Monday, March 16, 2015

Lucy gets the Hiccups

Sunday morning, Cara Choy came to give Lucy her massage.  You would think that Lucy would be thankful for a massage; I sure would be.  But, no, Lucy was far from happy.  To start with, the horse trailer was still out with the back doors wide open.  Brett has been practicing loading Mufasa in advance of their clinic next weekend.  Lucy thought FOR SURE she was going back in the trailer.

I walked out to the pasture to get her and give her a nice groom before Cara arrived.  Lucy was standing in the far back corner, under a pine tree.  She saw me coming.  She knew there were cookies in my pocket.  She didn't care.  Pistol looked at Lucy, looked at me, looked at my lumpy pocket, and ambled over.

Excuse me, if Lucy doesn't want those cookies I'd be happy to take them off your hands.

Did Lucy care that Pistol was eating all her cookies?  No.  I had to walk all the way to the pine tree.  Lucy didn't move one inch in my direction.  She didn't run away either, and for that I was thankful.

She walked docily behind me to the pasture gate but once outside went into high alert.

Don't put me in the trailer!  I'm too tired and sore to go anywhere!  No! No! No!  I won't go.

"Lucy, you aren't going anywhere.  Eat some grass and calm down while I shut the gate."

"I'm too nervous to eat.  Don't make me go in there.  Pleeeeeeze."

I groomed Lucy at the tie rail and when Cara arrived, I led Lucy into the barn.  Last time Cara came, Lucy scooted around so much that we had to put her in the tie rail/wash stall so Cara could work.  We decided to start there.  We had to walk by the trailer on our way to the barn.  Lucy danced.  She wasn't any happier in the wash stall.

What is this person doing, pushing and prodding my sore muscles?!  I don't like this.  Lemme outta here!

After fifteen minutes, when Lucy didn't come back out of the barn, Pistol got worried.

Pistol screamed for Lucy -- Where are you?  When are you coming back?  Are you leaving me again?  Girlfriend, where are you?

Lucy: I'm in the torture chamber.  This is undignified; it hurts; and I'm sure I'm going back in the trailer when they finish.  Help!!!  

...and then Lucy started to hiccup.  It wasn't cribbing and it wasn't thumps (she was well hydrated).  It was hiccups and Lucy didn't like it.  Lucy let loose with a hiccup (not gentile in a 16h horse) every few minutes.  They annoyed her no end and she tossed her head around, each time, in response.

Pistol kept calling.  Lucy kept shifting around and hicupping.  And then Lucy started answering Pistol, loudly.  The hiccups went away.

After her massage, I took Lucy back to her pasture.  Pistol was waiting at the gate; waiting for Lucy and waiting for more cookies.  Normally, I walk Lucy into the pasture, then turn her to face me with my back to the gate.  She lowers her head, I slip off the halter, and she gets a cookie. Then she wanders off to roll or nibble grass and I slip Pistol a cookie.  This time, she jerked her head high in the air the minute the halter was off and spun away from me.  As she left she bucked, just in case I had missed the message that she wasn't happy with the morning's activities.  Temper, temper Lucy.

I think next time we will try doing her massage at the tie rail where Pistol can see Lucy. And hopefully, the trailer won't be out.


  1. Horses do not get hiccups, they get thumps. This can happen even if she is well hydrated, they are caused by low blood calcium levels. People typically think of this as an issue in endurance horses, but they also occur in horses who have suddenly been asked to do a hard task they are not used to doing.

    The hiccups themselves are not dangerous, but the electrolyte/mineral imbalance can be very dangerous. You really might want to talk to your vet and have her blood tested, particularly magnesium, potassium, sodium, and chlorine levels.

    You might want to consider having your hay tested and balancing her mineral needs accordingly. This may just be a temporary thing caused by the workout she had a few days ago during your lesson, but thumps are usually indicative of a long term mineral/electrolyte problem. I can help you with this or give you the names of some nutrition experts in CA who would know more about the feed you have available out there.

  2. I did quite a bit of research on thumps and while it is true that horses do not get hiccups, Lucy also definitely did not have thumps. This was an isolated incidence, clearly triggered by her anxiety. Hiccups, while not her technical diagnosis, most closely describes what was going on.

  3. How interesting. Years ago, when we first started taking Harley on overnight camp-outs, he always got what we called "hiccups". That is exactly what they sounded like. He would stress himself about being away from home, would not drink, and would paw the ground and "hiccup". We would take him for walks trying to calm him down, and almost always gave him a 500# dose of banamine to help rule out the likelihood of a stress colic. I've never even heard the term "thumps", but believe these kind of things happen when a horse is very upset and stressed. You sure don't hear much about this happening, but it's unsettling when it happens.

  4. Poor Lucy! Today was just not her day, was it? Maybe Pistol can explain to her that massages are nice and she can relax for them?

  5. I think Lucy went drinking at Bone's Roadhouse down the street later last night when she got home from the lesson. I think it was alcohol related. She should have taken Pistol with her as a designated "walker".


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