Smitty has an Ulcer Update

After fasting Smitty for 12 hours before his scoping appointment this morning, I found Kujo in his stall instead of a baby warmblood. Mr. Crankypants was hangry in the extreme, and taking it out on his poor jolly ball with much angst.


A little juice soon helped him forget how hungry he was, and we quickly got to running the scope down his nose and into his stomach. My vet joked that I could probably scope him myself at this rate, and honestly, she could be right.


Right away it was obvious that his stomach was a happier place, as the red blotchiness of before was replaced with a shiny pink lining with only minimal discoloration. The pyloric ulceration we had found before was gone, and we were well on our way to a completely healthy stomach.


Smitty’s treatment so far has been thus:

  • 3 weeks of Ulcergard (gastrogard) @ 1 tube/day
  • 3.5 weeks of Abgard @ 1 tube/day
  • Introduction of Alfalfa mash 2x/day
  • Succeed GI Conditioning program, starting with 1 week loading dose

At that rate, it’s obvious that the Abgard has worked as a good substitute for the Merial products, which is amazing since it’s 1/3 of the price, and well worth the wait for international shipping.


The plan is to keep him on 1/2 tube of the Abgard until I run out, so approximately 2 weeks worth. At that rate we should be in the clear, and I will continue with the Succeed supplement indefinitely for its hind gut benefits. Whether we keep him on alfalfa will be a later decision, as I’m also hoping it helps him gain some weight through the winter.

All in all, the scope was a success and ideally we’re on the path to a happier, less hangry Smitty.


Secret Santa Gifties and Other things for Smitty’s Mouth

If you’re an online shopper like me (because fighting holiday crowds at the mall is for the birds), you are well acquainted with goodies arriving on your doorstep. But when they are horse-related goodies, it’s like double the fun.

So when the husband told me that my Secret Santa gift came while I was away, of course I was stupid excited.


Hillary of Equestrian at Hart knew just the thing to satisfy a mouthy youngster’s oral wishes. Things he is encouraged to put in his mouth!


The other rather exciting package is not so fun for Smitty, but rather delightful to me in a money-saving kind of way. Funnily enough, this one also owes credit to Hillary for her suggesting it in the first place!


AbGard is an Omeprazole product that isn’t marketed here in the US, but has the same dosage and active ingredients as Gastrogard/Ulcergard. After reviewing with my vet, it also has the entritic coating that allows the drug to survive long enough in the equine stomach (which is why other types of Omeprazole won’t work for horses- it lacks the right coating), and at $13 per tube versus $28, it seemed silly not to give it a go. That’s $450 savings for a month’s supply- well worth the wait of having the meds shipped in from another country.

So when I saw Smitty last night after my long absence, it was armed with all sorts of goodies.


I got my first little whicker of recognition, which warmed my heart, and a snuggle, albeit with my anxiously wondering if my ponytail would end up in his mouth. I then threw him on a lunge line to make sure all 4 legs were working as they should. Sorry to the lady who probably had a heart attack at seeing me walk my 4 year old into the arena in 34* weather in just a halter.

Wild thing!

Wild thing!

After a quick session and a bit of head-tossing, we came back in and I dosed him with his new Abgard and introduced him to his new Likit. For once his first instinct wasn’t to eat it, and when I left he was still breathing in the aroma of the contraption in front of him.


Smitty says thank you to Hillary for his new toy, and maybe not so much for the Abgard- although as a side note- I do think we are moving toward a happier, healthier, Smitty as a result of our treatment plan!





This is The End

… of ulcers!!


4 months post-symptoms, and 10 weeks post diagnosis, Foster’s ulcers are finally healed.


He’s thrilled, because no more tubes have to be shoved down his nose. I’m thrilled because, well, no more ulcers, and hell, no more trips to the vet.


Have a great weekend y’all!

