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Vet Trip #2 For The Big Lady

I don't talk about her a ton, but we were given Lass, a Clydesdale mare with a rough past who is well into her teens, last fall. Friends of ours who live on an acreage but really aren't 'horse people' 'acquired' her after seeing what kind of condition she was in. They had a vet out to address some concerns that included some sort of fungal issue on her legs and open sores housing fly larvae on her back.  The Vet said her teeth were fine, and they did their best to get some weight on her.  They attempted to sell her, but quickly realized it was in her best interest to just give her away to an experienced home. They're friends of ours, and they asked us if we would take her - My hubby has wanted a draft for some time, so he twisted my rubber arm and I agreed.

Shortly after our friends acquired her

When we went to look at her, it took 4 of us about 30 minutes to catch her.  She was extremely standoffish and made it clear she didn't want anything to do with us - that being said; she wasn't mean and other than trying to run passed us once in an intimidating fashion (and giving up), she really didn't take advantage of her size.  Ironically, she's not very tall - I would guess 16.1 tops, but she is very solid.  Once we finally got her caught, it was proved correct by our friends that she certainly preferred men. We learned her previous owner was a female and I wouldn't be surprised if she holds some serious grudges.  I later spoke to her previous owner to gain knowledge of what she knew - her tail is docked so I assumed she was broke to drive but wanted to be sure, and she advised us that she is broke to drive both single and double, carts and sleighs and is broke to ride (but is not 'fancy broke' by any means).  

When we initially looked at her - after she had been running around for half an hour.

Shortly after bringing her home
Upon getting her home and doing our own health evaluation, I knew immediately her teeth needed help. She would not eat cookies or anything hard and crunchy - she even turned her nose up at oats or a mash that wasn't total soup, and she was inclined to dunk her hay and try and pick out the softer stems and flowers first.  It took several weeks before I didn't have to follow her around the round pen for 10 minutes to try and catch her just to give her some lovings, and upon feeling around her muzzle I knew the symmetry was off and she had one very large tooth that needed help.  We booked her in with the travelling Vet on her next [monthly] visit, and couldn't have prepared ourselves for what we found.

She [very pathetically] attempted to buck him off then was a perfect angel. We learned she has no idea what leg is but if you smack your thighs and say 'get up' she will walk on - but she will not go any faster than a walk, lol.
We discovered that large, overgrown tooth was so severe it had actually worn right through the tooth underneath it, pierced the bottom gumline and was working it's way to her jaw bone.  Because of this, her entire mouth was out of balance and the tooth needed to be taken down roughly 2". We also discovered the exposed root of a broken off wolf tooth that pushed up against it, and vowed not to put a bit in her mouth until things were remedied.  

After taking a solid 1/2 - 3/4 of an inch off and rounding the edges
To avoid over heating the tooth and killing it, we knew we needed to reduce it in multiple sessions.  This cute pasture ornament was going to cost us some money, but we truly didn't mind. My vet is very reasonable, and she is in absolute love with Lass so that helps.  On the first session we opted to leave the wolf tooth for now because it didn't look angry, and we were reluctant to change too much too fast, especially because we were working hard to get her weight and condition up.

After getting her teeth done the first time, Lass did a near 180. She was much more approachable, rarely ran away from us (and if she did, it was very non-chalant like "I can't see you" and she gave up after moving away a few steps) and was willingly eating treats from our hand (though she would quickly snatch it and move her head away).  She began to eat us out of house and home, and absolutely LIVED for her mash.  You can't walk out of the barn (and subsequently, passed her pen) without her talking to you most days - begging for a beloved mash.

First time to the Vet, about 6 weeks after owning her

We had planned to bring her back in January, but frigid temperatures not condusive to hauling made us push to February, and last weekend we were able to get back inside Lass' mouth and reduce the tooth even further.  Unfortunately during that 12-day Cold Snap in January, Lass dropped a significant amount of weight despite being blanketed and essentially free-fed on hay. I got a little discouraged after making such great progress, and was a little bummed about taking her into the Vet as I was previously so excited with her improvements.  We decided to add Elite Three Hemp Oil to her mash which already included Beet Pulp, Oats, Ground Flax and Salt/Mineral, and within a week we noticed her begin to pick back up again.

Once in her mouth, we were really happy to discover the hole in her bottom gumline was totally healed, pink and happy and her teeth had been wearing much better. The deep ulceration along her cheeks was healed, and overall her mouth looked much, much better - but we still had some work to do.

I didn't get an after picture inside her mouth, but we were able to take it down about another 1/2"
We reduced her giant tooth even more and did another rounding on all her others to encourage them to continue to wear properly and avoid ulceration - Clydesdales (and probably all Drafts) have massive cheeks - like an insanely excessive amount of skin in there - and are prone to chewing up their cheeks quite easily.  It's quite funny when you look in her mouth and unless you do so at an angle as the Vet is above, you have to basically reach your entire hand in there and pull her cheeks to the side to even be able to see her teeth!

