Friday, June 4, 2021

state of the charles

Happy Friday!! For a short week, this one really dragged on lol..... Anyway, Spring is officially wrapping up around these parts, with a full blast of 90* summer headed our way shortly. So it feels like a nice time to recap what all Charlie got up to wellness-wise this season.

"we ride at dawn"
#1: The State of Charlie's Feet. 

Guys, omg. I don't know exactly what the difference is this year, but we're in a completely different place right now with Charlie's hoof care compared to this time last year. Obviously the covid lockdown last spring really took a toll, but I think there's more to it. 

charlie's front feet at 5wks on the last day of May
Finally this year -- finally -- I feel like I got a head start on things. Obviously that could all change at any moment (and yes, writing this post is certainly jinxing me in one way or another) -- but I think a couple things made an early difference.

knocking on all things wood, bc i'm honestly so happy with how they look
First :: Charlie switched into his leather pads up front in March this year. Normally I've waited until May or even June to do that, and have always felt like I waited too long. Like the horse was already a little sore by then. 

This year, it felt like we got him into the pads well before hard ground became an issue. And I also suspect the pads help reduce chipping. 

pictured: self serve buffet grass
Second :: I've been zealous with Keratex applications since basically February. My farrier recommends applying as close to daily as possible, since apparently the polymers build up and bond together on the hoof's surface, improving elasticity and strength? Or something like that haha. 

Idk, but applying more often than the 2-3x a week I'd done before seems to make a difference. 

pretty !!
Third :: Fly boots. Charlie's been living in these Shoo Fly boots up front all spring. Yes, he has little spots of rubbed off hair on his heel bulbs. But... that's it. There's never any irritation or constriction around his coronet band, pastern, or fetlock. Even in wet or muddy conditions. 

But the boots 100% keep the flies and biting insects off his lower legs, drastically reducing stomping. It's probably even odds whether it's the shoe pads, keratex, or fly boots making the biggest difference. I don't really care tho -- I'm continuing all three. 

noshin on the go!
#2: The State of Charlie's Guts. 

Charlie started a course of Ulcergard at the beginning of May. I picked up 2 boxes (12 tubes) of the liquid gold from Big D's (which often has the best price for the brand name stuff) and dosed Charlie with a full tube daily for 9 days, then tapered through the remaining tubes. 

I figured... If I noticed any difference in Charlie's general demeanor through the first 9 days, I'd get another box or two and carry on for a full month. There was no difference shown tho, so we stuck with the 2 box plan.

iggy's trying to understand how charlie ended up on the wrong side of the fence lol
Honestly, Charlie is not at all an ulcery type of horse, and doesn't show any of the characteristic hallmarks. But.... he travels on the trailer frequently. So I always like to do a sorta test treatment about annually -- and it had been a while since we'd used the "good" stuff. 

It felt like a good box to check off the list, so no regrets... but it wasn't really anything ground breaking either.

pc Amy Flemming Waters
#3: The State of Charlie's Skin. 

Oof, Charlie is an itchy SOB throughout spring and summer. Most of it is probably just fly bites. But..... I'm not convinced he doesn't also have mild allergies. Especially after he stuck a leg through a fence (to gruesome effect) itching himself, I've kept OTC allergy pills on hand to help him out. 

i spy with my little eye, an itchy pony
Various folks recommended Cetrizine (active ingredient in Zyrtec), so I keep a bottle on hand for Charlie's itchier days. He'll sometimes eat the pills right out of my hand, but usually I drop them into some grain. 

gotta admit, i reeeeally thought we'd see another case of anaplasmosis from this guy
Also of note in the skin category -- it's still early days and I've already pulled a shit ton of ticks off Charlie. All sorts of varieties too -- the typical deer ticks, a dog tick, and even the above which I suspect to be a lone star tick (the type that often carries anaplasmosis). 

lol behold, charlie's .... stuff
They've really been getting all up in Charlie's junk too, the poor guy. Luckily, tho, no big reactions like swellings or fevers or anything else that might suggest tick borne illness.... But I'm definitely checking often just in case!! 