Scoping Plans Gone Awry

While I would love to be writing this post with champagne in hand, jubilantly exclaiming that the season of ulcers is over, apparently it wasn’t meant to happen today.

Instead, Foster stayed in all last night while his buddies went out, as part of the mandatory fasting that scoping requires. The constant nickering to me as I walked by his stall was killing me, but that’s just how it goes.

Then I got up quite early this morning, pulled up to the barn, and found out, Foster had mistakingly been given hay this morning. Boo- no vet visit for us today.

I’m not upset, as it’s an easy error to make, and the mistake was made early enough not to disrupt my work plans. It just means I’ll need to invest in some extra UlcerGard to get us through until our rescheduled visit. No big deal.

And so, the ulcer narrative continues…

Feel the Burn

This post’s cliché title brought on by my thighs and calves, which are somewhat unhappy with me after my attempted jump school this weekend.

But first, let’s recap. The last time I actually jumped was February 11th in the winter clinic at the Carolina Horse Park. The last time I kind-of-attempted-jumping was March 16, in which my calendar entry for that day (anyone else keep a ‘diary’ of their horse’s activities?) says “Foster jump no good”. And I remember that ride- it was the day after I scratched the CT due to his bad attitude and likely ulcers, and I wanted to try jumping just itty bitty things to see if even that would improve his attitude. News flash: it didn’t. We couldn’t jump a 2′ vertical on a 30 meter circle successfully.

Looking derpy with his noseband off center

Looking derpy with his noseband off center

So almost two months later, and a crap ton of gastrogard, we tried jumping again.

I was a bit schizophrenic setting up the arena, as I knew I wanted to keep it small but couldn’t decided how small to go. So I left the cross rail intact, made a somewhat soft angled two-stride line out of two 2′ (2’3″?) verticals. There was a one stride to a two stride made up of 2’6″ verticals in the arena that I left up, but it walked long, so I was a bit skeptical of it but left it up for kicks anyway.

For whatever reason, it took me about 15 minutes of walking around in my jump saddle before I felt comfortable enough to get going. Let me tell you, after being a DQ for the last few months, those stirrups felt really damn short. I also really feel like I (or my saddle, but it’s probably just me) slide left far too easily. I got over it though, and focused on weighting my right heel, warmed up, and took the cross rail.

I swear it was angled, really

I swear it was angled, really

Well, I won’t go into a ton of detail, but he was great. (Me- not so much, yikes where is my leg?) From the X we made a figure 8 over the small verticals before taking the angled line, which rode like a dream. Will definitely make be making the angle more severe for next time. After that I added in the 2’6″ brick wall fence, and really felt Foster bloom- he lifts his tail, he canter becomes active, and you can just tell he’s enjoying himself. We did that a few more times and then added in the 2 strides to another 2’6″ vertical, which as predicted rode so long that I didn’t bother with it again.

After about 20 minutes of actual work, Foster was puffing, I looked like a tomato, and on top of that was actually getting a bit light headed from the exertion and the heat. Called it a day and gave the pony lots of praise and attention for being happy and not killing me.

The jumping session really cemented how much he has changed thanks to the Gastrogard, but also served as a reminder of how much we (I) have to go to get back into shape!

A Fosterpants Update

First of all, thanks to all of you who commented yesterday. I really enjoyed reading them and getting to know you all a little better! It was especially interesting (though maybe not surprising) to see that there were a lot of creative interests shared, fellow nerds, and to find that our equestrian lifestyle tends to permeate even the non-horsey parts of our lives.

Just a quick update on how the majestic beast is doing. His overall happiness is still greatly improved, and he’s consistently whinnying when he sees me arrive and when I walk away from his stall to get his tack. Cute as it is, I am fairly confident that he knows this adorableness often earns him a cookie. Again, horse is not stupid.


Gifs from our last Doug flat lesson

We’re about 60/40 on days that he doesn’t kick his belly as the girth is tightened, and he definitely isn’t tensing up when the saddle goes on.

