View Full Version : Dealing with anemia and looking after horses?

Nov. 18, 2009, 06:36 PM
I got tested last week and got my results today. I've just been out to give haynets and do my late check, and I'm exhausted. It had been a busy day at work too, though.

Any tips on making life easy for myself? I only have two horses at the moment. They are stabled overnight, and hubby is going to be mucking out on a morning.

I have to feed, turnout/bring in and do hay. No riding until the Doc okays it- he's worried that I might faint while riding.

Thanks folks.

Nov. 18, 2009, 09:19 PM
Hi kookiecat, I understand where you are completely, I have been very anemic and now recovering well., the iron pills and other stuff have helped a ton.

Here are a few safty ideas:

- Carry your cell phone
- Have your husband or friend check on you when you will be alone with the horses
- Take it easy and go slow when caring for your horses, drinks lots of water (muscle soreness) and sit more
- Shut stall doors or gates behind you, everytime you leave a area even if not done, just for safty if you are weak
- Write down notes, reminders
- Make list of How To for feed, hay amounts, # to call if others need to step in
- Ask and get your husband to pitch in more...., you will need the extra help until you can get your iron levels back.. your muscles, breathing etc will not be what it was
- If you can, give yourself a long weekend to rest and have your husband do everything..... this will help recovery quickly
- Don't beat yourself up if things are not done as they use to be, it will get back to normal, just be patience with yourself, your horses do and will understand
-Eat spinach, beans, lima, asparagus, beef (if you are not veg) raisins, nuts and perhaps carry some too... (raisins were easy to carry and eat)
- Handle your horses when you feel like you can, don't worry about routine as much as your strength of the time. The stress of not feeling there, can overwhelm the simpliest stuff.

I feel for you and am sending blessing your way. Take care.

Nov. 18, 2009, 09:41 PM
Kookiekat, jingles here that you're strength returns quickly.

Meanwhile, can you leave your horses out 24/7 instead of bringing them in at night. That will help cut down on mucking duties for your husband and then he may be able to help more with the feeding, haynets, etc.

Nov. 18, 2009, 11:30 PM
My daughter has suffered for years and has had extensive tests, and referrals.
What helps her has been periodic iron injections and also i/v iron. The iron shots can leave nasty blue bruise marks in the butt. She is an athlete and pushes herself hard. In school she missed ten weeks of grade l2 before we knew what was wrong and it has been a constant battle since - she is 32 now.

Nov. 19, 2009, 09:08 AM
One of the richest sources of iron is cream of wheat. Its tasty and filling too, I add a little brown sugar and am good to go for the morning.

Nov. 19, 2009, 09:20 AM
Daughter and I have Lyme disease (under control now). She's had a problem with anemia. When we were feeling really bad, husband mucked and we did the feeding, turnout.

I wouldn't have had the energy for hay nets. Can you get husband to put up hay racks or just put hay on the ground until you're feeling better?

We also got the BIG ziplocs and filled with grain and supplements ahead of time when we were feeling OK. Then all we had to do was dump into feed bowls.

Second the always carry a cell phone. And if you're feeling faint, call someone for help, don't try to tough it out!

Right now we're battling the flu. Luckily daughter was getting over it as I got it. So far husband is OK. So, the aisle doesn't get swept, etc. Everyone gets fed and the stalls are mucked, maybe not up to my usual standards, but they are mucked. They always have clean water. Those are the biggies for me. If only the weather was better, I would just leave them out.

So hang in there and try to do as little as you can. Second the "take the weekend off!"

Nov. 19, 2009, 10:44 AM
Thanks everyone. I'm taking iron tablets at the moment, so hopefully they'll work. Turning Rue out this morning, I had a dizzy spell and hung on to him. He just stood there looking at me as if to say 'What are you up to, woman?' :) Bless him, he's a good boy.

Hubby is recovering from a badly broken ankle himself, so he's a little bit limited to what he can do. I've just bought some new smaller buckets so I can make feeds up in advance and stack them, then he can just tip them into the corner mangers.

Good idea about feeding hay from the floor. Carrying two big haynets for each horse last night almost killed me. I can get hubby to fill the wheelbarrow up with hay and wheel it to the stables.