She was actually quite awake by the end and was suuuuch a good girl

I spoke to the Vet at length about her condition and apologized - before she could get a word in, I promised her that she looked better before that last cold snap and was putting weight back on and that we were doing everything in our power to build her back up.  Before I could finish my long-winded guilt-ridden apology, my Vet stopped me in shock, wondering what I was babbling about.  She said Lass has put on several hundred pounds since she saw her last (3-4 months prior) and that if she didn't know any better, she would assume she was a different horse.  Her colour has changed a little, her coat looks exceptional (with the exception of her legs, which i'm getting to), and she seems very happy and healthy.  She reminded me that she is extremely spoiled and lucky to have us, and that she is so happy Lass found us. She still needs to build over her topline, but that will take time and will likely never perfectly fill in. I breathed a sigh of relief - I suppose when you see them every day, it's easy to overlook the drastic change.

Waiting for our appointment Lass got one of many thorough groomings.  Northerners will be excited to know she is starting to SHED!!  We typically do keep up on brushing her mane, tail and forelock as it tangles easily, but she also got a bridle path for probably the first time ever.

While she was sedated and having a very good nap, we took advantage of clipping her feathers.  It was sort of sad because they're so fun, but we have been battling a fungal issue on her legs that the previous owners dealt with as well and I was tired of seeing how uncomfortable it made Lass. She would kick and stomp to the point of making herself bleed (as you can see above) and they were so uncomfortable for her... plus, with spring knocking on the door it was only a matter of time until they were full of mud.  The Vet informed us that Clydesdales especially are prone to an excessive build up of keratin - which is exactly what she had.  In addition to that, because the feathers hold in moisture they are more prone to fungal infections (which makes sense). As beautiful as they are, Feathers are just a cesspool of bacteria and moisture; not conducive to healthy skin or legs.. So, we made the call to clip all her feathers shorter.  The Vet then prepared a mix of betadine and surgical scrub and we thoroughly scrubbed her legs and let it sit for about 5 minutes before hosing them off.  My clipper blades were gunked to the tip with the gritty keratin build up and I gave them some words of encouragement for making it through them.  They are no where near perfect or neat (big body clippers aren't exactly ideal for this task), but we reduced them significantly to better expose her skin.

She was great for the clipping and scrubbing, but the walk to the wash bay woke her up significantly and she had a mild melt down at the water spraying on her legs.  She stomped and kicked her hind feet to her hearts content - which is incredibly loud when your feet are the size of dinner plates.  Never the less, we got her rinsed and everyone came out relatively unscathed despite her cracking one hind hoof about 2" up the quarter line from stomping the cement so hard.

Note the crack on her LH from stomping in the wash bay
Overall, the Vet was really happy with how things were coming and she informed us that she doesn't need to see Lass again until the Fall (yay!) - when we went to leave, she decided she was drunk again and wasn't interested in getting in the [dark] trailer and we were forced to break out the lunge whip. Luckily being relatively broke to drive (albeit Green/Rusty IMO), a tap and a 'get up' tends to get her moving pretty easily.  She did refuse in lieu of a nap for a while, but quickly stepped into the trailer and we were on our way home.

In case you were wondering, she's actually part Billy Goat
Image may contain: horse, sky, tree, outdoor and nature
A few days before the Vet trip, but you can really see how much her coat has improved when the sun shines!


  1. Wow! First of all, thank you for taking such wonderful care of this girl. She seems to be blossoming under all the attention (and I am sure a literal truck full of food).

    1. Aw thank you! It's definitely been an adventure thus far! People keep asking me what our plan is with her and while we would love to play with her driving and riding, her primary purpose is to look cute, cost us money, and live out the rest of her days in safety - no matter how long that may be.

  2. wow - big changes! She is so pretty - but a lot of work! I didn't realize/think of the issues with the feathers!

    1. Thank you! It's funny, I've been in horses for nearly 20 years and I have learned so many things about Clydesdales recently thanks to her!

  3. Neat Clydesdale facts, I know so little about the heavier breeds. Glad she found a lovely home with you!

  4. Aww, so glad you guys have taken her in and are giving her all the care and love. She already looks so much better, you will have to post update pictures in the future as she gets even better.

  5. This was such an awesome read. I love her. Keep the updates coming!!

  6. She looks so much better. She also looks like the 'old fashioned' clydesdale which is smaller than what people think of today. I love those old drafts. She landed in a soft place with you. Thank you for taking such good care of her.

    1. Absolutely! She is every bit that Clydesdale build but doesn't have the 'modern height'. She's actually quite small in stature and length. She wears an 84" Blanket that's almost a touch long, but is snug in the shoulder and half her belly hangs out, lol!


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