First Two Weeks

Eye Infection and Poop

We’ve had Juniper and Leeloo home for a little over two weeks now and it’s been, okay. So far most of my time has been taken up with poop. I am still obsessively cleaning out almost all poop from the whole track almost every day. This will not last. If nothing else the freezing temperatures will eventually force a stop. But I am trying to stay ahead of the parasites so we’re doing both Ivermectin Gold and Strongid but I am waiting a few weeks in-between them and while we wait I will stay obsessive about picking up poop.

For those of you not familiar horses eat off the ground so they can pick up parasites. There are various treatments for them, but the industry has not been able to create/find a new one in decades and the parasites are starting to show resistance to the medications that we do have, so the shift has been to minimizing parasite load in the first place through improved management. Which mostly boils down to: pick up the poop. Long term I am planning on getting a harrow I can drag behind my lawn mower and I’ll use that for the poop in the majority of the track and just pick up the stuff around their main hangout areas like the shelters, water, and hay boxes.

Speaking of hay boxes – I finally finished the lid!! AND! We built a second one (that still needs a lid).  Big thank you to my friend for helping me figure out a design for the frame of the lid. Still need to figure out a mechanism for keeping it on the box, but right now Juniper has a grazing muzzle on and we’re still feeding the “roughage” hay so there isn’t danger of overeating so I’m keeping the nets off. This however has made me realize that a hinged lid might not be the best option and something that comes all the way on or off, but the horses can’t get off, will probably work better. Still haven’t worked that out yet.

What I did not realize was that Leeloo and Juniper would be afraid of the hay boxes. Leeloo in particular truly confuses me about what she does and does not find scary.

Example – several years ago at our previous barn they were doing construction and after the work day would sometimes store equipment in the arena. I was out with Leeloo and since we were alone I let her loose to roll (rolling in relatively clean sand is always preferred to rolling in mud). I turn my back for three seconds to set down her lead rope only to find that she has decided the skid steer with the two giant skids sticking out the front looks like the best toy ever. She has walked right up to it, between the two skids, and is in the act of reaching in to pull on the levers. Leeloo has tried to put almost everything she has ever come across in her mouth: the vet’s clipboard, the chiropractor’s iPad, sweatshirt strings, every whip ever, pitchfork handles, broom handles, literally any handle, glasses, Nate’s beard, cat food, hoses, the list goes on forever. Anyway, here is my horse, standing between the skids of the skid steer, reaching in to pull on the handles that make it go. Great. I managed to get around her so I’m facing her and signal her to back up and luckily she does. She clears both skids before she notices the next thing the work crew left behind. The single most terrifying thing in the world. A large wooden spool. About three feet across and about a foot and a half high. Probably used for a large hose or tubing, but currently empty and just sitting there. Leeloo comes to a dead stop, flags her tail, arches her neck, and goes into her snorting impression of an Arabian horse. The thing that could actually cause her harm – great toy. The thing that could cause her no harm in any conceivable way – terrifying monster. I do not understand my horse.

The haybox apparently counted as a terrifying monster. Not having expected that, I hadn’t made any effort to introduce her to it. Nate and I just put it out in the field while Leeloo and Juniper had been hiding from the bugs in the shelter and they hadn’t noticed. Now Leeloo had come up for water by herself and must have spotted it. I missed her very first reaction but I caught it out of the corner of my eye. When your normally pretty mellow horse decides to prance around snorting with her tail flagged and her neck all arched you notice. By the time I found my phone she had managed to calm herself down a lot and worked up the courage to investigate closer. You’ll notice she chickened out on her first attempt to walk by it calmly and ended up running past it, but then when it didn’t chase her she came back around for another try and this time did actually get to it and take a few bites of hay before deciding she had had enough of bravery for the time being.

The other thing that has been taking up most of our horse related time is Juniper’s eye infection. We knew she had one when we got her, but it just wasn’t getting better so I had the vet out the Monday after we brought her home and then we had a recheck last week. The conclusion is that she has formed an abscess over the top of the original injury and eye abscesses are usually fungal or mixed infections so we need to change up our treatment plan. Here is what I got from the vet:

Diagnosis: Corneal stromal abscess. 

Treatment: Since the literature and the ophthalmologist describe these as being commonly fungal or mixed infections, the approach would be to treat for fungus and bacteria, while trying to get the eye comfortable and stop the reflex uvieitis. The recommended treatment duration is 6-8 weeks.

6-8 weeks of giving eye meds 4-6 times a day – fun times.

I will admit that when I was imagining what it would be like to have my horse at home I hadn’t been thinking of poop and medicating eyes. But I know long term the good will outweigh the not so good. Even now, with most of the time spent doing the less than fun chores, it is really nice having them home. When Juniper nickers at me for her breakfast, or Leeloo comes up to see what I’m doing – which is usually picking up poop at which point Leeloo will sniff the poop and then immediately poop right by the poop cart (thanks), or when Leeloo calls to me when I am in the garage working and trying to have a conversation with someone else (seriously Leeloo, not everything is about you) they are a lot of fun to have around.