breed: 1991 buckskin Paso Fino gelding
registered name: Paco Del Corcel
type of rescue: owner surrender
intake date: 9/1/2014
date of passing: 8/19/2016
length of time with SAFE: 2 years
Rest in Peace, Rocky
It is with a heavy heart that we share that we said goodbye to Rocky last week. Since he was rescued in 2014, we’ve worked closely with our vet and farrier to manage his pain. Rocky had both chronic laminitis and Cushings Syndrome, and for the last two years, he’s received daily doses of Bute and Tramadol to cope with the pain and Prascend to keep his Cushings under control.
The change of season from summer to fall can be difficult for Cushings horses, and frozen ground in winter would cause him hoof pain, so we’ve known for a while that we would not ask Rocky to face another winter. Even in the warm weather, it was becoming difficult to keep him comfortable. Mornings were usually good but by afternoon, he’d often be limping. His quality of life was always being considered and discussed with our vets. It was extremely hard to let him go and a decision none of us take lightly.
Kellie & Peter Larson, Rocky’s foster family, has taken amazing care of him. It was at their farm that Rocky learned to trust again and even though he remained shy around new people, he trusted Kellie and knew she was there to help. Kellie watched over Rocky and made sure he was never in too much pain. She went above and beyond to give him a safe and happy place to live. Rocky came into SAFE a very sick, thin, frightened horse with horribly long painful hooves. His transformation was stunning to see and all the credit for this goes to Kellie and Peter, his veterinarians Dr. McCracken and Dr. Muller, and Jim Bergevin, his kind farrier. We are forever grateful for their help and guidance in managing his care.
Because of his Cushings, Rocky couldn’t really graze on fresh grass, so you can imagine how special it was that on his last day, he got to graze as much as he wanted. As he grazed, we all had a chance to say thank you…thank you for allowing us the opportunity to take care of you, thank you for letting us into your life and trusting us, and thank you for understanding that it was time to let you go. As we prepared to say goodbye, we all stood by loving him and telling him how special he was to us. He is now able to do what his 25-year-old body was unable to do for so long, run as fast he wants without pain and eat all the lovely grass he wants. We are comforted knowing that we were able to let him go on a good day, when he was comfortable and content. We love and miss you Rocky, until we meet again.
From Rocky’s foster mom Kellie:
Just giving you an update. Overall, Rocky is doing well. Jim should be out this week or next to do his front feet. He is looking long, but most of that is how his feet grow these days. He is cantering and trotting around when you turn him out and seems pretty comfortable moving around. He is eating very well and cleaning up all of this feed. He is on the max meds and I think that is helping.
He was making the little “chew” balls with his hay when we were feeding Timothy. We switched to Orchard grass for a while and that is softer and easier to chew, so, the small chucks of chewed hay have not appeared much…. As we move into August, we start to hit the danger zone again with Cushing’s and Insulin resistant horses.
Update from Rocky’s foster mom Kellie:
Just wanted to let you know that Rocky is still doing very good. He is eating most of his meds (7/8th???) and I’m seeing only a few hay “balls” with the orchard grass hay. I think it is softer for him to chew. His weight is good. He is still shedding out, but I am helping with that.
Jim (Bergevin) just did another set of front shoes with the wedge/lift pad and his feet look good. Jim is not charging us for them… So, big THANK YOU to Jim!! His hind feet are holding up just fine. He tidied them up a bit and that was about all Rocky wanted him to mess with them.
Rocky is getting out 2–3 times a week in pasture, and doing a bit of trotting and cantering around when he is out…Then he attempts to stuff a few grass bits in through the side of his grazing muzzle.
Here’s hoping he has a good summer!!
We had a nice visit last week with SAFE horse Rocky at his foster home. Jessica Farren was able to come along and took some beautiful photos of Rocky. He has really come a long way from the frightened and pained horse that SAFE took in over a year and half ago. His foster family, Kellie and Peter Larson, have taken wonderful care of him and keep a watchful eye on his pain levels.
His Cushings is being managed by a low sugar diet, soaked hay, turnout with a grazing muzzle, and medications, which include: Prascend to keep his Cushings under control and Tramadol and Bute for pain management. Our biggest concern is keeping away any pain in his front hooves from his previous bouts of laminitis. He seems to have the worst flare ups during the colder months. Right now his pain is managed with shoes with pads and the pain medications. His comfort is our highest priority. Kellie keeps a watchful eye on him and so far has been able to keep him reasonably comfortable. Dr. McCracken, from Rainland Farm Equine Clinic, has been very helpful in both assessing Rocky’s pain, current treatment options and counseling SAFE on what is best for Rocky’s quality of life.