They could live out, but it's starting to get muddy here now and I'm worried about them getting mud fever from the wet. Plus Asp is a bit of a wimp and drops weight very quickly if she gets a little cold.

I was supposed to be flying out to see a client tomorrow, but I'm not now. I walked into the office this morning and almost passed out. That made the boss change his mind PDQ! ;) I've got tomorrow off, so I'm planning to sleep as much as I can.

LauraKY- hope you and your daughter are soon feeling better! Being ill sucks!

Nov. 19, 2009, 10:55 AM
Jingles for a quick recovery!

Also, start doing as much of your stovetop and oven cooking in cast iron as you can. It does help! (I'm in the same boat as you ;))

Nov. 19, 2009, 11:09 AM
Liver and onions and red meat will help too. I think I'd want to know what caused the enemia if I had it.

Nov. 19, 2009, 11:18 AM
Forgot to add that I always carry my phone with me. :)

Thanks Chocomare- I bet my Mum has some cast iron cookware. I'll give her a ring and ask. :)

Equibrit- I won't eat liver, but have been eating more red meat. I know what caused it. Um, how to say this delicately- it's because of my 'time of the month' ;)

Nov. 19, 2009, 04:26 PM
Anemia and iron deficiency are not necessarily the same thing. One can be profoundly anemic with no problems whatsoever in the iron department. :) If, however, iron deficiency is part of the problem, it helps to take the iron on an empty stomach (although this can be tough on the tummy) and to take it with vitamin C to enhance absorption. Keep yourself "tanked up" with fluids.

I have been pretty darn anemic a few times and it was insidious but yeah, I felt pretty rotten. I had to stop giving blood for over a year because obviously that just made it worse. :lol:

Best advice I could give is get whatever the problem is that's causing the anemia fixed, if you can. For me it was that "delicate business" too and an endometrial ablation was miraculous--off to sleep, done in 10 minutes, back to work an hour later, NEVER a problem since. Obviously not an option if you plan on having kids (I'm done with that) but there are many, many other ways of dealing with anemia from "that". :) Good luck.

Nov. 19, 2009, 04:50 PM
Get the root cause sorted out.

I've had protracted periods where my red cell count was pitifully low..... nothing to do with iron deficiency at all though. So low I've had to have blood transplants because I didn't have sufficient red cells to oxygenate my system.

Making life easier with horses: Get them turned out with free feed hay as much as possible and only bring them in when it's P*ing down and really cold for days........ like this week!!! If you're not going to be riding them they're not going to want masses of feed other than forage anyway.

Nov. 19, 2009, 05:29 PM
Deltawave, the doc said anaemic, but didn't really elaborate. I should have asked really, but all I wanted to do was go to sleep! :o :lol:

Yep, Doc and I are looking into solutions. I'm booked in for a scan, so hopefully any problems will show up. Doc did suggest the pill, but I'm a bit wary as last time I was crippled with migraines.

Thomas- that sounds scary! :(

Both of them get ad lib hay anyway. They don't get a lot of hard feed. I don't like stuffing them full of concentrates. They get sugar beet, alfa-a chaff and a small amount of high fibre cubes.

Um, my mind keeps wandering. Thomas, do you worry about mud fever with TBs turned out full time? How do you prevent it?

Nov. 19, 2009, 05:47 PM
I move hay and troughs around regularly and they are brought in for some time each day and have their legs hosed off and feet picked out and thoroughly checked over and their stables are bedded with sawdust to help dry them off.

When it gets further into winter and the fields end up trashed as all of us who are in the UK know is inevitable, then I've some areas of hard standing and I put a huge layer of straw over any mud so they can get out of it.

Nov. 19, 2009, 05:59 PM
Thanks Thomas.

My troughs are fixed because they're connected to the water pipes, but I can make sure that the hay gets moved around.

What are your thoughts on drying legs? I know some people swear by it and others say not to do it! I usually do try to dry the legs when I bring them in. (Though bending like that is likely going to end up with me on my face under said horse!)

Nov. 19, 2009, 06:01 PM
Liver and onions and red meat will help too. I think I'd want to know what caused the enemia if I had it.

Ditto on this. And sometimes it is that time of the month that does it to you, but I think there is often an assumption that this is it and it's not always true. So do consider that perhaps it is something else.

