Wise Affair: Fat and Sassy

We think Weezy (Wise Affair) is totally and completely back to blooming good health at this point. So I figured it was maybe time for an update.

Here is Wise Affair as a racehorse, a few years ago:

 Weezy in her glory days.
Weezy in her glory days.

Canter On Equine rescue located her (along with a couple of other mares in the same condition) this past April, and my boss, who bred her and owned her as a racehorse, was contacted. He sent Linda and I to pick her up at the farm where she had been starved. The man had the nerve to tell Linda how to feed the mare properly and to criticize the leather halter we brought. He thought it was too small for her. Neither of us said a word, since there was still a mare yet to be surrendered. We just loaded our girl up and drove away. This is what she looked like a few days later:

Shortly after her arrival, in appalling condition, all her hair fell out.
Shortly after her arrival, in appalling condition, all her hair fell out.
At this point, she'd actually put on a few pounds already
At this point, she’d actually put on a few pounds already

We took pictures of her this morning. She was rather badly behaved, to be honest. She did not have time for stupid posing. Breakfast was finished… she had a full social calendar, and tons of grass to be eaten. Linda had to put the chain over her nose just to get her to stand still long enough.

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Weezy has things to do and places to go. That's her sister Esmerelda up at the top, and her little yearling buddy, Diva (the chestnut).
Weezy has things to do and places to go. That’s her sister Esmerelda up at the top, and her little yearling buddy, Diva (the chestnut).

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Wise Affair: Fat and Content

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Wise Affair, this morning. Waiting for her breakfast. She’s now on 24 hour turnout in the big pasture with the two young fillies, Diva and Esmerelda. I had to go out and convince the three of them to come in to eat, since they were apparently not all that hungry. Esmerelda is roly-poly and does not truly need one more scrap of food. Diva, being a lanky yearling, can always use a few extra calories. But Wise Affair looks just right.

Shooing the three girls in for breakfast (Wise Affair in the lead, Esmerelda on the right, Diva on the left.
Shooing the three girls in for breakfast (Wise Affair in the lead, Esmerelda on the right, Diva on the left)

Wise Affair Dreams of World Domination

Wise Affair has a lot of rules. Timeliness is very important. Breakfast must be on time. Lunch and dinner too. She is loudly disapproving of tardy serving staff. First, the whinnies, then she kicks the walls. “NOW!!! I want my breakfast NOW!!!” After breakfast, she needs to go outside immediately. And if we don’t get her out right away, she glares, and whinnies, and paces around her stall. She has dreams of world domination (right after she eats all the delicious food!).

Here is some video from this morning. This is exactly six weeks after her arrival in weak, emaciated condition, with lice and all her hair falling out.

Wise Affair Goes Out to Play

So poor Weezy has been mostly living in a large box stall since she came home. First because she had a heavy lice infestation (and also the risk of contagious diseases), which required quarantine, and secondly because she lost all her hair and was at risk of sunburn.

But she is finally growing a bit of a coat. After two treatments, there is no sign of any lice. Her skin is clearing up and a lot of the scurf is gone. She has put on a remarkable amount of weight. At this point, we can all see improvement every single day. She is, of course, co-operating heartily in her own rehab by eating voraciously. She’s also rude, pushy, and fizzing with an overabundance of energy.

So today the boss said we could turn her out in the paddock between the fillies, Esmerelda (her little sister) and Diva, and the recently retired racehorses, Parker and Vegas. Her coat is still too short for her to go out all day. But she went out at 6 am and got three hours to cavort and eat. Which she did with gusto. She snorted, galloped, whinnied, bucked, rolled, and greeted the other horses. Okay… well maybe she threatened the other horses once or twice too… she is her mama’s daughter after all! Diva and Esmerelda were intimidated and ran off after Weezy said some rude things to them. But Esmerelda was kind of put out about that and kept coming back. She is ALSO her mama’s daughter! But in the end, Weezy demonstrated superior bossiness. Then she went over and had a discussion with Parker and Vegas. Those two are just dorks. “Hullo! Weezy! Ummm…. We like you! We think?” They are very harmless dorks, and Weezy soon realized that they were not worth putting much effort into and ignored them in favour of the delicious grass.

Click on any of the pics for a closer view. They are cell phone pics, so they are rather grainy.

Wise Affair Gets Peach Fuzz

I was away this weekend at the Cayuse Canter Ride, and while I was gone, Weezy appears to have bloomed. I was amazed to see her this morning. She has put weight on visibly over the last two days. Last week we started adding a bit of Equine Senior to her beet pulp/flax mix, and she was thrilled with the new taste sensation.

The vet came out to look at one of the other mares on Friday and had a quick look at Weezy in passing. He was very pleased with her progress.

And she is growing new hair! At the moment it’s just the fine fuzzy beginning of a coat. But soon she will look like a horse again 🙂

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Wise Affair Gets An Attitude

Every day, while I clean Weezy’s stall, Linda takes her out and hand-grazes her on the lawn. She drags Linda around while she voraciously mows down every bit of greenery in sight. Last week, we wormed her (with Ivermectin) and later let her graze for a bit longer than normal. Which, in hindsight, was probably not the best plan.

