Finally, a decent day for pictures and no blankets! (That is a blanket rub on her shoulder.) I wasn't sure if Essa would look any better after 10 days but I think she does. Her ribs are less visible than in the first picture, her hindquarters are starting to fill in a bit, and the vertebrae at her tailhead are disappearing.
She pretty much gets hay whenever she runs out now, just 3 or 4 flakes at a time so I can keep track. I'm not really worried about the refeeding syndrome anymore.
I found this Android app for Henneke body scoring. It lets you rate each area on a sliding scale and calculates the final score. It includes descriptions and diagrams for each number. Very handy!
So it's been a week with Essa. She has a moderate-to-high fecal egg count and the vet recommended fenbendazole (Safeguard). The management guidelines I've been following have quite a protocol for worming, so I will start with those directions for the Safeguard. It's a mild dewormer which shouldn't create too much havoc in her gut, especially if I give two half-doses 3 days apart to start. I contacted Alexis at Second Start Thoroughbreds and received this hearfelt response:
Essa was in the program in 2011. She was sold in the fall as a resale project to a girl in the fall of 2011. She was sold relatively quickly by that girl. I know she has gone through many hands since and has been poorly treated by most of those people.
Essa retired sound from the track. She had 58 starts and was a very good racehorse. She had the potential to be a low level eventer, easily, if she had found better people than she did. Essa had a great work ethic and loved to train. She was not a hard keeper at the track, which makes you wonder what is wrong with everyone who has owned her since.
She deserves far better than she has received. This was a mare who had incredible potential who sadly ended up in a cycle of horrific owners. If you don’t mind, I would love to hear how she is doing/recovering this time. God willing, this is the last time she will be starved.
She also sent a nice little video from her time there:
It's really encouraging to see her looking healthy, and gives me something to aim for. She looks like quite a solid classy girl!
I had a nice long chat with Alexis at Second Start today. She knows that Essa has moved around by the emails like mine that she's received in the past, and knows of at least three homes since the fall of 2011. She probably hasn't had much retraining since she left the track.
I haven't gotten very consistent or accurate results with the weight tape, but I'm positive her back end looks a little better. Hopefully the weather over the next few days will lend itself to some new pictures.
I had the vet out today to check Essa out, and she did quite well.
Based on the history I've been able to put together - thanks, Google! - Essa got the usual core vaccines and shouldn't need a West Nile Virus booster.
She didn't care for having her teeth checked at all. I had to push her back into her stall, and I could feel her heart going like a rabbit! But with a light tranq the vet was able to do a manual float, which should help her get more out of her hay.
The vet also noted that she'd had a Caslick procedure and that this was good, otherwise she would need it done. Suffice to say it involves her "lady parts" and that I'm glad that it's an operation she doesn't need.
Results from the fecal sample will determine whether she is up-to-date and can be wormed with the other two, or whether she will need her own routine.
Her legs are pretty clean and consistent with her race history. We didn't look at her movement at all - that can wait until she's in better weight. The verdict today was that aside from weight, no dire issues are apparent that would keep her from doing the kind of low-level work I'd like to do with her.
She's been getting 6 lb of hay 4 times a day since Monday. The vet said she should be fine with free choice anytime now but I think I'll stick to the guidelines I've been following. That will give her 9 lb 3 times a day for the next week starting tomorrow. Then I can start adding grain and beet pulp. I'm sure Essa will be very happy about that. She knows what dinner time is when Cody and Honey get grain, and she knows that she isn't getting any.
It started off as helping a friend in a pinch and grew from there. My husband saw this 10-year-old Thorougbred mare, just surfing ads for no particular reason. We're perfectly comfy with the two we have at home and our daughter's horse, who is boarded for training. Turns out he knows the owner. She was losing her chores-for-board arrangement and had to sell. The ad pictures didn't look too bad, so we offered to bring Essa home for a couple of weeks to clean her up and help with selling her.
The horse we picked up on Thursday wasn't quite the one in the pictures, and we were told she'd had a hard winter. She has no neck, and after initial reluctance she loaded on the trailer for a fistful of hay. She settled in one of our empty stalls and attacked the hay like it was her last meal. Well, we've had a Welsh X pony so that's not so strange...
Friday morning I took off her blankets to put on a rainsheet. I just about cried.
Clearly this was not a two-week fix. I told the owner she just wasn't saleable as-is, and we'd like to keep her through April and see how she does.
I body-scored her at 2, thankfully closer to a 3 than a 1. With a little research I learned about refeeding syndrome. OK, even more of a project. So I took away her hay - that was tough to do - and set her on small frequent feeds through the weekend, following this article-
I even took hay out at 3:00am to keep her on track.
She already seemed brighter on Sunday!
We discussed all of this with the owner - it'll be much longer than April to get Essa back on track. I will have the vet out in a week or two - our other horses are due for shots/floating/etc. anyway - and if there's nothing critical wrong with her, we've offered to buy her. Not at all what I had in mind 4 days ago, but if Essa is sane and sound I think it's her best chance. The current owner bought Essa when she was underweight, hoping to help her out. She made some progress but it was lost over the winter. She had some bad advice/enabling when she got her, realizes it was too much to take on, and is very grateful for our help.
Essa raced through 2010, and I think that being fit though most of her life must be helping, even in this sorry state. I'm hoping that she will keep her sweet nature once she's in better shape.