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Ulcer stress; on Pop rocks, not sure I BELIEVE just yet... Good Update!

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  • Ulcer stress; on Pop rocks, not sure I BELIEVE just yet... Good Update!

    I know ulcers don't always show improvement with outward behavior until they are completely healed, but I'm starting to worry. Are the Pop Rocks not working? Should I bite the bullet and just get Gastroguard instead? or could it possibly be something else entirely?? Here's my horse's story:
    • 5 years ago when he was first imported from Germany, all looked ok but he never had that 'bloom'. Appetite was great, but no matter what he was fed he didn't gain weight from being just a hair under what I liked and should have had a much glossier coat. With the endorsement of my vet, we tried him on a month of Ranitidine (did not scope). AMAZING difference, gained 45 lbs in 2 weeks, so we felt it was pretty obvious that our diagnostic guess had been correct. 2 weeks after discontinuing, he started to have occasional mild gassy/colicky episodes. We did another month of Ranitidine and had no more problems after that. Since Ranitidine is cheap I did a month every spring for the next few years just in case (vet said not a bad idea).
    • 2 years ago he started hunching his back occasionally when saddled. Had a fitter come and reflock his saddle, which seemed to be the magic ticket for a while. 5 months later he started doing it again. Put him on a month's worth of Ranitidine again in case ulcers were an issue (with no change), then had the fitter back out to re-check the saddle (they said it was fine). He continued to be good under saddle despite this happening now and then, so I would just lunge him a bit on the days he did it before I rode thinking it was a cold-backed issue.
    • Last year he started to become more and more unpredictable under saddle - BIG sudden spooks and bucking fits that seemed to come out of nowhere, for no reason. They weren't at the beginning of a ride from being fresh, he seemed very calm prior to and afterwards, etc. I messed with a few diet changes and couldn't figure out what his problem was. I tried another month of Ranitidine and he got a few chiro appts and body work sessions, too. Nothing seemed to make a difference. Since the first time he had ranitidine it made such an obvious difference so fast, I felt like ulcers were probably not the issue. Finally I gave him a year off. He was starting to scare me as a rider and I knew it just wasn't like him to act that way - I didn't have the money to spend a lot on more investigation, so I thought let's see what time can do in case it was back soreness, or ?. He still ate normally, was sound, seemed normal in every other way.
    • This summer I wanted to see if I could bring him back into work. I got him out and tacked him up. When I started to slowly girth him, he hunched again but this time he also *twitched his skin like he could barely stand for it to touch his sides*. Poor poor baby. Obviously this couldn't have been back soreness from being ridden in an ill fitting saddle since he hadn't been ridden for a year. The next week I tried tacking him in a different saddle just in case, same reaction. When I led him around he started to relax a bit after a few steps, so I went ahead and lunged him. He seemed so happy to be out and paid attention to! I feel so bad for him. I really can't think of anything else it could be but ulcers, especially watching that youtube video of where ulcer pressure points are. He even seems sensitive in that lower back region that they say indicates long-term ulcer issues when I curry him.


    Where we are at now:
    He never got much grain, so last month I decided to switch him to just a RB together with what he was already getting - soaked beet pulp and alfalfa pellets 2x a day and plenty of quality timothy hay. He is on 24/7 turnout. He started on Pop Rocks 3 weeks ago. I get him out once a week and saddle him to see if there has been any change. I have seen none so far and am getting worried. My trainer says that her mare took 3 months to recover from bad ulcers so not to panic yet, but I hate hate hate that he is still NQR! I discussed his story and symptoms with another vet last week and she thinks that I should try a week of GG instead and see if that shows a difference. She's not convinced that any other form of Omeprozole is effective. She also agreed that she would put the money towards the week of GG before having him scoped, sounded so much like ulcers. I've got 12 more days of the Pop rocks, so I think I'll do the GG if no change shows by the end. If there is a change, I'll keep him on the rocks for another month or 2.

    So, has anyone out there seen similar behavior in a horse? Was it ulcers or something else? How long did things take before they seemed to resolve? In 30 years of being around horses, I have never seen this extreme twitching. I can't think of anything else it would be. If the course of Pop Rocks and a week of GG don't show anything, we'll take him to the vet hospital for more investigation, but I'm stressing.
    Last edited by Live2Jump; Oct. 3, 2012, 05:10 PM.
    Work - feed - ride - shovel poop - repeat.

  • #2
    Just a long shot - do you have a dressage with short girth - there is a nerve running behind the elbows called a vegus (sp?) nerve and I've got caught out with my mare since she's got very sensitive elbow skin. With a long girth she's fine, with a short one with 'wings' she exploded.

    You feel so helpless when you can't help them, don't you?
    Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique

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    • Original Poster

      #3
      Originally posted by Foxtrot's View Post
      Just a long shot - do you have a dressage with short girth - there is a nerve running behind the elbows called a vegus (sp?) nerve and I've got caught out with my mare since she's got very sensitive elbow skin. With a long girth she's fine, with a short one with 'wings' she exploded.

      You feel so helpless when you can't help them, don't you?
      Oh yes, I forgot to mention that. The saddle I had been riding him in until this year was a jump saddle - that is what I tried him in again this first time of the summer. The next week I switched to my dressage saddle with a short County Logic girth (with the curves) because I thought of the same thing. No change unfortunately but good idea! And yes, I feel AWFUL and HELPLESS. Thanks for understanding.
      Work - feed - ride - shovel poop - repeat.

