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Advice desperately needed .... Very worried...please help!

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    Advice desperately needed .... Very worried...please help!

    I desperately need some health advice on a situation that has popped up rather suddenly with our Draft mare.

    This Is Epona: she is a 9 yr. old Belgian. We've owned her for about three years. Could you look at these pics to get a general idea of her weight/physical condition....









    Lately, a situation has developed that we are worried about.

    The horses are provided with a himalayan salt lick in their stall, and a salt/mineral block in the paddock....

    Epona is fed, free choice timothy hay, an Easy Keeper Grass vitamin supplement from SmartPak, Platform hoof supplement( one scoop) daily.... no grain, of course, since she is a cresty necked draft with weight issues.

    She has ALWAYS licked at her salt lick and salt/mineral block alot more than our OTTB....all during the summer she would lick at the salt lick/mineral block fairly often. But NOW she is doing it twice as much as she did during the summer. This increase in salt block licking has seemed to come on rather suddenly. Or at least, we've just recently noticed it.

    Should we be concerned? Could it have anything to do with the cold weather/seasons?

    The only thing that is different between now and the summer is the temperatures and the fact that we have just gotten a new hay dealer.

    We are still buying timothy, but from a different dealer than what we used to as our past dealer has run out of timothy....he only has grass hay, as in field/orchard grass, and NEITHER horse will touch it. Even though it is fine looking, high quality grass hay....they don't DO grass hay.
    They MUST have timothy. So we found a new hay dealer....

    this increase in the need for salt/minerals SEEMS to coincide with the hay switch, but i cannot be positive. We just may have not noticed it till now and she had been doing this for a long time.....so we cannot say for sure when this increased licking started....

    IF this increased need for salt/minerals would happen to be caused by the different hay, what is wrong with the hay that could cause her to need more salt/minerals???

    Could the colder temps be causing this? If so, why?

    #2
    Boredom is a possiblity.
    Given a sufficient supply of potable water, there is no need to be overly concerned.
    "It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay

    ...just settin' on the Group W bench.

    Comment


      #3
      This is not an emergency.

      It's not a Likit is it? Have you changed the brand of salt? Is it a red block?
      Is she drinking more water? Are you dying to find things to worry about with your horses?

      Dietary changes can affect the amounts they eat. I wouldn't worry about it. If you're worried about something then have your hay tested.

      Comment


        #4
        If she were a woman, I'd say PMS-induced salt craving. I think you are overly concerned- has she increased her drinking sharply? I can't imagine timothy, even an new supplier, would cause a horse to eat more salt. She's bored, craves salt, is eating exactly what she was before, but now you looked at her doing it...who knows, she's a horse.
        Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!

        Comment


          #5
          Horse's don't always lick the salt more because they need more salt, sometimes it is boredom, but it can also be from other health issues.

          For example I have a horse here who gets a puffy head from time to time. We think it is a blocked salivary gland. She licks the salt block and eats poo excessively when her head is puffy.

          It is also possible your old hay supplier used to salt their hay; some hay suppliers sprinkle salt on hay to help keep mold from forming while the hay is stored.
          Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

          Comment

            Original Poster

            #6
            CHT, thanks, i didn't know that.
            ***********************************************
            And no, we don't look for things to worry about, as Beau does a fine job of giving us things to worry about... no need to imagine them.


            But when we see our horse licking at the salt lick/block 20 times in the few hourse we are at the barn, we can't help wondering why in the world she needs that much salt/minerals all of a sudden.....

            We used to find her licking her salt licks every few days, now it's multiple times in the few hours we are there.....like...alot.

            since it seemed out of the norm, we thought it prudent to question it..... I guess that seems a bit odd to some....but given this horse's weight issues/cresty neck and subsequent IR worries, any changes in dietary behavior aren't going to slip by us without some concern.....

            Does anyone know if an increased need for salt or minerals in any way correlates with possible IR?

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by Mah Navu View Post
              ...but given this horse's weight issues/cresty neck and subsequent IR worries, any changes in dietary behavior aren't going to slip by us without some concern.....

              Does anyone know if an increased need for salt or minerals in any way correlates with possible IR?
              Have you had her tested for IR?

              If you think she is possibly IR, I would worry about that more than licking her salt lick.

