Those who have/had wobblers, what was the ultimate outcome? update from myelogram
Just as the topic says, what was your ultimate outcome after the diagnosis?
My mare is scheduled for an ultrasound on Tuesday, and a possible myelogram on Wednesday. I have been trying to get prepared for all the possible test results. At this point she is 1-2/5, but is not ridable, and unable to go up and down the slightest hill without difficulty. Since the stifle surgery and being comfortable on her stifle, she is trying to use herself more, and clearly getting worse with work.
I've just had so many horrific thoughts running through my head since the diagnosis last Thursday. It really blindsided me and has caused numerous physical problems for me just from the stress. While the diagnosis in hindsight is OBVIOUS and should have been detected when I bought her, the fact that she has been under near constant vet care all this time (with me insisting something was wrong) has me disgusted and depressed.
So those of you kind enough to share your experiences, what on earth did you do?
Last edited by Perfect Pony; May. 27, 2010 at 05:13 PM.
I have a 15 yr old 16.2 hh QH with mild wobbles. My vet said he was a 1.5 on the scale ... but your description is much worse than my Tommy's, for being the same on the scale. My vet said 1 is "someone who knows what they are looking for will notice something is not right" and 2 is "it's obvious to everyone watching that something isn't right.
Tommy is also gaited, which I don't know if that came from the western pleasure training (he was bred to be a high end WP horse), the wobbles, or just some genetic throwback. He is W/T sound, and has a lateral pace and an amble. He does canter, but it's disunited and he cross fires, and is horribly uncomfortable to ride. I finally decided at his age it was better for him to go be a trail horse with my parents rather than try to push him to be an english/dressage horse. I just don't trail ride enough to keep him happy.
I have him on a high dose of vitamin E, about 6500 IU per day. It helps a great deal - his gaits stay true and he's much more confident in his back end. I use Winner's Daily which is technically a hoof supplement/multivitamin but it has a high level of Vit E and his hoofs kind of suck too, so it's good all around. I also have him on Health E Oil which is a soybean oil with Vitamin E in it.
He wasn't ridden for four years before I got him because his previous owner was a barrell racer, and tight turns and such are not easy for him. But he's a fab trail horse, and our family is active in a renaissance reinactment group called the SCA and he is the ultimate games horse. He's authorized many a beginner rider and loves the games, even if it's just at a walk for a beginner. Our family fights over him at events now, because the amble makes the games so much easier than a canter! He's so well liked and so good at the events that the kingdom my parents live in were planning a "best horse of Calontir" competition this year and even though I live in another kingdom were going to make him an honorary Calontir horse to compete since we go to so many events as well. They were pretty excited to hear he now lives in Calontir
The vitamin E is the big key, and not expecting tight turns, etc. I stress the hills myself, but he's probably got the strongest backend of all our horses up and down the trail hills. My vet said he should never canter and should never be ridden on hills ... but try telling him that .
If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.
~ Maya Angelou
First let me say I am wishing your mare all the best. Awaiting a diagnosis of any kind is always a gut wrenching experience. Sadly, my only experience with a horse with Wobbler's did not have a good outcome. A 3 year old Saddlebred at the farm I board at was having unusual coordination problems and was taken to the equine hospital for the battery of tests. He unfortunately had 2 or 3 areas of spinal compression and was not a candidate for surgery or any experimental treatments and was put down. I am hoping your horse has a much better outcome and I am sorry you are going through such a stressful time.
This is a longshot - I had a horse diagnosed with wobblers at a university clinic on the fact that she could not turn in a very tight circle plus some other reasoning, obviously. . . Long story short - my Chiropractor treated her and she became my very good saddle horse for years. She was not x-rayed for narrowing of the spinal cord, though.
Unfortunately my experience w/ Wobblers was not good. There was a young horse at a university barn I worked at during school who had a very severe form - never seen anything as bad as his - literally could not walk in a straight line for more than a few feet without almost falling down. He was born there and eventually put down as it was progressing rapidly. They did film him during a bunch of tests they performed (very tight circles to see where his feet landed, walking up/down hills blindfolded, etc. - can't remember what else but there were a bunch). It was a nightmare putting him down since he wasn't handled much and had no manners (not his fault - he was just too dangerous to be around due to the Wobblers). This was back in the mid-90's and I'm pretty sure there have been medical advances since then.
I hope things work out for your girl .
