Jakes Journey – Founder (Part 3)

The last postings described the weekend in October 2010 when Jake foundered. This is part 3 of 3. The previous two postings have described Jake’s bout with founder. The vet told me that he would never own a draft horse that foundered – too much weight on their compromised coffin bone. Here is part 3 – but don’t worry, you can read to the end, Jake survived the founder.

Thankfully the next day brought out Dr. Kristen, my routine vet, who is familiar with Jake and his canker, for the daily DMSO treatment. She wasn’t ready to give up on my big guy yet. We were only at day three of treatment. She encouraged me to give Jake a full week to try to recover from his founder and see what he would do. The bute was keeping him relatively comfortable and the Gastro Guard was protecting his intestine, so we had the time to give him without him suffering. I took her advice. I’m so glad I did.

I am a black and white, data driven, kind of person. So during this time I made myself crazy by writing down how often Jake ate, drank, pooped, stood up or laid down. Based on the information I had, Jake was eating, drinking and pooping just fine, but was laying down more than he was standing up. I didn’t know exactly what that meant, but I felt it wasn’t looking good.

The following week, the lead vet was back out. He was amazed at the improvement Jake had made. While we were by no means out of the woods yet, he believed that Jake would be able to make a full recovery, including carrying a rider on trails one day. I don’t think that anyone was more shocked than I was! The vet felt that I could start weaning Jake down from 3 grams of bute twice a day, until he was off of it completely, hopefully within a month. My biggest concern then was the cost of the Gastro Guard until then. A full month of the medication would have cost more than my mortgage!

Understanding my financial predicament, he wrote me a prescription for ranidadine, the generic version of Zantac for humans. The cost dropped from $50 a day to $0.75 a day. What a difference. I later found out that ranidadine hasn’t been proven to work on horses, while Gastro Guard has. Due to the emergency nature that the vet found Jake in the week before, he wanted to use something tried and true that also worked fast to get Jake’s intestine stabilized before moving him down to something else.

My farrier, Alan, was surprised and amazed by Jake’s progress. He had been out the very first morning with me to take a look at Jake. That first morning, Alan had given me the most hope that Jake would make it through, since in his line of work he see’s many horses survive founder. This trip Alan determined that while Jake would pick up his hooves now, there was no way Jake could stand three-legged for a trim, which was due over a week ago, and needed badly. We postponed the trim for one week and would determine then if shoes, either forward or backward, would be needed to help Jake out.

The next week Jake continued to improve by leaps and bounds. We worked him down to one gram of bute, twice a day. He spent almost as much time out of his stall as he spent inside. Jake seemed to know his limits and would lie down outside whenever he felt the need to, so moving him in and out of his stall for rest was un-necessary. We had made the switch over to low carbohydrate grain, which he was still only getting a minimal amount of, and everything that was going in to him was coming out of him. It was a great week.

During this time I became curious about founder: what is it, what causes it, and what could I have done to prevent this from happening. From what I could piece together from all of the extremely technical information out there, founder happens when the lameni in the hoof becomes inflamed. If the coffin bone rotates or drops when the swelling in the tissue decreases, it’s founder. Laminitis is the swelling of the lameni and founder is when the coffin bone is involved afterwards. Got it. It’s caused by a multiple of reasons, the ones that caught my eye were switching a horses grain suddenly, the horse getting into the feed bin and eating themselves sick, being significantly overweight, or severe colic.

Well, I did change Jake’s feed recently, but over the course of two weeks, so that probably wasn’t it. Jake didn’t get into the feed bin lately, nor was he overweight. He did just have that bout with colic. It was very, very mild as far as colic goes. Was his fever high enough at 104 to have caused the founder? Another idea that was thrown around was that the canker in his left front foot obviously caused him to walk differently, putting more pressure on his right front foot. Did that cause the founder? More importantly, how could I prevent this from ever happening again if I couldn’t pinpoint what caused it? The big answer here, I couldn’t.

About Heather Hamel

Growing up with horses is a little girls dream come true. Heather’s dream in life was to be a horse trainer - how dreams change - sort of! She moved to the wonderfully historic town of St. Augustine, Florida and was a historic tour guide and a ghost story teller while putting herself through college to become a special education teacher. After graduating, she felt the pull of horses in her life again. That's when she met Kobi! She learned quickly that when you own horses you become a part time vet, part time nutritionist, and full time equestrian. She wouldn't change a thing! In addition to being completely obsessed with her herd, she still teaches and tutors students with learning disabilities, and more specifically, dyslexia.
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