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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun. 29, 2005
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    Unhappy This story may not have a happy ending, but I will appreciate kind advice. UPDATE p4

    Thoroughbred gelding, 5 years old. Racetrack reject. Skinny, feet needed some attention. And lame - just recovering from an abscess.

    I knew this horse previously and he's a good guy. So I took him in. And told myself: I will get him healthy if I can and, if I cannot get him riding-sound, I will put him down.

    That was about a month ago. He's had all his routine care and is fattening up nicely. He's bright and happy and looks pretty good trotting around. Just... maybe a little teeny bit off (not everyone else sees it but I do). And - I didn't like the way he kind of dragged one of his front feet when shifting in the cross ties. So we did a lameness exam on him today and my vet pointed out that he does something similar behind, when turning tight circles. She thinks he is "not neurologically normal" and not safe to ride at this time.

    So... one possible scenario is EPM (we did the test today). Another is wobbles.

    I just came in and cried. If the test comes back positive (which apparently doesn't guarantee that he *has* EPM, but that he *might*), I can spring for 90 days of treatment and then re-evaluate. If it comes back negative... my vet's recommendation is to put him down before I get any further invested (and I think she's really talking more emotionally than financially, although unfortunately, money is a factor that I also must consider).

    I don't even know what I'm hoping for... I don't even know what the "best scenario" would be...
    Last edited by shygirl; Dec. 28, 2010 at 12:18 PM. Reason: add update



  2. #2
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    I would SOOOO get a good chiro to give him a thorough going-over. They get so cranked and torqued around doing track things, he could very well be very "out" in his SI/hip/pelvis area. Not to mention that impingements up front can affect his hind end.
    ______________________________
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET



  3. #3
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    Well, you are in a tough place. If the test comes back positive, I would ask your vet about Diclazuril. It's an IV treatment that is much cheaper than Marquis, and some have said more effective. If the test comes back negative I would still get a second opinion before I put the horse down. My OTTB was suspected and tested for EPM and other neuro deficits. Turned out to be nothing more than a sticky stifle. It also caused him to drag his hinds and trip up front. Once that was treated I now have an amazing dressage horse who is totally sound. So just be very sure and have all the info before you make your decision. Best of luck!



  4. #4
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    Jun. 30, 2005
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    Sorry for your prediciment!!!!

    Personally, if the tests came back negative for EPM or Wobbles I would give him more than a month before putting him down. He is recovering from an abcess and who knows if he is moving funny because of that. Maybe give him a year off turned out and see what he looks like after that. A month just seems like a short time to be giving up!!

    Obviously if you have a diagnosis that changes things but without it time can be your friend
    RIP Sucha Smooth Whiskey
    May 17,2004 - March 29, 2010
    RIP San Lena Peppy
    May 3, 1991 - March 11, 2010



  5. #5
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    A. get a second opinion before you do anything.

    If it is wobblers, I wouldn't hesitate to put the horse down....that is a nasty disease.

    Agree with JB, have a well recommended chiro go over your horse.

    EPM....in this day and time, we all know that it can be treated...so EPM wouldn't be the worse case scenerio in my opinion.

    Jingles..keep us posted.



  6. #6
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    I would find out what is wrong with him before putting him down so fast if you can swing it. Since you took him on I would feel like I owed him that.

    Vet is recommending euth pretty fast, though, and she has seen horse. I would also weigh that as most vets don't like putting horses down they feel are healthy. Vet may be sure it is serious whatever it is.



  7. #7
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    Jul. 30, 2005
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    Second the chiro. I'd also be tempted to get him some good massage.
    Horse Show Names Free name website with over 6200 names. Want to add? PM me!



  8. #8
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    Sep. 13, 2002
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    My horse is not neurologically normal to the right.
    In fact, every time he trips when I'm riding him (trips behind out in the field) I'm sure he has EPM!
    but nope, he's just a lazy SOB.

    When doing that neuro exam where the horse is turned in a tight circle they should have an easy cross over with their legs--as my horse does to the left.

    to the right he looks like a kid trying to learn how to walk. He takes a million steps to account for just one.

    The vet said, with hand to chin..."hmmmm, he's def not normal to the right but I don't think it's anything more than simple discombobulation/lack of coordination".

    He's the grey horse on my website and blog. : )

    chin up until you figure out what is wrong.
    And don't put him down until you find out what is wrong, otherwise you might be left with regret.
    http://kaboomeventing.com/
    http://kaboomeventing.blogspot.com/
    Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!



  9. #9
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    Jan. 16, 2007
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    Don't panic. I've been exactly where you are.

    I do think you need a second opinion. I don't like the rush to euthansia on the basis of what little this vet (apparently) saw.

    I've posted this before and I'll post it again. MOST VETS don't really know what to look for to identify grade 1-2 neurological issues. Yes, the small circles, but you aren't looking for foot dragging, you are looking for circumduction.

    This is hard to see if you aren't standing away from the horse. So if the vet was the one holding the horse while circling it, she wasn't in the best position to see what she needs to see. That right there suggest she may not be familiar enough with neurological issues.

