It's continued to rain here all week with temperatures dropping significantly during the night. Yesterday morning I went to let the dogs out around 6am and almost killed myself slipping on the deck; the entire thing was coated with a thin sheet of ice! I finally broke down and pulled out some medium weight stable blankets for the horses to wear at night. Poor Cool's hair was actually standing up when I took his sheet off to groom him. My big, bad Quarter Horse is finally turning into a wimp! When we first got him, he hated being handled, now his lips go crazy when you groom him and he practically jumped into his stable blanket tonight. Now if only we could get him to like baths...
So an update on Cool's allergies: I have yet to call the vet because I wanted to take a week or so to try some things and see what make a difference and what doesn't. I really hate calling the vet out unless it's an emergency or unless I have multiple things for them to do all at once. I know it sounds kind of silly, but I always want to make sure that I have plenty of information if I'm going to call her out just to look at one thing (like Cool's sneezy/cough which he only does when eating hay) so that I can give her the best run down possible as to what has been going on, what I've already tried and haven't tried and what has/has not worked. I wouldn't want to call the vet out just to have her tell me "wet his hay" and then find out that wetting his hay doesn't make it better. After graduating from an Equine Studies program, I try to sit down and think of everything that a vet would tell me to do. Then, I systematically start trying these different things and noting the changes, or lack there of. I keep all of this information with dates written down in my "horse notebook" (yes, I am a freak who keeps a horse notebook) and when I have finally run out of typical or classic approaches to the situation without any improvement, then I call the vet to get some professional input.
My first test was to wet Cool's hay, which made probably at least a 90% improvement in his situation. We got a new batch of hay in so after a day of wetting his hay, I had to switch him to the new bales, which are very fine hay strands. This I also continued to wet for another day and he showed maybe a 95% improvement. This took us to the weekend and I had a CRAZY work schedule. Not only was it my birthday, but I had to work Saturday and Sunday. Sunday turned into a marathon day as I was grooming professionally at a horse show. UGH. My bf took care of the horses all weekend and I have to say that Cool certainly did not get wet hay for at least one day. Monday he was right back to square one, despite the fact that I wet it on Monday. I've soaked it every day since and he's shown a little improvement but nothing as drastic as the first time. He's maybe 70% better this time and still holding steady with a 99.2 temperature. The only thing that did change in the whole situation (other than the dry hay for one day) was that Cool decided to DESTROY his muck tub on Saturday. I left it in his stall for him to eat his hay out of when I left for work (bf was home and was going to let him finish eating and then take it back out) and apparently it didn't get taken out soon enough because Cool thought it would be a phenomenal play toy and literally tore it into a million pieces. Really Cool?
Since then, I've been letting him eat out of it while I supervise (aka while I clean his stall in the morning) but once I get ready to leave the barn, I take the hay out and put it on the floor. I've been trying to keep the corner where I put the wet hay swept and clean of shavings, but Cool inevitably stall walks and kicks sawdust into it. Tomorrow I am going to go get him a hay net so that I can hang it instead...I'm sure that kicking sawdust onto his wet hay is not helping. So, my next thing is to see if the hay net makes him go back to that 90-95% that he was at before. If it does, than my next step is to get him back on some type of allergy or breathing supplement. If that doesn't work, that I will have the vet come out and check him over so that we can make a plan for the winter. Luckily, the owner of the boarding barn that we will being going to in November owns a horse there in the barn (its actually related to Cool...freaky) with COPD so she is pretty understanding of the situation. She already told me that she would clear a stall out for Cool down at the end of the barn next to her COPD horse so that he can get fresh air. They also don't keep any hay in the loft above that stall. The barn is set up with a loft over the aisle so that hay can be dropped from the loft directly down into the horse's stalls, so not having any hay above Cool should help with ventilation also! She's a really nice barn owner who has been very accommodating to us in the past. I'll keep you guys posted! Heading out tomorrow to get the hay net...
Another little side note, it seriously needs to stop raining here. At this rate, I won't be able to ride my horses for the rest of the month until we move! The ground is SO saturated with water...they haven't even been able to go out in their field because it's a swamp. I've literally been letting them loose in the back yard with their lead ropes thrown over their backs just to get them outside. Thank goodness they have dutch doors so they can at least get sunshine and fresh air, even when they are cooped up inside.
Any more suggestions or comments on the allergy/breathing thing are always welcome.
My next post (don't let me forget) is going to tackle some debate that I've been having in my head over boots, bandages and wraps. You guys are going to love this one ;)