He was a very good boy for our photoshoot and even put up with my demands for some kisses and hugs. He is very shy but if you take things slow and reassure him that you are a friend he lets you approach. He is definitely a character; with a bit of little sassy once he is comfortable with you. To help gain his trust I easily won him over by a few very small pieces of carrots. He is very handsome with his dark eyes and secretive glances. I enjoyed spending some time with him and grateful he is in such a wonderful foster home.
I recently spent the morning with Rocky during a routine vet visit from Dr McCracken. His foster parents, Kellie and Peter, have done wonders in gaining his trust with their kind and patient handing. Rocky has come a long way from the timid boy he was when we first met him. His eyes are bright and he even has more spunk, which is nice to see!
Dr. McCracken drew blood to check his Cushings and to see how his medication is working. His ATCH levels looked good so he is going to stay on his current dose of Prascend for now.
We want to make sure his quality of life is always being considered. Kellie feels that the colder weather causes Rocky some discomfort. After a long conversation about his pain levels and how to best keep him comfortable, Dr. McCracken offered a few suggestions.
First, we are introducing a drug called Tramadol. This should help with the pain and hopefully allow us to lower the dose of Bute he gets, or even eliminate it completely. Rocky has had a lot of trouble with his right hind leg, especially when the farrier is working on him.
Second, we brainstormed with Kellie’s farrier, Jim Bergevin, for some ideas on how to help with the cold weather and cold ground. Rocky’s feet are a little tender but not too bad with hoof testers. Jim and Dr. McCracken both agreed that though hind shoe heel lifts might give some comfort in the short-term, they’ve seen more cases where it actually increases the dropping of the fetlock. So instead, Jim put leather pads on the front hooves.
Jim Bergevin has been a godsend for Rocky, not only for lending his expertise and experience to solving Rocky’s discomfort, but also because he has generously donated all of his work, including shoes and pads! SAFE is so grateful to Jim for everything that he’s done to help make Rocky happy.
Dr. McCracken added that she thought Rocky should get a bit more turnout. She and Jim agreed that DLSD horses to do better when they get to move around a bit more. Though Kellie had been cautious about too much turnout causing pain, she is now going to gradually increase his turnout to last summer’s level.
With these suggestions in place, Kellie will keep a close eye on Rocky for any signs of discomfort and let us know immediately if she sees any indication that these measures aren’t helping. We have no desire to see Rocky in pain, so if he starts to tell us that he’s had enough, we are prepared to gently and kindly help him on his journey to the next life.
Good thoughts for Rocky!!!
Many thanks to Rocky’s foster family for continuing to take such fantastic care of Rocky. Here is their latest update:
Rocky continues to do well. Dr. Colton “peeked” at him for me to make sure his weight was okay. He said it looked pretty good for his breed and his medical condition. Okay for him to lose a few pounds too. So, we are in the ball park. His hind fetlocks seem to be doing okay. He rests his right hind leg a lot, but, he is moving pretty soundly on all four legs. Feet seem to be okay. He gets to kick up his heels out in pasture with his grazing muzzle. He is rolling and playing soundly. He is still “conflicted” about coming up to you in the paddock, but, doesn’t run away as much when you approach him. He does come up to you out in pasture. I always have small bits of carrots or apple with me to get him to want to come to us.
He continues to be a “pigpen”. He loved the rain in the pasture the other day…… He was the only boy with mud on his back! He is blowing his summer coat and getting his winter coat. Will keep a watch so he doesn’t get too warm…..
We just got a nice update on Rocky from his foster mom Kellie: “Rocky has been out a couple more times in turnout. I am only putting him out when I can watch him for now. Unfortunately, we had to put down his “neighbor” on Monday, so, Rocky has now moved to the other side of the main barn with 2 new girlfriends. He is moving around quite a bit which is good. He has a bit more room to walk. Every time I brush him, he rolls. Apparently he is channeling Pigpen!!
Rocky loves Felina (the older mare next door) and has a love/hate relationship with Cardi (the younger mare next door). They make faces at each other and trot and swing their heads. Nothing stupid and only around meals. Both horses are food protective with other horses nearby. Good exercise for Rocky! He is looking a bit stronger.”