    Plus, anyone who is talking putting a horse down for wobbles just because it tests negative for EPM is definitely overreacting.

    Here is the BEST online info about wobbles:

    http://www.equinewobblers.com/

    Read this site thoroughly, it is the website of the surgeon who pioneered the surgical treatement of cervical compression (wobbles). It's unlikely you would do the surgery on a rescue TB, of course, because it's very expensive and long-term recovery, but what you will learn on this site is all about that particular reason for neurological issues.

    A horse that is already 5 years old and only showing what sounds like grade 1 or 2, if anything, may have some degree of compression, or he may not. You find out first with x-rays and second with a myelogram in which dye is injected into the spinal cord. Either of these can be sent to Dr. Grant for interpretation. My vet did this with my horse when he showed the kind of possible neuro issues that you are describing.

    He is not a wobbler, in that no sign of cervical compression could be found. The source of his neuro deficit has never been definitively diagnosed; he's been treated twice for EPM, and he's on a heavy does of Vitamin E. He has a sticky stifle that is probably the result of the neurological deficit but we do a lot of specific exercises for that and it is definitely improving. Muscles and nerves can and do "take over" for the lost ones, but it takes a very long time, a year or more.

    I rode this same horse today, two years later, and it was a lovely ride. He is grade 2, when you know what you are looking for, you can see it, but I'll bet most of the people on this board wouldn't be able to tell there is a thing wrong with this horse. He has lovely gaits, except his walk, which goes lateral very easily, but even this is improving.

    In sum, I too have wept. And you are right, if the horse truly has severe spinal compression, there might not be a happy ending, but you are a long way from that diagnosis yet.

    Find a vet that has some specialization in neurological issues. Go at least as far as an initial x-ray (not myelogram) and have your vet consult on it with Dr. Grant. That will give you the most solid grip on where you stand re possible cervical compression. And frankly it's less expensive than a month's treatment for EPM.



  10. #10
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    Oct. 21, 2003
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    Quote Originally Posted by purplnurpl View Post
    My horse is not neurologically normal to the right.
    In fact, every time he trips when I'm riding him (trips behind out in the field) I'm sure he has EPM!
    but nope, he's just a lazy SOB.

    When doing that neuro exam where the horse is turned in a tight circle they should have an easy cross over with their legs--as my horse does to the left.

    to the right he looks like a kid trying to learn how to walk. He takes a million steps to account for just one.

    The vet said, with hand to chin..."hmmmm, he's def not normal to the right but I don't think it's anything more than simple discombobulation/lack of coordination".

    He's the grey horse on my website and blog. : )

    chin up until you figure out what is wrong.
    And don't put him down until you find out what is wrong, otherwise you might be left with regret.
    I'm sorry, I just have to respond to this. It's fine that you have decided to ride your horse, but he sounds definitely neurological and not at all like a "lazy SOB". Your vet sounds like the half a dozen worthless vets that I saw with my mare when it comes to neurological disorders.

    If a horse is tripping and showing neurological deficits going one direction then the horse most likely has neurological deficits. Fine, ride him and ignore it if you want, but I think it's terrible to just dismiss it and advise others to potentially do the same. There are significant risks to both the horse and human when a horse has neurological deficits, they should be examined and treated by a specialist.



  11. #11
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    I'll be a voice of dissent here, sometimes you get lucky and find an 'outlying' diagnosis, fix something, and the horse is still lame or NQR. I think that nothing will bring you down faster than going around and around and around with the horse, trying to figure it out, and spending all of your emotions trying to get him better. Sometimes, the kindest thing we can do is take them in, give them a good life, then euthanize if they're continuously sore and nothing will work. I don't personally feel that you should exhaust EVERY SINGLE option for treatment with a horse that's suspected neurologic anyway, unless you feel that that's what's necessary for YOU to live with your decision. I would recommend some bodywork and turnout for awhile before anything else, but they all come to us for a reason, and sometimes that reason is so that you'll cut the bullshit, call a spade a spade, give the horse a good, loving and kind death with dignity, and go find another horse who needs you to help him as well. YMMV.
    send some of their smart literate deer who can read road signs up here since ours are just run of the mill dumb ones who get splatted all over creation because they won't stay in the woods



  12. #12
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    Well said Candle. I agree! You put it better then I could although I was thinking the same thing.
    Grab mane and kick on!



  13. #13
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    Oct. 21, 2003
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    While I agree with Candle also to an extent, I would always have any horse that possibly has neurological deficits examined by a true neuro specialist before considering euthanasia.

    My mare was called "sound" by a dozen vets, when she was actually neurological. But, I would fear the opposite could also happen with a horse being mis-diagnosed. Like human medicine, it is always wise to see a specialist before making a definite decision. Neurological deficits can be caused by EPM, wobblers, but also any other number of things (even things like vitamin E deficiency http://www.myhorse.com/vitamin-e-def...-disorder.html ).

    So, I understand not wanting to spend a lot of money, but I would personally delve slightly farther into trying to get a diagnosis before considering euthanasia.



  14. #14
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    If you were referring to my post when you said "exhausting every single option for treatment," let me clarify.