Also of note: all that bloody scabby nastiness on Charlie's sheath. Like, kinda sorry-not-sorry for the pic, but also... Damn these gnats are vicious. I've got some pink Swat headed my way (recommended over the clear stuff) to help -- but now that Charlie's back on overnight turnout I'm hoping he'll get more relief anyway. Poor dude.... :(
mikey supervises the chiro / acupuncture appointments, per usual
#4: The State of Charlie's Body. 

Charlie had another visit with his favorite chiropractor / acupuncturist a couple weeks ago (sorry no pictures), and she declared him to be doing quite nicely. Was also very happy with the state of his feet (thought they were freshly done when in fact they were at about ~3wks), and felt the back soreness we'd seen last time was majorly reduced. 
another friend snapped these lovely shots of charlie!! <3
Over the years I've had a hard time keeping Charlie on a body wellness schedule when there isn't anything like.... acutely concerning to me. But I'm really gonna try to keep this particular program up. Bc honestly, at the end of the day, Charlie loves it and I always feel like this practitioner can give me a really good read on where Charlie is in that moment. 

So. There ya have it. Everything in Charlieland is kinda hummin right along at the moment, the horse seems to be doing quite well.

I've also tinkered a little with his feed -- reduced the volume of alfalfa pellets and replaced with his Nutrena Pro Force Fuel feed, since he was occasionally not cleaning up. And actually recently pulled the DIY shims back out of my sheepskin half pad, after feeling like maybe we were better off without after all. So far, so good on both accounts.

fun decals spotted on a trailer at loch moy last week LOL -- i love it!
For now, at least, we're in a place of stasis. Things can always change haha -- but honestly it feels good to finally feel like I've got the cadence figured out for our normal seasonal adjustments. 

It's the sort of thing you don't really think about until you own your own horse -- or at least, I never really thought about it. But with Charlie, it felt like Spring constantly caught us off guard in what should have been predictable ways. Here's hoping -- maybe we got it right this year? 

Does anyone else have any major seasonal issues that you have to stay in front of with your horse -- feet, feed, medicines, other wellness issues? How do you keep track of it all?



  1. Dino has also been living on generic Zyrtec this year and it’s helped SO MUCH with his grass mumps! This is our second year with the shoo fly boots as well, and I think those + “farrier barrier” hoof dressing + no more bell boots to hold moisture around his feet are all helping! Even 10 years into horse ownership, it’s still a learning curve!

    1. ha that's reassuring to hear that i'm not the only one who is like, still trying to figure out what works best lol. and yea omg those shoo fly boots have really been game changers. i was reluctant to use them at first and really barely did at all last year. even this year, i've mostly just done the fronts. guess i was worried about skin fun or rubs? so far tho they've really impressed me!

  2. He’s looking great. My biggest accomplishment this year was when the vet told me thst both horses essentially weighed the same in March (coming out of winter) as they did in October (going into winter). Usually Irish drops a ton of weight that is picked up by Carmen. Farrier is trying new shoes on Irish. His feet are terrible. I’ve added biotin to his diet. I’m also going to get those fly boots.

    1. dude figuring out the nutritional needs between all four seasons is hard enough down here in maryland, where our winters are reasonably mild.... i can't even imagine trying to cope with such lengthy intense winters. must have felt great to hear the vet say that tho!!!

  3. Such handsome glamour shots!! I'm obviously still figuring out the right routine for Yoshi. The predictable things in Florida are actually a little off this year, it's been super dry so bugs + rain rot haven't been as much of an issue. But we just got a ton of rain last night and it finally feels Florida humid, so we'll see.

    1. dude yea, the unpredictable weather patterns are kinda throwing me through a loop too haha -- and i admit it's entirely possible that charlie's better feet this year have more to do with the weather than anything i've personally done.... who knows, right? in any case, good luck with figuring out Yoshi's baselines etc with all the florida rain!

  4. He looks great! Spring is usually "is she pregnant or is she just THAT FAT" season for Cessa. lol This year, it was not fat, but I was prepared with a new grazing muzzle to try with her...

