Monthly Archives: October 2014

Overeating alfalfa

The Queen of Cairo (aka the Queen of Naughty) got out of her stall the other night. This was my fault as I didn’t latch the gate correctly. I always double check the gate (that includes getting in my car, starting to drive away, worrying it’s not latched and turning around to check) but Monday night I was feeling a little overwhelmed and I got distracted.

Cairo got out and staged an alfalfa raid. No grain, thank goodness, just alfalfa, but it appears she truly does have an unending appetite for the leafy stuff. She was caught in the morning and stuffed back into her stall, and Jordan texted me to let me know (and gently chide me for not checking the gate, which I deserved). He said he was keeping her in for a bit to keep an eye on her as she seemed a little quiet.

I texted Jeff the vet and told him what happened and asked him what to do (and let’s just give a cheer here for all vets who give advice for free when you need it and on a side note, he’s kind of an older version of Dave the vet on McLeod’s Daughters). He suggested Banamine, then hay only for a couple days and bute. I jumped in the car and headed to the barn. (Let’s also cheer bosses who just sort of roll their eyes when you dash out of the newspaper office while on deadline for the umpteenth time to deal with a horse crisis).

When I got there, Cairo was fat as a tick. And snuffling her stall looking for more hay. I checked her water, and she had clearly been drinking. I gave her Banamine, took her for a walk to get her gut moving and began counting poop piles. Walking Cairo was slightly impaired by the fact I was wearing heels for work and that despite her full belly, she was voraciously trying to drag me toward every patch of grass and clover in sight.

When she wasn’t trying to lurch wildly towards possibly snacks, Cairo was a bit quieter than usual, between that and her tick-about-to-pop appearance as well as my general neurosis, I decided to have the vet out. While I waited, I did what I always do to soothe myself — or worry myself more — which is Google.

I searched “horse overate alfalfa.” This was, shockingly (sarcasm font), useless. I got a lot of websites warning that horses will overeat alfalfa if given the chance, but next to nothing telling me what happens if they DO overeat it (aside from get fat). I was not comforted to learn that a horse not accustomed to alfalfa can get laminitis. Cairo gets a big flake of it every day, but she’s not accustomed to eating herself silly on it.  And there are a lot of debates over whether alfalfa is good for laminitic horses, also useless to me.

Cairo was surprisingly good about the whole tube down her nose and water and mineral oil pumped into her belly procedure. Her temp was normal and her heart rate was too, and the vet said he’s never (cross fingers) had trouble with an overeater who was all systems normal after the episode.

When I came back that night, Cairo was glaring bitterly at the grass hay in her stall. She pressed up against the gate begging for dinner. Flash gave me his usual joyful nicker and I realized that negotiating the whole, “Cairo is on iron rations while Flash gets all the treats his little chestnut heart desires” thing for the next couple days will be hard as their stalls are side by side.

I played with them both, making sure Cairo got a brisk walk and trot on the lunge.  She had three piles in her stall,  which was not enough by my count. I gave her the meds and settled outside her stall to wait on at least one more poop. She resumed glaring at the grass hay. I then put it in a small hole haynet to make it last longer for when she did decide to eat it, and apparently that added an element of fun, so she began to rip out chunks and devour them (or she was hoping if she yanked it hard enough she could tear it down and stomple it like she did in Kristine’s trailer the other day).

It was getting late, but I cracked a beer and resumed my watch. And it got later. I let myself into her stall and walked to the far end where she poops to inspect it for signs of mineral oil. Curious (hoping for treats) she followed. I put my hand on her forehead, looked into her eyes and said “Cairo if you take a shit, I swear to god I will give you a treat.” She immediately lifted her tail and plopped a steamy green poop pile. I paid out.

So far so good, and here’s to hoping she stays healthy and pooping so I can write an update about our Training level debut!



When I went out last night she was pooping mineral oil (and then turning around and sniffing it with a sort of “WTF?” expression). She remains bitter about the grass-hay only diet. This is her expression when she caught me sneaking Flash treats while I tacked him up.