Candy the normal horse
A couple of weeks ago, the vet was out to my neighbor’s for normal maintenance and spring vaccinations. I told my neighbor to put my horses on the list; I can’t overstate the convenience of living next door to a big boarding barn.
All three of my horses needed a Coggins test and vaccinations, and I wanted to have Candy adjusted. (My vet is also an equine chiropractor.) Candy slipped and fell in my barn aisle a few weeks ago when it was wet and very slippery. She’s been extremely stiff to the left when ridden. While that’s always been her tough direction, I thought the fall might have exacerbated the stiffness and figured an adjustment wouldn’t hurt.
Unfortunately, the vet was running behind and couldn’t adjust Candy. She drew blood and vaccinated everyone, and asked me how Candy was doing. My vet hasn’t seen Candy much; for all that Candy is my problem child, she has yet to get injured or ill in a way that requires veterinary attention. I told her that Candy’s behavior hasn’t changed very much since she saw her last year- still anxious, still a little underweight, still not growing a winter coat. My vet suggested I treat her for ulcers with compounded omeprazole/ranitidine and sent me a link to the clinic’s online pharmacy.
I have not treated Candy for ulcers and she’s never been scoped for them. I’ve never been convinced her behavioral problems are ulcer-related. Her lifestyle includes plenty of turnout, lots of forage, other horses to interact with. It seems fairly low-stress, although her constant anxiety says otherwise; I don’t know what I could do to make it less stressful. Other than her anxious behavior, she exhibits no ulcer symptoms. Candy eats eagerly and well. She isn’t girthy or touchy. She doesn’t lay down any more often than the other horses do. While she doesn’t grow much of a winter coat, the hair she has is shiny and soft. And her hard-keeper tendencies aren’t unusual for a Thoroughbred. But I figured I’d bite the bullet and buy Candy the medication. It’s cheaper than the brand name stuff, and my vet said it had worked well for other clients.
Candy’s been on the medication for a week and a half and the change in her behavior is remarkable. Little things that I assumed were part of her quirkiness have disappeared, like her tendency to rush through gates and doors. She’s been a totally different horse under saddle. Instead of vibrating with tension, she stands pretty quietly at the mounting block. She stopped the constant bit-chewing. She feels like a normal horse. Instead of feeling like a powder keg that could blow any second, she just feels like a horse. I mean, she feels like a kind of green, kind of forward, kind of ignorant horse, but without all the distracted anxiety underneath.
My vet was back at my neighbor’s on Monday and told me she could fit Candy in for an adjustment. I ducked out of work early to meet her. She asked how Candy was doing on the medication and commented that she thought Candy had already gained a little weight. She proceeded to adjust her, commenting that Candy’s hind end was stiff to the left while her front end was stiff to the right. Candy’s lumbar region was a bit sore, too. I was very happy about Candy’s behavior on Monday- she stood quietly while tied in the arena waiting for her turn with the vet. She’s usually wound up about being separated from Gina and Moe. She was good for her adjustment, too.
I am absolutely astonished at the change in her attitude. Part of me keeps waiting for the other shoe to drop. Are the pleasant rides and good behavior flukes? Is this horse actually still a banana? I suppose only time will tell. Right now, I’m going to enjoy my happy new horse.