Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Worry warriors

In my last post, I brought up some health concerns regarding Tillie that may or may not be as big a deal as I am making them out to be in my head (ok probably most definitely not). I finally caved and texted my vet who likes to call me the worry warrior because without fail I worry about everything and anything even when its fairly normal. I realize this makes me a bit neurotic...

To bring a few to light:

  1. Almost every Sunday after trailering to my jump lesson saturday, she goes off her grain. I can go haul to a dressage lesson and she eats just fine though (I will admit though she is a lot less looky at the dressage barn then the jump lesson barn). 
  2. She has gotten progressively more aggravated brushing or tacking up...especially girthy.
  3. She has been so incredibly back sore she buckled so low Christmas even I thought I might cry
  4. She yawns a lot...like abnormally a lot. 
Maybe if I dont look at her she wont notice I am here...
#1 and #2 most definitely sound like ulcers to me but its just a bit abnormal, in my experience, for a horse to go off grain for one specific day and not consistently on and off when they have them.  She used to always be a good eater and would eat pills out of her grain no problem, but now any small change as of late she takes a bite and wont touch it all. She will eat her hay, treats etc eagerly though...

So my initial attempt to treat the ulcers with Abler's pop rocks isnt working with her now being so picky. So plan B...I ordered their Stable Pack tubes in the hopes that will do the trick.

#3 is still up in the air on causes...so next steps on remedying it will have to happen as I check things off the list...below is what possible causes could be:

  • Harder work schedule/jumping more so is sore in that those muscles are working harder right now
  • New bit is making her way of going a bit different using new muscles
  • Saddle Fit
  • Ulcers (recently did some reading that ulcers can cause backs soreness)
I think its possible all of those things could be attributing to it, but I am hoping its the Ulcers...Ill be interested to see if it changes anything after treatment. Ill also be having the chiro/accupuncturist out next month so hopefully shell be able to provide more insight as well.

Doesnt Tillie just look so amused
#4 Is an odd one...I felt a bit moronic texting my vet asking him about a horse yawning a lot but I really do notice it quite a lot. Its always after we ride without fail, but sometimes I see her do it in the field, after eating or just hanging out in her stall. I have a never ending collection of yawns from Tillie because of just how often she does it.

Just hanging out in her stall
My vet's initial response is not to worry...but lets not forget I am the worry warrior. So in true worry wart fashion, I start researching why horses might yawn and those findings seem to be debatable and nothing really set in stone and that, like us, horses can yawn for various reasons:

  • Some believe horse yawn with abdominal discomfort or when colicking (makes sense if she has ulcers...)
  • To release tension (when done after riding or a chiro/massage treatment)
  • Stretching their jaw after the bit comes out or if they tense their jaw when riding
not a yawn, but stretching after chiro and just adorable.

Of course I cant help myself and continue reading more and more as there seems to be no shortage on the theories of why horses yawn....

  • another source says horses yawn when they are stressed as a calming effect to release endorphins and then associate that nice feeling so do it when they arent...Thats super helpful right?
  • Drowsiness or rather they will when starting to wake up from snoozing
  • To catch their breath if they have been holding their breath or not getting enough air intake
  • After something pleasant happens (lol way to contradict everything else I have read right?!)
  • Yawn when their state or arousal changes pleasant or unpleasant...after being stressed or frightened or after something they enjoyed (again super helpful....)
  • Last and most frighteningly least, yawning can be a sign of neurological issues which is caused from a liver disease

Some articles adamantly insist is it stress and pain related while others insist it isnt and its simply a change in arousal (waking up) and drowsiness and some say all of the above.

**head desk**

I must walk away from google now...

My vet did question her ability to sleep and if her environment allowed for that. I truly think she can sleep just fine since many times in late afternoons Ill get pictures from barn mates like this:

So, in short, I have no idea why Tillie yawns. I may be turning this into a mountain when its a molehill...but in the meantime Ill try my best NOT to worry. Silly worry warrior just doesnt want to lay down and leave me alone! 


  1. Omg, I am a worry warrior too!! All of my horses are on a weird "hippie-dippie" (according to my barn owner) ulcer protocol year round. If you ever want to try it out let me know :)

    1. Id totally love to! I have contemplated marshmallow root and slippery elm but it's kind of a hassle...and supplements with those in it are soooo expensive

  2. i know all about the worry too... it's easy to be flippant about other ppl's horses but then i'm nutso about my (not even own) horse. le sigh. the yawning thing wouldn't concern me personally, but going off her grain after lessons does seem odd.

    1. so true...well whats odd about the grain thing is its only the morning after the saturday lessons. I can haul for a dressage lesson and this doesnt happen. ALSO ulcers in horses usually have them go off grain more consistently. This seems oddly tied somehow...

  3. I don't know how I missed this post but I did. I'm just like you with the worry. The other day S sent me a text telling me not to google anything...

    1. UGH im SUCH a worrier...im always anxious that shes lame or our persistent left bend problems are an underlying pain issue when in reality ALL horses have a harder side. **SIGH** being neurotic stinks.

  4. Step away from the google! Try not to worry to much. Just keep an eye on everything and write down what you're seeing just in case you need it for time lines.