From Rough and Tough to...

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Have Ya Had Enough?
Yep. I think so. It's been many a misadventure since my last post, and it's only been what? A week and a half? Yeesh. I'll skip straight to the sad; Sarabear has been diagnosed with full-blown heaves (otherwise known as COPD and/or RAO). My best guess is it must have been dust-induced; even with recent rains we're still in a musty dusty drought. The initial signs were either not there or - more likely - mild enough they just snuck right by us. Sarabear is not ridden or worked at all, which I'm sure made it harder to spot. She also tends to stay in the background of her little herd, so that probably didn't help matters. I'm sure that there were some additional - and bigger - signs more recently, which I probably missed completely being so focused on my parents big move, the end of school, and getting sick twice (got some serious guilt going here, though). She seemed to go from a mild occasional cough to wheezing and all but gasping for air virtually overnight.
When Sara came in 2009, we noticed she had a very slight periodic cough; she was a 14 year old broodmare that we accepted as an equine donation from one of our long time regular donors. We took her largely because I am a softhearted sap we were under the impression that she was coming with her own built-in financial support (and ha, ha that joke was all on me). I'm still struggling to get past resenting the fact that the donations stopped shortly after Sara's arrival, as she is a wonderful addition to the farm. Click here to visit her lens and read all about her high schoolesque arrival. Since the rest of us were sneezing and coughing from allergies at the time she came, I wasn't overly concerned as her mild cough disappeared about the same time our sniffling and sneezing did. 
I did, however, look up coughs in horses the following spring when she started coughing; again here and there (just in case). Although I came across heaves as a potential cause for cough, she did not have any breathing troubles or mucous and the coughs seemed to be pretty mild as well as few and far between. Added to that, my "go to" books and online haunts all pointed to stabling and dusty hay as the cause of heaves and advised keeping the horse on turnout and grass. Since Sara isn't stabled at all (although she has shelter) and pretty much never eats from the hay pile, I mentally crossed it off. Over the past week or two, I've found several online articles about heaves in the South in turned out horses. Hello? Where the heck was all this important stuff when I looked the first time? Well foo on you Mr. Highnmighty Net; NOW you tell me. *scowl*
Sara was given a shot of a corticosteroid that I don't remember the name of, but it's supposed to last for 30 days. I am trying to find some kind of long term treatment we can use that will help in addition to watering down the dusty areas as far as we can reach with the hose. The dust has been awful the past couple of years, as the rainfall has been far below average. If any of my horsey friends know of anything that works well for heaves, please let me know. She still has that slight cough, but won't take anything we've tried thus far. Air Power and Cough Free have been tried, but both have a very strong smell so she won't touch them; nor will she touch her feed if it's in there. Of course the other girls were more than happy to eat it; and isn't that just special? *bangs head on desk* I know they make a prescription cough medicine for horses; but that stuff is hideously expensive and definitely beyond our budget (plus I don't know how I'd even get a dose in her).
If it were ANY of the other horses, I could just grab the dosing syringe and we'd be done already. For those of you unfamiliar, Sara was heavily abused early in life and although she will let me touch her head while grooming, it's a monumental struggle for her to allow that much. She can't handle anything beyond it. I can't get anywhere near her ears, nose or mouth while holding her halter; she'll rear (which is just a bit too much fun for me - ha, ha). This lesson was learned none other than the hard way the first time I cluelessly attempted to deworm; straight up in the air, and wasn't that a lovely surprise? Not really. Whoever her show trainer was - she was a halter gal - sure did a number on her head (in more ways than one). Since then, we've hidden her dewormer in a handful of pellets and never had a problem getting her to take it. 
There are several sites offering herbal remedies that appeal, but of course I have no idea who is trustworthy and legit and who is not; caveat emptor, don'tcha know. I went to SmartPak (who I know is legit) and have narrowed it down to two supplements. One is MSM Pellets (click here for info) and the other is SmartBreathe (click here). I'm leaning heavily toward the SmartBreathe, (naturally it had to be the more expensive of the two) and am hoping that one of you guys has had some experience with this; 'cause I sure could use some help here. Ack! I'll give it a couple of days after I post before I place my order, but then I'll have to just take another chance as I don't want to (and really can't afford to) have to call the vet again if I can help it. So those of you in the know, please share what you've already learned with us via comment. I read through the reviews, and they looked quite promising. My biggest concerns are obviously that it won't help or, more likely, that she won't eat it. I wish we could afford to supplement everyone with SmartPaks but when you multiply by nine, well...I think not. One day, maybe. *sigh* I did send them an email to see if they offered any kind of discount to non-profits (so y'all keep your hooves crossed! ;o)
In other news, I finished this hat for the grandmother of one of the kids at school; her cancer returned and he asked if I would make her one (please pray for her). For those of you who are hooked on crochet (ha) I used a pattern called Bella from Knots of Love, and how funny is that? They offer a myriad of free patterns for cancer patients in PDF format - knitted ones too - in case you'd like to make one yourself. I used a cotton yarn, as summer is almost upon us and it is much cooler than acrylic yarn. The flower wasn't in the pattern, I added that myself, but made it removable in case she didn't like it. She sent me a lovely thank you note, and said she loved it flower and all - I will probably see her wearing it at sixth grade graduation - hope so :o)
Finally! You have reached the happy ending to this post. DH and our favorite construction volunteer, Mr. Ron, have actually managed to have the same day off. *WOOT!* This has been forever in the making, and I know it's only framing but it is something in the way of progress, and I AM SO GLAD! (sorry for shouting - I'm terribly excited ;o) Look, it's an almost feed/tack room:
Have a very blessed week everyone. Happy thoughts and horsey hugs - it's almost summer - Hooray!


  1. I'm so sorry about Sara! Not fun when our friends, two legged or four legged, are sick. And I am sure that cute hat will help put a smile on the face of the gal with cancer.

    Sending you big hugs for Sunday Jen!
    xo Catherine

  2. On one hand we are very sorry to hear about Sara. On the other hand, we are very happy she is with you! (She most likely is, too.)

  3. aw poor Sara. Don't ya just wish they could walk right up to you and tell you when they aren't feeling so good :)
    Cute hat and I like the flower

  4. Hi there Jenn,
    Lots going on over here! Look at your new beginings of the feed room..neat-o!
    Sorry your mare has the coughs and was diagnosed. My sisters PBO horse have that too...we wondered why Pantz never got it but we sweep her floors and she has different hay. Humm? Low immune, like what causes all our ailments.

    Smartpak is a great source for help and also, "Springtime Inc. " is very valuable resource too. They have all the research articles available, to read, if you wish. Smartpak has some of their products, I think.

    You are a great horse mom, and your mare will recover best she can with your loving help.

    Thanks for the opportunity to pray for the gal, you made that adorable hat for.

    Thanks for the visit!
    KK and Wa mare~

  5. Catherine: Thanks for the hug, and you are right in saying it's no fun. Part of me thinks I'd rather it was me that was having health issues, but then again the majority of the time it is. *laugh*

    Fisher: What a lovely thing to say, thank you!

    Ann: All of the other girls are pretty good about letting me know when something is amiss. Sarabear is one of those low key in the background kind of gals. Very different from everyone else's up front attitude. Thanks for the kudos on the hat :o)

    AllHorse: Thank you for your lovely comments; they made my day. I'll have to look into Springtime's stuff for sure.
    My understanding of what I've read thus far is that some horses are just more susceptible to heaves than others; the onset is generally around age eight. It's likely Sara already had it when she came here, but I'm not really wanting to think too hard in that direction as it will just make me mad. ;o)

Your comments really brighten my day!

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