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Susan and Casca

Susan has owned Casca, a 15.2hh Spanish PRE gelding, for 27 months. He was imported from Spain where he was backed as a four-year-old, and then gelded in the UK by his previous owner who sadly had to sell Casca due to a change in circumstances.

When Susan tried Casca he was overweight with a huge cresty neck and when worked he was slightly weaker on the right side and not able to work through from behind. Her sister, who owned a Lusitano, tried him too and really liked him. Casca had some small lumps in his saddle area which were picked up in his vetting but biopsies at a later date would confirm they were benign.

Casca made the seven hour journey from Norfolk to his new home in Wales but became very stressed and upset on arrival as two of his new neighbours were donkeys – something he had never seen before and was very unsettled by. He stuck close by his horse companion and after a week or so got used to the donkeys.

A course of antibiotics following biopsies of the lumps on his back then completely disrupted his system, leading to mild colic. After the antibiotics his droppings often had extra water around them and were occasionally loose.

The change in Casca’s droppings was accompanied by a tender bloated abdomen and Susan was unable to ride some days as he was just too uncomfortable. When not ridden, he was lunged lightly and walked in hand and seemed to respond well to exercise so Susan kept this up and the Vet suggested his symptoms could be caused by ulcers.

Not wanting to upset him further with invasive scoping, Casca was initially put on a course of Gastroguard but showed no improvement so was then scoped to officially rule out ulcers. Casca got the al clear on the ulcer front but the Vet didn’t know what was causing his loose droppings and discomfort so suggested Susan feed him little and often, avoiding large feeds and trying different things to settle his gut.

Casca had a tendency to binge his food if given the chance and never lost any weight because of the condition. He remained unhappy, colicky and tender until Susan introduced a probiotic supplement to his diet. He then became slightly more comfortable so started back more regular ridden work in the hope this would strengthen his abdominal muscles.

Said Susan: “We worked on building up his muscles so he could hold himself correctly and strengthen his body; the probiotics helped him feel more comfortable to do this.”

It was around this time that a friend of Susan’s trainer told her about EquiBiome testing. Susan took a faecal sample and sent it back to the EquiBiome lab for testing.

In the meantime, Susan’s Vet agreed that they try a poo transformation after initially dismissing the idea when Susan had asked previously. The ‘healthy’ donor poo from another horse was transferred to Casca’s stomach by a tube and within 24 hours he seemed to be less bloated and uncomfortable.

When the EquiBiome test results arrived they showed that Casca’s biome was deranged and he had a worrying low diversity of gut bacteria, including the presence of bad bacteria often linked to autoimmune disease.

It was recommended that he went on to the Biome Food No. 5. A few weeks later Casca seemed to be improving; he was less bloated and had a clean tail for the first time in months as the watery droppings were gone.

When ridden, Casca is now using his back and has realised he is no longer in pain so can relax more and start to enjoy his work. His last EquiBiome re-test still showed worrying abnormal results but an improvement on the first test results. Casca’s next test will be done after Christmas as advised by EquiBiome.

Said Susan: “My trainer has seen a recent little breakthrough in that he is now completely using his back and his wither is completely opened up. But if he has a setback this could revert!”

The thumbnail size lumps still appear on his back occasionally but they are thought to be lymphatic and Susan massages them which helps to disperse the fluid – the main thing is the biopsies confirmed the lumps are benign and they don’t appear to cause him any issues.

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