      Comment


      • #4
        My ulcer guy sounds a lot like yours. He responded to the pop rocks right away as in much less spooky, stopped pacing before meals, bucking at canter transitions, humped back, etc., but the girthiness I think will always be an issue once they associate it with pain. I find that if he starts reacting as soon as I pick up the girth so it isn't even on him. I always girth up very slowly, but when I sent him away for six months training I think he got ulcers plus the grooms girthed up much faster... I also find that once he had his ulcers treated, if he was distracted by carrots or especially another horse getting carrots next to him he would forget to be girthy while when he did have ulcers he always got crabby as the girth was tightened.

        Another possibility is that his ribs are "out" so to speak. I found that after chiropractic work my horse's back seemed much happier and I think they may get postural soreness if they have had ulcers. Anyway, be sure to give the correct dose and sounds like your guy will forever be prone to ulcers as mine is.

        Comment


        • #5
          Also had another horse with the vagal nerve issue and he actually fainted the one time as I tightened the girth from on board. Scariest thing ever! Trying to do an emergency dismount from a horse that is going down front first is not easy... Poor guy seemed really surprised it happened too. He likes the Wintec girths best.

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          • #6
            I'd have a chiropractor out just to rule a rib out before anything else.
            It's a small world -- unless you gotta walk home.

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            • Original Poster

              #7
              Originally posted by candico View Post
              My ulcer guy sounds a lot like yours. He responded to the pop rocks right away as in much less spooky, stopped pacing before meals, bucking at canter transitions, humped back, etc., but the girthiness I think will always be an issue once they associate it with pain. I find that if he starts reacting as soon as I pick up the girth so it isn't even on him. I always girth up very slowly, but when I sent him away for six months training I think he got ulcers plus the grooms girthed up much faster... I also find that once he had his ulcers treated, if he was distracted by carrots or especially another horse getting carrots next to him he would forget to be girthy while when he did have ulcers he always got crabby as the girth was tightened.

              Another possibility is that his ribs are "out" so to speak. I found that after chiropractic work my horse's back seemed much happier and I think they may get postural soreness if they have had ulcers. Anyway, be sure to give the correct dose and sounds like your guy will forever be prone to ulcers as mine is.
              Yes, I try to always give him a treat when girthing (slowly), so at least he has something to look forward to instead of just anticipating discomfort. That is a good point that his reaction may take a while to fade even after things resolve.

              Now that I think about it though, I did see the twitching with him once a few years ago, too. I had forgotten about it. But it wasn't a reaction to girthing - it was when I tried to put some conditioner on a saddle while he was tacked up. It was really strange. I took the stuff away, no problem. Opened up the tub and went to wipe it on the flap and twitch twitch. I thought it was pretty strange, must have been the smell or something and didn't try that again. Maybe the twitching is his generic anxiety response?

              Originally posted by candico View Post
              Also had another horse with the vagal nerve issue and he actually fainted the one time as I tightened the girth from on board. Scariest thing ever! Trying to do an emergency dismount from a horse that is going down front first is not easy... Poor guy seemed really surprised it happened too. He likes the Wintec girths best.
              Yikes! That is scary - were you able to help him with the nerve issue?

              Originally posted by Mosey_2003 View Post
              I'd have a chiropractor out just to rule a rib out before anything else.
              I did try a chiro and some body work when the hunching started and it didn't seem to help. But it has been a while now. I'll try that after the GG.
              Work - feed - ride - shovel poop - repeat.

              Comment


              • #8
                Two things come to mine:

                1. Hindgut Ulcers. It may be that you have cleared up the stomach ulcers, but his are now farther back. I think sucralfate is still the treatment of choice, but I'd talk to your vet about that one.

                2. Spinal arthritis/possibly a pinching nerve. Cervical spine lesions can cause strange behavior- which can come and go quickly and the horse's body positioning changes the pressure on the lesion.

                Comment


                • #9
                  As per the hing gut ulcers mentioned above - you might want to talk to your vet about putting him on a hindgut buffer like this one made by KER. My guy has been doing really, really well on it:

                  http://www.kerx.com/products/EquiShure/

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Originally posted by joiedevie99 View Post
                    Two things come to mine:

                    1. Hindgut Ulcers. It may be that you have cleared up the stomach ulcers, but his are now farther back. I think sucralfate is still the treatment of choice, but I'd talk to your vet about that one.

                    2. Spinal arthritis/possibly a pinching nerve. Cervical spine lesions can cause strange behavior- which can come and go quickly and the horse's body positioning changes the pressure on the lesion.
                    Good ideas. I will be sure to ask about both of these possibilities if/when we go to the hospital. Still hoping we won't need to go, and especially that it isn't #2, but good to have things to ask about. Thank you!

                    Originally posted by bucksnort View Post
                    As per the hing gut ulcers mentioned above - you might want to talk to your vet about putting him on a hindgut buffer like this one made by KER. My guy has been doing really, really well on it:

                    http://www.kerx.com/products/EquiShure/
                    Thank you as well!


                    So, exciting/frustrating news: yesterday I got him out again and switched back to the jump saddle just in case it would make a difference (I haven't used it since the first day of trying to bring him back). No twitches!!! First time since summer. The frustrating part - started lunging him afterward and he was very lame on the left front - I think it's an abcess, waa. So will continue pop rocks and add soaking his foot to my list. This is the first time he's ever been lame, maybe he thought I was getting too excited and he might have to go back to work? I sure hope the lack of twitching is a good sign and not just a fluke...
                    Work - feed - ride - shovel poop - repeat.

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Good Update

                      The abscess resolved, he came sound again just as the month on pop rocks was over. Still has one minor twitch when tacking up on some days but there has been a consistant, MAJOR improvement. I ordered another months worth of the rocks, and hes on ranitidine until it arrives. Fingers crossed that after another month I'll get my horse back! I have started light rides once a week, so far so good. Fingers crossed!
                      Work - feed - ride - shovel poop - repeat.

                      Comment

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