Calm, Forward, Straight

Calm, Forward, Straight

Monday, January 3, 2011

At the barn #29 - Danger lurking in your hay... am I the only person who didn't know about this?

Although Val's mysterious gum issue doesn't seem to be getting worse, it's not going away. I have (temporarily) replaced the nibblenet with a couple of easier to eat from hay bags. I've been feeding his beet pulp from a ground pan so he doesn't have to mash his face into it as he gobbles his evening meal, and I've been steadily treating him with my go-to home remedy - warm salt water rinses - after gently brushing his gums with my soft rubber dog toothbrush that fits on the end of your finger.

Being the consummate worry wort that I am,  I've been contemplating whether to go off island to see the vet. Then I had a brainstorm, and emailed my future new natural balance horse dentist on the off chance that she might have seen something like this before.

BINGO!! She emailed me right back and said it sounded like foxtails in his hay. She's seen a ton of horses afflicted with mouth trauma due to foxtails this year. Immediately I knew that was it. I remembered noticing the fluffy little seed heads when I first got this hay. Turns out it's infested with them. The hairs sticking out from the seed head are like little cactus spines. They often lodge in the horses mouth / gums / lips and create inflammation and potentially infection. Sounds hellish doesn't it?!

And I wasn't far off in thinking that the nibblenet had something to do with the situation either. Because of the way Val grabs hay from the nibblenet, he apparently was driving the little spines right up into his gumline. The dentist said that my treatment was exactly right, and that the condition will eventually subside on it's own.

I'm so bummed that Val had to go through the pain and suffering. If there were a bright side to find, I guess it would be that Val pretty much showed me he was having a problem, and where. And he has been exceptionally cooperative about getting treated. We've definitely bonded over this toxic weed situation. It has deepened our relationship. But it's still a drag. You can believe I'm going to let the hay farmer know what he was selling. And from now on I will be the

major pain in the butt every bale inspecting hay purchaser!


  1. We get some of that in our pastures, and pull it when we can. We use a local hay supplier and so far none of that in our hay. Glad you figured out what the problem is!

  2. It's good that you've figured out the culprit. I guess there's always something new to learn. Hope you're both feeling better soon.

  3. We get those in our hay, too. It's a pain, but yep, I'd rather throw out the flakes with them in it than have to go through more doctoring, even though it's not terribly serious. It's amazing that horses ever survived in the wild, isn't it? LOL

  4. Who knew that foxtails could hurt a horse like that. From now one I'm inspecting, not just from mold, but from foxtails!!!!
    Hope Val gets better!

  5. Ugh, I HATE foxtails, but only thought they were a nuisance in relation to my dogs...nice catch! Something else to be on the lookout for, thanks for this. Great job~

  6. We know it here as Yellow Bristle Grass, and yes, it is truly evil!!

    My post from 4 years ago still gets hits from people finding the symptoms in their horses.

    It raised it's ugly head in Tuolumne, CA last fall in a batch of hay our friends bought, too.

    Nasty stuff.


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