may seem like TMI but it’s significant.
Interestingly Mikey was great when I had a halter on him or when he was in harness. Not spooky or reactive at all. He was confident and seemed very happy to get out and do things!
When tied up he was/is a basket case if he can’t see the other horses, but if we are in cart he doesn’t care at all about leaving them when we are at home. If I take him out to other places to drive then he is more herd bound.
I had my equine body worker come out and work on him. He had lots going on physically and there were audible pops and cracks while she worked on him. He went from feeling anxious about having her touch him to feeling better, so looking forward to having her work on him. He was still doing a few weird things with his body but my body worker said physically he was great!
I started him on Magnesium powder right after I brought him home as well as Crypto Aero mixed with some grass pellets. He was also getting California Trace mineral. After a few weeks I also put him on B1 pellets hoping that would help as well. None of the supplements I was feeding seemed to help him with his anxiety at all.
So I called my vet and ran a few of his behaviors and the state of his manure past her. As I was suspecting she said “ulcers”. Sigh. Such an expensive problem to have! But also very painful and would make many of his behaviors understandable.
So she had me start him on Gastrogard (Omeprazole). He had to have the paste once a day for 4 weeks and then I tapered him off by giving him a dose every other day for 3 weeks. During the tapering off time I also started feeding Uckele’s GUT supplement. After a few days on the Gastrogard his manure became normal and quite a few of his behaviors stopped. I was relieved thinking, “what a simple fix! A little medicine and everything is better!”
Then, I was visiting with a mini horse friend while at my first Combined Driving Event, and we started talking about the dreaded ulcer. Mikey was done with his Gastrogard and seemed like some of his behaviors were coming back. Was this because he had the ulcers so long, ‘learned behavior’? Or were his ulcers coming back? She told me about Purina’s Outlast pellets. This supplement is also a gut support supplement and aside from the wheat middlings, didn’t have anything I wouldn’t want to feed in it! Such a rare thing in supplements!
During all this juggling of meds and supplements I noticed that Mikey’s hair coat was not soft and silky any more. Also he had some hot spots where the skin felt very warm and he was rubbing the hair off. Typically if I start seeing skin allergies the first thing I try is removing Rice Bran. For some reason I have known quite a few horses that were sensitive and even allergic to Rice Bran. So I had to take Mikey off the Crypto Aero and California Trace mineral. Both have Rice Bran in them. Sigh. Back to the drawing board!
As with many things in my life, timing is everything. I had a reader email me asking about a vitamin mineral she wanted to try with her minis, High Point Grass-Mixed Hay daily Vitamin/Mineral. And walla! The perfect supplement for Mikey. And this one even has Probiotics and Prebiotics great for gut health! Thank you to Victoria for that email!!
So over the summer and into the fall I switched Mikey from Crypto and California Trace minerals to plain timothy grass pellets from Standlee, topped with the High Point minerals, GUT from Uckele, the B1 pellet and some Outlast pellets. He didn’t have the bloom I wanted so I also added in some ground flax and chia seeds. For a little while during the switch over it felt like he was getting a supplement BOMB every day! Even Bonnie’s breakfast wasn’t so complicated.
Now things are settling in and he gets 1/2 a cup of the Outlast pellets, 1/4 cup grass pellets, 1/4 cup alfalfa pellets, 1/2 scoop of the High Point minerals, 1/3 of a scoop ground flax and 1 Tablespoon of the Chia seeds, all soaked in water, once a day.
Sky and Zorro get a variation of this a well, less Outlast and Sky doesn’t get the alfalfa pellets. So far they are all looking great and Mikey has completely quit pawing when ANY food is present. He just doesn’t do it anymore. He still has some anxiety but I think that will continue to get better and better with more time. He is still settling in here and we have quite a bit of ground work, in hand work and driving to do yet before he I would consider him completely settled and confident. But we are on the right path now. And at least I know his behavior is no longer associated to pain in his body!