Here are some pictures of him in turnout. Looks like he is managing just fine with the grazing muzzle. This is essential for him due to his Cushings diagnosis. He is happy to get out in the turnout and the muzzle allows him to get the movement but not the sugar in the grass which would be very bad for his health. It is good for us to know that he will tolerate having the muzzle on. Some horses have a difficult time accepting it but it doesn’t seem to be stopping Rocky from enjoying his turnout!
How’s this for an amazing transformation? On the left, Rocky at intake, Sept 2014. On the right, Rocky today. He’s come so far and overcome so much, but Rocky is still very, very unsure about people, especially strangers. We’re looking at bringing him back to Safe Harbor to start working on his socialization skills. But it’s great to see him looking so healthy! Our sincere thanks to Kellie Larson for providing him with such great care in foster, and to farrier Jim Bergevin who has donated Rocky’s rehabilitative hoof care, essentially making it possible for this horse to go on living. He’s a lucky horse.
Thank you to Rocky’s wonderful foster mom Kellie for this update on our boy!
He is eating about 3+ flakes of hay at day. (We just keeping putting more in front of him, so, free access to hay). Mainly Timothy with whatever Alfalfa/orchard grass mix he will eat. He seems to prefer Timothy. He ate his pellets well until the last couple of weeks. I think he is telling us that he doesn’t need them so much now that he is eating more hay. He is getting about 4–6 lbs of tim/alfalfa pellets with his vitamins, milk thistle, Smart Pak Ultra, hoof supplement, salt and some bute. He is finishing up pretty much all his pellets by the end of the day; so, he is getting most of his supplements. I am now doing bute only in the pm feeding (which he eats the best). About ¾ gram or so. He gets his Prascend in the am in 2 apple bits. I have been transitioning him over gradually to this, so, when we are on vacation he is easy for our help. I am going to try and take him off of the bute in the next couple of days… See if his eating changes…
He seems to eat the best when no one is around. However, he will now stay in his stall if you come in some of the times. He is very wary of everyone. Probably the most attached to me and then Peter. I am giving him tiny slivers of carrot to get him to come to me and maybe trust me eventually. He is not as hard to catch now.
Blanketing is a big issue, especially around his legs. I can do it by myself if I “throw” the lead rope through the grill (not tied) and he stays, but swings and tucks his butt in apprehension.
He is doing very well with his new shoes. I will have Jim take off the pads when he comes to check thrush and treat and then put pads back on. The thrush was much better when he put the shoes on.
An update on Rocky, our champion fighter! After intake, Rocky was transported immediately to Cedarbrook Veterinary to begin his rehabilitation. Hoof care specialist Daphne Jones (The Bare Horse) was called in to begin the process of addressing his severely neglected feet.
After a few days in the hospital, there was concern about Rocky’s lack of appetite. He was simply not interested in eating. At the same time, he was exceptionally footsore. X‑rays were done to determine if laminitis was the culprit, and a small amount of rotation was found. Diagnostic bloodwork revealed that he had uncontrolled Cushings Disease (a pituitary gland dysfunction). He was carefully started on the appropriate medication.
Rocky wore protective boots nearly 24/7 to help alleviate his foot pain. He also had daily Theraplate sessions, generously donated by Cedarbrook. His appetite improved ever so slowly, and a little personality started to show through.
In mid October, Rocky gave us a little scare with a mild colic episode. Rehabilitating starved horses can be a roller-coaster of progress and setbacks. Fortunately, this setback was small, and with a few days of extra supportive care he was back to normal.
As his feet started to feel better, his appetite slowly improved and he *finally* started gaining some weight. By early November, he had gained enough weight and strength to undergo his dental float, a huge milestone. When turned out in the arena, he was seen picking up a little trot for the first time!
As of today, Rocky has been given clearance to leave the hospital and we are making arrangements to continue his rehabilitation in a foster situation. He will need continued frequent hoof care, and daily medication for the Cushings…but we believe that Rocky has proven he will continue to fight to make a full recovery.
We have a new friend to introduce: this is Rocky, a 21 year old Paso Fino gelding, who was surrendered to SAFE over the weekend. As you can see, Rocky is severely emaciated, with an infestation of lice and badly overgrown hooves. We have taken him straight to the hospital where he’s being treated for starvation and malnutrition. Preliminary bloodwork seems to indicate that recovery is possible — we were very concerned about organ failure when we first laid eyes on him. He’s far from being out of the woods, but SAFE volunteers named him Rocky in hopes that he’s a fighter. We’ll be fighting for him, that’s for certain.
If you would like to be part of Rocky’s journey, please consider making a donation to the SAFE Vet Care Fund in his name. Let’s show Rocky that we’re rooting for him!