laminitis in minis
, ,

Summer Sore Treatment

Recipe For Disaster

What do you get when you combine lush summer grass in Florida, a pudgy mini horse, and steroids?…laminitis.

My miniature horse Guinness had a scary bout of laminitis recently after being on the steroid Dexamethasone for a week to treat a summer sore. Guinness has always been healthy and never caused any problems. He had a large summer sore on his sheath and after taking him to get it checked out by my vet, they prescribed Dex to help him also heal internally.

Course of Therapy

About a week into his treatment, I noticed he was tender on his front feet when he got up from laying down. My heart instantly sank, thinking the worst. I led him around to make sure I wasn’t seeing things and overreacting, but my fears were right. He was very tender when turning left or right, as if he was walking on egg shells.  This is a classic symptom of laminitis. I immediately called my farrier who came and checked him. He told me Guinness was positive with the hoof tester. After speaking with my vet, they both agreed we needed to be very proactive and get the inflammation down quickly.

I took Guinness to the vet where they gave him Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) through a nasal tube. As many horse people know, the DMSO makes your horse have stinky garlicy breath for a couple days, but I’ll take it if it helped him. My farrier also told me to ice his legs. Guinness was so patient and wore tall socks with ice packs against his legs and pasterns for at least 20 minutes, twice a day. The goal was to help cool the blood as it went down into the hoof where the inflammation had started.

Summer Sore Complication

Applying ice packs to relieve inflammation


After two days, Guinness was tubed again with another round of DMSO. The vet and farrier could see marked improvements in his walking and the digital pulse that had been strong in his legs was starting to relax, indicating that the inflammation had been reduced.

We all know that mini horses are extremely easy keepers, but Guinness was always on the heavy side. It baffled me what caused this acute case of laminitis. I’ve always known that the use of Dex could cause laminitis, but I thought that was in high doses, or for extended periods of time and Guinness had neither. The vet and farrier could not confirm it was the Dex, but said that was the likely suspect.

In researching this subject, I did come across a good explanation of what I imagine happened. The use of Dex in insulin-resistant horses (aka easy keepers) can cause a spike in their blood sugar. This causes the pancreas to flood the body with insulin. Excess insulin is one cause of laminitis. I took this as an opportunity to not add insult to injury while Guinness’ body was in turmoil, and took him off  his regular grain. He was only getting a small handful of Seminole Equalizer, but I switched him to Seminole Wellness Equi-Safe which is a low starch forage-based feed.

Duchess Healing Cream

Meanwhile, topically I was applying a compounded medication I received from the vet.  Unfortunately, this prescribed medication melts off and flies are still able to land on the open summer sore.  This is where Duchess Healing Cream was able to help in the recovery of this terrible wound, located on a very delicate area. First, I would apply the prescribed medicine. Next, on top of that, I would apply Duchess Healing Cream.  This insured that the ointment from the vet would not melt off and flies were not able to land on his sore.

My strong little mini has recovered well and I’m very thankful that we were able to catch it in time. Lesson learned, be very vigilant in the medication that is given to your horse. Furthermore, closely watch for any subtle signs of changes to their bodies!

Amy and Guinness

, ,

Mosquito, No See-ums & Fly Sheets

Which One Do I Buy

Over the years I have tried almost every brand of fly sheet for my horse.  However, I have finally found the magic sheet, and I will tell you why.

First, I live in SW Florida, it is hot here, and loaded with all sorts of biting insects basically throughout the entire year.  Since my poor horse is allergic to mosquito bites, and especially no-see-ums, battling his constant skin issues and allergies actually led to the birth of my company, Duchess Elite Equine Products!!

fly sheet rub preventer

Xapado in his sexy Robin Hood

Body Conformation

My horse’s ample chest posed to be a challenge in finding a fly sheet that fit across his chest comfortably, and not cause significant rubbing or hair loss. I had originally thought I had found a great sheet with the Smart Pak Rockin’ SP Quarter Horse fit, but it did not fit the chest on my Lusitano! I ended up having to buy a Robinhood neck protector to stop the rubbing on his chest.  Also, I found that the hole size of the fabric was too big, and he was still getting bitten! In addition, the fabric seemed a bit too thick, and did not provide enough ventilation.  You can imagine how awful I felt putting a blanket on my horse when it was 98 degrees outside!!!! Lightweight and breathability is a must!

