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Anyone else own an extremely high maintenance horse?

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  • Anyone else own an extremely high maintenance horse?

    Just wanted to vent about my mare. She is 4 years old and is the most high maintenance horse i have ever owned. She requires 4 shoes with pads or else she will get an abscess if she steps on a stone (cost $255 every 6 weeks). She is an extremely hard keeper and will only eat triple crown complete...of which she eats 10 lbs a day. She is so picky with her hay that she cannot maintain a decent (emphasis on decent not great) without free choice hay AND free choice dengie. Her feed bill alone every month is $400. Last week i wormed her and she went off of her feed entirely ... expensive vet visit later uncovered ulcers in her digestive tract. $1300 worth of ulcer meds later she's starting to eat normally again.

    Oh, and she grows the longest, grossest winter coat i have ever seen, doesn't START shedding until the end of May every year (and that is not an exaggeration), so she must be body clipped every spring (which she hates and requires a vet visit as she needs sedatives for her head and legs)

    I've never met a horse who is so incredibly high maintenance. Giving her the feed, shoes and medications she needs to be happy is more than my car payment and insurance. I am honestly considering selling her to someone who is more financially able to give her all she needs to be happy and healthy. She is worth it as she is a super athlete, and she is an amazing riding horse. I love her and feel so guilty, but i want to find her a competition home with someone who doesn't mind her maintenance costs. Anyone else have one like this?

    Our other horse is a Frieisan sport horse who eats a handful of grain and 2 flakes of hay...goes out on the trails barefoot and is just an awesome all rounder. I want a barnful of these

  • #2
    She doesn't sound inherently high maintenance - sounds like something is wrong

    I can understand genetically poor feet, can understand a genetically hard keeper, but I've never seen a horse with the coat issues you described who was healthy. Have you had a CBC done? Tested her for IR? Cushing's? Yes, you rarely see it in a young horse but it's happened.

    The coat issue is the red flag for me.

    What sort of deworming schedule is she on? What has she had for the last year, and when? Do you know her whole history?

    A very young horse who is not properly dewormed can end up with permanent damage that could easily manifest as you describe.
    ______________________________
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

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    • #3
      I know you were venting about your high maintenance horse (I've been there) but it sounds to me like she has Cushings. It's possible, but not usual, in a horse that young. The coat alone makes me think it, but a less known symptom is muscle wasting, which makes them skinny no matter how much you feed them. If you get the Cushings diagnosed then get her on the appropriate meds you may find you don't need to feed her nearly as much.

      You need to have a good talk with your vet about her.
      Pam's Pony Place

      Pam's Pony Ponderings

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      • #4
        To answer your question, no. Not even close. I'm sorry to hear about these challenges!

        Originally posted by JB View Post
        She doesn't sound inherently high maintenance - sounds like something is wrong
        .
        This was my first thought was something systemicly wrong when you said at 4 yrs she needs shoes and pads, or she'll abcess. Then the hard keeper part. The clincher is the poor coat. That would be a huge red flag for me.


        What do your vets say? Also, can you track down the breed to inquire if the dam had any health issues?


        .

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        • Original Poster

          #5
          She's had all kinds of bloodwork for cushings etc, nothing physically wrong wig her other than ulcers and crappy feet. I'm a scientist and have owned er since weaning...has always always been a late shedder and had the best of care and feed.

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            She's had all kinds of bloodwork for cushings etc, nothing physically wrong wig her other than ulcers and crappy feet. I'm a scientist and have owned er since weaning...has always always been a late shedder and had the best of care and feed.

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              As for her feed requirements...she is extremely muscular and loves to gallop...she's out 24/7 and spends most of her time running around. She's a big girl with a fast metabolism and I know with warmbloods and tbs its not uncommon for.them to be big eaters. They are bred to be superathletes. She is in nice condiion but is always a little lean...looks like a tb with race training. I have had her thoroughly examined by my vet and she doesn't have any real issues other than princess syndrome lol.

              Comment


              • #8
                What has her deworming schedule been like her whole life?
                ______________________________
                The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Regular fecal samples and a rotating dewormer schedule if observed elevated fecal egg counts. i really wasn't looking for veterinary advice here...just venting.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Regular FECs and deworming based on positive results in a foal-yearling doesn't cut it. A high enough load of ascarids can cause permanent GI damage that could easily be the sole cause of all the issues you are having.