              Comment


                #8
                Wow, increased salt consumption was not what I was expecting based on the thread title!

                Salt intake can vary for lots of reasons. I think it is pretty well shown that horses can't do that good of a job of deciding how much intake of trace minerals they need. Sodium, yes. So increased use of a salt block could be any number of things, but is almost certainly not instinctive response to some micro-mineral deficiency. Boredom, perhaps, especially if the animal is turning up its nose at the hay--perhaps she just needs something to do with her mouth!

                Mine keep up with their blocks pretty steadily, but every now and then I'll notice dust on the blocks, indicating they've been ignored for a week or two, and at other times there are big chunks missing. Doesn't seem anything more than random to me.

                If they have the choice of a couple of different blocks and plenty of water, I wouldn't sweat it.
                Click here before you buy.

                Comment

                  Original Poster

                  #9
                  Ok...thanks everyone!

                  Perhaps we worry so much because everyone tells us cresty necks = IR, so we end up spending a good deal of time worrying if she has it or not, and watch her perhaps too closely. We have two vets on call....one said she doesn't need tested for IR, in her opinion. Our new vet has only been out on an emergency call, but both horses are scheduled for exams in the spring, and we will likely request she be tested at that time. For her health, and for our peace of mind.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    I'm a big believer in the premise that if a test is not going to help with managing a health problem, don't do the test. If I have a chubby, cresty animal that is a member of a breed that is prone to IR/metabolic issues (and I do!) then I manage that critter "as if". Making a diagnosis is secondary to proper management, and sticking a label on is not going to make the beast any healthier.

                    So my chubby Shetland gets no concentrate, wears a muzzle any time her hooves touch grass, and has to take what she can get from the hay pile that is jealously guarded by two big, lean horses. I keep her partially clipped in the winter and try to make her MOVE as much as I can. She doesn't need medication or a diagnosis, just careful husbandry.
                    Click here before you buy.

                    Comment

                      Original Poster

                      #11
                      Certainly, basic preventitive care would be wise for at risk horses for metabolic disorders...as we have done with our draft. i.e. stirctly enforced limited grass turnout, no grain, etc.....

                      However, treating a horse as if it has IR without knowing if it does, does not make sense in my humble opinion....and is not the same as preventitive care..... Any more than I would treat myself as if I were a diabetic by eating every 2 hours, etc, just IN CASE i had it or were to develop it at some point in my life.

                      SO, YES, i do think the test is important because as I said, treating an at risk horse PREVENTATIVELY is not QUITE the same as treating a horse with confirmed IR...

                      IMO

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by Mah Navu View Post
                        Certainly, basic preventitive care would be wise for at risk horses for metabolic disorders...as we have done with our draft. i.e. stirctly enforced limited grass turnout, no grain, etc.....

                        However, treating a horse as if it has IR without knowing if it does, does not make sense in my humble opinion....and is not the same as preventitive care..... Any more than I would treat myself as if I were a diabetic by eating every 2 hours, etc, just IN CASE i had it or were to develop it at some point in my life.
                        (Coming from the person who posted that her horse licking its salt lick too much is an urgent problem..... )

                        What Deltawave says makes perfect sense. If it quacks like a duck it is a duck.
                        Sure, get the test for your peace of mind so you know for sure. But why not feed and house the horse like it is metabolic when it clearly shows the signs of being that way.

                        If you were showing signs of an issue that could be clearly helped by a diet change I doubt you would wait until you had all the reports back from the doctor before you tried the diet change.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          If you want to get the test? Get the test. At least you can rule it in or out. But some people don't want to or cannot spend the money so just assume it is-management is the same whether you just think it's IR or it's confirmed thru testing.

                          JME but...I have been around alot of horses, some IR most not, all under regular vet care and never heard of any corelation between any condition and what some might think is overconsumption of salt.

                          IME they go after the salt blocks/licks when they are bored then ignore them for weeks and show no changes at all.

                          The colder temps just mean they may be staying closer to where the food-and the salt-is, not moving around so much. Does this mare have any kind of job? Keep her mind elsewhere then playing with the salt blocks? Give her something to do?
                          When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                          The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by Mah Navu View Post
                            Certainly, basic preventitive care would be wise for at risk horses for metabolic disorders...as we have done with our draft. i.e. stirctly enforced limited grass turnout, no grain, etc.....