Built for Florida

Then, I found the Fly Turtle…The Fly Turtle is constructed of a unique thermoset nylon mesh that combines extreme lightweight with incredible durability.  It is almost like my horse is wearing nothing at all.  Constructed with a very fine mesh that prevents the smallest of insects from biting through. It does not cling to the horse like other brands, this allows the air to flow through freely.

Xapado modeling his Turtle

If your horse is allergic to bites from gnats, midges, mosquitoes, no-see-ums, or other flying insects then this fly sheet is an excellent choice.  The Fly Turtle has long sides with a belly flap on each side that can be wrapped underneath and secured with elastic straps for more protection.  The mesh fabric is waterproof and will not retain moisture.  The sheet washes well, and I am going on my second summer of its use.



Love your horse!

Natasha and Xapado

Eros & Xapado modeling their Florida summer wear.

Duchess Natural Insect Repellent

Living with Flies and Mosquitos

Duchess Natural Insect Repellent

Flies! Evil, evil, flies!!!  As I sit in my chair and write this post, I can hear the sound of my horses stomping their feet in their stalls.  I do everything I can to minimize the number of flies around the ranch, but they still are present.  Argh!!! What I have learned in my many years of horse keeping is, at best, we can lessen them, but not fully eradicate them. Unless, you wouldn’t mind wearing one of these…. →

So, lets face it, flies are a fact of  life.  Horses and flies go together like peanut butter and jelly.  I am going to explain the conclusion I have come to; flies are here to stay, but if we can decrease their presence, hopefully we can minimize their annoyance!

Essential Oil Formulations

First, I make two formulas of the “Duchess Natural Insect Repellent“.  I primarily use the citronella/lemongrass blend when I know there will be mosquitos, or other biting insects present. I love to use this formula when my horse and I are hitting the trail, the bugs can be awful here in Florida.  Read here, how lemon eucalyptus oil, one of the many essential oils I use to formulate my insect repellent, is approved by the CDC to repel mosquitos…  My other formula, the lavender/mint/rosemary blend works wonders for my horses while I am grooming them before riding, or a farrier visit.  We all want our horses to stand quietly and be on their best behavior while their feet are being done. And trust me, your farrier will thank you!

How often to re-apply?

The formulas being sold on the market claiming to work for up to 14 days, BS!!!  There is no way! Horses sweat, they roll in the dirt, they get rained on, etc.  I’m sorry, but I don’t know of ANY formula, toxic pesticides or not, that will last for more than a few hours.  Everything has to be reapplied frequently, from sunscreen, to bug spray, to lip gloss; it all needs reapplication every couple of hours to effectively work! There, I’ve said it, insect repellent at best, only lasts for a few hours! That being said, it should at least smell good!!!  This is another reason for my two formulations.  I know some people dislike the citronella/citrus smell, but who doesn’t love lavender and mint? Believe me, when I spray the lavender and mint formula, even my horses love it.  Actually, they are probably thinking, where are the peppermints?

Here are some other helpful tips to try and manage the fly population:

  1. Clean stalls one to two times daily. I spread my manure daily with the help of the Newer Spreader. It was the best purchase I ever made!!!
  2. Spread fly predators….it kinda seems like you are just setting microscopic bugs free, who will be dead before sunset, but I have noticed a huge difference when I skipped a summer and did not spread them.
  3. Invest in an automatic fly spray system.  I bought mine through this site, I make up my own repellent, but you can purchase the repellent through their site as well.
  4. Keep a clean and tidy barn! Clean around your horse’s grain bucket, flies love to snack on grain your horse missed!

I hope this information helps you enjoy the precious time we get with our four legged companions.  Please feel free to ask me any questions, or to expand on any of the areas I have covered above.

Love Your Horse!