                    Did you really just want miserable company for the high maintenance horse? Did you not perhaps want to come up with any suggestions as to what might be wrong and maybe how to fix it, if it can be fixed?
                    ______________________________
                    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Well that sucks! My blue eyed paint is not as bad as your mare but he is high maintainence! He colics if ANYTHING changes in his feeding, very sensitive, totally off feed if not very careful with worming, blue eyed, no make up so constant management of that (and he still lost an eye). He is prone to founder and now has to wear his grazing muzzle when turned out. He is a worry wort. But...wonderful to ride, loyal, loving. He is now on rice bran to get some weight on him (colicked on beet pulp) and sometimes he tries to sneak out to the pasture before finishing. All I have to say is,"Hey! You didn't finish!" and he comes plodding back to his bucket to finish. Have three other easy keepers (and the donkey who is NOT an easy keeper!) but he has always been in need of just a bit more attention!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by JB View Post
                        A high enough load of ascarids can cause permanent GI damage that could easily be the sole cause of all the issues you are having.
                        Thats interesting. Is there anything to be done about this? I am actually thinking of my donkey, just got her in December. her previous owners said she has had "shedding issues" every year and holey moley did she! Had to put her on steroids to stop the itching (did scrapes, fecals, etc). have no idea what her worming history is, and her appetite is okay, but does have a "depressed" presentation and that coat issue.... anyway, had not heard that and any info is GREATLY appreciated!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Just wanted to say.. I feel for you.. that does sound like a lot of 'maintenance'..

                          Poor feet, shoes all around, abscesses would be enough for me.. add ulcers, picky eater, difficult coat, and high feed costs.. and I'd feel the same as you...

                          I have a friesian.. and had another friesian before this one.. my former boy.. was the ultimate in low maintenance...sensible, never hurt himself, didn't require a lot of food, awesome feet, always sound, healthy, and with a wonderful temperament... until.. he got peritonitis.. and died.. ...at 16 years old...

                          My new friesian boy.. is not as low maintenance... but honestly, pretty good... and I will certainly NOT complain..

                          Can't advise you one way or the other.. you just have to weigh the good with the not so good and decide if it's worth it. No horse is 'perfect'..

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Any parasite load that is high enough that goes on long enough can permanently damage the GI tract. A damaged digestive system makes very poor use of whatever the horse is eating. It means more calories just to get enough. It means poorly absorbed nutrients, and without enough nutrients you get crappy feet and crappy coat.

                            If it's permanent damage, no, you can't fix it But it might not yet be permanent. First thing *I* would do is Quest or a Power Pack (and I honestly don't know which is more appropriate for a donk) to take care of encysted strongyles. Then I'd do a FEC 8 weeks after that and see what you have. Do a FEC now if you think there could be a very large worm load. That might change your course of action for right now
                            ______________________________
                            The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Thanks! When I got her we did Ivermec (again not certain of worming hx) but I am going to do another fecal, then see about Quest, then as you suggest, another fecal in two months. Your description just really struck a chord!

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Did they check vitamin levels as part of her bloodwork? At one point my older mare was low on vitamin E, and that made her a harder keeper and gave her coat issues as well. Supplemental vitamin E fixed her bloodwork, and she's fat and shiny for years now.

                                Though I'd imagine that the ulcers could easily cause her to be a hard keeper with coat problems as well. When my younger mare had to go to the vet hospital for a fungal eye infection a couple of years ago, she got ulcers, lost a bunch of weight (she's usually a complete chub), and her winter coat that year had all sorts of weird long hairs in it as well. This year, no ulcers, her coat is lovely, and she's so fat I had to get out the grazing muzzle for her.

                                Maybe wait and see if the ulcer treatment is enough of a help to take care of the feed/coat issues, and then decide if she's still too high maintenance for you?
                                "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming part dog."
                                -Edward Hoagland

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Not quite as bad, but close. My mare has the teeth of a 20 year old horse - and she's 12. Tons of grain, plus amplify to maintain weight. She eats a large bucket of chopped timothy. Shod all around, but we have just started trying fronts only. Teeth floating typically twice a year to prevent waves.

                                  But I wouldn't trade her for the world. She's worth every penny. :-) It is frustrating to see the dwindling checkbook though...
                                  http://ridingthroughthefear.blogspot.com/
                                  www.facebook.com/ThaliaFarm

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I believe I probably own one of the highest maintenance horses on the planet. I literally have a vet bill every month for something. Hock/stifle maintenance, very expensive supplement I can only get from the vet for his stifles (Equithrive), constant chiropractic, random injuries/illnesses (all unrelated and usually uncommon - like anaplasmosis, which is rare in our area).

                                    He's a very, very sensitive sort and won't cope with any discomfort at all. For example, he can't go more than 7 months between hock injections because he becomes so irritable that he will just bronc people (I.e., me) off picking up the right lead canter. I've seen the x-rays. There are some very mild changes. I've seen much worse in horses that were nowhere near as dramatic about pain. He just won't. tolerate. discomfort.

                                    Every time I think "you know, this is crazy! Surely he does not need all this!" he proves me wrong. He does need it - all of it.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Oh yeah, horse I mentioned above is also ulcer prone. Of course.

                                      The last time I let him go "too long" between hock injections, I ended up testing him for Lyme, EPM, and a bunch of other stuff because he became extremely aggressive.

                                      I do just adore this horse and had an excellent ride on his exquisitely maintained self today. So for me it is worth it. But I do probably spend close to $5,000 a year just maintaining him.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Agree with JB, there's an underlying cause to all of your mare's problems...something's going on with her immune system.

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