Sunday, October 27, 2013

Autumn Health Report: Haystretcher and Owning a Horse with Special Needs

Autumn has not been a good season for Harley this year.  More than once, I have arrived at the barn to find him coughing.  I also received messages from concerned friends that Harley was having a problem.  With the guidance of my vet, I temporarily stopped his immunotherapy shots (for diagnosed allergies) and gave him medicine to help with the coughing symptoms.

I had to do this in September.

Then in October, he needed a double round.

Uggh. 

In September, his trigger was most likely pollen, as the temperature was mild (in the 70's) with glorious sunny, clear days.  No riding for me, though.  We needed rain, too, which did not help.  Dryness is Harley's enemy.  He does extremely well in July and August when everyone else is complaining about the humidity.

By October, the pollen was gone, but Harley's coughing was back with a vengeance.  This time it was not dry (we had a rainy spell) and I was getting scared.  When the usual dosage didn't give him the relief he needed, I had to call my vet and she changed the plan.   Thankfully it worked,  but we are only a few days out from it so I am still worried.   There is no cure for allergies and while this may seem like a small problem in the grand scheme of horse problems,  it is a chronic issue.   In other words,  I have a horse with special needs.   I must remain vigilant,  because timing is very important when treating a respiratory problem.  Thankfully,  there are many people helping me to look out for Harley.   He is the kind of horse that steals people's hearts.   I swear,  he has more friends than I do.   I am Harley's owner,  rather than he being Val's horse.

What do I think was the coughing trigger?   Temperature fluctuations.   We had several warm days followed by cold nights.   This type of pattern caused him a problem in January.    Isn't it always something beyond one's control?

Also on the health-related front,  we are trying a new food item for Harley: Haystretchers.  Have you heard of them?

A couple horses on the farm are doing really well on them and one recovered from a colic with very timely weight gain.   It was the barn owner's idea to try them for my horse since he eats so much grain.   We are replacing a portion of his meal with these hay pellets.   The vet loves them and has given them the thumbs up.

I like that he will be eating more foage and less grain.   I also like that the cost per bag is less than his expensive Ultium.  Harley is gobbling them up, so he seems to approve as well.   It won't take long for us to see how his weight does on the hay pellets.   Winter is coming (Game of Thrones, anyone?) and we need him nice and plump for the cold season.

12 comments:

  1. Poor Harley. It is hard to have a horse with respiratory problems. I know, we have Nate who sounds like he and Harley suffer with weather changes. Sounds like you have a good plan to help him. Feel better Harley.

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    1. It is really tough, isn't it? I remember your Nate.

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  2. YES, Game of Thrones! I'm interested to hear how the Haystretchers work out for you. I think there will come a day when hay is so expensive/scarce for most equestrians that products like Haystretchers and cubes will make up more and more of their forage. His allergy struggles are interesting, too - that has to be frustrating and hard to watch.

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    1. I am hoping that they will be great for him. You may be right about that. Finding good hay is so important and can be difficult.

      We are GOT fans. The show even inspired me to read the first two books, but that was before I had a baby!


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  3. I sure hope the new plan continues to give Harley relief. Poor guy, it must be awful to hear him coughing. Fingers crossed you will be able to keep his weight in check with the new food. So glad you checked in!

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  4. Poor Harley, the temp fluctuations would make sense for a trigger, its very common for humans as well.

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  5. Oh, gosh, I hope you can continue to keep on top of his allergies. Seemed like you had a good handle on it with the immunotherapy before you had Sweet Pea? I really hope it will settle and stay settled this time.

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  6. The barn I used to board at used haystretchers when hay was priced super high and hard to get. The horses likes them and we noticed no weight loss.
    I hope you get ahold of his allergies. Hate to hear that he has "special needs", but at least he has you to take care of him :)

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  7. I have never heard of them, I feed hay cubes, but I will google these "hay stretchers"

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  8. Poor Harley. That sounds like a lot to manage.

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  9. I nominated you for the Sunshine Award :)

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  10. I am sorry to hear about Harley, but the story was so familiar. My horse has respiratory allergies that are treated with immunotherapy during the peak seasons. Three years ago, I wrote an article in Equus detailing my experience. If you would like me to send you a copy, please email me at asochocky@gmail.com. The main reason I wrote the piece is to help other horse owners who are going through a similar experience. Anna

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