Wolfie the Wonder Horse!

Wolfie the Wonder Horse!
Wolfie, 24/02/08

Friday, 29 July 2011


The results of Wolfie's blood tests came back on Tuesday. He is negative for anything infectious. His white blood cell count has shown that there has been some sort of virus. He is continuing to pick up and I'm starting to see the old Wolfie 'spark' return. He is to have another week of rest and recuperation and to be monitored still for any signs of dullness or loss of appetite. If he continues as he is, I have to gently bring him back into work at the end of next week. He will get more blood taken in a couple of weeks and his white blood cell count will be checked again. I have mixed feelings about the results of the blood work. On one hand I'm relieved that nothing showed, although I really didn't think he had anything infectious. On the other hand I would liked to have known exactly what caused this. He was only given the one jab of antibiotic by my own vet. He was given fluids and electrolytes and support by the vet school, so his own body has fought this which my vet says is a good thing. The vet school wouldn't give him any antibiotics until they could identify what they were treating. My vet also said it was fortunate that he was young and healthy prior to this, otherwise he might not have been so lucky. Wolfie's love for life is untangible and I'm sure his spirit and will have contributed to him fighting this. So three and a half weeks on from that fateful Tuesday night, things are looking much brighter.

I've finished painting Wolfie's stable (it's been like changing rooms!). It looks much better and I will move him back into his own stable tomorrow.

August is a busy month for the boys. Wolfie has his blood tests, they both have their flu and tetanus vaccinations and a dentist visit and they are both also supposed to be getting freeze marked at the end of the month, although I have to make sure with the vet if this can go ahead for Wolfie. I detest freezemarks and have always refused to have them done, but with more and more horses being stolen I have to be sensible. It's every horse owners worst nightmare for a horse to be stolen, they say freezemarking is the only real deterrent, so I have to be sensible.fell that I have to do it. It's not just the worry of them being stolen but ultimately what would happen to them and where would they end up.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Blood, sweat and tears

Wolfie has continued to improve, although it does seem to be slowly. His appetite has increased and he is a lot brighter. He does perk up a lot when you interact with him, I think part of it is the change in stable, isolation and change in routine. He isn't suited to the life of being a pasture ornament. He's still not 100%. I've began doing a little clicker training with him for 10 minutes or so at night. We just have a little play in his stable as he can't go anywhere else on the yard just now. He is very enthusiastic about it and seems to really enjoy it. He's working for a measly piece of carrot (this boy is on a diet!), but he totally gets it. You can actually see him processing and thinking about what he is being asked to do to earn the click and then ultimately the reward and praise. He does seem to see it as a good game. I am conscious of him performing actions he has been taught at times when he is not asked, so I have given him verbal cues in German.

The vet came up to take his bloods today. I've been aprehensive about this. He was getting better with the vet before this all happened, but this has set him right back. I gauged his reaction when he saw the vet walking towards his stable. We decided before the vet even entered the stable that he would get a mild sedative. Wolfie stuck two hooves up at the vet.... literally. Kinder for Wolfie, rather than him getting himself in a complete state. So the bloods are on their way to Newmarket and the results should be back on Wednesday hopefully. Fingers crossed. We discussed everything that had happened and how long I felt it had been for Wolfie to start really picking up. The vet said he had only ever seen one horse with a temperature as high as Wolfie had once before in his career and that horse hadn't made it. He said I'd done a good job that Tuesday night, staying with Wolfie and keeping him warm and dry and as hydrated as I could. He said he had spoken with the vet school the day Wolfie had came home and they were both very surprised that his temperature hadn't spiked again. I was surprised that Wolfie got something like this, he's never sick or sorry and if he is, it's due to a knock or a kick. I have always thought that he has incredible healing power, so maybe this is the same. It has really knocked him for six though. I really wish we could get some sort of conclusive answer though.

