Sunday, November 2, 2008

Beet Pulp, A Bad Scare, My New Camera, and Leading a Horse to Water

What a weekend!! Over the week I have been slowly introducing soaked beet pulp into Red's and Lyra's nightly buckets. This is great stuff and I am excited about the possibility that beet pulp may be the answer to keeping weight on Lyra over the winter. She loves it. Red was not so sure but when he saw Lyra dive in, he was not about to let her eat something without trying to get more than she was eating. I had carefully researched the benefits of beet pulp and felt confident that my horses would only benefit. Five days later they were doing fine and Lyra even seemed to be regaining some weight. Then I made a dreadful mistake!

Last night Red did his usual comical, feed me more, routines. Thinking it was no big deal as many on line articles clearly state it is SAFE to feed dry beet pulp, I gave Red about a cup of the dry stuff. He took several bites, then stopped eating and got quiet. As I led him toward our tack room for his stolen bit of LMF Senior, he extended his head and seemed to weave unsteadily on his front feet. I turned him back to where my friends Nina and Sheri stood and then he started making a horrid LOUD gurgling sound in his throat - I've never heard such a thing. It came close to sounding like the gurgle of water as it runs down the drain of the round sink in the dentist's office - the one you spit into.

Things quickly got worse and I saw Red was in crisis. Head extended, shaky on his feet, he started to make a convulsive movement, arching his back as his pelvis thrust forward. He began to kick at his belly. My friend Nina got the vet on the phone - it was 8:30 so he had to be paged. Dr. Branch directed us to walk Red and see if we could get him to eat some wet green grass. If his condition got worse or did not improve in 30 minutes, Dr. Branch said to call back and he would come out to tube Red. It really seemed as if he was suffering a combined choke/colic attack. We walked and I agonized for almost 20 minutes. Just as I was about to hit my fast dial to the clinic, Red dropped his head and began to eat the rain-soaked grass. And eat, and eat, and eat.

For the next two hours we walked, grazed, and took occasional breaks. There was no further sign of distress and I finally felt safe enough to turn Red into the general pasture. So what happened? Seems clear to me that the couple of stories I read about the dangers of feeding dry beet pulp were sickeningly accurate. All I can say is DO NOT EVER, EVER FEED YOUR HORSE DRY BEET PULP. Take the conservative path. This is your horse after all. And as I sit on my bruised backside - bruised cuz I've been kicking myself there all day, I make a solemn pledge that I will take heed if I ever hear of one or two bad experiences with a product. This evening Red appeard to be fully recovered, almost. He gave me a scare when he nibbled at his grass hay and suddenly seemed to gag, and then cough. Not the horrid gurgle of last night, a simple cough that seemed to clear the problem I'm still pretty nervous about the choke episode.

Earlier today I was deliriously happy that Red had escaped a medical crisis as I went about my Sunday chores which included a trip to Costco. Passing by the camera aisle I noticed one of those great Costco camera packages featuring the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5, the very camera I have been lusting over. There it sat, wrapped in annoying Costco packaging, part of a super deal that included a case and 1GB card. Hmmmmm, I looked at the price and quickly calculated how much money I would have had to give the vet for an emergency barn call. Close, very, very close to the price of the camera. In a flash of twisted logic I convinced myself that I had actually been saved $$ by Red's recovery and I could therefore by the camera. And that is exactly what I did.

I LOVE THIS CAMERA. I've posted some photos I took of Red. Every night we go to the water trough and I ask Red to "drink, good drink." When he does, I give him a carrot. I started this as a way to ease my worry that I never knew if Red drank any water in the general pasture. Cracks me up, I can lead Red to water and "make" him drink. For a carrot. Nine times out of ten, he will drink when I ask him. The tenth time? The turkey dips his head and wets his lips trying to con me. That horse! I love him so incredibly much.


Lori Skoog said...

I feed beet pulp every morning and evening, increasing the volume a little more in the winter (especially with the older horses). What volume do you feed, and do you mix it with their grain? I use shredded beet pulp with no molasses and soak it for 1/2 - 1 hour before I go out to the barn.

I just got a new camera lately too, and I can't stop snapping pictures. Got to you through Coyote Fe.
Lori Skoog

One Red Horse said...

Hi Lori, thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. I just started last week using shredded, molasses free beet pulp. I started with about 3/4 cup per horse and am up to 2 cups. I have mixed it with 2:1 with hot water and let it soak for 30 min. then mixed it with Lyra's LMF Senior and Red's Safechoice. They seem to love it. My mistake was feeding Red some dry.

Ah, just visited your blog and your photos from your trail ride. What gorgeous horses, and what intense fall color!

Cactus Jack Splash said...

I used beet pulp with Freedom, but at his age I have to watch the sugars. I use Hess (1,000 calories in a cup) and PGR to keep weight on and his topline holding. Salty is now getting the same thing

LizGoldsmith, EquineInk said...

Wow, how scary to suffer through an incident of choke. Glad your horse is okay. I don't feed beet pulp right now, but when I did, I found that if you add warm/hot water to shredded beet pulp it reduces the time needed for soaking to about 10 minutes. If it is fed dry, it's best to mix it in with other feed, rather than feed it alone. It can become a problem when horses eat too fast.

Lori Skoog said...

Thank you for visiting my Journal. I appreciate your comments. I hope your horse is doing well.
Lori Skoog

Latigo Liz said...

So sorry you had a choke incident. Ariel had 2 and I swear that choke is scarier than colic ANY day.

Congrats on the new camera! :) Panasonic Lumix cameras rock for little hand held/pocket/everyday use cameras.

CoyoteFe said...

Interesting Post. As Lori Skoog will attest, I know NOTHING about horses; I just like the people who do. I am sorry you had to go through your crisis, and very happy that Red recovered nicely. Peace & Joy.

One Red Horse said...

Thanks for everyone's encouragement. Red is fully recovered and back to his endearing, incorrigible self. NO MORE DRY BEET PULP. EVER. In a couple of weeks he will be getting his teeth done. He is due in November.