As far as iron rich foods go, I think spinach helped me the most when I was severely anemic. I still, to this day, sometimes crave an absolutely bloody steak and when that happens I just give in. Otherwise I'd be a vegetarian still. Overall tho' eating a balanced diet will help you eat the foods that enable you to absorb iron so don't get carried away w/one food or another.

As far as barn work goes....

I would get up in the morning, do my barn work and go back to bed and sleep for another hour. Do midday chores and rest again. Ride a few horses. Rest again. Feed dinner. You get the idea! Until you build yourself up again you are going to have to take it easy. The good thing about anemia is that you can't just push thru it, IMO. It knocked me down, which was probably best or I would have run myself into the ground completely.

Good luck and I hope you feel better soon.

Nov. 19, 2009, 06:09 PM
Mine just get their legs dried by standing in for time. I do trim off any feathers off native breeds. But I think yours are t/b's so that isn't going to be necesssary. But I do trim right into their pasterns.

Nov. 20, 2009, 02:37 PM
I've been down a few quarts myself, with adequate stores of iron. Anemic enough that the Dr. wanted to give me a transfusion, which I declined. On a few occasions, I've had to lie down on the barn floor until I felt undizzy enough to get up. I try not to go to the barn on an empty stomach. Even just a handful of peanuts will help, if your schedule doesn't allow a full breakfast before doing the morning chores.

I do what I can to make it easy in the barn. My horses live out, and come in twice a day for feed. Hay is fed outside. Sometimes I have to carry hay a few flakes at a time, rather than a bale at a time. I have an outside stock water tank, so there are no water buckets to scrub and fill. The horses don't all get groomed every day, and it hasn't killed them yet!


Nov. 20, 2009, 06:17 PM
I feel for you! I'm pregnant and have been struggling with this (I've been anemic before too.) One thing one of the nurses told me that I didn't know is that Calcium and Iron compete to be absorbed by the body. So I should take iron pills not with two hours of eating a lot of calcium and not at the same time as my other vitamins. It definitely makes it more complicated, but after I started doing that my iron levels started climbing back up. They also suggested an over the counter pill called Ferro Sequals that have some stuff in them to keep your intestines moving since Iron can have the oposite effect - just in case your pills start giving you problems- you can ask your doc about them.

I did start eating more red meat too which at least made me feel better. Lots of days I would grab a hamburger on the way to the barn (which started causing other problems) but gave me a good energy boost.

I think making diet changes and taking the pills made a huge difference in my energy levels within a week. I swear I thought I was going do nothing but sleep until the baby came!

Good luck!

Nov. 21, 2009, 03:34 AM
If you have a poorly balanced diet and that's why you have anaemia then it's in your gift to just sort it. Indeed personally speaking I don't understand how folks put themselves (their health and well being) in that position in the first place but hey ho it takes all sorts to make the world go round!

Copper is the interdependent mineral to enable iron absorption.

However in my strong opinion at the end of the day it's important to ascertain the root cause of the anaemia. It's that which needs tackling.

True enough that it may well be the likes of poor diet maybe even coupled with low level haemorage and in that case a multi mineral or iron supplement or change in diet will indeed assist.

But still I'd always urge someone to push to get root cause sorted. In my own case my anaemia was merely a symptom of something a hell of a lot more concerning and no way on this planet would ever have been sorted with spinach, peanuts and iron.

But then this thread isn't about cures for anaemia it's about ways to make life easier when you're trying to manage horses and are feeling lethargic/dizzy ... whatever symptoms you have.... because of anaemia.

Nov. 21, 2009, 11:09 AM
You definitely need to find the cause. And absorption of iron is aided by Vitamin C-so have a little orange juice or grapefruit juice with your iron pills or multivitamin. You need to take care of yourself and sort this out now so do whatever tests or whatever else you can to solve this. And don't let your cell phone charge run out and carry it with you in case you feel very dizzy or weak and need help. Maybe program in the closest neighbors phone numbers into your speed dial.

Nov. 21, 2009, 11:46 AM
Have additional diagnostics been done, or did Doc stop when anemia was found? It seems to me that both circulatory factors (heart function) and any possible infection or other elevation of WBCs should also be checked, if they were not already. Not to scare OP, but just make sure all things are checked, I have read and heard from people who've had relatives with this, that sometimes leukemia presents in this fashion.

