This is Scooby, a 25year old New Forrest pony who lives on a grass free track with his Shetland companion. Their owner Caroline has cared for Scooby for 22 years. Scooby is quite a challenging pony to care for, he was a rescue and totally feral when he arrived and can still be a bit of a wild card even now. He has suffered laminitis in the past and like many older ponies he has a few stiff and achy joints.
12 months ago Caroline’s property was underwater, the track, her garden and her home. It was a really difficult and stressful time during which Scooby was suddenly affected by the onset of laminitis. Given his condition, care and environment prior to this episode we concluded that the flood water was the trigger. Caroline had a lot on her mind and then suddenly a very poorly pony to care for as well.
Scooby was already fed Calm Healthy Horses products, Premium and GrazeEzy, although getting him to eat the GrazeEzy could be very challenging. With support from her barefoot trimmer Georgie, Caroline started our acute laminitis protocols but with everything else going on she was struggling. Seeking help Caroline quickly became confused by conflicting advice and ended up deviating from the CHH basics while collecting some twenty different supplements in her feed cupboard. Scooby didn’t improve and finally her vet called and recommended a heavy dose of pain relief while he went to collect his euthanasia kit.
Luckily Georgie rang that morning and immediately arranged for Scooby to be transported to her own track where she took over his daily care. Being a very experienced professional horsewoman/trimmer Georgie, over a four-month period, was able to manage Scooby back to full health.
How did she do that?
Managing Scooby back to health simply involved consistently suppling an appropriate diet, appropriate movement in an appropriate environment. That was it, sounds easy but it’s actually much more challenging that many people realise and can manage without the help of a good team around them.
So what is an appropriate diet, basically its one that is designed for the horse in terms of meeting both his digestive and metabolic needs. For us at CHH that means ad lib hay, (soaked when necessary) and complemented with a daily supply of quality vitamins, minerals and amino acids. By feeding good ad lib hay and CHH supplements Georgie was able to optimise Scobey’s diet to meet his fundamental nutritional needs while addressing some underlying macro mineral imbalances that had been disturbed by the flood water and triggered the laminitis episode. By doing this Scooby’s body was able to function as it should resulting in his recovery. To supply his daily nutrients Georgie fed, Premium, Shipshape, GrazeEzy and Alleviate C by mouth in a worming syringe mixed with salt and a little water. Initially this was done multiple times per day, later as Scooby improved, twice a day. Georgie kept this up for as long as it took for Scooby to recover, monitoring him daily while ensuring he received his daily hay and nutritional syringes.
Alongside scrupulous attention to Scooby’s diet Georgie ensured that he was encouraged to practice appropriate movement. This included free choice but Georgie also encouraged movement in support of the recovery process. As an expert barefoot trimmer Georgie has lots of experience in assessing and promoting appropriate movement according to need during the various stages of recovery. Initially Scooby was booted and provided pain relief. This was removed as he recovered, over time Scooby became more and more comfortable, and his natural free choice movement increased.
So Georgie attended to the two very important factors, an appropriate diet and appropriate movement. The third key to success was doing this in an appropriate environment.
For Scooby an appropriate environment is a place where there is no grass, where he can be stimulated by his surroundings and companions and where the challenges of movement can gradually increase on suitable surfaces.
Scooby is a complex pony; he is not easy to manage and he is not the easiest to work with. He is highly sensitive to grass and associated dietary triggers, so his potential to become ‘grass affected’ is very high, even in a grass free environment.
We believe that his issues were triggered by run off flood water from the adjoining farmland which potentially introduced high levels of potassium, nitrates and other agrichemicals into his otherwise appropriate environment. In our experience agrichemicals can be highly stressful for a very sensitised horse or pony. As Scooby was supported into recovery, Georgie noticed his tendency to stop moving even if mildly stressed. She already knew that Scooby didn’t always want to take his supplements and will leave the hay that best suits his digestive system. So, Georgie worked really hard to ensure that he got the nutrition he needed and moved enough to support his recovery.
Having sufficient experience to push a complex pony like Scooby in the right direction at the right time can be very challenging. In our experience we often find people are doing lots of great things but lose confidence as the road to recovery can take a long time and they then worry they could be doing more to speed things up. This is how many conflicting ideas can creep in and make it easy for things to fall apart. Having the support of a team who have similar ideas with sufficient experience of successfully managing these horses is essential to help people ‘get it right for the horse’ as the daily situation requires.
Lucky for Caroline she has that good team around her. Georgie took Scooby home when he was recovered with a list of things for Caroline to do and support her maintain his good health. One of those things was a CD of the Elephant March from Jungle book. Caroline needs to play this every day and march with Scooby around his track – a fun thing to do and a way to make sure he gets the movement he needs to stay healthy.
Caroline’s vet was astounded to see Scooby marching around his track having been convinced that he would be best PTS. Caroline is over the moon that Scooby is back to his normal tricky self and she has her pony back in spite of such a serious laminitic episode. From CHH it was a privilege to play a part in Scooby’s happy story.
My last message from Caroline: Just tried to catch him to get picture of his wonderful tootsies but I can’t catch the bugger! He has such lovely frogs and soles now, despite the wet at the moment I only have to field paste every 4 or 5 day’s just in case. Mud mats and sheep fleeces are helping on the track but his health, CHH and of course Georgie are all doing their jobs