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  • Bummed

    Update - Post 16

    My OTTB has been in training almost two years now since coming off the track. He has been phenomenal- so smart and athletic and is turning into quite a nice dressage horse. He's always been sound and happy to work and we were getting ready to start working on changes with him.

    Then a couple weeks ago he contracted a virus and both hind legs blew up. He's been on antibiotics and has been cleared to back to work. Since then he looks terrible! He is hitchy and short on his right hind at the trot and is just kind of uncooridinated at the canter. It's like his front and hind legs don't move at the same pace. So far, the vets can't find anything. He appears generally comfortable (relaxed neck and ears) but is tight in his back and obviously not right to the eye. It's really weird. The two lines of thought are that it's something arthritic brought on by the cold or something neurological. We have another appt. with the vet in a week. Really worried and bummed.
    Last edited by xrmn002; Nov. 10, 2010, 11:58 PM.

  • #2
    Sounds neurological to me. EPM? Ya got possums around the farm?
    "Rock n' roll's not through, yeah, I'm sewing wings on this thing." --Destroyer


    • Original Poster

      Not that we know of, but my trainer sat me down yesterday and basically said he didn't want to worry me without knowing what it was but he is concerned that he is showing symptoms of EPM. We are going to do additional tests and see if we can find out more.


      • #4
        I've always heard that it's hard to definitively diagnose EPM wuickly, so your best bet is to start the Marquis or whatever the newest treatment is right away - hope your vet weighs in on this quickly for you! I had a horse with EPM, but it was prior to Marquis being available and we used some expensive chicken antibiotic and it helped him.

        So sorry, and hopefully your guy is abck to 100% SOON. Please do check into starting treatment for EPM right away....


        • #5
          if EPM tests are negative, sounds like it might be muscle/nerve in the region of the atlas/axis. If he hit his head in that region he could be short circuiting......................
          Ask and allow, do not demand and force.


          • #6
            Hope you and your vet get to the bottom of this quickly, xrmn002. Please keep us posted on developments.

            It is so distressing when something is NQR and the cause is not readily evident. Best wishes to you and your horse!


            • #7
              I hope your guy comes thru this okay.
              Get the farrier to check his feet. Check the balance as well as for sorness. My best vet always said start at the bottom. My mare also went thru some not right stuff, needing alot of leg when she never did, short steps, and a very sore body. Turns out that her hind toes were too long, and her heels were underrun. Sometimes it's simple like that.

              I also have 2 questions. How did he get dx'd with a virus? Why was he put on antibiotics?


              • #8
                How long has this horse been out of work? If it's been over a month, then look into upward fixation of the patella. I can't tell you just how many OTTB's I personally know of with this problem. If he was out of work for over a month you may be seeing the symptoms. We also thought my OTTB was neuro due to the incoordination in the hind legs. Also tested him for EPM, etc. A very astute and track-experienced vet realized what was going on. It will show up when the horse has been out of work and the muscles have lost tone. I hope that is all it is.

                Also, any shoeing changes behind recently?


                • #9
                  Are you in a Lyme disease area?

                  Best wishes for a full recovery.


                  • #10
                    If you can afford it - while waiting for EPM test results I'd get him a massage abnd chiro - feeling bad could mean he stood funny trying to feel better and ended up being stiff somewhere (think of a stiff neck we get from sleeping funny).
                    Now in Kentucky


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by dwblover View Post
                      How long has this horse been out of work? If it's been over a month, then look into upward fixation of the patella. I can't tell you just how many OTTB's I personally know of with this problem. If he was out of work for over a month you may be seeing the symptoms. We also thought my OTTB was neuro due to the incoordination in the hind legs. Also tested him for EPM, etc. A very astute and track-experienced vet realized what was going on. It will show up when the horse has been out of work and the muscles have lost tone. I hope that is all it is.

                      Also, any shoeing changes behind recently?
                      Wait, what?

                      I have never heard of this.
                      I am not disputing, I am just interested to learn more.

                      My TB was out of work for most of the summer because of a poorly placed cut here and a pulled shoe there, went to the vet where he was diagnosed 100% sound ...he definitely had more than a month off and I am wondering if some of the "random ailments" have to do with what you are talking about.

                      How do you treat it?
                      The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
                      Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
                      The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY


                      • #12
                        Just noting that patellar fixation can be independent of neuro issues, but can also be caused by neurological deficit.

                        So look into both. I have a mildly neurological horse that began to show patella fixation a year after his neuro issues were diagnosed.

                        Could also be SI joint (which can also be related--or not!--to neuro deficit. What fun!)

                        Basically a mild neurological deficit can cause other muscles and joints to try to compensate for muscle that no longer has nerves firing to contract it, and create some unpredictable results.