Nov. 21, 2009, 12:14 PM
Just another thing I thought of- have you made any lifestyle changes? I know the two times I've had this problem were when I was swiming division 1 in college and when pregnant. Just another piece of the puzzle to consider. I agree with the others that you should push for root cause.

Do you keep snacks at the barn? I know when I was having trouble I needed to just sit down and take a break and usually I'd try to eat a few nuts or something that I would stash in my tack trunk. I learned to schedule more time than I needed to in the past and just take breaks between tasks. Definitely keep your cell phone with you - but make sure you are listening to your body very carefully and stop when you need a break. My horse did not get groomed as much and still doesn't and he's okay. His ground manners have also improved as he just has to wait for me now.

I hope you start feeling better soon!

Nov. 21, 2009, 11:19 PM
Dietary iron is best absorbed from animal protein. So if you crave a steak, have a steak. You can get it from vegetable sources but it's less efficient. I hit a point where I was so bad I was literally craving blood and probably would have drunk it if presented the opportunity. (Normal count is around 35, mine was 15 when I was finally admitted to the hospital so obviously that was an extreme case.)

I agree with Thomas that you need to make sure your doctor didn't just see a low hematocrit and stop--in my case anemia is related to an autoimmune disorder that has to be treated with steroids. It could just be menstrual-related, but it never hurts to run the extra tests.

Get sleep, too, and stay rested! If it suddenly gets really bad (dizzy, too fatigued to stand, dizzyness with nausea, etc) for heaven's sake sit down and get help, don't do what I did and pass out in the supermarket checkout.

Nov. 21, 2009, 11:27 PM
I was thinking the same thing. I am far (FAR) from being medically minded but one daughter was extremely tired because of anaemia and needs lifelong help with her iron absorption plus periodic iron shots and then ended up with mono last year (do not know if it is related). The other has tired spells and has to nap constantly and she is now it seems, asthmatic. They are both athletes and push hard but are being treated. Just saying that there are lots of different problems out there. Get well soon and get the best possible specialist advice, too, ya hear?

Nov. 22, 2009, 04:02 AM
Not to scare OP, but just make sure all things are checked, I have read and heard from people who've had relatives with this, that sometimes leukemia presents in this fashion. You heard that from me :yes::winkgrin:

Nov. 22, 2009, 11:11 AM
Thanks everyone. :)

I've got more tests coming back on Tuesday. Doc is waiting on them to see what they show. I guess we'll be going from there.

I'm a bit scared. I keep playing 'What if...'

What if I'm really ill?
What if I have to go into hospital?
What if....?

Nov. 22, 2009, 01:43 PM
We will continue jingling for you, Kookicat. Be sure Doc also checks for diabetes or its opposite, hypoglycemia, as wild fluctuations in blood sugar also can cause fainting spells. In other words, be sure Doctor is not just being satisifed with the first likely cause, but digs deeply to check other things it could be.

Nov. 22, 2009, 04:58 PM
Kookicat-don't worry until after the tests come back. It's very easy to take care of everyone else, and neglect yourself. It's very likely that you'll just have to take better care of yourself, and your anemia will improve and gradually be resolved.

Nov. 22, 2009, 05:18 PM
In early 2006 I was severely anemic. Friends talked me into going in for a blood test when I showed up at a clinic and was described as "gray" or "green". There were no appointments for a physical, but I went in for a nurse practitioner to draw my blood and my hemoglobin was at 5.8.

I learned that the lab will page a doctor at night if the levels are that low. I also learned that often, they recommend blood transfusions at levels of 7.0 and below.

I'm a fairly energetic person, so I was able to get out of the transfusion, but I never did quit riding, I did cut back some, found out the cause (bleeding ulcer), treated the cause and have been back to normal. I was taking a LOT of iron, 3x a day, because my body was making blood, I was just bleeding out...slowly.

I had great friends and boarders who helped when the husband and kid couldn't.

I do not think my results are average or normal though. Another doctor said I was lucky and I could have been having strokes or a heart attack w/ levels that low. So, take care of yourself. Take shortcuts with the barn and figure out WHY you are anemic.