Category Archives: Medical

Norma, my donkey, has laminitis – AGAIN. I’m so upset.

Monday, April 16th, 2012 | Filed under Medical


Spring is here and evidently, there is too much grass in Norma’s small paddock.

Norma presented with laminitis when I went out to feed this morning.  Aargh.   We went through this two years ago.  (Here is that story.)  Norma was in the barn for two months as we battled founder in both of her front feet.  The vet and specialists tried everything we could think of to help her – we used experimental injections, oral medications, salves, abscess drawing agents, pads… you name it.  I was just sick about it all.

The only thing that finally helped was Anti-Flam that a concerned reader suggested I purchase.

I hope the Anti-Flam helps this time.  I’m like a frightened trauma survivor who is now instantly terrified.  I’m overly upset right now because her ordeal was so traumatic last time.

So, I thought I’d share this ‘as it happens’ with you.


A very unhappy donkey in the barn this morning - holding up her left foot.



Norma is my 19 year-old jenny who I rescued when she was 2.

She’s sweet, quiet, very mannered, puts the ponies in their place, guards the ranch and adds decorum and justice to the herd.  Not only that, she has her own FB page.

I love all of my animals and I have a very soft spot for Norma.

This was Norma at Christmastime...



Norma is overweight.  Sadly, she is like a ChiaDonkey.  She needs little food to make her grow.

Because she is overweight, I have her in the smallest paddock with three other horses who eat everything available – or so I thought.

Clearly, there was enough new grass and she ate too much of it.

As many of you have seen, Norma wears a grazing muzzle when she is outside of her paddock.

If I could get the weight off, she’d be better able to handle sugar spikes.  My only excuse is that I’m too busy to exercise her and she’s not going to do it herself.

Here she is, wearing her grazing muzzle.


Last time, I had her in the barn and we watched her like a hawk.  She had Banamine and every other kind of laminitis/founder treatment available to no results.  Her case was very severe.  She was down more than she was up.  What finally seemed to work was a recommendation I received from a reader.  She told me to get Anti-Flam from Omega Alpha.  She said it is made of all natural ingredients so it wouldn’t upset her stomach – and she said it worked better than medicine.

So, I bought it and had it rushed here.

Norma ate it happily (although she didn’t want it this morning so I had to push it into her orally) and her horrible lameness subsided!  We were all amazed.  She could walk and spent most of her time upright instead of down. No one could believe it.

Then, a few days later, she blew several abscesses.

I’m not sure if the Anti-Flam helped with the abscesses, but it did help her with the inflammation and pain of it all…  And, she could walk after ingesting it.  I continued to give her Anti-flam for about a month afterwards and she recovered.  It has been 2 years… until this morning.

Today, I gave her a double dose, orally.  I also have it in her food bowl which she would not touch while I was looking.  I did see her eat out of it when she thought I was gone.  I’ve also contacted Omega Alpha and have asked to order a large supply of the Anti-Flam so I can get her through this.  Sigh.

The empty syringe of Anti-Flam. She faught me like a trooper.



I emailed Omega Alpha today which is a SUNDAY and they responded immediately!  You gotta love that!  ( I encourage any of you to use this email to ask specific questions regarding remedies for your horses… they are very knowledgeable and helpful: )  Here is what they told me to do in addition to the Anti-Flam:

Get her some lesser quality hay so she can forage and have gut fill.
I would double the AntiFlam and if you have to give a bit of bute it isn’t the end of the world we just want to get her under control the inflammation down and the feet cool. Then she can get back to her maintenance dose of AntiFlam. Just make sure she has had food or some Gastra-fx to buffer the bute on the stomach.
Does she have any metabolic issues? Adren-FX is our Cushing’s product and is often used with AntiFlam. Adren-FX is used to help control sugar imbalances and hormone imbalances.”

Luckily, I have all of those products so I’m figuring out how to get her to ingest it all when she is this unhappy…

A concerned Rojo watches Norma in her stall...


I’m not that religious but I am looking up to the heavens and asking Aladdin to look after his best friend.  (Norma and Aladdin were very tight.)  I feel like I’ve let her down by not putting her in the grazing muzzle inside of her paddock when the grass started to come in.

I love this donk and will do everything I can to bring her through this.

Norma loves her ponies...and they love her. I need to get her well.


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April's Bucket Fund is in honor of Champ who passed - this is for all of his friends at SF SPCA. click image of Jim to read and donate!



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On Valentine’s Day, Let’s talk about the X-Factor… THE LARGE HEART of the successful racehorse.

I don’t know that much about the TB breed.  For me, since I was little, the muscular and smaller horses (Morgans, Mustangs) caught my eye.

As I’ve grown, my penchant didn’t change.  I own smaller, muscular horses.  But I have joined the fan clubs (literally) of TBs such as Zenyatta, Secretariat, Seabiscuit and Rachel Alexander.  Why?  Well, I think it is because I admire their racing ‘heart’.

Now, I always thought I admired the ‘heart’ that one could describe as the will or the drive inside the horse.  But, now I’m coming to understand that the actual physical heart muscle of some of these TBs are the reason they were so successful – (plus their will and drive, I’m sure…).

What do I mean?

Well, for you TB fans, the X-Factor is old news.  But, for the rest of us, let me bring to you the X-FACTOR.




Many of you, including me, heard that the legendary Secretariat had a huge heart, literally.  His heart, although not actually measured during his autopsy for some reason, is now thought to have weighed approximately 22 lbs.

The normal horse heart weighs 8.5 lbs.

Since the heart is the muscle that pumps oxygen around the body, having an extra large one would be quite an advantage when running long distances.