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She didn’t finish her dinner that night, or her breakfast the next morning. When she went out to graze, she immediately lay down (though she kept grazing). Then she got up. Lay down. Got up. Lay down. Rolled. Yikes! Colic. We called the vet right away, since we were not sure if she should have banamine in her condition. But he okayed that, and by the time he got there, she was already much improved.

Her appetite returned. But she has started demanding tastier food. “Hay cubes???? YUCK! I don’t LIKE hay cubes!!”. Then two days later… “FLAX???? Why would you give me that??? It’s just disgusting!!!” So far, the beet pulp still passes Her Highness’s taste tests. And if I keep the amount of flax small enough and mix it into the beet pulp really really well, she’ll eat it. She is eating tons of hay, and the alfalfa disappears like it’s candy coated. I hide a few carrots in her hay, so when she comes in from grazing (gets DRAGGED in from grazing, totally against her will), she enthusiastically flings the hay around looking for them.

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While I don’t think it’s really visible yet in photos, Weezy has definitely put some weight on. The hair loss has made her look worse. But we can see the hollows filling out. And Weezy has been getting more and more cheerful (and rude).

In the last few days, Linda has been having some trouble with Weezy’s energy levels. She goes out doing her little sideways racehorse prance. A couple of times now, Linda’s had to bring her back in the barn to control Weezy’s antics. There she is, a bald, scurfy bag of bones, cavorting around Linda, while Linda vainly tries to hang on to her with a chain shank over her nose. Linda was calling her the “rotten, bald ingrate”.
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It’s hard to get mad at the mare though. She is obviously feeling better. Euphoric even, from the look in her eyes. We will all be very glad when she can be turned out in one of the paddocks.

Feeding Wise Affair

Quite a few people have asked what we are feeding Wise Affair. Because she was so starved and her digestive system is rather fragile right now, we started with just grass hay and a very small amount of alfalfa. We have been increasing both the hay and the alfalfa daily. We had to add an extra water bucket in her stall, because she was drinking a bucket every 3-4 hours. She has slowed down some on water in the last day or two, but she’s a hay dunker (every mouthful, every time.. splish splash!!) so she’s always going to go through a lot of water.

Aha!!! Found the carrot!
Aha!!! Found the carrot!

A couple of days ago, I started soaking hay cubes for her and adding a handful of beet pulp. Each day she gets a bit more beet pulp added to it. Yesterday she got a dribble of oil and a small handful of ground flax added. We have also been adding a general vitamin/mineral supplement and salt. All of this will increase gradually over the next little while. But it has to be very slow. It’s been a long time since this mare has seen better quality feed, and there is actually a risk of killing her with concentrated calories. It’s called “Refeeding Syndrome“.

So far, she seems to be doing extremely well. Her manure is normal, and she is getting more cheerful and demanding by the day. There’s been no sign of colic or any metabolic problems.

She is currently living in a box stall and is only going outside for an hour of hand grazing while I clean her stall in the morning. We have no way of turning her out in any of our paddocks that would not allow her access (over the fence) to the mares and foals. We cannot risk her passing either the lice or some other unknown pathogen on to them (not to mention that Wise Affair’s own immune system is likely pretty weak). It’s turning out to be a good thing though, since the poor girl is losing all her winter coat. Which normally is not a problem, but there is absolutely no sign of a spring/summer coat underneath. Just bare skin. She cannot be out in the sun for long, since she’d definitely burn.

It's hard to see in a photo, but the muscle along her spine is completely wasted away. Her ribcage forms a shelf.
It’s hard to see in a photo, but the muscle along her spine is completely wasted away. Her ribcage forms a shelf.
The hair is loose, and peels away when you rub your hand over it
The hair is loose, and peels away when you rub your hand over it
Luckily she has no idea how odd she looks
Luckily she has no idea how odd she looks
Talk about a bad hair day...
Talk about a bad hair day…

Here is Wise Affair in better days…

She was a beauty (and will be again).
She was a beauty (and will be again).

Wise Affair Gets a Bath

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It’s a lovely warm day today, so Wise Affair had a bath. I imagine it’s her first one in years. There are still a whole lot of lice eggs apparent when you look closely at her coat. But at least there is nothing moving around in there after we treated her a couple of days ago.

She had what looked like years worth of greasy grime caked in her coat. The first bucket of soapy water lost all its foam almost immediately when we sponged it on. The coat was so dirty is just emulsified instantly. So for the second bucket I added about three times as much soap. She thoroughly enjoyed being scrubbed and hosed down.

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Her tail was just disgraceful. She’s had a low-grade infection in her uterus, so there’s been a lot of discharge. Which ends up in her tail and down the inside of her hind legs. That’s what caused the scalding, and is why all the hair is completely gone down the inside of her hind legs. The tail was just awful to get clean, and unfortunately some of the tail hairs pulled out in the process. She really can’t afford to be losing anymore tail hair.

