We have had Onyx for about two weeks now. We thought we would give a little update so everyone can keep tabs on our newest princess!
The first week we had her was a little rough: she came to Hanaeleh (a new place) and was put into the quarantine stall; was examined by the vet and had some of her vaccinations as well as her blood pulled; then the farrier came out; plus she was not thrilled with the new diet we had her on. She kept giving me a look every time I came into her stall, like, “What do you want now?”
I don’t really blame her- her previous owner would ride her several days a week, according to his own admission. It must have been painful and exhausting. Considering the fact that she has ringbone, arthritis and is emaciated, her impression of people most likely was that we pretty much sucked.
But we’re not all bad. Still, I had to get her used to that idea. So several times a day, I would walk up to her stall.
“What do you want?” she glared.
“Nothing. Just to feed you. Here you go,” I would say, and give her some more food. Sometimes it was timothy pellets; sometimes it was more orchard hay; sometimes it was her grain. But that was pretty much it. I would hang out with her, make sure she had fly spray and her fly wraps were on, but I demanded nothing else. She would accept the food, but would make certain to let me know she was not impressed.
“What do you want?” she grumbled as I came back a few hours later.
“Nothing. Here’s some more food,” I would say, and after a few minutes, would leave again.
And after about a week of this, she actually started to look forward to seeing me. She would nicker when I walked up. She recognized the sound of the cart or truck as it was laden with food.
“Hi,” she started to say. “What do you have for me?”
“I have some food. Here you go,” I said.
“Awesome,” she said- because she’s from California, after all. And she would slowly eat her hay.
Last week we got the Cushings results back, and they verified what we believed- that she definitely has Cushings. Her levels are 50 times what is considered normal! It boggles the mind that anyone could own a horse in her condition and not wonder why she looked the way she did. We started her immediately on Prescend to help stabilize her levels, and will retest with the vet in two months. This definitely explained her coat, as well as some of her emaciation.
We couldn’t do much with her over the past two weeks except feed her, so that’s what we did- we fed her. She was still in quarantine until today, so she spent most of her days hanging out and eating, or eating and hanging out- it was pretty much up to her which one she decided to do. Today, however, I took her out of her stall and walked her down to the tie rail to shave off some of her old, disgusting coat. She was slightly nervous- probably certain I was going to ride her or something ridiculous like that. Instead, I got out my huge clippers and began to shave off her disgusting old coat. It was very fine hair, approximately one to two inches in places, and several parts were matted. I ended up needing Lori to help hold her for me because, while she was relatively tolerant, there were a few times that she wanted no part of the process.
I shaved off the hair across her belly and neck, but she was not thrilled with me being near her hind end, so I left that area alone. Her hair clogged the clippers because of its consistency, so I had to stop several times not only to ensure that the clippers were cool to the touch, but also to clean the clippers. After about 15 minutes, she told us that she was pretty much over the entire ordeal, so we stopped. I was COVERED in Onyx hair (so itchy!)- but she looked SO much better! She was not in the best mood, but I thought she might want all of that old hair washed off (I know I wanted a shower), so I walked her over to the cross ties and gave her a quick bath; she really seemed to enjoy that part a LOT. I let her stand at the rail to dry, and she stood quietly, taking in all of the sights as I cleaned my clippers and raked up all of her old hair that was on the ground. We walked back up the hill, where her stall was waiting with fresh shavings and a full feeder of orchard hay. She immediately began making inroads on the orchard as I put her fly mask and wraps on, and seemed content.
I know that most of her transformation is due to getting all of that old hair off, but as I looked at her today, it seemed to me that she is gaining a bit of weight (although that could be wishful thinking). Even if she has, she needs to gain HUNDREDS of pounds, so a few pounds are merely a drop in the proverbial bucket. If nothing else, the medication should start helping to regulate her levels, so she should not regrow that awful coat. Regardless, she is much more comfortable, and much more relaxed- when she came to us, she was constantly on edge.
Onyx has a long road to recovery: she is still several hundred pounds underweight; she still needs to grow out part of her hooves that are diseased; we need to wait to determine if she is on the correct dosage of Prescend; and we need to deal with the arthritis and ringbone. Those are all physical issues, and those all will take proper care as well as time. Now, however, she appears much more content, and no longer greets us with trepidation, and with the fearful, “What do you want,” but instead says, “Hi! I’m glad you’re here.”
And, of course, with the question, “What are you going to feed me now?”