Veterinary Editor Dr. Deb Eldredge wrote a classic Horse Journal article for our December issue. it's on feeding the older horse in winter, and it's short and pointed, focusing on what you need know, with product recommendations.
In the sidebar, Dr. Eldredge suggested doing bloodwork, just to be sure all's well and to head off problems while they're still small. That got me thinking. My husband and I just had bloodwork done, which helps us focus on good habits and helps us head off problems like diabetes and vascular problems. Hmm, I thought. What about bloodwork for Sally'
Sally just turned 18 (she foaled in August, so I don't have to use the January 1 rule of thumb). She's holding her weight well, eating fine. She battles arthritis terribly, as she's a nervous weaver (so sHe's self destructive), but I keep her sound with exercise, devil?s claw and a good joint product. Every once in a while she needs a dose of the anti-inflammatory drug Previcoxx, but I haven't had to give her that since spring.
Still, she's quieted down a lot over the last year. We've talked about many reasons why. One theory is that she was a total nut case when she was stabled with Bonnet (RIP Bonnet) because both mares were naturally "hot." They fed off of each other.
Now she's with Paz and Kelsey, who are both calm and quiet. Maybe that's it. Even if she gets upset, the other two barely look up, so Sally settles down much more quickly she did with Bonnet. Apparently, it's no fun to play alone.
But, what if there's a hidden physical reason for the personality change' With our own blood results and Dr. Eldredge's comment in mind, we talked with our vet who suggested a basic chemistry panel, thyroid and Lyme disease titer. (I don't know about you, but this year has been one of our worst years for ticks!) I also worry about a cardiac problem, as we've lost two horses to heart failure (Tuesday was dead in her stall with no signs of struggle at age 27 and Bonnet died from a burst heart valve, which was horrifying).
We had done bloodwork on Bonnet, too, as she wasn?t doing well, just a few months before her death. It was abnormal, and our vet diagnosed a probable cardiac problem, stating that there wasn't a lot we could do about it, especially at her old age. Still, I'm glad we knew.
As it turned out, Sally's bloodwork was all normal. I feel more confident that her personality change probably is due to Paz and Kelsey for helping her cope better. I guess we all need good, sensible friends to keep us sane.