Mikey is a Thoroughbred gelding I picked up out of a field in the spring. He was bred and started to be a racehorse, but was soon retired to the pasture when they decided he was just too big and too slow to run. While it appears he’s had better racetrack owners than most, I don’t know a whole lot about his past.

Not long after I got the big red gelding home, he stopped sweating.

It sucked, but at the time I didn’t think it was the end of the world. Anhidrosis is an unfortunate and often times scary condition to treat, especially in hot and humid Florida where we live, but luckily this wasn’t my first rodeo with a non-sweater. That said, all my time, energy and money went toward helping the big red thoroughbred feel better.

Fast forward eight weeks and my horse is sweating again, but he’s still not healthy. Countless hours and dollars spent, several trips to specialists logged, and we’ve determined that Mikey has a respiratory issue. Even though he can sweat now to cool himself off, the big 17-hand horse still suffers from this labored breathing — he huffs away in his stall even with two fans on him — no matter the hour.

Luckily, I think we hit a breakthrough this week. For pretty much the entire summer, I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him. His condition fluctuated constantly. When he was feeling better, we couldn’t pinpoint what it was that was helping him. And then he’d get worse again a day or two later.

One vet is convinced he has a breathing problem. Which would make sense, given his constant huffing, flaring nostrils, and the growl-like grunts he makes when extra effort is required under saddle. So we’ve veered off the anhidrosis path to treat this this new lung condition, hoping that it’s the root cause of all our trouble.

What is perhaps the most difficult part of all of this is just not knowing. Not knowing when or if he’ll get better. And what’s even more worrisome for me is not knowing about his past. The vet thinks this infection or scar tissue or lingering issue, whatever it may be, probably started when he was younger and wasn’t treated properly at the time.

When I look at my big horse, his kind eyes and some of the scar tissue bundled under his skin on his neck and his legs, I wonder about the life he’s seen before he met me. It’s such a strange concept to think about. But this animal had years of life under his belt by the time I found him. Fingers crossed that with the help of my vet, we’ll be able to put the puzzle pieces together of Mikey’s past to find the answers we need to get him on the mend ASAP.
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