Whilst Wolfie is out of his stable and it has been emptied of bedding, I decided to use the opportunity to paint it. It's a job that's long over due and I've never really got round to as there was always a bed in it or Wolfie was in it. I started today and painted the walls. I've still got to do the woodwork and I should have enough paint to do the outside. I'm glad I have done it as it looks so much better. Redecorate for him moving back in!

Work in progress!

Wolfie in his temporary stable

Masked crusader

Hello Wolfie

Buttons is doing great, full of cheek. Zoe has been up to ride him. He's casting his summer coat........does that mean winter is on its way?

Friday, 15 July 2011

The fever of the horse

I'm sorry for not posting and updating on Wolfie sooner, we've had a rough week. After I posted in the early hours of last Wednesday morning, Wolfie's temperature started to go up again. I called the Vet who was out on a call. He told me that I had to try and get his temperature down. I was soaking rugs in cold water and sponging him down and then quickly having to get dry rugs on him to keep him warm. His temperature came back down and he was a little brighter. I gave him a small haynet at 6am which he picked at. He was moving around a little more (he had stood like a statue most of the night) and he would occasionally put his head over the door and prick his ears and take an interest in his surroundings. However, he was still very subdued, his eyes were very dull and appeared sunken and his mucous membranes were quite pale. He was also very prickly and really didn't want you touching him. The Vet came back around 9am and examined him and took his temperature which had remained normal. We discussed options. If the vet had sent the bloods away, it would be Friday before they came back. If we took Wolfie to the Vet School they would be able to have the results back the same day. There really was no decision to make. The Vet School had the facilities to cope if his temperature went sky high again and they would be able to treat him straight away and keep him hydrated. They could provide him with the supportive care and monitoring that I couldn't at home. Being up all night with him on Tuesday night was exhausting. It's very lonely and frightening in the middle of the night when you are on your own with a sick horse with no-one else to help, speak to or offer an opinion. So I loaded Wolfie and we headed over to the Vet School on Wednesday afternoon. I can't explain how much I appreciated having my own trailer. Knowing it was there and I could get him to the Vet School at any time was very reassuring. Trying to organise transport is very stressful when you have an ill horse, especially if you end up with an emergency situation. I also realised again how lucky we are having the Weipers Centre only a 25 minute journey away.

On arrival at the Vet School, Wolfie was taken to the isolation unit as he had an unexplained / unidentified infection. The vets were wearing the full protective suits like forensic people wear and looked a bit like oompa loompas. To start with, Wolfie wasn't going to let them any where near him. I was pleased to see him putting up a bit of a fight, it was half hearted but it was something. I ended up taking his temperature, putting a tail bandage on him and shaving a patch of hair on his belly. He let me do it he just didn't want the vets near him. The vets were very good with him and seemed to take on board what I said about about handling him and speaking to him. They eventually managed to get the bloods without sedation. He was then given a mild sedation and they did a full examination, rectal examination, took a faeces sample and they did a stomach tap. They also intubated him and gave him 6 litres of fluid. On Thursday they did a respiratory examination and gave him more fluids. All of the test results have came back unremarkable. They have now taken blood samples to test for EHV-1, EHV-4, EIV, Adenovirus, Rhinovirus, ELISA for Strep. equi var equi and a general virus profile. Being down in the isolation unit, Wolfie was completely locked up. He had no window and no door to put his head over. He became totally distressed and by Thursday afternoon had started manically trotting around the stable and had stopped eating. As his temperature had remained normaI, I discussed options with the vets and although he had to have bloods taken again in 2 weeks time for the virus profiling and they would have kept him longer for monitoring, we all agreed that if isolation conditions could be provided for him, it would be better to try and take him home and see if he would settle and get him eating again. I picked him up late on Friday afternoon and he was really distressed. As I loaded him, he launched himself into the trailer without any of his feet actually touching the ramp. He has been put into a different stable as he is in isolation, so that added to his upset when he got home.