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Her coat has all been falling out in patches. It’s so loose that you can pull out chunks just by rubbing your hand over her. She started out looking moth eaten, and ended up looking like a plucked chicken after her bath. Poor girl. It will all grow back, but for the moment she’s not looking too glamorous. She smells better though. And I’m sure she feels better. She’s been putting on weight visibly over the last week. We think it’s probably mostly just re-hydration and her digestive tract now being full of hay (she’s working hard to keep it that way too!)

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Delousing Wise Affair

Yesterday afternoon the vet came to the farm. He checked Wise Affair and confirmed that yes, she does indeed have lice. LOTS of lice. We had already figured that out and Linda bought a big container of delousing powder. We were just waiting for the vet to tell us it was okay to treat her. He is quite happy with how bright, alert, and interested she is, and told us just to continue feeding her hay as we’ve been doing. She needs some time for her system to start functioning normally before we start giving her beet pulp, flax, and oil. And even longer before she’ll be ready for grain of any sort.

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At the moment she is living in a box stall away from the other horses. Because of the young foals that we have now, we dare not let her near anyone without a quarantine period. So every day, while her stall is getting cleaned, Linda walks her around the courtyard. Or, maybe, Weezy walks Linda around the courtyard. She’s quite opinionated and marches Linda around as she inspects everything and noses out the best patches of grass. She likes to come back and check on the stall cleaning progress.

What are you doing to my house?
What are you doing to my house?

She bullies Linda into producing MORE carrots. She seems to be quite content to be living in that stall. She doesn’t call to the other horses at all. She definitely does call to the humans though. “Food!!!” she tells us quite clearly “I really like FOOD! Bring more!” She is drinking a lot of water. She washes every mouthful of hay as well, so her bucket is constantly in need of refilling and/or cleaning. In between stuffing her face and drinking, she sleeps. Sprawled out full length on the double depth straw bedding.

Carrots!!
Carrots!!

Today, after her courtyard stroll, we gave her a salt lick to chew on while I poured delousing powder all over her. I used a rubber currycomb to work it down into the long raggedy coat.

Currying the powder into her coat
Currying the powder into her coat

Within a few minutes the lice started to surface, then dropped off like rain.

Lice dying and falling off her neck.
Lice dying and falling off her neck.

Ugh. She was just loaded with lice. It’s no wonder she has rubbed herself raw in so many places!

She's covered in sores.
She’s covered in sores.

That should help to make her more comfortable. We’ll re-treat in two weeks. She’s looking very slightly better now than she did a few days ago I think. She’s certainly getting perkier by the day.

I came directly home and straight into my bathtub. Yuck.

Wise Affair Comes Home

It’s been a long, long day. I’m tired and a bit incoherent so this tale will ramble I’m sure.

A few days ago, word started to trickle in that one of the horses that my boss bred, raised, and raced had turned up in very bad circumstances along with several other Thoroughbred mares. Wise Affair was Exclusive’s first foal. She was the best racehorse of all of Exclusive’s kids in fact.

After racing, she went to another owner as a broodmare. There were serious complications from her first foaling (prolapsed uterus, a rectal tear, etc) and after a very long and difficult recovery she was given to a “good home” as a companion horse. They were told that she was not breeding sound. Those owners bred her anyway. Repeatedly. They also seem to have neglected to feed her. She has a uterine infection of some kind as well as a tear. She has oozing patches of skin, almost no tail, and scabs and scurf everywhere. We haven’t yet checked for lice, but that’s a possibility for sure. Undoubtedly she’ll have worms.

In case you’ve never seen it, this is what a horse looks like when they are graded a body condition score of “1”. It can be hard to see in photos when they have a long coat. But click on the photos to get a closer view.

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Here is a close-up of her body…

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Canter On Equines were working with the owners to get all three mares placed. Linda and I went up with my truck and trailer to get her today. Because the owners were actually (with quite a bit of encouragement) willing to surrender the horses, we did not say anything overt to them about how dreadful the horses looked. (The owner seemed to think the horses were fine and that since the OSPCA inspectors had been around and said they were fine, that all was well. Sure wish I knew exactly how the OSPCA justifies their own existence.) I really couldn’t say a word to the guy, since anything that might come out of my mouth would have been confrontational. So I just took poor Weezy (they had renamed her Shayna, but there is no way we are calling her the name they picked – she goes back to being Weezy) straight on the trailer. She didn’t even break stride… marched right up that trailer and snatched an entire bale of hay out of the next stall, flinging up in the air in her enthusiasm. I managed to jam that back into place, and gave her a fully stuffed hay bag to eat on the way home. Once back at the farm I opened the trailer door to discover Weezy with the empty hay bag on top of her head, looking cheerful. She hopped off the trailer and went right over to see the boss. He held her while we took photos, and she rubbed her head all over him quite rudely… as she had always done to him at the track. She definitely knew where she was and who she was with.

She’s now in a clean stall with a big pile of hay and lots of water. The vet is coming to see her on Monday. We have stocked up on alfalfa, beet pulp, flax, oil, and vitamins for her.

Special thanks to Canter On Equines who did a great job finding homes for all three of the mares. And for lots of other horses too. It’s a good thing there are people like them in the world. Because there’s just way too many of the kind that have owned Wise Affair for the last couple of years.