                        As to EPM, first get a vet who does a FULL neurological reflex test, to make sure the horse does actually have neurological deficits, before you spend the money on Marquis ($800/mo last I used it). Because most horses that test positive for EPM don't have neuro deficits, and many many horses have been exposed and will test positive without ever showing any problems. It's indeed VERY difficult to diagnose conclusively and there are other reasons for neuro deficits like cervical compression and some other more esoteric things.

                        Not sure why he was on antibiotics for a virus, but my one of my guys had a similiar sudden blow-up of hind legs a few weeks ago. We changed his turnout schedule and it resolved itself slowly. There's another thread on here about it, some other horses had the same thing.

                        Neurological deficits are diagnosed by reflex testing, not lameness testing. Ask your vet about it. They should be able to list about 5-6 different in-hand reflex tests, and what is normal and what is abnormal. If they can't give you a very thorough run-down on reflex testing, then get a second opinion from a vet with a neuro specialty or interest because a lot of vets aren't experienced enough to really see the subtle abnormalities, and quite a few don't even seem to know how to give the full set of tests. So, as some posters on COTH have noted, neuro/EPM can become a sort of "catch-all" diagnosis for "we don't know what's wrong."

                        Too many things, like stifle, SI, general clumsiness, can look neurologic to the casual glance, and in fact may BE neurologic, but you don't really know until you do the reflex testing. It's simple, done in-hand, and a lot less expensive than Marquis, but you need a vet who knows what they are doing.
                        Ring the bells that still can ring
                        Forget your perfect offering
                        There is a crack in everything
                        That's how the light gets in.


                        • Original Poster

                          Thanks for all your thoughts and warm wishes!

                          I think the antibiotics for a virus comment is my mistake. I was out of town when the legs blew up and my trainer (non-native English speaker) worked the vet. At the time I was content to trade voicemails with the vet and be somewhat out of the loop as it appeared to be a mysterious "virus" that other horses in the barn had had and recovered from quickly. Now that this hasn't completely improved and there appear to be more issues I am obviously very involved.

                          My normal vet has been out of the country for the past month and she will back to help us figure out next steps this week. I'm also having him adjusted and massaged so hopefully I'll know more soon! Will keep you posted.
                          Last edited by xrmn002; Nov. 3, 2010, 02:15 PM. Reason: typo city


                          • #14
                            Wishing a speedy recovery!
                            a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues


                            • #15
                              Meupatdoes, I was not all that familiar with it either until it happened to my guy. Intermittent upward fixation of the patella can actually cause a horse to fail some of the neuro exams. My guy had trouble with the tail pull test and tight circles. He would drag his hind toes instead of picking them up in the circles and he was pretty easy to pull over on one side of the tail pull. Since then I have learned that dragging of the hind toes during the tight circles is not really a sign of neuro issues. Circumventing is more worrisome, where the horse swings the outside leg out and then places it down.

                              It's easiest to see the catching if you lunge the horse on a circle on firmer footing. While lungeing, ask the horse to canter from the trot and watch closely. You will see the leg get stuck for just a millisecond and then the horse will snatch it up quickly toward the belly. This is all fairly subtle unless the horse is severely affected. My horse only does it picking up the right lead, so you would have to lunge in both directions and watch the inside hind closely in both directions.

                              We treated with estrone injections for a month, plus focusing on getting the quadricep muscles more toned. Poles, hills, and asking for more collection while doing our dressage work fixed him right up. I also realized that he goes his very best when barefoot behind with a rolled toe. After all of that he passed the neuro tests with flying colors. But we also tested him for EPM in the beginning because he was suspiciously weak on that right side. I've known others who did the same thing. Based on personal experience it's quite common in TBs, especially OTTBs.


                              • Original Poster

                                Update from Vet

                                I wanted to give an update to everyone who weighed in and wished us well- My regular vet is back in the country and looked at my horse Tuesday. He has been steadily improving each day but was still not quite right, so I had her check him from head to toe.

                                Vet determined it's an issue of weakness in the muscles supporting his hocks and stifles. Since he's been sick it's been worse and she thinks it's led to added stress on these joints. We did chiro/massage and injected his hocks and stifles. He's never been injected and I'm not crazy about it, but she thought that if we can get him comfortable and using himself correctly he will be able to build up the muscles to support the joints better and will not have long-term issues.

                                She also thinks the clumsiness is related to weakness, not neurological issues, so keeping my fingers crossed there. She is coming back in two weeks to re-evalute. Untill then, handwalk a few days and then back to light work. Horse HATES his stall rest already. Had to go for a long walk checking out the property and eating grass tonight. : )


                                • #17
                                  Well, that's a more encouraging prognosis than a neurological problem, and fixable!

                                  Keep us posted on his progress, and good luck! I can sympathize with the "unhappy horse on stall rest" scenario. My gelding is looking at another month and a half to two months of same. He's getting very bored.