It started November 7. That was the first day of that crazy, hot mess of a show that Izzy and I did in Santa Barbara. The one where my propane tank broke free of its anchor, wedged itself beneath my horse trailer, and was then dragged at 60 miles an hour for the next hundred miles. That’s when Izzy’s tummy troubles began.
This is what I wrote about about his tummy when I recapped the whole weekend: Early the next morning, I went out to feed him, but he didn’t look very good. Even though it was quite cold and windy, his flanks were sweaty, and he had virtually no gut sounds on his left side. He looked as though he were beginning to colic. I hastily called my friend Jen who was driving up to the show to serve as groom. She works at a vet hospital. I ran his symptoms by her and she thought he might just have an ulcer-y tummy. She agreed to bring some UlcerGard and Banamine. In the meantime, I started walking him.

By the time Jen arrived, a little after 9:00 a.m., it was clear he wasn’t colicky, but his tummy was upset. We gave him some UlcerGard, and then we headed up to the show office to complete a Medical Report Form.

I gave Izzy the UlcerGard on Saturday and Sunday. By the time we got home, all seemed well. Over the next few weeks though he started to get sensitive to both touch and grooming around his left flank. He would threaten to kick at his own belly like horses do when the flies are bad, or at me.

The weekend after the show, I wondered if he hadn’t developed a bit of “scratches” on that part of his belly. It happened to our endurance horses in the winter which is why we frequently kept their bellies clipped. When dense winter hair gets heavily sweated without time to dry out, the skin gets really irritated. A cheap and easy solution is to clip the long belly/flank hair and douse the skin and coat with vinegar.


November 11 – Veterans’ Day, trail ride.

When Izzy’s belly was still sensitive a few days after the show, I did the vinegar wash, and he seemed to improve a little. And then he didn’t. He continued to be off and on sensitive to grooming, but only on the left side. On Thanksgiving morning, his tummy was really upset, and it was clear that he was in the very early stages of colic. I called my vet, and together, we created a treatment plan. I gave Izzy a dose of Banamine and then because it made my vet feel better, I gave him SandRid psyllium pellets for the next two weeks. Izzy recovered quickly, but the sensitivity when grooming continued.

“My tummy hurts.”

During a recent lesson, Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, noticed that Izzy was short on his left hind. I explained the intermittent left side tummy trouble that Izzy has had over the past six weeks. We did some stretching exercises, and the shortness of stride disappeared. With no heat, swelling, or obvious reason for the short stride, I decided to treat the skin on his flank one more time, and if that didn’t help, I planned to call the chiropractor first, vet afterwards. That afternoon, I clipped Izzy’s belly and scrubbed the area clean with Betadine and then doused him with vinegar.

Clipped, cleaned, and stinky!

The next morning, Izzy was better, but some sensitivity was still there. I called the chiropractor. I explained that I didn’t know if this was a body work thing, a skin thing, or a vet thing. CC is a true horseman with decades of experience. He has never been wrong when diagnosing one of my horses, and he ALWAYS tells me when I need to call the vet. I trust his advice implicitly. He asked a few questions, and then he suggested ulcers. Doh! Why didn’t I think of that? That diagnosis fits the progression of symptoms perfectly.

I promptly ordered 4 tubes, but since they won’t be here until the end of the month – shipping is crazy right now, I ran out to Bakersfield Large Animal Hospital last week and picked up two tubes to get Izzy started. While I was there I had the chance to talk to Dr. Tolley who agreed with the diagnosis – Izzy is likely suffering from an ulcer.

Dr. Tolley thought a two week course of UlcerGard was an appropriate treatment, and if I want to maximize the UlcerGard’s effect, it would be best to give on an empty stomach. I gave Izzy the fourth dose yesterday after riding. If I can’t be out there before feeding time, dosing him after a late morning ride at least gives his stomach a chance to rid itself of some hay. Since we try to keep hay in front of him twenty-four hours a day, there really isn’t a time that his tummy is actually empty.

While I’ve treated Izzy for ulcers in the past, this is the first time that I’ve actually seen symptoms that support the treatment. Hopefully this round will eliminate the touchiness and get him feeling better.