"When a horse greets you with a nicker & regards you with a large & liquid eye, the question of where you want to be & what you want to do has been answered."CANTER New England
My horse was diagnosed by the head neuro vet at UC Davis. The diagnosis was confirmed by cervical radiographs. EPM tests were negative and vitamin E levels normal.
I have done many searches, but not much discussion about what has happened after diagnosis, and how decisions were made. There's such a large spectrum between euthanasia and surgery. My mare being 8 years old, and having had the symptoms probably since she was young, means she has been suffering from spinal compression for many years. I guess I am just struggling with the fact that we know she does not do well with surgeries, but she also cannot just be turned out. I just have to imagine others have faced this place of limbo.
It's a personal decision, obviously. Many, many horses are put down when they get the diagnosis. If it progresses and the horse continues to lose communication with the hind it the horse will eventually become unsafe not only to him/herself, but to the people trying to handle him.
I can only tell you that as I think about Tommy's future ... I know the day will come that I have to make the call, and it'll probably be a quality of life thing. He was retired from WP competition at 4 because of his wobbles diagnosis. 11 years later he's still very mild, so it really isn't progressing. But it could. He's limited ... but he's still able to be a horse. He's still rideable on trails, he still trailers well, he still plays simple games. He lives in a smaller pen now with my mother's horses, but here he was turned out daily in the big pasture with 28 other horses, on about 30 acres, and he did fine. He was always at the back of the pack when the herd ran, and he'd often trot instead of canter, but he was still a HORSE. He is, however, much happier and less anxious in a smaller pen environment.
If the day had come where he couldn't be turned out and would have to live in a stall or tiny pen for his own safety ... that's when I'd make the call to let him go. Same with the wobbles - if it progressed to the point that he was falling, or unable to use his backend, the risk of falling was great ... I'd let him go. He may not be in pain since it's nerve damage, but living in fear that his back legs might not work is not good for him either.
If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.
~ Maya Angelou
My first Thoroughbred had Wobblers but this was in the 80's when there was not a lot of treatment available.
I was able to lightly ride him for about a year... being conservative and careful. He had all the spirit of a horse his age (he was three) and sometimes it just wasn't smart or safe to ride him so we did a lot in-hand.
Some days he could do more. Mostly we walked in-hand and enjoyed each others' company. I'm sad to say that I had to put him down when he was five because his body couldn't keep up with his spirit. He'd try to gallop and smash into fences and he had some discomfort and he was becoming unhappy.
That's pretty bad that you have had this amount of troubles since you purchased the horse and it was missed in the PPE. I don't mean to be jumping the gun, because ALL is not lost on a diagnosis, but if it should be a poor diagnosis and you feel you cannot keep him for whatever reasons, there is nobody to make that decision for you - just yourself - you will not be judged, or looked at in an odd way. Financial, health, time and quality of life all come into these hard decisions. I do feel badly for you and hope this is all a false alarm. Take care.
One of my students is going through something very similar with her mare (also a Warmblood). She bought hers as a weanling, no PPE. When she started bringing her to me as a 3 year old, I kept telling her she needs to get her hindlegs x-rayed, the mare would drag her feet, not canter correctly etc. She ended up having extensive bilateral OCD sugery. Both stifle and hocks. After about 6mo of recovery when brought back to USC for a check-up she was also diagnosed with wobbles. Owner couldn't afford any more x-rays, so the diagnosis was just from visuals. Since then she's been riding the mare (now 4) on the trail at the walk, making sure not to do any tight turns and she's been back for a lesson recently. Walk/trot only and the mare seems fine. So my fingers are crossed, for her and for you! Horses can be so fragile!
Hoppe, Hoppe, Reiter...
Wenn er faellt dann schreit er...
I just went through this diagnosis with a 14 year old TB at UC Davis. He is a rescue horse who belongs to a nonprofit horse rescue. I am his foster home. I noticed he was on/off lame behind and he has a huge old fractured splint. Had TWO vets do lameness evals on him here at home, had the splint xrayed and ultrasounded, and was referred to UC Davis for a consult with a surgeon....
I don't think the surgeon had looked at Valentino for 5 seconds when she said, "Uh, I think this horse is neurologic." The neuro guy came out. They put the horse through their tests. Then the neuro vet took lots of video "for educational purposes, it's not everyday we get one with such obvious signs of neuro issues!" (never what you want to hear....) Horse is 3/5 with neuro issues in all four limbs.
