The barn owner's husband has given my boy the nickname, but in all the crazy race horse and quarter horse names registered, I'm sure there's a Mister Beaujangles somewhere. :P
Beau is back to good health and soundness again. It's a relief to say it. After getting a new saddle which has set me back $$$ and a special girth, I darn well better get to use them. However, my first duty is to the wellness of my horse before my own riding.
It's been seven months of difficulties with a short spurt of riding back in March-early April. We had just returned to a bit of normalcy after last summer's extreme ulcer issues when the farrier trimmed my boy's heels too short in December. I still rode him, hoping that would help them grow faster. Not sure it helped in that regard, but by the first of the new year, I quit riding him and started hand walking. I did that for about four to six weeks while reading up on hoof issues and found some helpful advice.
After a few times of bringing back his toes while the heels grew out, he started to walk more comfortably. I've since learned that what I was doing was raising the angles of his hooves to where he could be comfortable again, where they were more correct. I had success and started investing in barefoot trimming books.
Then April came and with it, a horrendous coughing. I was still battling thrush in his hooves at this point. For another six weeks, Beau had respiratory problems that ended up making me give up riding. Then, as the weather improved so the barn owner could keep a hose out (without it freezing overnight) to water his hay, he improved considerably only to fall ill. He went off his hay for two to three weeks, was depressed and lethargic, and ended up with his legs swollen (stocked up).
That's when I had a breakdown of thinking I was going to have to put this boy down. I almost couldn't take it anymore. Almost. Something got me through and I had a talk with the barn owner. We made a simple deal that helped both Beau and I. Beau got time out on a small turnout pasture during the day and I had another project to keep be busy while he recuperated.
Beau did improve in both feet and breathing. But then he had issues with some winter hair not wanting to shed from his back and being ravenously hungry after being taken out of the pasture--sometimes I would get there to take him back to his dry lot. I observed in hand grazing that he had become very fussy about the grass, something that had never been an issue. Since he was better in the other ways, I asked that he be kept in his run and put back on hay. That helped, since he wasn't fussy about the hay.
Then, I noticed he wasn't putting weight on very well. With everything else improving, I couldn't see why, but I didn't want to start riding until he had a little more weight. Although the horses get regular deworming, upon the advice of my instructor, I gave him a complete dewormer. The next day, a bunch of that winter coat came out and about ten days later, he started to gain. Upon seeing that, I started to ride. That was last week.
It's been a long hard road for my big boy, but he's looking great and moving better. His hoof issues have prompted me to start studying barefoot trimming. I've bought a hoof angle gauge to make sure I don't take off too much heel myself, as I had done back in May while he was sick. I also switched thrush treatments and found that I like the Thrushbuster better than No Thrush. As a liquid, the TB gets into the deeper pockets of his collateral grooves more easily to control the thrush and allow his hooves to grow more healthy. Unfortunately, that's in his heels, which don't grow nearly as fast as I'd like. I don't know if we'll ever truly conquer thrush or just keep it at bay.
Throughout all these troubles, Beau has turned me into a very conscientious horse owner and made mt look at my own health. I've changed a lot to make myself better. And I invested in the new saddle and girth to make him more comfortable for riding.
Everyone who sees Beau says he's the prettiest horse at the barn. And he's one of the prettiest movers--he has some close competition from a couple of tall morgan geldings bred more for sporthorse than typical morgan showing. It's unfortunate that his beauty comes with such high price to maintain, but I've been counting my blessings that it's been possible. It's money I'd rather have spent on fun stuff (like paying for the new saddle already) or other projects (I'm sure my husband would have preferred some of that go to home projects), but at least I was able to provide the care he's needed to get through all the problems. Now, the object is to pay off that new saddle, which is worth Beau's weight in gold--it fits us both perfectly, allowing me to sit perfectly balanced to give him the best ride possible.
I'll continue fighting the fight for my Beau, but sometimes it can get overwhelming. Nevertheless, without him, I wouldn't be the rider or person I am today. I hope I can make him the best horse in the world.