It's been a worrying few days since he got home. He was hardly eating anything. He has been getting turned out onto a grazed part of the field for a few hours every day. Yesterday is the first time that he has actually shown any sign of an appetite and really wanting to eat. His temperature has remained normal, he is drinking and passing dung. He just still seems very depressed and lethargic. Understandable I suppose if you have had a high fever and been very stressed. I've been sitting with him for an hour or so at night. He gets great comfort from you just being in the stable with him. I sit on an upturned bucket like 'Oor willie' and read to him. He picks at his hay, when I stop reading or to turn the page he turns his head and looks at me. When I start reading again, he goes back to picking at his hay. He responds so well to your voice that I think he also finds this comforting. I've just bought a few books off Amazon that I have wanted for ages, so it's an excuse to sit and read. We've just finished Sylvia Loch's Dressage in Lightness.

He gets his second set of bloods taken on the 22nd July and these will be sent to the Animal Health Trust at Newmarket to be tested. So it will be the following week before we get the results. If they are negative and he is continuing to show no other symptoms then he can be reintroduced to the herd and go back into work. The vet said that he thought it was unlikely that he had an infectious disease. I have seen and worked with strangles before, and Wolfie's symptoms just don't 'fit'. He has never shown any signs of nasal discharge, runny eyes or a cough. He coughed once at the vet school, but that was after they had put a tube down his throat, so that was understandable. There are viral infections which cause a biphasic fever. This means that the horse may have a normal temperature in the morning, but later in the day it will spike a high fever. This is characteristic of a viral infection. There is also fever of unknown origin which has been documented in horses. It's an unexplained fever associated with non-specific signs of illness such as lethargy, inappetence etc. The vet said he thought the most likely scenario is that he had a viral infection which was caught immediately and the antibiotic and anti steroidal that the vet gave him just knocked it on the head. He said that there were so many viruses in the environment that they may never be able to identify the cause of it.

The vet school and my own vet have told me that I need to get the excess weight Wolfie is carrying off him. I know he is overweight. I have battled for the grazing to be restricted for years. The grazing has been restricted this year, but I often arrive at the stables and find the fence has been moved 12 foot and Wolfie is standing up to his belly in fresh grass. It is very difficult with a horse kept at a livery yard when I do not have control over his grazing. All he gets to eat is grass and a balancer. His hay is always soaked in excess of 12 hours and I ride him as much as I can. I have bought him a grazing muzzle. I have my concerns about the use of grazing muzzles and they need to be used and managed properly. I'm not quite sure what will happen when the bloods come back. If anything shows as positive, then a further diagnostic / therapeutic plan will be put in place. If all negative, theoretically Wolfie could go back out with the other boys. However, as he cannot be grazed on fresh grass I am thinking he will have to stay in his restricted patch for the rest of the summer. It really is for his own good. If I can get a little weight of him now, I stand a better chance of getting his weight down over winter. I bought him the Shires grazing muzzle, but straight off I knew it wasn't going to be suitable. I've now 'invested' in the Greenguard muzzle and halter. I tried it on him tonight for size. Bless him, he caught his own reflection in the stable window and jumped 3 feet in the air when he saw himself.

So it's really a waiting game now. Hopefully, Wolfie has now turned a corner and will continue to improve and gain strength. At the moment I'm just taking each day as it comes with him.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

