Millie's Great Reversal

Millie is a 13yo Quarter Horse mare I purchased in June 2013.  She was advertised as "exceptionally quiet", "one in a million" & "well trained".  I had great plans for her to help me return to the show ring.  

Millie arrived on the 4th July 2013 it was cold and blowing a gale. On the third day of Millie arriving she bit me quite severely on my waist - it was premeditated and deliberate (I was checking how warm she was under her rug). From here everything started to go pear shaped she became difficult to catch - when caught just wanted to bite me. This escalated and she started to challenge me when in her paddock and then started rearing at me. I was so frightened and believe me many a tear was shed. I did not want to own this type of horse and boy was she "One in a Million!"

I then left a halter on her (even though I knew this was bad practice) however it was my only option. I also went into her paddock with protection as I did not know what she was going to do next and I did not wish to be injured. I really did not know what to do - I searched and spoke with her previous owners and they described her as "bitchy, snakey mare" and  "treat her like she is a colt" - OMG I was horrified and at a loss.

During the first month I noticed Millie:
* standing with her hind legs "out the back"
* pacing the fence line after her feeds 
* urinating every couple of hours
* trying to bite me whenever she could in particular when being saddled
* sweating 
* short stepping and quite rigid in her movement 
* when tied up would rear continuously
* stomping with her feet
* snaking her neck
* very kooky
• buck when asked to canter under saddle

I was seriously at a total loss and was not coping with the horse I had in my paddock.  My husband and I had only just purchased the property.  I searched the internet for help.   I finally came across Gotcha Equine web site and noticed Millie had many of the characteristics listed. I made contact with Lucy  - what a relief it was to talk to someone who understood my dilemma and a comfort knowing there was a reason and that it could be rectified.  

I commenced Millie on a highly absorbable multi vitamin along with a pre-biotic for her gut health and a complete magnesium supplement designed to help horses on growing grass. We also had our pasture and soil tested through Gotcha Equine, to help us understand what other influences were affecting Millie.

During the months that followed I commenced lunging and riding Millie. Her list of issues started to decrease but not totally resolved and noticed she stopped pacing the fence after eating her hard feed as if to want more. I was not happy with the way she was traveling - her offside hind seemed to be short stepping, quite stiff and she would stumble when asked to canter.  I had the physio attend to her in case she was out, however nothing was an issue.  The physio did however concur with me that her right hind was warm to touch and swollen.  Almost looked like a bog spavin.  The vet came and examined Millie - she did flexion tests that confirmed an issue in her hock.  X-rays were done which showed 3 bone chips embedded in the cartilage and that her hock was 60% degenerated (It appeared moth eaten). The Vet suspected this could be the result from a previous accident or trauma to the hock and recommended using a highly absorbable calcium product. The vet then asked that I not ride her as her leg could break at any time.  OMG ... My world fell apart, many tears shed and there was a possibility she may have to be put down. My lovely husband  (not horsey) did not even contemplate that as an option -he said she can live her life in the paddock and be our glorified paddock ornament.

I updated Lucy with my news - she was wonderful and explained to me that a degenerated hock is a de- mineralised bone and that bones can be re-mineralised.  It would take time -  this gave me hope and a plan was put in place for Millie to commence on a multi vitamin designed for horses with a high demand for calcium and magnesium at a high dose. Within a day or so Millie was racing over to get her feeds -she was happier and I started to notice her stride becoming fluid, a nice 'swing' to her walk and was tracking up better.  Over the next few weeks Millie didn't react to the things she previously had, she would stand happily when tied up, she was comfortable, not fence walking and all of her bad traits were disappearing. After two months I noticed the lameness was completely gone along with all the swelling and heat from her hock.  Millie was transforming into a lovey mare who just wanted to please.  No longer was she in pain - she was happy.

In February this year I re-x-rayed Millie's hock as I needed to know if her hock was actually getting better. The x-ray showed her bone density had improved considerably and appeared relatively normal.  Wow.... both the vet and I were very surprised at the results.   I was ecstatic at Millie's progress and honestly did not expect  a 40% increase in bone density. The vet even commented how Millie's  personality and attitude had changed (it was that obvious). Please see full vet reports below.

We are now commencing  "in-hand" work on the proviso she does not get stressed.  She comes to me and stands quietly to put the halter on, she is lovely to be around.  

We have a lIttle way to go but wow what a huge change not only in her personality but the fact she now has a second chance at life.  

Lucy has assisted me the entire way through our journey helping me understand the changes and my pastures. I will keep Lucy posted on Millie's progress and will have updates posted on the Gotcha Equine web site. Which is where you can now find the full Vet reports.
Chris Sanderson - Oakbank, South Australia
April 2014

Testimonials Table of Contents

Documents for viewing/download:
click to view document millie_vet_report1.pdf: (1.1Mb)  
click to view document millies_vet_report2.pdf: (2.8Mb)