At the warm up, I still have to insist he get in front of my leg at the walk, and the trot still has lots of tranter steps as he finds his groove. After having so much time off from work his right hind is back to being very weak, and his overall muscles have gone a bit soft. So the tranter response seems to happen when he finds himself a bit off balance. Once I get him going and he starts using his back and hind end, the trantering disappears almost completely.


I’m still staying somewhat conservative with what I ask of him, but slowly pushing the envelope bit by bit. What work we do I want to be correct so he builds up the right muscles, but I can only do it for so long before the fatigue becomes both mental and physical. Right now we’re at about 35 minutes of work, with about 15 of that being purely at the walk. It gives me lots of time to work on my own habits, such as my elbows, and weighting my right seat bone.

walk canter gif

With all this is mind I have scheduled a lesson for next week with Eliza, as more of a check in than anything. Then if all goes well, the week after will include a flat lesson with Mr. Payne (or Mrs. Payne if need be), of course assuming that 45 minutes of work is something Foster can handle at that point. I know you guys have missed my lesson recaps! Right? 🙂

The Verdict Is In: Ulcers Phase 2

Thursday the spotted pony and I made the reluctant trip back to the vet clinic to get re-scoped for ulcers. Emphasis on the word reluctant, since Foster was loathe to get on the trailer for about 5 minutes, and who could blame him? Our last three trips have been to the vet clinic. Horse is not stupid.

sedated horse

After being properly sedated, the tube was fed down his nose and into his stomach, which was then inflated with some air so the vet could look around with the scope. Since we knew where to look this time, the process was much shorter than before, a small blessing to Foster I’m sure.

The bad (albeit expected) news is, the ulcers are still there. The good news is that the ugly grade 4 ulcers are now in a healing grade 1 phase. For the brave of stomach (ha) see the before image here, and the current image here. The yellow bumpiness you see in the second photo is actually the healing ulcers, and when they are gone the stomach lining there should return to its shiny pink color.

Sleepy Foster starts to wake up in the stocks

Sleepy Foster starts to wake up in the stocks

The plan from here is another month of treatment on a lower dosage of Gastrogard- 1/2 tube each day for three weeks, followed by a week at 1/4 tube each day. Then one more re-scope to hopefully confirm that the ulcers are gone for good.

While I hate the constant back and forth stressful traveling to get him scoped, it’s really important to me that I know the ulcers are gone before moving forward with real training. If there are lingering behavioral issues, I would hate to push him through anything if it were actually a pain response. Additionally, if the ulcers are never actually resolved it will only be a matter of time before they get worse again. So, unfortunately the trips to the vet are worth the aggravation and dollars in my mind.

Another month of medication, here we come!

Glimpses of Dressage

Forgive me this week. I’m riding the struggle bus this week with both life and work moving at full throttle, and the struggle bus, like any other bus, goes 45 mph at best.

The good news is that I got to see the Foster pony a lot this weekend, and am seeing more and more improvement in his demeanor. That means I come home every evening with horse slobber from shoulder to fingertips and a smile on my face.


FENCE, September 2014

Yesterday we had the barn to ourself and while it was dismal outside, the lower temps helped put a little pep in his step. I decided to bypass the extra feeding before exercise since he had recently finished dinner, and the lack of mash rumbling around his stomach may have helped as well.

Re-using photos yay

Re-using photos yay

We started with lots of bend on a figure 8 at the walk in order to get him bending properly and moving into each leg and hand equally, and help him let go with the stiff base of his neck. When I saw the slobber on both sides of his mouth we started trotting, and he offered some lovely stretchy trot that must have felt wonderful to his back.

