I write this with trepidation, as I feel there is more I could be doing -should be doing- but here I am wading through murky waters, lost and insecure.
In February, I noticed some weight loss. We evaluated Nakai’s feeding program, gave him a vacation from riding, and had the vet check out a few alternative avenues. He had his teeth floated, tested negative for Cushings, and his ERU is under control. Basically, I was told to add more fat to his diet, cut back on the harder work, and go from there. That’s what I did through March and April, and while I noticed a bit of weight gain it still wasn’t what I wanted.
Late April rolls around and he’s acclimated to summer pastures. Again, there’s a weight increase but I still feel like he isn’t thriving. I’ve been down the google rabbit hole, wondering if I need to call the vet back out for a full blood work up. Compared to our usual riding schedule Nakai is still in light work. Now that summer is fast approaching (and with it bugs), Nakai’s back to wearing his ERU mask almost 24/7. ERU masks are amazing and a crucial aspect to his long-term treatment, but a serious downside is that they are more difficult see out of than regular fly masks (Kai cannot wear a standard mask). Since he’s completely blind in his right eye, the mask only compounds the issue.
Mechele had her own concerns, and brought up the lack of sight being an issue in regards to the rest of the herd. The other significant issue with the mask is that he has a much harder time seeing the other horses. This results in not being able to read body language, and over the weekend somebody had nailed him. He had bite marks up and down his right side (blind side), a couple of which were pretty swollen. Nakai’s current herd is small and they all get along well. There’s bickering at feeding time, and since I’m not there during the feeding I wasn’t aware this had escalated.
He needs to wear his mask or risk an ERU flare up (3 weeks of medication, pain, and the possibility of a flare up in his good eye). If he wears the mask, he’s quite literally blindsided during feeding.
Mechele’s suggestion is to switch over to stall board. She’s thinking the extra stress of being almost blind and have to eat quickly is starting to take its toll on him. I’ll admit I’m a little hesitant – mainly because Nakai has never been stalled in the over 9 years I’ve owned him. I’m crossing my fingers he won’t object to being inside and will relax when he realizes he can eat as slowly as he likes.
I’m going to start taking weekly pictures to document any changes, good or bad. If this doesn’t help I’m going to call the vet back out, do a full blood panel and try to figure out where to go from there. . . and as much as I hate thinking about this, I have to discuss when enough is enough for him. Nakai is 26. I’ve met horses over the years where all of a sudden they were “old”. It’s like they aged overnight and nothing was quite the same. If I’m at this point with Nakai, I have to assess his quality of life and be able to recognize when enough is enough.