In November, I bought an OTTB. I wasn't planning on purchasing a horse at all, but his current owner (at the time) called me and was going to send him to a trader or dealer and knowing the horse I couldn't handle what could have happened in that situation. Anyway, knowing he had some issues, and I knew it would take time and patience with him.
We decided to start out slow and had some major setbacks at the barn where we were. We moved the beginning of February to a really nice training facility where he would get the best care possible. Since the move, his mud fever and cellulitis cleared up, his ulcers are getting under control (slowly but surely) and his weight is looking good. He started having some serious behavior issues so I have hired a ground manners trainer who has helped both me and him tremendously.
We knew he had weak stifles so we have started from scratch to build his strength. We have been doing just walk/trot since we moved hoping to strengthen his stifles, but today he was horribly off. He was getting a massage first because we noticed stiffness yesterday and when the trainer/masseuse went to touch his left stifle he nearly took her head off. We decided to do a lesson to see if he stretched out of the soreness (just walk/trot, primarily walk). We had to cut the lesson short because he became very off once he started to relax his head and neck, lift his back and use himself. It almost looked as if his hip was out. That muscle began pulsing and twitching afterward and was very warm to touch. We are giving it two days before we call the vet. In the event that they can figure out what is going on, is it worth trying to fix? Or should I just consider retiring him and letting him live in a field? I wouldn't be able to afford another horse for at least a year but could still continue to take lessons with my trainer and ride friends horses. I have already put thousands into fixing the issues that we have worked on. I am completely at a loss.
Based on your description, I HIGHLY recommend putting him on an EPSM-type diet (low sugar/starch and high fat). I have come to realize that many TBs seem to have undiagnosed muscle myopathies (EPSM or a similar, as yet fully understood myopathy).
I was banging my head against the wall constantly with my TB until I tried this, injecting hocks, stifles, etc., with very little result. Finally realized it was his muscles all along. There is a ton of information out there on PSSM/EPSM and RER and the various diets people try, but here is what I've done with my TB that has helped him tremendously:
1/2 lb. Safechoice 2x per day
SmartCalm Ultra (for the magnesium, which really helps with muscles - it actually doesn't make him quieter, which is fine by me)
2 full cups of vegetable (soybean) oil per day (I mix it with his grain - he actually loves it). Start with much less than this and work your way up.
4000 IU of Vitamin E (I use the human capsules - make sure you get the "natural" vitamin E instead of synthetic).
Consistent work as tolerated by the horse (this might be just walking at first).
Anyway, of all of the expensive things I have done to try to figure my horse out, this is the thing that has worked best (and is the cheapest/easiest).
Do note that the diet takes some time to work - plan on at least 4 months before you see major changes, although if this is really his problem, you will likely see changes right away to some degree or another.
My horse also had the muscle twitching, etc. that you are talking about. I think it is a mild form of tying up. Many horses will tie up frequently if they have this condition, especially if they are on a high sugar/starch diet.
thanks everyone. Since moving to this new farm on Feb 3rd, he has been on ADM Seniorglo which is 14% protein, 8% fat and very low sugar/starch. He was also started on Magnesium as a daily supplement. That being said, it hasn't been long enough to see perfect results because things were so bad before. I am definitely going to look up the EPSM and other muscle issues. Sounds interesting. FineAlready- I have not heard that muscle twitching was a form of tying up but I will look in to that. I absolutely love my boy and he has had a rough life, so heaven forbid we have to call it quits, he will always be my cute little lawn ornament.