Following that I asked for canter and started to ask him to sit down and stay active, rather than the loopy stretchy canter that I have been doing, and while it wasn’t perhaps amazing test quality, I considered it successful enough. Now that he is improving a bit I am trying to get that rear end a little stronger before asking anything too serious of him. In that vein I also tried a bit of leg yield, and was surprised that he seems to flip which direction was easier for him. When he was staying soft and moving away from my leg I called it a day. All this is 30 minutes of riding, and he finished with perked ears and a happy attitude.

CHP, November 2014

CHP, November 2014

I realize that is potentially a rather boring post, but having a happy ride with no trantering, nappiness, or sour grape faces is a big deal. We haven’t had that kind of ride since early March.

I don’t know how much I’ll be able to replicate our success this week, but that ride, though not brilliant or exciting by normal standards, should last me the week nonetheless.

Quality Times

I spent the weekend focusing on the house and horses, and it was a pleasant reminder of what life can be like when not constantly chasing a season. Not that I don’t love competing, I do, but there is something just so nice about not having any real plans or schedule to worry about.

This coming from the girl that was champing at the bit to plan our potential glorious Training debut. Well, that’s horses for you folks, and we all find peace where we can.

Part of my non-competing weekend including supporting J at MacNair’s for a Novice CT, and playing photographer with a continuingly crap-focusing camera. I really enjoyed watching Jasper go and catching up with a lot of folks I know from the equestrian community. Bonus that I got to see a couple logo projects being displayed on various shirts and fleeces being worn about the show.

Even a bling squirrel finds a nut though

Even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes (aka the adorable OTTB Jasper in dressage mode)

I then got to go visit with my BFF, A, and her amazing Appendix gelding, Bo. These guys are a real comeback kid story- from Hunter/Jumper glory to eventing, and after multiple mishaps (not eventing related btw), to being almost retired with one functioning leg of the four. Now Bo is learning to be a dressage horse, and the transformation from broken horse to where he is now left me awed. The wonders of dressage, people!

Jasper again

Jasper again

The weekend wrapped with heading out to my own barn for some quiet time with Fosterpants. I love being met with a whinny when he first spots me, and spent a long time just sitting in the grass and watching him be. I did hop on for a whopping 25 minutes, and while he started off a bit stunted and eh, he settled into the work and we did long and low at trot and canter before I put him in for the evening. Joy of all joys!

I hope everyone else had a peaceful or fun weekend, and got lots of similar quality pony time. It’s good for the soul!

3 weeks later and back in the saddle

After 3 long weeks, I finally sat on my horse yesterday!

Foster's friend made him a get well soon basket

Foster’s friend made him a get well soon basket

After checking to see how his NiBBle Net was holding up (Foster and I both think that thing is awkward), and letting him eat his mash while tacking up (PS no girthy-ness exhibited, though it could be the distraction of the food) I lunged him for a couple minutes in each direction.

Awkward face + Awkward NiBBle Net

Awkward face + Awkward NiBBle Net. Also, husband thought those were ribs poking out until I assured him it was likely just fat crinkles

Lazy, lazy pony. But still, no real nappiness, so I hopped aboard.

Those ears, I have missed them.

Those ears, I have missed them.

I really only sat on him for 15 minutes, most of which was at the walk. When we trotted, ha, if you could call it that- jogged? Tralked? I let him do as he pleased and gave him lots of good boy’s even though he looked like a spotted giraffe camel while doing it.

At the end of our miniscule ride he did start to seek the contact and after a few steps of stretchy trot I called it a good day. Poor boy was sweaty due to temps in the mid 70s and obviously being out of shape. Also my own shortcomings, as documented in yesterday’s post. Surely it will take some time to build back up the fitness.

Foster's frand

Foster’s frand

We’ll continue with these mini rides for a while and keep walking and trotting until he seems happily cantering. I’m trying not to hold him to any kind of timeline, I’m mentally prepared for 6 weeks of ulcer treatment, and after talking to another boarder who’s grade 3 ulcer horse was treated for 2 months, I’m now thinking it may be even longer.

Still- I can’t tell you how good it felt to be back in the saddle!