It is past time for an update on the Choctaw Princess and past few months have been almost as eventful as mine, although in a generally more positive direction.
In late July I found out what her previous owner meant when she talked about the mare getting a large and squishy crest on her neck. Since the swelling and squishiness included her mane falling out and leaking clear serum like the threadworm infestation on her belly, I rubbed a dose of Ivermectin all along the top of her neck just as I had done on her belly and chest. Her crest promptly got even softer and a bit feverish as the dead parasites and the fluid had nowhere to drain, but that cleared up quickly and her mane started to grow in again.
Then I went out one afternoon and saw what looked like a spider bite or wasp sting on one side of the her nose along with an alarming rapid swelling of that nostril. I thought I was going to have to stick a hose in it to keep the airway open and there was no time to call a vet. Since I carry chewable Benadryl for my own allergic reactions, I stuck a few between her upper lip and her gum, found my hydrocortisone and Benadryl creams and slathered a bunch on her muzzle.
The swelling went down quickly, but the skin inside her nostril slowly ulcerated and peeled off. I was puzzled as to the severity of her reaction as I have not seen even Brown Recluse and Black Widow spider bites behave that way. Then a neighbor informed me that entire Southwest had an outbreak of the nasty biting fly-borne horse disease VS, (Vesicular Stomatis).
That included Santa Fe County, and VS was especially prevalent here because the flies in question like to breed in shallow running water. It had not occurred to me that there was a down side to having water in the normally dry Santa Fe riverbed, but intermittent water flow means that the population of the water dwelling fly predators lags way behind the water-breeding pests.
I was horrified to learn that that VS can be fatal if there are multiple lesions in the airway, the digestive system or the hooves. Worse, there is no vaccine for VS and treatment relies on moderating the symptoms. Bute and Benadryl kept the Choctaw Princess as comfortable as possible, so I had responded correctly. Bur I was glad to find out what a close call she had after the fact.
Speaking of hooves, I have not been able to bend over and work on her hooves with the AV malformation inside my head trying to explode. I was fretting because she had developed flares on the quarters of her hind hooves. Watching them grow without being able to shape them was distressing me until I realized that she actually needed the time for them to grow back into their correct form.
About the time I thought I was going to have to give in and start interviewing farriers, those flares broke off in perfect half-moons. Within a couple of days, her hind hooves had reshaped themselves drastically. The sole had expanded so that the hoof wall touched ground all around, but her toe on the hind feet was about ½ an inch longer than it had been.
The persistent lump of muscle spasms in her mid-back has begun to ease up now that her hind hooves are returning to their optimum shape.I am still baffled as to the justification for shortening the toe on any hind-hoof so radically and find myself even more reluctant to engage an outside farrier. But I am most deeply impressed by the Choctaw Princess’s ability to correct the insults and indignities that have been heaped upon her and return her hooves, her nervous system and her health to an optimum state with minimal intervention.
This year’s Fourth of July was especially aggressive. We had a nearly a month of neighbors and joy-riders shooting off illegal rockets that rattled the windows through the night. The Choctaw Princess was actually more tolerant of the noise and lights than I was. While she disapproved of the human activity during the night and napped a lot during the day, she did not panic, crash through fences or go into seizures. Apparently my regime of probiotics, Brewer’s yeast, B-12, garlic powder and a little CBD swag has allowed her nervous system to recuperate from her pesticide and herbicide toxicity.
But after the low-lying bank of thick foul blue smog from the official fireworks display a couple of miles away settled in for the night on the Fourth proper, we all got sick. The horse had green and yellow gunk coming out of her swollen reddened eyes. The chickens suddenly got scruffy looking and their eggs had little to no shells. And I had to pull out the inhaler twice a day to be able to breathe.
I offered all the animals a little of the healing herb Wood Betony, mostly because I was finding it helpful myself. Like Ginkgo, the herb increases oxygenation and circulation to the brain and helps detox the central nervous system. It did not do much for the gunky eyes, I had to use homeopathic Pulsatilla for that.
But the Wood Betony made a huge difference for the rest of the Choctaw Princess’s well-being. Her summer coat became noticeably sleek and satiny. Her appetite became more discerning and more enthusiastic and her guts more efficient about digesting what she ate. The Wood Betony also encouraged her insides to start passing what looks like a lifetime worth of sand out of her guts.
She did not colic, but produced cow-plop piles of shapeless gritty manure. Her molars are also worn down from a lifetime of chewing gritty sandy forage, and there is no cure for that. She prefers dry pellets to mush now the vet knocked off a couple long spikes on her back teeth that were cutting into the insides of her cheeks. But like it or not, mush is how I can add psyllium husks to help clear out the sand and get her supplements inside her instead of lying in the bottom of her feeder.
Mush also makes sure she gets plenty of water. As soon as a few crystals of ice started forming on her water overnight, her intake dropped by about half. As soon as I plugged in the winter water-heater and the bucket was ice-free, she started drinking up again, but pellets are dry and I prefer to prevent colic than treat it.
For the winter, I am feeding her 5 pounds of timothy pellets and 3 pounds of a pelleted Senior horse feed. On cold wet days, I add a little extra to burn for fuel. That puts her way on the easy keeper end of the spectrum as she is eating a pound of feed for every hundred pound she weighs.
And she is still adding muscle mass. Her shoulders and her behind are now proportionate to her barrel. When she came, I could barely fit one hand between her front legs. Now, I can easily fit both hands- so she has added about five inches of those very important muscles between the rib-cage and the shoulder blade that elevate the forehand like the true Spanish horse she is.
She is increasingly perky, social and opinionated even as I continue to reduce her B-12 and CBD swag. One evening I was waiting for the hens to go through the door to their coop when she decided to speed things up. If I try to hurry the chickens into bed for the night, they squawk and flap and dash in every direction but the door. But when the Choctaw Princess appeared at my side, laid her ears back and dropped her head to glare at them, they hustled themselves right inside.
Then she snagged their door with her nose and swung it shut after them. She started towards her own pen while I was still latching the gate. When she realized I was not following along, she came back to stand by me, closely supervising my closing up the chicken shed. When I was done, she walked me attentively towards her pen and her dinner, checking in every few strides to make sure I had not lost my way or gotten distracted.
So at night she gets some loose hay to keep her entertained. Pellets do not offer near enough chew time. A bored hungry horse that feels she should keep her environment in proper order can get into an awful lot of trouble at 3 am so I try to make sure she has plenty to keep her occupied while I sleep.