                            However, treating a horse as if it has IR without knowing if it does, does not make sense in my humble opinion....and is not the same as preventitive care..... Any more than I would treat myself as if I were a diabetic by eating every 2 hours, etc, just IN CASE i had it or were to develop it at some point in my life.

                            SO, YES, i do think the test is important because as I said, treating an at risk horse PREVENTATIVELY is not QUITE the same as treating a horse with confirmed IR...

                            IMO
                            Wow. You were just freaking out because your perfectly normal mare was licking salt, you've recently had a near apoplexy because your perfectly normal OTTB was running around in a perfectly normal way, but now you're an expert on IR? Okay. *Scratches head*
                            "Absent a correct diagnosis, medicine is poison, surgery is trauma and alternative therapy is witchcraft" A. Kent Allen
                            http://www.etsy.com/shop/tailsofglory

                            Comment


                              #15
                              As far as I'm aware the treatment of diabetes is not to eat every two hours. But if everyone in my family had the disorder I'd sure be a lot more vigilant about weight, diet and exercise than the average American.

                              I'm not saying I'm opposed to treating a disorder or doing tests if they are warranted, but first things first . . . if careful management is 99% of the success of keeping an IR horse healthy, one can provide that 99% without a test, right?

                              In this case, managing a horse "as if" and managing a horse with an official diagnosis DOES NOT DIFFER, unless one goes with pharmaceuticals. Which I have never used and have no expertise in using, but am under the impression that it is only a small part of the whole program and not the game-changer that good husbandry is.
                              Click here before you buy.

                              Comment


                                #16
                                I'd be more inclinded to test her for Cushings (which can cause IR). Some horses will increase their salt intake in an attempt to concentrate their urine. Polyuria (excessive urination) and polydipsia (excessive drinking) can be symptoms of Cushings.

                                Also, since she's a draft, are you familiar with EPSM?

                                Comment


                                  #17
                                  I would first ask your old hay supplier if the hay you were buying before was sprayed with a preservative ( acid spray) by whom ever baled it. Our neighbor does custom baling ( large squares 800 pounds) and it is done on everything he puts up. It is not as common in small squares, but you never know. I notice a huge difference in water intake when my animals consume the hay he did for us, over the bales we did without it.

                                  Are you noticing a big jump in water consumption and urine output as well? Your mare is in good flesh in her photos, but I don't see where she is morbidly obese ( for a Belgian) .

                                  Comment


                                    #18
                                    Just another idea that no one else has brought up... You mention that the only 2 blocks you provide are a Himalayan salt and a trace mineral/salt block. She could be consuming more of the TM/salt block because she needs just the minerals. Even though you supplement her with a multi vitamin at feeding time, it may not be meeting her current requirements. Not sure where you're located and what brands you have access to, but Southern States makes a vitamin/mineral block called EquiMin. It's also available in loose form, where you can regulate how much your horse eats.

                                    I know my guys noticeably upped their ingestion of the EquiMin block once the pasture died out for the winter and all their roughage came strictly from hay. If you decide to try one out, be aware that the first time a horse has access to one, they tend to practically inhale the things. Once they get enough in their system, their consumption slows, so don't panic. You might just have to go buy another one faster than you anticipated. Hope this helps!

                                    Comment


                                      #19
                                      She could be consuming more of the TM/salt block because she needs just the minerals
                                      Except it has been pretty well demonstrated that horses cannot "sense" what they need, beyond sodium and I believe calcium, in terms of mineral requirements and ingestion of minerals. In other words, they can't really figure out what they are lacking in the trace mineral department and choose the correct salt block accordingly.
                                      Click here before you buy.

                                      Comment


                                        #20
                                        Hey, I don't know what my own body may be lacking, but I know sometimes I crave a specific fruit or vegetable for no discernable reason. Just last week out of the blue I had a horrible craving for beets-- went to the store specifically for some and ate them straight out of the can when I got home. Have no idea why I wanted them so badly, but it satisfied my craving.

                                        My point was to just offer a vit/mineral block by itself because a lot of people don't think to give it a try.

                                        Comment

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