    I'm not saying do a lot of treatment, or even any treatment, I'm saying get a good solid diagnosis of neurological deficit by a vet that does the full set of reflex testing. This is not expensive and is done in-hand.

    Neuro deficits don't come in black-and-white. They are graded 1 to 5. One is so mild that it cannot be detected without reflex testing (like the doctor does to humans when they hit the knee with that little hammer and get the knee-jerk reflex.) 5 is a horse that can't stand up.

    So find out first if the horse really does have a neuro deficit of any grade. And that takes a vet who has a wide experience of seeing many neurologic horses, at the milder end. Even the specialists argue about some horses.

    IF the horse turns out to have a neurological deficit, then the OP will have a better idea of how to proceed.

    If there is a neuro deficit, depending on the grade, the OP might want to get the cervical x-ray, which is maybe $200 vs $800 to treat for EPM. If the horse does have a deficit, EPM is the "best case" diagnosis because it can be treated, though the horse may not recover fully from the neuro deficits, many do and many don't. But if the horse has cervical compression, there really isn't any treatment short of surgery, and that would be a more clear case of either pasture pet or euthanasia.

    IE, you can spent a few hundred and get a more solid idea of what is really the case, or you can spend more on treating for EPM, with no guarantee of full recovery, or you can just put the horse down and not spend anything.

    If the horse is neurologic, ok. You go from there. But what if he isn't?
    Last edited by MelantheLLC; Oct. 26, 2010 at 06:17 PM. Reason: cross-posted with Perfect Pony, in agreement w/her



  15. #15
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    Shygirl, here's something that you can do that will give you more of a clue about whether the front hoof drag is the result of a neuro deficit.

    One method of testing for normal reflexes is to pick up one hind leg and cross it over the other leg while the horse is standing still. A horse with normal reflexes will uncross the legs themselves within maybe 30 seconds. If the horse just stands there with the legs crossed, as if it doesn't notice it, you can pull lightly on the tail. The normal horse should promptly uncross and balance himself, not sway and let himself be pulled over.

    You can also do this with the forelegs. Many normal horses won't even let you cross their forelegs. A horse that lets you cross the foreleg and just leaves it there would be suspicious for neurological deficit.

    HOWEVER, and this is a big however, some horses are very compliant, and will allow you to do this. You can train a horse to do this. So, it's not definitive, it would merely be suggestive.



  16. #16
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    Good thing we don't euthanize people for being a grade one neuro.

    OP, your horse has not had time to recover from being neglected and from the track situation. My advice is, do both of you a favor and turn him out for the winter. Don't look at him too hard during this time. What you are describing is very common for horses that have raced and been neglected.

    You will find that if people have a hammer, everything is a nail.
    "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
    ---
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.



  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by MelantheLLC View Post
    Shygirl, here's something that you can do that will give you more of a clue about whether the front hoof drag is the result of a neuro deficit.

    One method of testing for normal reflexes is to pick up one hind leg and cross it over the other leg while the horse is standing still. A horse with normal reflexes will uncross the legs themselves within maybe 30 seconds. If the horse just stands there with the legs crossed, as if it doesn't notice it, you can pull lightly on the tail. The normal horse should promptly uncross and balance himself, not sway and let himself be pulled over.
    D
    You can also do this with the forelegs. Many normal horses won't even let you cross their forelegs. A horse that lets you cross the foreleg and just leaves it there would be suspicious for neurological deficit.

    HOWEVER, and this is a big however, some horses are very compliant, and will allow you to do this. You can train a horse to do this. So, it's not definitive, it would merely be suggestive.
    We did this to every horse in the barn once. They all stood there like goofy cross-legged freaks. Guess we should have dug a mass grave!!! 10 or 11 horses, all apparently neurological. Or maybe coordinated and submissive.
    "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
    ---
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.



  18. #18
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    LOL ET, Rio falls in that weird category too (but you already knew that )
    ______________________________
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET



  19. #19
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    Just some advice-- did you run a Western Blot or an IFAT test for EPM? If the WB comes back positive, go ahead and have your vet send in an IFAT test as well. The WB only tests for exposure and has a fairly high rate of false positives. I'm surprised there are vets that still use it.

    I had a vet tell my mare was neurological, and definitely had either EPM or Wobbler's. Her WB came back positive and we started EPM treatment, although I was hesitant and had another vet send in blood for an IFAT test and it came back completely negative. Then said vet went for Wobblers and said she needed a myelogram, would never be cured, etc etc...

    Well I ended up getting a scintigraphy instead and all of her issues were in her feet. She was never highly neurological, although she did have some symptoms the exam, but I think that sore feet can cause a horse to move oddly anyway. It may be something else to look into.



  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by dalpal View Post
    A. get a second opinion before you do anything.

    If it is wobblers, I wouldn't hesitate to put the horse down....that is a nasty disease.

    Agree with JB, have a well recommended chiro go over your horse.

    EPM....in this day and time, we all know that it can be treated...so EPM wouldn't be the worse case scenerio in my opinion.

    Jingles..keep us posted.

    This is excellent advice, good luck and do keep us posted.



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