Friday, September 9, 2011

Update On Cowboy

The last month with Cowboy, letting him be out in pasture, was so normal and peaceful, I began to think I'd overreacted about his Head-shaking or that maybe it had just been the black flies and now that they're gone, he'll be better. I was even starting to think about riding and hauling him again.

Then the farrier came.

Cowboy was the last one to be done that day because I wanted him shod for riding. We pulled him out and all seemed normal, but slowly it started again. First, his head jerked up involuntarily and hit me in the face. Then he started to itch his face against his leg. And finally, he started to stamp at the ground and bob his head more violently. It was obvious to me that we weren't going to get shoes on him, so I gave my farrier the "cut" signal and walked him back to his stall.

We stood there and watched him for a while. He stood back in the run with his head bobbing up and down and the stamping. It wasn't as bad as in the video, but it appeared to be working that direction real quick. My farrier said he hadn't ever seen anything like it. He immediately thought it might be a brain tumor. He was absolutely shocked about the whole thing because he really thought we'd eventually lose Cowboy to the broken P3. He did say we can't rule out that the two are connected. When you have a stress injury it can affect a horse in a thousand different ways. Maybe this is one of them.

The head bobbing continued all that day, but had subsided by the next. I released him out to pasture again and he has been fine ever since.

I guess I've found the trigger--stress or mild anxiety which seems intensified in bright sunlight (symptoms subsided in the dark stall and he ran into it as if he knew that.)

I'm not going to offer a commentary on all this, I'm just trying to accept it and move forward. It's one of those things my brain keeps stamping "reject" and sending back.

On a brighter note, we took a boat ride up the Hells Canyon in Idaho. I've always wanted to do that. It's the deepest Gorge in North America. Absolutely stunning. Here are some pictures.


  1. I wish I could offer some sort of consolation about Cowboy, sadly I have no idea what to say. Take it day by day I guess.

    The photos from your trip were very nice!

  2. Poor Cowboy. If only they could talk.


  3. Glad he's now feeling better - I can see how stress might bring on an attack. But still hard to have to face - at least he's mostly comfortable and happy.

  4. Poor Cowboy! That must have made your heart sink.
    Very nice photos, where in Idaho is that Canyon?

  5. I'm so sorry to hear this. My brain would hit "reject" too. I wish there was something I could do to help. But I have no words of wisdom. My heart is with you as you to through this . . .

  6. Yes, those are stunning photos. I think of Idaho as one of the few states that still has some pristine land. Stress in horses sucks. I'm feeling pretty angry that I can only ride Bombay at home, since trailers freak him out so severely, because he's such a well-behaved, well trained equitation partner and there really isn't much we can do at home. His reaction to stress and fear is preventing him from seeing the world. Cowboy must feel so fragile to you. He's like a glass horse.

  7. I'm really sorry to hear Cowboy is still having trouble. That has to be very upsetting. Wish I could help.

  8. Sometimes there isn't much to say. I've had my share of retired horses on the place who couldn't be ridden like they once were. I took care of an absolutely grand TW gelding with heaves for a couple of years who was the self-appointed Protector (capital P) of everyone around him. But these horses came to us with problems. Whenever I think of one of the fillies (horses I've had since they were foals) getting sick or developing some sort of crippling injury it makes me sick to my stomach.

    I'm so sorry that this is happening with your Cowboy--but he is so very lucky to be where he is where he'll get the care he needs.

  9. Beautiful pictures from your trip.

    Poor Cowboy, if only it were easy to figure out what is bothering them. Retirement isn't the worse thing in the world for him as long as he's comfortable and happy in the pasture. I can see that maybe stress would bring something on or maybe the bright light bothers his eyes. I have no idea but I hope he feels better.

  10. Just checking in on you and the herd. I miss your cheery voice and reading about all the action over there!

    Hope all is well

  11. Thanks, Amber. I'm still here and the whole herd is doing well. Enjoying fall, but still taking a break from the blog and figuring things out about my horses. I hope you're doing well!

  12. How are you? How's Cowboy? I think of you often! I miss your blog - but I certainly respect you taking some time off.
    Your friend and fellow horse lover,

  13. Thanks for stopping by, Deanna. Things are going well with Cowboy since he's been retired to pasture. The fall days seem to agree well with him. I haven't tried to ride him though--instead focusing on my two young fillies and getting them ready. The farrier comes today in about forty-five minutes and I'm very interested to see how Cowboy does with it or if it causes him stress again. How are you?

  14. Hi Linda! How did Cowboy do with the Farrier?
    I'm doing okay- just trying to get well. A broken pelvis is no fun.
    Thanks for the update!


Please feel welcome to join our discussion by telling us about your own thoughts and experiences.