Below is a compilation of e-mail exchanges between Geronimo and a horse
owner about her foundered Clydesdale gelding.
FOUNDER IS THE SECOND LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH IN HORSES!
April 14, 1997 6:29 PM
I have a 16 year old Clydesdale gelding who I am extremely
attached to that has foundered. He had some congestion that we were attempting
to clear up with the use of Naxcell and he got a very severe case of diarrhea
from the drug which led to the laminitis. I have not had him x-rayed yet, but
have an appointment to have this taken care of tomorrow. I guess my main
question is what is the outlook for an animal of this size who has foundered? I
am willing to keep him shod and do the extra veterinary work if he can be
comfortable, but I don't want him to be in pain constantly.
I read your article on founder, and though he is hesitant to move around, he
will walk if prodded (though he does groan the first couple of steps) and he has
not shown any tendency to arch his back, or stand with his feet under himself.
He did rock back and forth the first day we saw him exhibit the onset of
laminitis, but we stopped the diarrhea immediately with the use of Tribrussen,
and gave him I.V. DMSO and Bute the next day. When he does walk, his stride is
fairly normal, and when he's under the effects of the DMSO and Bute, he looks
and acts very normal. (He has a lumbering stride, but that's typical of him, as
with many draft horses.)
As I mentioned, I am attached to this horse, but I want to be fair to him -- if
he's going to live a life in pain, I will euthanize him, but if he can be kept
comfortable, I'd certainly do everything I could to keep the old guy around. Any
suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
April 14, 1997 7:30 PM
It is imperative that some questions be answered before I can
make any suggestions. I have a very large soft spot in my heart for the old
Clydesdales myself. I need to know some things before I can help.
Before x-rays are taken a piece of coat hanger or similar device must be taped
vertically on the wall (dorsal surface) and a thumb tack must be placed at the
point of the frog (3/8 of an inch back from the apex). It will not hurt the
horse to push a thumb tack into the frog as there are no nerve endings in the
horny frog that would cause him pain. These bits of metal will show clearly on
the radiographs and allow vital measurements to be taken.
We should have clear, crisp x-rays of the horse's hooves. Certain measurements
will need to be taken and sent to me so I can intelligently consider shoeing
alternatives. These measurements are: 1. An accurate measurement of the distance
between the proximal end of the coffin bone to the dorsal surface of the hoof
wall. 2. The distance of the distal end of the coffin bone to the dorsal surface
of the hoof wall. 3.The distances from anterior and posterior portion of the
coffin bone to the horny sole.
These measurements will help me to attempt to determine the degree of rotation
and/or sinking of the coffin bone within the horse's foot. This is not always
easy to determine; therefore accurate measurements are necessary. If you have a
veterinarian and/or a blacksmith (farrier) who you can communicate with and who
is capable of understanding what my requests are, they might quite possibly be
able to explain to you the degree of rotation and/or sinking of the boney
column. Otherwise it may be necessary for you to get the measurements yourself
from the x-rays using a ruler that will give measurements in 16ths of an inch.
Sixteen years of age is not extremely old for a horse. If the amount of damage
that has been done is not too extreme this horse should certainly be able to be
kept comfortable and possibly be returned to useful service. All this depends on
the measurements I am requesting.
Go easy on the Bute. Do not allow your horse to be over-dosed on Bute because of
the dangers of toxicity advancing the founder condition to a more exaggerated
level. Be aware of the dosage per hundred weight.
There is always a desire to keep the horse comfortable by giving him Bute.
However if he is made too comfortable before corrective shoeing is done, the
horse may move about too freely, causing more damage. This could be one of those
times when pain can be your friend by keeping him immobile.
As my article has stated, this is not a wait-and-see time, so be sure and get
good x-rays, some kind of a diagnostic commitment on the part of the
veterinarian, and if you are still desirous of my help, get this information to
me as quickly as possible.
Be sure and read all my Q&A's regarding founder.
April 15, 1997 6:14 AM
Thank you for your quick response to my request for help. I am
having the horse x-rayed this afternoon and I will take a copy of your note with
me to show to the vet.
I have another question. What is your suggested dosage of Bute per 100 lb..?
Thanks again for all your help. I will write back later tonight to let you know
the results of the x-rays.
April 15, 1997 3:02 PM
We lost our Clyde today. I had the vet on his way out to evaluate
him for the founder and to take some x-rays so we could see what was happening
with his feet, and he went down just before the vet arrived. We don't really
know why. Possibly heart failure from all the stress, but who knows? The problem
with horses is that for all their size they are such fragile creatures. Bud was
my first draft horse, but he won't be my last (though it's much too soon to
think about that now), and he'll always have a very special place in my heart.
Please warn your clients about the use of Naxel for their horses as an
antibiotic choice -- the vet who came to take the x-rays has had two different
clients before me lose horses to founder (incidentally, Bud was a sinker, and
would have had to be euthanized) after the use of Naxcel, and he firmly believes
there is a connection.
Thank you again for your response and your kind offer of help.
April 15, 1997 8:08 PM
Sorry to hear that you lost your Clyde. I know from the tone of
your last letter to me that Bud was and always will be special in your heart.
I would like to request that we not allow Bud to just pass on but let us use his
passing to help other horses and other owners who love their horses as you
obviously loved him. I would like to print your story by way of our
communication concerning Bud in my Q&A to serve as a warning to others who
do not take laminitis as well as the careful selection of farriers,
veterinarians and the treatment of their animals seriously enough.
I hope that you will give your consent concerning this matter and I am sure
there will be other draft horses in your life. People such as you and I have too
much love for the equine to live for very long without them in our family.
You have my profound sympathy over your loss.
April 16, 1997 8:21 PM
Thank you for your kind thoughts regarding Bud. I am not
involved with horses for any other reason than that I love these big creatures
and they bring great pleasure to my life. Bud was not only my sole draft horse
(I also have four quarter horses and a paint), but he was the guy who would hang
out with me when I was out doing chores. While the rest of the herd romped out
in the pasture, Bud would hang out with me in the drylot or the barn, and
occasionally if I stopped suddenly he would bump into my shoulder with his nose
because he liked to follow me around. His sheepish look after one of these
frequent occurrences was priceless. I am a school teacher, and he was the first
introduction to equines for many city children, and though they were at first
intimidated by his size, he quickly won them over by snuffing their hair and
ears, and his gentle, calm mannerisms. Each of my horses is special to me, but
Bud was one of those characters who was incredibly easy to love.
Please feel free to use the letters we've written to each other to inform others
about the serious nature of laminitis. I would like see you stress the dangers
of the drug Naxcel, and also to use Bud as an example of how quickly laminitis
can progress. It was on a Monday that I first noticed that Bud was uncomfortable
and had some heat along his coronet bands. Tuesday he was rocking. The following
Tuesday when he died he was a "sinker." I had an eight day window from
diagnosis to death, and perhaps if I'd acted sooner I might have been able to
prevent his deterioration, but I simply didn't have enough information.
Competent, knowledgeable farriers and veterinarians are scarce, and I guess I
now know just how
critical it is to have help before a crisis occurs.
I wish that there were more educated, concerned farriers out there such as
yourself; I think you are providing a wonderful service for horse owners, and I
hope people appreciate the information that you've provided.