please say a prayer for wolfie

Wolfie is sick, really sick. If there was ever a time that this horse needed his guardian angel its now. It's 3.30am and I'm at the stables doing hourly checks on wolfie. I arrived at the stables about 4pm yesterday. Wolfie was standing at the back of his stable looking very subdued and down. I went in and checked him over, couldn't find anything. I took his temperature, heart rate and respiratory rates all of which were normal. He didn't look physically sore he just looked exhausted and down. He came in at 9am yesterday and had eaten half a leaf of hay and passed one small dropping, not much of either. He wasn't dehydrated. I left him for half an hour, keeping an eye on him to see if he perked up. He didn't. I took his obs again, all of which were still normal. Wolfie is a vibrant, energetic horse, I have never seen him like this, not even when he had the schirrous chord. He looked like he had been sedated. I called the vet and explained the lack of symptoms, but how out of character this was. The vet arrived at 7pm and took his temperature, it was 106 degrees f by this point, dangerously high. He took bloods and gave him an antbiotic, painkiller and anti spasmodic injections. He got his hay taken away and is only to get warm treacle water till morning. The vet left with the instructions that he was to be monitored through the night. Any change or worsening and I was to call, if stays same, vet will come back in morning. About ten minutes after the vet left his heart rate went sky high and the sweat was pouring off him. Around ten minutes later his heart rate lowered an he stopped sweating. I've been trying to keep him warm and dry without him getting too hot. My thermatex has earned its keep tonight. It's worth its weight in gold that rug. His temperature had remained at 37.7 degrees c. He is brighter and looking for food. The vet thinks we are dealing with some sort of infection and are waiting to see if the blood tests show anything. I haven't even began to process this or how it has happened. He has no other symptoms than a seriously high temp and being down. Please cross your fingers for him as right now I am very scared.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Tiggers don't jump they bounce

Things have been going well with Wolfie. Over the last month we've started jumping and even jumped a little upright on Tuesday night. He feels very bold over the fences and gives you a lovely feel. He does however find jumping very, very exciting and is extremely enthusiastic about it. I will need to try and do some more pole and grid work with him. The other night we had a canter up one of the fields and Wolfie was jumping clumps of thistles.

On Friday evening I arrived at the yard and he was in his stable. I thought he was standing a little awkwardly. I checked him over and couldn't find anything. I brought him out the stable and walked him up. He wasn't lame, but he wasn't level. I checked him over again and I still couldn't find anything. The flies and midges have been horrendous the last few nights. Black clouds of them everywhere and they are really distressing the horses. I don't think I have ever seen them this bad. I think that he's been haring around on Thursday night, probably to get away from the flies and given himself a dunt or pulled something, the ground is pretty solid and it's quite stoney in the field he's in. The boys have been sectioned off in part of another field the past week as one of the fences in their field was broken. There is no shade and no escape from the flies in there. I kept him in yesterday to let him rest and keep him out of the flies. I trotted him up tonight and he was sound. I wanted him out to walk and as the boys were going into their own field I decided to turn him out. The electric fencing had been moved to allow them some more grass so I had hoped he would just go out and get his head down and eat. I turned him out and led him most of the way down the field. He galloped up to the rest of the horses and started grazing. Around twenty minutes later I heard thundering of hooves and whinnying. I looked down to the field and saw Wolfie galloping around the field on the other side of the electric fencing from the other horses. I ran down and watched in horror as he galloped through the knee deep grass, doing his legendary cork screw bucks, twists, spins, squealing and all at top speed. The yard owner came down and between us we managed to get part of the fence down and get him back through. We then walked the entire fence line to check it. I've seen Wolfie duck under the line of tape if the current is low, but this fence was up properly. There was no loose tape or poles, the battery was on and the current was strong. There is only one way he's got into that part of the field and that is over the electric fencing. He's jumped it. It sends shivers up my spine thinking about what could have happened if he'd caught his feet and it is some height. The other horses had decided even the lure of some fresh grass wasn't enough to endure the flies and they were all at the top of the hill under the trees. I have ordered Wolfie a fly mask and fly rug. I don't think he's particularly thin skinned or overly sensitive to them, I just think the flies are much worse than they have ever been and they really are driving the horses past the point of no return. No amount of fly spray will deter them. So I shall see if he is still sound tomorrow after his shennanigans. I love that horse, quirks and all but sometimes I would like to string him up by the feet. The only one the flies don't seem to bother that much is Buttons. They land on him and you see him swishing his tail and kicking at them, but they don't seem to be able to bite him like they do the others. The yard owner commented on how fast Wolfie can gallop. It is really surprising how he can shift. I remember one of the first times he was turned out after he came home from the vet school and he galloped around the field. Me and my friends just stood there in stunned silence. The farmer who owned the fields was like 'did you know you'd bought a racehorse?'.