Sigh. Looking back, it was all very obvious. The horse seemed to be "off" in front at times, too. Dragged his hind toes. Stood with his front legs kind of splayed out. I knew something about him was NQR.
EPM test was negative, but cervical radiographs showed severe arthritis at C6-C7. The rads don't show how bad it's *inside* the vertebrae, but clinical signs include muscle atrophy in the neck on both sides, but difficulty turning from side to side. When he canters, you can see the problems most ---- he has a bit of a gangly look, with legs flying in all directions. But he does manage quite well, all in all.
No riding for this guy, ever. At this point the issue is do we try to find him a home, or put him down. His quality of life is good, he does not know he's a wobbler, and he's a nice companion horse and very easy going. But as the vet said, wobblers can be a liability. It's all very sad.
Don't beat yourself up over this. I had the same thing with my gelding that was off in one hind, wanted to travel canted to not use that hind leg, for several years now with multiple good vet opinions. Various treatments to the hips helped temporarily until it was finally obvious to me that the withers hurt him. He had spinal cord compressing arthritis in his withers. Two courses of shock wave, several months apart, 4 sessions total, have returned him to 95% soundness in the rear. I do not know if shockwave is useful for the neck.
Jingles for your mare, your sanity, and your checkbook.
My horse just had the surgery for Wobblers at UC Davis 5 weeks ago and is recovering nicely so far.
It is a tough decision to make. My 6 year old gelding was originally diagnosed with some type of neurological problem in the fall. EPM and other things were ruled out and it seemed like he might have had a mineralization in his neck. We did a steroid shot and took him home and I was riding him again for about 4 months and he was doing really well. Then, the problems returned. I ended up doing the spinal tap and myleogram which was really hard on him and followed up with the surgery which was not really difficult for him at all. He only had compression in one place but the cord was 50% compressed between c-6 and c-7. He is on stall rest for 60 days he is doing well - looks happy and healthy. How well the surgery really worked remains to be seen. In 3 weeks I get to start hand-walking him and start doing exercises with him. I had insurance so some of the financial issues didn't factor in as much as they would otherwise. Please ask if you have more questions.
Personally, I think she was not fed appropriately as a youngster. We did not notice issues until she was 3 and was sent to a trainer. Trainer sent her home stating that she wasn't safe to ride due to issues that appeared neuro in nature.
Had the vet out, did some tests....Wobblers was the diagnosis. No real treatment was pursued and she is now a pasture pet at age 5.
I tried to encourage looking into some of the options, but SO is a cattle farmer and doesn't seem interested in spending the money.
A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.
Thanks everyone. It's really hard. I have yet to hear from anyone who has had real success with just injecting the neck, injecting her neck every 3-6 months of her life to keep her comfortable isn't really an option. I worry about both the myelogram and surgery since she had a terrible time with the stifle surgery and still, a year after her surgery, has problems with inflammation around the stifle and surgical site. She has undiagnosed immune system issues that cause her to have reactions to everything. It's been 6 months since she had pigeon fever and her chest is still large and full of both hard and soft swelling.
If a had my own farm with a nice, flat pasture I would put her in the yard and simply keep her comfortable and happy as long as I can. Being in the Bay Area this simply is not an option. She can either stand in a stall, or be a couple hours away where I will have little contact and will worry about her every day.
I free leased my mare out to a friend for broodmare purposes. She bred her to a dutch warmblood (my mare is a TB) she had a HUGE foal and the mare is only 15.2. When the foal was 14 months old she was diagnoses with Wobblers grade 4/5. Surgery isn't a very good option with that grading (they say surgery only improves the horse by 1 grade). The friend had a really hard time putting the foal down, she was diagnosed in June but waited til October. She didn't improve at all over that time. It was a real shame bright bay filly with 3 high white stockings and big blaze. I think the filly's size/growth had to play a role in the wobblers she was 15hh as a yearling. The rads however did show an abnormal (congenital?) C2.
I have a 3 year old filly from that same mare (1 year older) and she is fine, but she is much smaller (15-15.1) and full TB.
So my little mare had her myelogram today. Of course nothing with her is ever straightforward, and there was an unexplained mild compression in one vertebra. I say unexplained because there was plenty of room under the spinal cord to have room for the cord, but it's apparently compressed up against the top of the vertebra.
To add to the mystery, her CFT for the EPM test was normal. But, up in her neck the fluid was odd looking and darker than it should be, and the preliminary CFT results from that are abnormal.