So, was he an anomaly?

Yes and no.

Yes, he had an exceptionally large heart.  But, was/is he the only one?  Probably not.

In fact, writer Marianna Haun thinks she has discovered the gene for the ‘great equine heart’.  She named it the X-Factor.

Large heart



Marianna Haun is a member of the National Turf Writers Association and has covered the racing industry since 1992,  first as a staff writer for the Thoroughbred Times for two years, and now as a free-lance writer for the Associated Press.

But, Marianna has that ‘x-factor’ of another kind… the inquisitive kind.  The huge hearts of Secretariat and his arch rival, Sham (18 lbs), led her on a personal quest…  Could these large hearts contribute to racing wins?  Is it no coincidence that these two horses, and Phar Lap (14 lbs), had huge careers that paralleled their heart muscles?  Marianna was determined to find the gene.

And, she did.

Amazing.  She didn’t do it in a lab, she did it on paper.  Hours and hours and hours of poring through pedigrees to find the lineage.  She found the trail to the great heart without the smoking gun, so to speak.

The large heart traced back to a sire named, Eclipse and his daughter, Everlasting.  They lived 200+ years ago in England.  You can read the details here.





You’d think the stud would be important in passing on the great heart.  And, he is… but not as important as the dam.

You see, the large heart genetic market lives on the X chromosome.

Males have only one X chromosome.  Females have 2.

So, if you have a male who has the large heart marker on his one X chromosome, he cannot pass it onto his son since the son gets his Y chromosome.  The sire can only pass this great heart marker onto his daughter.

But, if you have a female who has the large heart marker on BOTH of her X chromosomes, you have 100% rate of passing it on to either her filly or colt.

So, the dam is very important in this trait.   Breeders ‘in the know’ try to match their double marked mare with a single marked stud.

Here is an excerpt written by Marianna Haun:

The heart scores on certain lines have been so consistent that we were able to determine which X chromosome was expressed and to identify the four largest “superhearts” found in today’s pedigrees. As mentioned earlier, these four heart lines come from Princequillo, the largest, and from War Admiral, Blue Larkspur and Mahmoud.
While all large hearts track to Eclipse, some lines, whether from genetic modifiers, natural selection or pattern of breeding, have even larger expressions of the large heart found in Eclipse.

The X-Factor



What is interesting and eye-opening about this is that for years I had heard that Secretariat wasn’t that great of a stud.  But, really what they meant is that he couldn’t produce himself in a colt.  If ‘himself’ meant his large heart, well, he couldn’t reproduce that…

It is impossible for a sire to pass on the great heart gene since he cannot pass on his heart gene (on the X chromosome) to a male offspring.  His male offspring can only receive his Y chromosome.

But, he could help create great-hearted daughters through his X chromosome.  Which he did.

After the great-heart marker was discovered, sires like Secretariat became known as ‘great broodmare sires’.  They could pass on their great-heart gene to their fillies.  And, if crossed with a double marked, large hearted mare, the progeny would be guaranteed a large heart.

Another excerpt from Marianna Haun:

Because the large heart characteristic passes via the female line and the racing industry for centuries has judged a sire by his sons. Large-hearted stallions that accomplished amazing feats on the track often have been panned because they were unable to duplicate themselves in their sons. Extraordinary Thoroughbreds such as Secretariat, Omaha, Citation and Whirlaway are examples.
Man o’ War was an exception because he was lucky enough to be bred to a mare that had a larger heart than he did. That mare, Brushup (TB), was by Sweep, which also gave his high-performance heart to Dustwhirl, dam of Whirlaway.
Brushup produced Man o’ War’s greatest son, Triple Crown winner War Admiral, which has become one of the four largest heart lines in today’s pedigrees (joining the Thoroughbreds Princequillo, Blue Larkspur and Mahmoud). War Admiral’s heart is in Seattle Slew, broodmare sire of champion Cigar, and also fuels 1997 Kentucky Derby winner Silver Charm.

broodmare sire



OK, so Marianna Haun has written several articles.  Here is a link to one that will link to others.  And, she wrote two books, “The X Factor:  What it is and how to find it:  The relationship between inherited heart size and racing performance” – and – “Understanding the Power of the X Factor”.

I thought those would be very interesting reads so I tried to buy them.

Uh oh.  No can do…

I wonder why they are out of print?  I have no idea except that the few that are floating around are very, very, very expensive.  So, perhaps Marianna is using these copies to pay her way through life – and so it should be.  I mean, she did all this research, she may as well get paid.  Why should she give it away for $5.99 on Amazon which could eventually be discounted to $.99 a few years down the road, eh?

So, if you want one of these books, here is what I’ve found:


Uh huh.




Another interesting tidbit for you QH breeders…

Because Quarter Horses have been crossed with TBs for a while now to create appendix or running quarterhorses, the great-heart now runs through their blood as well.

So, I think it is a great idea to rummage around horsey garage sales and see if you can pick up either of Marianna’s books from an unsuspecting owner.  I’m sure they are around… Wouldn’t that be a find?!

For me, I WOULD LOVE to read her book.  Totally.  I’m so into genetics, I would find it fascinating.  But, I expect I’ll just have to resort to her few articles.  And, to be honest, those articles are fairly heady so I think Marianna gave away much of her studies in those reviews.  I’m sure she wants the breed she loves to prosper.  So, I’m sure one can find out the information if they dig into her writings.

And, she’s on Facebook…. Maybe drop her a line, eh?


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Supporting The Bucket Fund through Amazon Smile
Please choose HORSE AND MAN, INC when you shop via Amazon Smile through this link.

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HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth... if you like this, please pass it around!