    1. HA at least that's ONE problem i don't have with my gelding lol.... tho, poor soul, charlie did spend some quality time with his grazing muzzle this spring too. i use the old school heavy ugly ones rather than invest in anything new or nice, mostly bc he only ever really wears it for ~2wks at the most during the transition.... some of the new ones are really cool tho!

  5. I love those shoo fly boots. May has a pair, and they were the secret to getting her comfortable barefoot.

    Just a heads up on the Cetrizine. USEF requires all antihistamine medications to be disclosed in a Medical Report Form before recognized shows. I know someone who had a very awkward conversation with some drug testers because "Cetrizine" and "Zyrtec" aren't actually listed, but antihistamines are.

    1. thanks haha -- idk what i'd do if you didn't occasionally pop in here to drop these mega knowledge bombs ;)

  6. Yesss shoo fly boots! Goose is a hot mess in the summer so I feel you on the allergies. I have my dogs on cetirizine for allergies and have not even considered giving them to Goose too, I'm going to look into this more. The hardest thing for me to control is Goose's sweet itch around his chest/belly/sheath. Swat never worked for him and actually irritates him more, so I switched to coat defense paste.

    Charlie's headshots are so handsome! Way to go keeping him in a regimen this year that works!

    1. oooh hm, that's interesting that the swat didn't work for him ... every year people recommend i try it, but then the horses switch to overnight turnout and the gnat problem resolves (more or less). this year tho i finally ordered some, tho it's taking forever to get here. we'll see, i guess. i haven't had to deal with sweet itch personally but it seems just plain awful, poor goose!

  7. If we don't put the fly mask on L soon enough, his eyes get all irritated and goopy, and its happened 3 years in a row. I think we got it on soon enough this year, crossing my fingers we are good now that we're into June.

    Charlie looks so pretty in those headshots!I'd frame those asap if it were me, though I have a few of my own I really want to frame. And I definitely need that trailer decal for my trainer, she's wanted one forever that says something like that.

    1. oh man, fingers crossed!! i always feel so badly for ponies with eye issues :( makes me even more annoyed that charlie simply declines to wear a fly mask -- any mask. ugh lol... and yesss haha you should totally get that decal for your trainer!

  8. What Emily said about the allergy meds! My vet let me know that awhile back when Romey was taking them. Also, on the Ulcerguard, I recently read they changed the dosage and you can get the same effects from just a quarter tube a day. So next year, you can save a little $$. I usually give it a few days before moving the horses and continue for a few days after. I agree, even if they don't seem ulcery it won't hurt anything to be sure.
    The bugs are terrible this year! Poor Charles, that one area looks... uncomfortable to say the least!
    You take such good care of him, he's so lucky to have picked you for his mom!

    1. ha thanks!! hopefully nobody is here trying to learn about USEF drug policies from my horse keeping posts!! pro tip: if you're curious about allowable drug use in USEF sanctioned competition -- refer to the rule book haha.

      ditto the ulcergard, honestly. for stuff like that i generally consult with my vet to make a plan, then execute that plan. i'd suggest anybody reading here do the same.

  9. You take such great care of him. Every horse should be so lucky!

    1. ha i'd say the same thing about the horse -- he takes such good care of me too <3

  10. The shoo fly leggins are amazing and I'm glad they are part of the trifecta working for Charles toes. Fingers crossed things remain good!

    1. Whatever Charlie’s feet want, Charlie’s feet get lol!

  11. Annie is on the allergy meds, altho for a completely different issue (COPD is a bugger). I don't know that I've noticed a ton of change in her being on VS off the meds, but I also did not have her on allergy pills last summer and started them in the Fall/Winter when her COPD is at it's more manageable levels.

  12. Man, I feel you on the logistics of making sure everything stays up to date! With mine, I've found that the easiest thing is just to make an annual schedule in January with something or other basically every month. Certain things obviously have to be at certain times of the year (like fecal egg counts and vaccines for bug-borne diseases), but with stuff like saddle checks and chiro appointments, I find it best to spread them around a bit. This is easier on the monthly budget and on my schedule! We always have the dentist in April and again in November, the chiro in February and October, etc.


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